Shoots and roots by Julian Goss
In July CAAA I spoke to Year 2 pupils at Stacey Road Primary School. Among their questions were: “How many different vegetables do you grow?” and “What does an allotment smell like?” Everything you can think of — although they didn’t always listen to the answers!
Later that week Craig Smith welcomed 30 pupils from Year 5 to share the joys of his allotment. This included a massively popular Bug Hunt organised by the RSPB. The following day Year 2 did the same, with equal success. The pupils loved it and are keen to do it again. The main teacher behind the initiative, Murium Sadiq, is already planning next year’s visit.
This is the third time we have hosted this event. As before our gratitude goes to Craig, who has done so much to enthuse a new generation of gardeners about the pleasures to be found in the natural world.
AGM report by John Sanders
Almost 40 people attended the CAAA annual general meeting on April 24th (held in Penylan Bowls Club) and agreed to continue the level 3 Self-Management Agreement for another year. We are the only allotment site in Cardiff with such an agreement. Level 3 means we have more independence in how we run the site, but we have to pay the water bills.
Leaks: Not surprisingly a big topic of discussion was tackling leaks so that we can keep the cost of water down and invest more in the site. However, locating the leaks isn’t easy since there isn’t an accurate plan of where the pipes run. So it helps to have a water butt or two on our plots. Even if you don’t have a shed roof to collect water, an open butt will fill up over the winter.
Security: Our allotments are more secure than many sites in Cardiff, but security was discussed at length at the AGM. CCTV cameras aren’t a practical option (think about cost, vulnerability, who’s going to monitor them? privacy issues, etc). But we are taking steps to improve the boundaries with the limited funds available. As ever, the advice is don’t lock sheds or leave anything valuable on our plots.
Money: Financial information omitted from the online newsletter. To see the financial information, please see the original newsletter emailed to all members,
High demand: We shouldn’t exaggerate the negatives, though. Colchester Avenue allotments are very popular. Around 40 people are on the waiting list eager to start digging, weeding and planting. Thanks to everyone who’s joined the work parties removing rubbish to make challenging plots more presentable to newcomers.
The Greenfly by ‘5 a day’
Along with the blackfly, the greenfly is one of the common aphids that hits our plants in the spring. Greenflies suck sap from the tenderest growth on new plants, very often colonising the underside of the leaves. They sometimes carry diseases and viruses which they inject into our plants. Worse still, in the summer females produce young that already have babies inside them. No males needed at this point.
If a major infestation builds up, female aphids will produce young which have wings, enabling them to bother your neighbours’ plants. In the autumn the female aphids need males to produce eggs that may well survive the winter and start the whole cycle off again.
Aphids have lots of natural predators — ladybirds, hoverfly larvae, lacewing larvae, parasitic wasps and blue tits. But if you want to step in, just squash them, or spray them with diluted washing-up liquid. They don’t breathe through their mouths, but through pores in their skin. The soap clogs up the pores and suffocates them. Who needs pesticides?
CAAA website http://www.caaa.org.uk