Limited road access

For three weeks from Monday, June 29th, Cardiff Council is limiting vehicle traffic on Hampton Court Road and Hammond Way when the local primary school re-opens. 

Both roads will be closed except for access Monday to Friday from 8:30 – 9:30am and again from 2:30 – 3:45pm. The Council says the main purpose of the closure is to deter parents from dropping off or picking up their children at Howardian Primary School by vehicle.  

Local Councillor Rodney Berman has confirmed to the CAAA by email that “all allotment holders will be permitted access to the allotments as required” adding that “on-site staff managing the closure will be briefed on this.”

Please note this has been arranged by the council so the committee has no further information at this time. Thank you

Due to come changes on site and with the covid-19 situation we thought we’d release another newsletter to keep plot holders informed.

Security

Break-in and burglary The CAAA committee met online on May 14th, the first time we’d met since mid March. Top of the agenda was site security. As many of you will know we had a serious break-in and burglary on the night of May 5th/6th.

CCTV footage taken nearby shows a large white van in Colchester Avenue and Barons Court Road at 8.45 pm on May 5th. The same van was seen in Hampton Court Road where the entrance lock was broken and items stolen from nearby sheds. The van appears in Hammond Way CCTV footage at 12.30 am on May 6th and later on Newport Road.

The police believe this van is linked to the break-in and burglary, but CCTV footage does not show the number plate. If anyone living in these streets has information about or CCTV footage of this van, please contact our site manager Roger Kay (rogerbk49@gmail.com) or the police.

As well as individual plot-holders having items stolen, equipment (including a trailer) used by Craig Smith for the site as a whole was taken. We will replace much of this equipment with funds from the members’ account. Craig’s plot was among those targeted and he lost many items. So, in response to suggestions from plotholders, you can donate to Craig via online transfer to the CAAA members’ Lloyds Bank account, number (please see newsletter emailed out for details) . Please use your plot number as a reference.

Improved security People have suggested that we install CCTV cameras to deter future breakins. We did discuss this option at length at the April 2019 AGM. The conclusion then was that CCTV probably wouldn’t be of much benefit (due to the vulnerability of any cameras installed and quality of images among other things). However, if any plotholders work in the security sector and can advise us then please email the Chairman, Julian Goss, at jbgoss2@gmail.com.

In the meantime, we have improved security at the Dorchester Road pedestrian entrance by replacing the barbed wire and metal supports above the gate and adjacent fence.

Committee and AGM

Due to the restrictions on public meetings, we currently have no plans to reschedule our AGM which was due to take place in April. In the meantime, please email the Chairman (Julian Goss jbgoss2@gmail.com) with any issues or questions you have – or talk to any committee member.

During the Coronavirus restrictions the committee will meet every six weeks as before, but online using Zoom. Our next meeting is on June 25th.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Angharad Jones for all her work as Site Secretary in recent years. Angharad stepped down in April and we had hoped to thank her at the AGM. Anyone interested in joining the committee should contact Julian.

Covid-19 guidance from the National Allotment Society

The NAS updated its guidance to allotment holders on May 13th. It’s worth emphasising that there is NO limit to how long we can stay on our plots during daylight hours. Some of the key points on the NAS website are:

Can I still work my allotment during the Covid-19 lockdown? Yes, allotments are a great way of both getting exercise and obtaining food during this crisis.

Can I visit the allotment with my family? Yes, government guidelines state that you can exercise with members of your household.

How long can I stay at the plot? The Government have now removed the limit on exercise time.

How can I ensure my family’s and everyone else’s safety at the plot? Do not attend the plot if you have Coronavirus symptoms or a family member is self-isolating.

Other NAS guidance includes:

  • Take a flask of hot water, soap and paper towels to the plot with you (cold water will work too) to wash your hands.
  • Use hand sanitiser (should be 60% alcohol content) before entering the site and opening any gate locks.
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds after closing the lock, dry with a paper towel.
  • The most effective part of hand washing is the drying using preferably paper towel to remove the layer of dead skin scales – on which virus and bacteria sit. Paper towel to compost heap.
  • DO NOT touch your face after using anything that has been touched by other people – use an elbow to work the push taps.
  • Wash hands when you get home.
  • DO NOT gather together for a chat even if you are 2 metres apart.
  • Observe “social distancing” with each other 2-3 metres.
  • If you take your children to the plot, ensure that they stay within its confines and do not run around on communal paths and spaces.
  • Do not share tools.
  • Do not wash your hands in water troughs.

