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

Many people have an allotment primarily to grow produce, as well as creating a sanctuary to escape to while making new friends. But wildlife plays an important part of any allotment site. With urban cities like Cardiff seeing a big drop in it’s local wildlife due to development and changing lifestyles it’s important to think about the critters and animals who we may be sharing our plots with. Allotments play a huge part in supporting wildlife in urban areas, often they create links between tracks, hedgerows, parks and rivers. And aside from the help some of them give us by assisting with pollination and pest control there are things we, as plot-holders, can do to help keep this eco-system balanced.

  • If you have room on your plot, set aside a bit of room to plant some nectar rich flowers to help attract pollinators. Many crops rely on pollinators; apple, plum and pear trees rely up to 85% on pollinators, 85% for runner beans and similar beans, cucumbers have a 60% reliance, pumpkins up to 85% to name a few and remember that honeybees pollinate an estimated 35% of UK crops.
  • Try and reduce your usage of chemicals if you don’t already, eliminating their usage if you’re able to.
    • Lure ladybirds to your plot by planting some dill, carrots, celery, parsley and fennel and when the ladybirds come each one will eat up to 60 insects a day including aphids, leaf hoppers, mealy bugs, mites and others.
    • We know you can’t have a hose on site but if you’re able to bring a spray bottle to spray the bugs off, they rarely climb back on.
    • You’ll see a lot less slugs and snails if you place broken egg shells around the base of your crops, if growing in pots wrap some copper tape around the middle of your pot and try some companion gardening; fennel and rosemary are great slug deterrents.
    • Try making your own natural pesticides, take a look here for some good recipes.
  • Try creating some homes for the wildlife; bee boxes, small stone and log piles for insects, compost for slow worms, nesting boxes for birds.
  • If you bring children onto the site make sure they know the importance of looking after the wildlife.
  • And like we’ve said before, chat to your neighbours and fellow plot holders to see if they have any tips of their own, and check out our companion planting guide below.


When planting the above companion plants, try when possible to plant them in pots to avoid them taking over the plot, especially mint.

Please note we’ve added this information to our Allotment Tips page as well.

The Health and Safety Executive are running a survey until the end of May 2019 asking gardeners and allotment holders to anonymously let them know about their purchase, use, storage and disposal of pesticides. As mentioned the survey is anonymous and wants to encourage people to give honest answers to get a better understanding about how people are using pesticides and is run every three years.

You can view results of their previous surveys here and if you want to complete the latest survey about pesticides then head here. And the HSE will give you the option when completing the survey to go into a draw to win one of ten £50 National Garden Gift Vouchers.*


* The draw for the garden vouchers will be run independently by the Horticultural Trades Association, who will issue the vouchers.


Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on April 24th 2019 in the Penylan Club

Present: R Kay [400] (Convener), R Williams [59], V Donnelly [75], S Place [3], M Wass [135], S Finch [167], C Joll [32B], A. Judge (153B), P Thurlbeck [309B], C. Pritchard (137A), J Wheeler (140), N. Drew (8), G. Drew (13), E + T Stephens [136B], K Boddington [79B], E + S Kay [19], P Watson [48], S Goddard [67A], C Campagli [60A], J Sanders + S Aubrey [24A], Ian McCormick [119B/118B], K + J Shine [117A], D Harris [412B], S David [174], G Sims [33B], A Hare [411], D Hare [181], G Baezoni + A Guy [ 80B/ 83B], K Oyston [125B]D + J Butterick [27B], J Witts [144], P Barratt [402], A Jones [16]

Apologies: J Goss [79] W. Morris [319A], V Finch [56], G. Brady [57], E + P Atherfold [4], J Richmond [1B], L Cronin [14B], S Carter [129A], A Price [112A],E + L Hazell [73B], D Margan [61A+B], N + M Jones [410], K Brock [304], S Callaghan [27A], S Taherian [40], E Dare [127A], A Williams [17A+B], D Sims [159B], R Crodon [152B], T Christoldo [116A], N Albrow [22A], S Grubb [23A], S Ansell [ 64B], H Karaman [33A], C Al-Khanchi [183], K Nicholas [209], A + J Herman [128A], Z Clegg [103B], G Johns [70B], J Hughes [155A], L Jones

The Convener welcomed plot holders to the 20th AGM and reminded members that only plot holders could register to vote.

