The season has finished with a late flourish and good crops of many types including fruit. It has been a good year for apples, late strawberries have suffered from mildew with the rain but autumn raspberries which tend to blow dry in the wind have continued until they have become watery and flavourless.
Plot scores in our autumn competition were high. Our “Gardeners of the Year” are chosen on the basis of most points scored across the three seasonal competitions. Only five points separated the top four half plots but the winner was Michael Hill chased hard by three ladies! The full plot award was also closely run but Neil Crump’s autumn plot put him firmly at the top. The best single crop of vegetables, not on a winning plot went to Steve Eszrenyi for his sweet corn. Mrs Janet Stone returned home with the vase for the best bed of flowers.
Readers may have seen press reports that the Borough Council is considering reclaiming the leased allotment ground for the Cemetery due to a predicted lack of space in a few years time. Whilst we regret this it has always been the basis on which we hold the land. We are now starting discussion with the Council about possible alternatives. This should not deter anyone from putting their name on the waiting list we are committed to a long term future.
In the last Rollestonian we moaned about the unusually late spring. We need not have worried, there has been a remarkable catch-up. This has been helped recently with the rain at a time when we would all have been out with watering cans.
Old hands and our competition judges have commented on the quality of the site. There are times when members regret the absence of a little shed on the plot but our ban on all such structures does provide an extensive view of fertile productivity. There is no excuse for not making a few fun entries into Rolleston Club’s Gala.
Naturalists have commented on how last year’s weather decimated the butterfly and moth population. Sightings earlier this year were indeed sparse but as we write there appears to have been a late hatching (especially cabbage whites!) and with a good autumn we may see some recovery of the situation. Myxamatosis seems to have waned and there is also a marked increase in the rabbit population that seems able to evade both shooters and trappers.
The delayed Summer Competition produced some high scoring results
|Full Plot||Half Plot|
|1st||Neil Crump||Mrs Diane Marriott|
|2nd||Peter & Alice Topliss||Mrs Emma Stranks|
|3rd||Barry Greenhalgh||Mrs Petula Paul|
|4th||Bryan Bennett||Mrs Heather Taylor|
|5th||Steve Eszrenyi||Michael Hill|
|6th||Roy Ottewell||Mick Roberts|
The ladies seem to be taking over the running in the half-plots. For the first time we held an enjoyable social gathering on site on the evening of competition day. This had a good turn-out and there were no “real” disputes about the winners.
The continued cold weather persuaded us, for the first time, to delay our competition dates by three weeks. It can’t have been all bad. Crops are only just going in but our spring competition scores are about the highest that we have had. This shows the hard work that has gone into ground preparation and maintenance, awaiting for the right day. As we write, home sown runner beans, marrows and sweet corn plants are appearing on the plots – its still a big risk!
New names are appearing on the score sheet, congratulations in particular to those from this year’s intake of new plot holders. One lady’s husband apparently asked her why on earth did she want an allotment? She’s provided the answer! – now to keep up the good work.
|Full Plot||Half Plot|
|1st||Neil Crump||Michael Hill|
|2nd||Barry Greenhalgh||Mrs Heather Taylor|
|3rd||Peter & Alice Topliss||Dave Cawser|
|4th||Steve Eszrenyi||Mrs Karen Salisbury|
|5th||James Harvey||Peter Longbottom|
|6th||Roy Ottewell||Michael Cooper|
In order for new members to become acquainted, we held a “Coffee and Cakes” morning on site in April. As luck would have it we had chosen the warmest Saturday of the year. A good turn-out and generous donations of excellent cakes. Even the Rector appeared from the cemetery for a freebie. It was home to lunch, siesta and requests for another gathering.
The new year starts with significant changes – eleven plots have changed hands for a variety of valid reasons. We are sorry to see a number of established members go but, at last we have been able to make a big dent in our waiting list. If you are thinking of applying for a plot in the next year or two, now is the time to get your name on the list.
Nine of our eleven plot changes are registered in the name of ladies. They have all declared themselves fit or with unsuspecting partners in need of exercise. Are our “flat caps” in danger of extinction?
These changes also demonstrate the demand for “half-plots”. Crops are becoming more experimental with much less demand for the old heavy production of potatoes and cabbages. We are also seeing the benefit of breeding more exotic crops to be suitable for the UK climate.
For several years we have been purchasing quantities of mushroom compost. This comes bagged and easy to handle. It is also popular to take home for smell-free use in the garden. Unfortunately the economics of mushroom cultivation have resulted in our regular farm supplier from Ashbourne closing down. The search is on for an alternative.
Opportunity for early spring site preparation remains limited with the soil still very wet. By March all may have changed and optimists will be looking to make up for the year behind us.
Last updated: 26 January 2014