For the full list of NAS guidance and updates see https://www.nsalg.org.uk/news/covid19-information/

Good neighbours

Finally, a couple of reminders: please close the Hammond Way gate quietly for the sake of people living near the entrance. And remember too that in the agreements we sign with the Council when taking on our plots we’re not allowed on the site before dawn or after sundown.

Newsletter contact: johnsanders@clara.co.uk CAAA website http://www.caaa.org.uk

CAAA (Colchester Avenue Allotments Association) newsletter – Spring 2020

Covid-19 precautions (see also back page) As we go to press there are few restrictions on working on our allotments. However, it’s wise to take simple precautions. Firstly, we all handle the gates and padlocks to get to and from our plots. Simple steps like bringing gloves or hand sanitiser with us will minimise the risk of spreading the virus when locking and unlocking.

Secondly, most of us like to chat to our plot neighbours and there’s no reason to stop doing this. But we should be mindful of keeping our distance and respect the wishes of those who feel particularly vulnerable. And only visit your plot on your own or with other members of your household.

Thirdly, the Committee has postponed the AGM (due to take place on April 24) until further notice. Existing committee members will remain in post where possible, but we are keen to recruit new members, in particular a Minutes Secretary and Shopkeeper (see below). Please email chairman Julian Goss if you are interested at jbgoss2@gmail.com. Julian Goss (chairman)

Money

During the 12 months to December 2019 we spent £14,529, a shade less than in 2018. Most of this (£4,814) went on site improvements and maintenance (£4,782). We also spent £623 on security. Thanks to a lot of hard work and investment in stopping leaks, our water bill fell to £344 (from £4,329 in 2018). However, the actual cost of water for 2019 was nearer £650 as some Dwr Cymru bills fell outside the financial year.

Our income was also little changed at £14,298 (£14,105 in 2018), resulting in a small deficit for the year of £231. Overall, we ended the year in a healthy financial position with unrestricted funds totalling £9,297. We also have restricted funds of £8,260 in the key account. The key account is all those £20 we hand over for a key when we take on a plot. The key account is restricted because of course it consists entirely of deposits which have to be returned when people give up their plots.

We plan to use some of the unrestricted funds on further site maintenance and improvements now that the weather is finally improving. A full set of accounts is available by email from the treasurer Steven Place at mt59fc@btinternet.com. Steven Place (treasurer)

The Shop

Val Finch is stepping down as shopkeeper after many years of supplying compost, onion sets, bean poles and many other items. The Committee wishes to thank Val for her dedication and contribution to the CAAA community. Val’s departure does of course mean we have an opening for a new shopkeeper or shopkeepers. Anyone interested or wanting to know more should contact one of the committee.

Although the shop is closed for now because of the Corona virus, we would like to hear what plotholders want from the shop. In particular:

  • What would you like us to stock in the shop?
  • What day(s) and times would you be most likely to use the shop?

Please email your thoughts to johnsanders@clara.co.uk. John Sanders (newsletter editor, plot 24a)

Cheap seeds scheme 2019/20

I’m pleased to tell you that the committee’s decision to switch to buying cheap seeds from Dobies has been a success. More than 40 CAAA members have taken advantage of this convenient and good value offer. Each of the four indoor sessions I set up for people to collect catalogues and hand in orders was attended by at least half a dozen people.

Altogether, members have bought seeds and other items worth over £2,000 at a considerable discount (50% for seeds, 15% on other items in the Dobies catalogue including onion sets and seed potatoes). This year’s scheme closed on March 29th. Anyone who has been informed by Dobies that something on their order is unavailable should text me on 07811 806473 before the end of April to arrange a refund. We shall be using the Dobies seed scheme again next year. If you have any suggestions for how to make the scheme work better for CAAA members, please text me as above. Caroline Joll (committee member, plot 32B)

Troughs, fences, roads and houses

The wet and windy winter hasn’t been ideal for carrying out site improvements and repairs. However, we have fixed a number of water troughs, made some tarmac repairs to the roads and made the shop more secure. We plan to plug some of the gaps in the fences as soon as the weather allows.

Remember too that we now have a designated Scrap Bay for metal and a Waste Bay for anything except green waste and wood. You can find these bays opposite plot 118. These bays are for disposing of material already on site. Please DO NOT bring items on site and dump them.