2. Apologies – above

3. Minutes of the 2018 AGM held on 20th April 2018
These were agreed to be a correct record and were signed by the Convener.

4. Matters arising
None was raised.

5. Renewal of LMA for 2019 – 2020
Convener explained the principle of the Self-Management Agreement. We are signed up to Level 3, which means we get a higher income from the Council, but we have to pay for our water.
Vic Donnelly was invited to explain the situation with the water supply as there has been a problem with the supply over the past few months.
Vic explained that the water system on site is the property and responsibility of the Council. We have a responsibility to maintain the troughs, the Council for the underground water pipes.
Unfortunately, there are no records of the position of the pipes, but over time, Vic has been able to plot where they are.
Last year, there was a very serious leak, leading to Welsh Water issuing a warning to the Council that, unless the leak was repaired, they would be fined. This was eventually found and a contractor was called in by the Council to carry out a repair.
At the time, Vic was in the process of installing valves so that areas of the site could be isolated.
A further leak w, significantly smaller than the first one, was then detected. Welsh Water decided the water had to be turned off. It has since been re-instated.
The Allotments Officer visited the site, after numerous requests over a 6-month period, and, with the contractor, agreed to the fitting of isolating valves. Unfortunately, these were not the type Vic had requested – to which he could have attached meters.
Vic has continued to try to find the source of the leak and has carried out repairs on some troughs, which do deteriorate over the winter months.
Currently, water is turned on for some hours each day to ensure the troughs are kept topped up.
Vic emphasised the importance of harvesting rainwater on EVERY plot, as it is likely that using drinking water to water gardens is unlikely to meet with approval in the future.

In view of this, our water supply is a big issue in terms of our budget. If we remain on L3 for the LMA, we continue to be responsible for paying the water bill. However, if we do so, we do get a higher grant from the Council and we are able to control the water supply, giving us a chance to identify and rectify the current leak.
If we went to L2, the Council would be responsible for the water bills, but they would almost certainly turn the water off.
The Convenor pointed out that, if the members felt strongly that we should revert to L2, we would have to give the Council 3 months notice. The Convenor told the meeting that this would be kept under review.

The recommendation of the Committee would be to renew the LMA on L3 for 2019-20, UNLESS we are unable to solve the problem, in which case we would seek the approval of members to return to L2.
There was unanimous agreement from the members at the AGM that the LMA be renewed for 2019-20 and remain on L3.

6. Chairman’s Report
In the absence of the Chairman, the report was presented by Roger Williams.
Thanks were extended to members of the Committee for all the work done on the site and for the various roles they have undertaken.
Thanks were also extended to those plot holders who have helped with work parties, and to Craig Smith in particular for all his willing work around the site as well as with school parties who have visited during the year.
Further visits have been arranged with schools, as well as a bug hunt in May.

7. Site Secretary’s report
The Secretary told the meeting of her intention to step down from the Committee at the next AGM.
She also thanked the members for their support of the idea of reducing the size of plots, when large plots become vacant. This has been a resounding success and has increased the number of plots being let.
She also thanked those plot holders who regularly attend work parties. As a result, the site is looking far better than it has been, even 12 months ago.
Roger Kay did raise a point – that when plots are cleared, a lot of carpet is often found. This is banned by the Council, is heavy to dispose of and toxic for the soil. He asked all members to point this out to other plot holders if they see it being brought on to the site.

8. Teasurer’s Report
Not available online, please ask a committee member if you’d like a copy of the treasurers report.

The audited accounts were unanimously accepted by the meeting.

9. Shop Report
Roger Kay presented this report in the absence of Val Finch.
The shop is in profit, thanks to all the plot holders who support it.
Val takes in surplus plants, which are sold in the shop, the money from these sales go to the site funds.
Unfortunately, such donations left outside the shop during the week do disappear. PLEASE take any such donations to Craig Smith (Plot 412) and he will pass them on to Val at the weekend.