Construction firm Wates plans to build new houses and flats alongside the site boundary immediately after you come through the vehicle gate. This is likely to lead to some access disruption for a short while. The Committee is talking to Wates and the Council to ensure the existing fence to the west of our access road is replaced with something more secure. Roger Kay (volunteer site manager)

More plots, same parking

We are gradually increasing the number of plots by dividing some larger plots into two or even three. This is in response to demand for smaller plots from people who don’t have the time to cultivate a 5 or 10 perch plot. One consequence of more plotholders is more cars. We have very limited parking space around the site, so please think carefully about whether you really need to bring a vehicle. If you do drive onto the site, then please park considerately so that others can use the parking areas too.

“5 a day”: Branding, green, grey, lob, long and red

It’s been known for some time that worms are vital in our gardens. However, they breathe through their skins, so they have to keep permanently moist. They die if they dry out. So they usually stay underground.

The largest British earthworm, the lob worm, comes out at night and drags leaves into its burrows, then eats them after they have decomposed. The lob worm is the largest, but not the most common. That’s the small to mediumsized worm known as the green worm. Interestingly this has a pink form as well as a green one, and the pink one is the one usually found in our gardens.

Another common worm is the grey worm, which is the one that often makes casts in our lawns. There’s also one called the long worm, and a smaller relative of the lob worm called the red worm. The small stripy red worm found in our compost bins in large numbers is the brandling worm.

Worms improve the organic content of the soil and its structure, partly by burrowing through the soil, and by eating their way through the soil and excreting it after digesting the organic matter. Their excrement normally contains a lot more calcium, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and bacteria than the surrounding soil. They also enrich the soil by converting minerals into a form that is available for plants to take up.

Not bad for such an ugly little creature!

Covid-19 guidance from the National Allotment Society

See https://www.nsalg.org.uk/news/covid19-information/ for updates

  • Any plot-holder who is self-isolating because a household member is ill with corona-virus should not be visiting the site.
  • Everyone on site should stay 2 metres away from others.
  • Avoid body contact with others and use hand sanitiser.
  • Do not wash hands or use detergents in the water tanks.
  • Please pay attention to notice boards.
  • Do not allow unauthorised people onto plots for the duration of this emergency.
  • If you need to bring someone to assist with work on the plot, please ensure that this is notified to your Site Representative.
  • Careful consideration should be given to introducing anyone over 70, those with underlying illness or pregnant women.

Newsletter contact: johnsanders@clara.co.uk CAAA website http://www.caaa.org.uk

Many plot holders have contacted us querying whether they can go up to their plot while on lockdown. In short, yes visiting your plot can count as your daily exercise session as recommended by the government.

Of course you need to continue to keep the social distancing rules of 2 meters and keep up with the increased hygiene measures. Use hand sanitizer when you’re able to, and the water on-site is switched on, and although it’s cold water, used with anti-bacterial hand wash will allow you to keep yourself as protected as possible.

The on-site toilet will be closed until further notice, as are any communal facilities like the shop.

If you are waiting to let a plot, then you’ve not been forgotten, but for obvious reasons, no plot letting will happen on the site until further notice and the council won’t accept any new applications to let a  plot. But those already on the waiting list, your position will be held until we pick up our normal letting duties sometime in the future.

The National Allotment Society has provided some brilliant, detailed guidance here.

Please keep safe, and please adhere to the rules, as the last thing we want during times like this is for access to the allotments to be taken away from us.

Any gardener or allotment plot holder will confirm, unsurprisingly, that water is an essential ingredient for all crops, and at Colchester Avenue allotments, we’re lucky to have a supply of running water. But this resource doesn’t come for free, and because we have access to a mains water supply doesn’t mean we should take advantage of this and not put any effort into conserving water and collecting our own water.

Continue Reading

Crop rotation is a term many new plot holders find a bit daunting and something most veteran plot holders swear by. Either way, it’s something which needs some thought. If you’ve set aside some of your plot for perennials, next you can put some thought into rotation of your crops.

You’ll find once you’ve decided what you’ll be growing on your plot, odds are they’ll all require their own nutritional needs and this is where crop rotation can help. Aside from this, educating yourself on crop rotation will help prevent your plot from disease and pest build up while grouping crops together which have similar needs in terms of what nutrition they need and you’ll soon have some very healthy and fertile soil. If you ask any fellow plot holders who follow crop rotation and you’ll find they usually follow a 3 or 4 year rotation plan, so below we’ve outlined a rotation plan based on 4 beds over 3 years. The below is only a guide, feel free to adapt to what you want to grow, just keep an eye on crop groups like brassicas, alliums etc so you can try and sick to the group type.