10. Convener for 2019
Clause P3 of the constitution of the Association requires that a Convener chairs the AGM, chosen by plot holders attending the AGM. Roger Williams proposed that Roger Kay be appointed for 2020.
The meeting agreed unanimously that Roger Kay should serve as the Convener for the 2020 AGM.

11. Elections
After checking the nomination forms, the Convener declared that there were no other nominations, therefore the current Committee would continue
Chair:- Julian Goss
Secretary:- Angharad Jones
Treasurer:- Steven Place
Storekeeper:- Val Finch
Site Manager:- Roger Kay
Plot Letting:- Roger Williams
Webmaster:- Gavin Sims
Member posts on the Executive Committee:-
Vic Donnelly, Sue Finch and Jeff Witts (Caroline Joll – co-opted member)

12. Appointment of Auditor
Mohamad Moulani was proposed as Auditor. This was unanimously agreed.

13. AOB
• Intrusion on the site –
1 chicken was killed, 2 were damaged after being kicked.
Sheds were also vandalised.
The advice is NOT TO LOCK your shed and DO NOT leave any power tools or mechanical tools as they are stolen and sold. A water trough was also damaged.
The Police responded quickly and came to the site – scenes of crime took away a wrecking bar, which had been used to damage the trough
• Theft on a different occasion – Fruit trees and bushes removed from the ground. There was a discussion around using cameras These can be stolen Who would maintain and monitor the cameras?
• Jeff Witts extended thanks to Sharron David (Plot 174) on behalf of everyone on site, for all the work she has done clearing the edge of the access road.

• Gavin Sims explained what he has done on the new website. He handed out leaflets to explain

• If you want to join the new forums on the website, contact Gavin ( to obtain a logon

• Caroline Joll was co-opted onto the Committee

The meeting closed at 8.30pm and the Convener thanked the members for attending.


Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on April 20th 2018 in the Penylan Club

Present: J Goss [79] (Convener), R Williams [59], V Donnelly [75], R Kay [400],S Finch [167], S. Thomas [176A], C Joll [32B], P Thurlbeck [309B], C Smith [413], D Smith, V T Goss [79], W. Morris (319A), L Lyons (142B), C. Pritchard (137A), J Wheeler (140), C. Nurse + E White (107A), N. Drew (8), G. Drew (13), E + T Stephens [136B], A + J Houlston-Clark [318A], D Harris [412], K Boddington [79B], E + P Atherfold [4], R + N Moss [156A], S Kay [19], P Watson [48], S Goddard [67A], S Ansell + M Kelly [64B], P Sutton [106B], C Campagli [60A], J Sanders [24A], A Price [112A], A Jones [16]

Apologies: S Place [3], M Wass [135], V Finch (56), G. Brady (57), V Wright + G Wright [113B + 126A], H Burrows [121], A Tamburello [86], A. Judge (153B), C Stock [23B+24B], P Codron [159C], Z Khan [25], F Gerrard [164]

The Convener welcomed plot holders to the 19th AGM and reminded members that only plot holders could register to vote.

2. Apologies – above

3. Minutes of the 2017 AGM held on 7th April 2017
These were agreed to be a correct record and were signed by the Convener.

4. Matters arising
None was raised.

5. Renewal of LMA for 2018 – 2019
Convener explained the principle of the Self-Management Agreement. We are signed up to Level 3, which means we get a higher income from the Council, but we have to pay for our water. The recommendation of the Committee would be to renew the LMA for 2018-19. There was unanimous agreement from the members at the AGM that the LMA be renewed for 2018-19

6. Chairman’s Report
Julian Goss was acting as Convenor for the AGM as Roger Kay had been unavailable for a few months so JG had taken over the role for this meeting. His report was attached to the documents sent out before the meeting and rather than go over them, he invited the members to ask any questions. One question concerned Stacey Road Primary school, and whether they were likely to visit the site again. Julian was confident that this was highly likely as it had been so successful last year, largely due to Craig Smith’s input with the children. Sue Ansell [Plot 64B] offered her help with future visits.