Year One – First, make sure your soil is enriched and healthy by adding your compost.

Bed One

  • Spring/Summer – Plant your tomatoes, potatoes and courgettes.
  • Autumn – Plan your alliums like onions, garlic and leeks.

Bed Two

  • Spring/Summer – Plant your root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, beetroot along with spinach, parsley and chard.
  • Autumn – Mix in Green manure to help break up soil.

Bed Three

  • Spring/Summer – Add your compost before planting your brassicas like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
  • Autumn – Plant your winter brassicas like kale and sprouts.

Bed Four

  • Spring/Summer – Keep it simple with peas and beans.
  • Autumn – Don’t plant anything, but lime the soil if you plan to plant brassicas again next year.

 

Year Two

Bed One

  • Spring/Summer – This year plant your beans and peas here.
  • Autumn – Lime the soil after harvesting your beans and peas and leave.

Bed Two

  • Spring/Summer – Add some good compost and plant your tomatoes, potatoes and courgettes.
  • Autumn – Plant your alliums like your onions, garlic and shallots.

Bed Three

  • Spring/Summer – Plant your roots like celeriac, carrots, beetroot, parsnips and your spinach, chard etc.
  • Autumn – Mix in green manure to break up soil.

Bed Four

  • Spring/Summer – Plant your summer brassicas like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and radishes and turnips.
  • Autumn – Plant your winter brassicas like kale and sprouts.

Year Three

Bed One

  • Spring/Summer – Add your compost before planting your summer brassicas like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and radishes and turnips.
  • Autumn – Plant your winter brassicas like kale and sprouts.

Bed Two

  • Spring/Summer – This year plant your beans and peas here.
  • Autumn – Lime the soil after harvesting your beans and peas and leave.

Bed Three

  • Spring/Summer – Add your compost before planting your tomatoes, potatoes and courgettes.
  • Autumn – Plant your alliums like your onions, garlic and shallots.

Bed Four

  • Spring/Summer – Plant your roots like celeriac, carrots, beetroot, parsnips and your spinach, chard etc.
  • Autumn – Mix in green manure to break up soil.

Take a look at all of our allotment tips and tricks here.

 

CAAA (Colchester Avenue Allotment Association) newsletter — Autumn 2019

CAAA cheap seeds scheme 2019/20 – HALF-PRICE seeds from Dobies available to all CAAA plot-holders.

This year we are operating a seed ordering scheme enabling plot-holders to buy Dobies seeds at 50% of the normal price. This offer includes disease-resistant varieties and organic seeds, flowers and vegetables: seeds are NEW not old stock. Other items in the catalogue are also available at 15% off.

The Dobies scheme is easy to use.

  • Anyone who wants to take part can pick up the 160 page colour catalogue plus a special order form;
  • Complete the order form at your leisure and return it to me with payment, including £1.99 postage for any number of packets of seeds.
  • After Christmas I’ll start sending our orders and money to Dobies;
  • Your seeds will then be delivered directly TO YOUR OWN ADDRESS
  • The sooner you order, the sooner you’ll receive your seeds.

Pick up a catalogue and order form from the allotment shop, or from any committee member. I shall be available to distribute catalogues and forms and/or take in orders and money as follows:

  • Saturday November 9th 10 am to 12.30 – Meeting room next door to the shop on the allotment site
  • Sunday December 15th 1.30 to 4pm – Sainsbury’s Café in Colchester Avenue
  • Saturday January 11th 10am to 12.30 – Upstairs in Penylan Library
  • Sunday February 16th 1.30 to 4 – Sainsbury’s Café in Colchester Avenue
    Caroline Joll (committee member, plot 32B)

Site improvements

After much detective work, digging and laying of some new pipes over the summer we’ve slashed the amount of water we lose through leaks. Last year around 8,000 litres was gushing into the ground every 12 hours. We’ve now reduced that to just 300 litres and we plan to tackle those remaining leaks too. We all pay for the water through our annual subs. So stopping most of the leaks means we have more to invest in site improvements in future.

We’ve also installed a new water trough on the road from the Dorchester Avenue gate to help plotholders in that area and fixed faults in other troughs. If you notice or suspect a leak, let site manager Roger Kay know or email colchesteravenueaa@gmail.com.

As usual, we’ve turned the water off over the winter when nature normally provides more than enough rain. We’ll put the water back on in the spring.

Roads and scrap metal

We plan to take advantage of the quieter winter months to repair the roads near the shop and fill in the worst of the potholes. Tarmac is expensive, so we’re only able to repair the worst affected and busiest roads on the site.

The new storage bay (pictured opposite plots 118 and 119) for scrap metal will help us keep the site tidier and raise money. It’s also good for the environment as any metal you leave here gets recycled.

The new general waste storage bay is only a last resort for rubbish already onsite. Ideally we should all take any general waste home or to the Council dump at Lamby Way. It costs nearly £300 every time we hire a skip to get rid of general waste – money we could otherwise spend on site improvements.
Roger Kay & John Sanders

Shop, compost and manure

It’s the time of year to spread compost and manure on cleared beds ready for the next growing season. Large bags of compost are available to buy in the site shop Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes from 12 till 2 pm. Val also sells onion sets, garlic, broad bean seeds and lime among other items.

Plotholders often ask for details of manure suppliers. Two who deliver to the site are farmer John (a trailer or skip of manure for £50) on 07816 356645 and Joe at Woodlands Compost who supplies organic horse manure at £5 a bag (minimum 50 bags). Contact Joe at 01749 870797 (eve), 07553 765808 (day) or email jbtreeandgroundworks@icloud.com.
John Sanders, plot 24a

Grapevine

Saturday courses – For information about the “Timely tips for successful growing” sessions see the site notice-boards, phone 029 2087 2030 or enrol online at www.cardiff.gov.uk/learn.

Wasps — Hopefully, no-one is plagued by wasps at this time of year, but if you find a nest in spring, the Council will remove it free of charge. Email colchesteravenueaa@gmail.com saying where the nest is and we will contact the Council for you.

Bug Hunt — Looking ahead to next year, CAAA chairman Julian Goss has arranged another bug hunt for the children and grandchildren of plot holders on the morning of Sunday May 17.

Where home is a compost bin

By ‘5 a day’
People with a compost bin on their plot often don’t realise how important it can be for wild life. All that decaying plant material is food, and also a habitat, for many creatures that decompose our compost and make it usable on the plot, such as earthworms, slugs, snails, woodlice, springtails and millipedes.

These in turn attract animals that eat them, like centipedes, spiders and beetles. There are up to 300 species of beetle that favour compost bins. Beetles may live in the garden as adults, but they often started out as larvae in the compost bin.

Birds, hedgehogs, frogs, toads and shrews all eat insects that are found in the compost heap. And a recent study in Bristol found that gardens with a compost bin were twice as likely to contain slow worms. This helps, because slow worms love to eat slugs!


To attract wild life, it’s best to put the compost bin on bare earth rather than a hard surface, so that wild life can more easily get in and out. And it might be best not to turn the compost, which would disturb the larger creatures.

Newsletter contact: johnsanders@clara.co.uk
CAAA website http://www.caaa.org.uk

HALF-PRICE seeds from Dobies available to all Colchester Avenue plot-holders

This year we are operating a new seed ordering scheme which will enable all plot-holders to buy any Dobies seeds at 50% of the normal price. Nb this offer includes disease-resistant varieties and organic seeds, flowers as well as vegetables, and seeds are new not old stock. Other items in the catalogue are also available at 15% off.

The Dobies scheme is easy to use.

  • Anyone who wants to take part can pick up the 160 page colour catalogue plus a special order form;
  • Complete the order form at your leisure and return it to me with payment, including £1.99 postage for any number of packets of seeds.
  • After Christmas I’ll start sending our orders and money to Dobies;
  • Your seeds will then be delivered directly TO YOUR OWN ADDRESS
  • The sooner you complete your order, the sooner you’ll receive your seeds.

Pick up a catalogue and order form from the allotment shop, or from any committee member. You can also view the catalogue here on the Dobies website (50% off all catalogue seed prices), but you’ll still need to pick up the special discount form.

I shall be available to distribute catalogues and forms and/or take in orders and money as follows:

Saturday November 9th  10 am to 12.30 Meeting room next door to the shop on the allotment site
Sunday December 15th 1.30 to 4pm Sainsbury’s Café in Colchester Avenue
Saturday January 11th 10am to 12.30 Upstairs in Penylan Library
Sunday February 16th 1.30 to 4 Sainsbury’s Café in Colchester Avenue

If you’d like to contact Caroline for any further information, please complete the form below:

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.

ooo000ooo

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.

ooo000ooo

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