7. Site Secretaries Report
Angharad explained the process of plot inspections, consisting of 3 steps – an initial letter of concern, formal letter to cultivate or quit, eviction notice from the Council. There is a period of 4 weeks between each step. When an eviction notice is sent from the Council, the plot holder has a further 4 weeks in which to appeal the notice and show that some improvement has been made. Photographic evidence of the plot is taken when the formal C/Q notice is sent, and also when the Council issues an eviction notice. It’s a long process, which is frustrating for the Committee and for the neighbours of the neglected plots. AJ also thanked Roger Williams for his continued work, organizing plot-letting paperwork and to other members of the committee who do plot letting duty. No questions were asked from the floor.

8. Shopkeeper’s Report
Val Finch was unable to attend the meeting. Julian apologized on her behalf.

9. Treasurer’s Report
Not available online, please ask a committee member if you’d like a copy of the treasurers report.

10. Convener for 2019
Clause P3 of the constitution of the Association requires that a Convener chairs the AGM, chosen by plot holders attending the AGM. Julian Goss proposed that Roger Kay be appointed for 2019. The meeting agreed unanimously that Roger Kay should serve as the Convener for the 2019 AGM.

11. Elections
After checking the nomination forms, the Convener declared that there were no other nominations, therefore the current Committee would continue
Chair:- Julian Goss
Secretary:- Angharad Jones
Treasurer:- Steven Place
Storekeeper:- Valerie Finch
Site Manager:- Roger Kay
Plot Letting:- Roger Williams
Webmaster:- Simon Thomas
Member posts on the Executive Committee:- Mattew Wass, Vic Donnelly, and Sue Finch

12. Appointment of Auditor
Mohamad Moulani was proposed as Auditor. This was unanimously agreed.

13. AOB
a) Sue Ansell [Plot 64B] – concerned about the use of chemicals on site. She had to leave her plot twice
i) when weedkiller was being used
ii) when weeds were being killed using burning paraffin JG explained that the path between plots are the responsibility of both plot holders. He suggested that:
i) If you want to use weedkillers, you must discuss this with your neighbours
ii) Many plot holders try to garden organically and have the right to do this. We must therefore, be sensitive to our neighbours.
b) Rubbish is accumulating near the metal dump with plastic pots and other plastic blowing down the road near the dumping area. This should be taken home. JG explained that we use skips, which are expensive.
c) Julia Houlston-Clark offered to help the Association apply for money from the Big Lottery, people and places grant.
d) Bees – a question re hives on site. JG explained the history of Council rules. Also the role of CAHA. To keep bees on site, a plot holder must be properly qualified and also garden a plot which is designated as appropriate by the Council. Chickens – the legislation allows plot holders to keep chickens, but they are a heavy responsibility and need tending twice a day. This commitment seems to put many people off.
e) Question regarding clearing the road by your plot. This is encouraged!
f) Query about the demolition of Howardian – the old school. Likely to be after September. Houses are planned for the site. RASW said we should be eligible to apply for a Section 106 grant.

The meeting closed at 8.20pm and the Convener thanked the members for attending.


We hope to organise a bug-hunt for plot holders’ children (and grandchildren) on a Sunday next summer, having held a couple of successful bug-hunts earlier this year for visiting primary schools. It’s a great way to teach young people about some of the wonders of nature. In the meantime, numbers of natural pollinators are in decline. This is because of loss of  habitat, and also the use of dangerous pesticides. Gardeners can do a little to turn the tide by growing flowers, as many of us do. Ideally they should be varieties in which nectar and pollen are easily accessible, single blooms rather than doubles. Every bit helps.

A tiny minority of plot holders persist in bringing carpets on site, and even domestic rubbish This is not only anti-social, but contrary to the Council’s letting conditions. It also happens to be illegal. Please take rubbish home. I have it on good authority that the Council will employ people to come to your home and collect rubbish every week.

Cheap seeds.
(Please see form attached to this email) Seeds are pretty expensive these days, so it’s a pleasure to announce that we can buy Mr. Fothergill’s seeds at half price. Please contact Matt on tel. no. 07709 959585 for a seed order form. Cash only.

There seem to be a bit of confusion regarding pathways. There has to be a path between every plot and all of its neighbours, the path has to be kept clear, and it is the joint responsibility of the neighbours on each side of the path to keep it in good order. If you have any queries on this score, please contact Roger Williams on tel. no. 02920 492934.

Strimmers and other equipment.
It is possible to obtain the use of certain machines on site. There is a charge for this, to cover maintenance and fuel. Plot holders also have to put down a deposit, which will be returned when the machinery is returned in a clean and undamaged condition.

Annual General Meeting.
Our AGM will be on Friday 26 April, at the Penylan Club. Put the date in your diary now.

Shop opening hours. 
Val says she doesn’t do much trade on a Saturday, so she is experimenting with opening only on a Sunday, from 12.00 till 2.00.

Julian Goss.

Nitrogen-Fixing Vegetables.
It has long been believed by many gardeners that growing legumes fixes nitrogen in the soil, which helps crops planted in the same spot the following year to flourish. This was thought to be especially true of leafy crops, since nitrogen is essential for leaf production. Which? Magazine tested this theory last year by growing plots of runner beans, climbing French beans, dwarf French beans, broad beans, mangetout, garden peas, sugarsnap peas and winter tares (a green manure in the legume family). Two other plots were left fallow. Both were rotovated this spring, and one of them had Growmore added. The Growmore plot produced the highest yield, around twice as much as any of the other plots. There was very little difference between the bean plots and the fallow plot, where no fertilizer was applied, nor legumes grown. The plots where the peas and the green manure were sown produced only a tiny amount of produce. None of this means that we should stop using green manures to suppress weeds, however.


A small number of plot holders are in the habit of dumping rubbish on our carparks. This is no longer permitted. Our Annual General Meeting last year unanimously established the policy that, in future, green waste could be dumped UNDER THE TREES on plot 10 and UNDER THE TREES opposite plot 121, where it can rot down. Scrap metal can be dumped opposite plot 119B, so we can take it to a scrap merchant. All other rubbish, including plastic, glass, timber and carpets must be taken home and disposed of in the usual way.


Propagating herbs.
The best way to propagate woody herbs such as rosemary, thyme, lavender, sage, marjoram and oregano, is from heel cuttings taken around July. Take short shoots, 5cm (2”) long, from this season’s growth. Gently pull them away from the branch, retaining a short sliver of bark attached to the ‘heel’ of the cutting. Pop the cuttings into a plastic bag, to stop them drying out. Have the 9cm (3”) pots and the cutting compost already prepared. Cutting compost contains no nutrients, but will allow the roots to develop. Strip away 15mm of the lower leaves, spread a small layer of sharp sand on top of the compost, then press about 5 cuttings in the pot. They can then be left in a cool, shaded spot outdoors. You can tell they’ve taken when new growth appears at the tip of the cuttings. After two months the roots will be showing through the bottom of the pot, now you pot them on in potting compost. Water them in. Keep them in the shade for a week. By the end of summer you’ll have a brand new herb collection.


Many plot holders are now numbering their plots so they can be clearly identified. This is helpful all round. If you would like a number plate for your own plot, Vic can supply one for £2 (Tel: 07594 438669). Alternatively, give the money and the order to Val next time you’re in the shop.

Please also make provision for collecting rainwater. Our Association now pays for the mains water we use in the troughs. And rainwater is better for the crops. We are also collecting rainwater from the roof of the Container and we intend to do likewise from the roof of the Meeting Room.

Broken glass is always a problem on allotment sites. If you see any, please take it home and put it out with the rubbish.

Now’s the time of year when we begin to think of ordering seeds. If you’d like to join the scheme for half-price seeds, contact Matt (07709 959585).

Finally, many plot holders have responded with enthusiasm to the idea of making available much smaller plots for gardeners who feel they are getting too old to manage a full-sized plot. If you are one of these, contact Roger Williams (02920 492934) and we’ll see if we can help.

Julian Goss.

Driving on site.

Please remember that speed limit is 20mph on all access roads, and bear in mind that we have many families with small children on the site. Some people have been warned about speeding, having been reported by other plot holders. The Committee takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that all our members can garden safely, and people who drive too fast may find they are prevented from bringing a motor vehicle on site.

Someone had a new bathroom, and took the trouble to bring all the packaging on to our site and dump it on the carpark next to the disabled plot. If you know this person, please tell them about the Council dump at Wedal Road and Lamby Way.

Autumn in the shop.

Hi everyone. Many thanks for supporting the shop during the Summer. Our pumpkin competition was very successful, with 60 entrants. The main competition was won by Nick Mason, and the junior competition by Jerry Camilleri’s grandson. Congratulations to them both. (The pumpkins were measured, not weighed, I’m glad to say! We were advised to do this by a seasoned produce judge in allotment competitions). Tea and cakes were served afterwards.

At the time of writing the Japanese onions, garlic and shallots are expected. Please come and get yours before they sell out.

Have a good Autumn. Val Finch.

Dumping rubbish on our site

It has been obvious for a while that some unscrupulous plot holders think it is OK to leave unwanted items from home on our site for others to clear away. This is FLY TIPPING and a breach of the law. Anyone identified to be fly tipping will be reported to the Council. And the Council is liable to evict offenders.

We spend a lot of time and money clearing away rubbish that accumulates on peoples’ plots, which is time and money that could be better used on other projects. It is particularly galling when the City’s Lamby Way disposal site is free to use for virtually anything.

Adhering to tenancy rules.

The Committee will in future have to take a stricter line in proposing evictions for non-cultivation., as we have a significant increase in the waiting list and a shortage of vacant plots. Everyone needs to make a serious effort to bring their plot to a reasonable standard. Clear the undergrowth, weeds, etc, and perhaps cover the ground with weed suppressant (which can be bought on site). But don’t use carpet. The tenancy agreement stipulates that one third of the plot should be cultivated within 3 months, and the whole plot within 12 months.

Roger Kay.

Try new varieties of seed.

Many commercial growers no longer grow ‘Gardeners Delight’ tomatoes. As a result, the seed now on sale is not as good as it used to be. The rigorous testing that commercial growers used to implement no longer takes place and the seed is no longer reliable. And a lot of seed is now sourced from countries like China, where standards are not so high. The same applies to a number of other old favourites, so that the authoritative magazine Gardening Which? now recommends replacing some of the varieties that used to be popular.

Grow beetroot ‘Pablo’ instead of ‘Detroit’, cabbage ‘Caraflex’ not ‘Wheelers Imperial’, cauliflower ‘Gypsy’ not ‘All Year Round’, kale ‘Kapitan’ not’ Dwarf Green Curled’, leek ‘Bandit’ not ‘Musselburgh’, parsnip ‘Gladiator’ not ‘Tender and True’ and tomato ‘Suncherry Premium’, not ‘Gardeners Delight’.


NEW – Gardening Courses at the Meeting Room

Our new Meeting Room (beside the Shop) is proving to be a valuable asset and is already earning its keep! It is now the venue for TWO training courses in Gardening. open to all plotholders, both existing and aspiring, across Cardiff.

Whether you are new to gardening or would like to boost your existing knowledge and skills, the new weekly course, Gardening for Beginners, will help you get the most from your garden whether at home or on the allotment! This 2 hour class will run every Wednesday morning, during Term Time, starting on September 29th.


Topic: How to get the most from your Garden – week by week

Venue: The Meeting Room, Colchester Avenue Allotments, Hammond Way

Date: Every Wednesday morning (3 x10 week terms)

Time: 10:00-12:00 (2 hours)

Fee: £104 per term (10 weeks) – concessions possible.

Existing and New plot-holders will also find the Gardening Monthly course invaluable for planning your fruit and vegetable growing through the year. Held on the 2nd Saturday of each month, each 4 hour session focuses on topical tasks for the month ahead with some hands-on practical experience every month.


Tepic: What to do on your allotment in the coming month

Venue: The Meeting Room, Colchester Avenue Allotments, Hammond Way

Date: On the second Saturday of every month (Except Jan, Apr and Aug)

Time: 10:00 – 14:00 (4 hours including a 30 min break)

Fee: £20 per class – concessions possible.

Both courses are being delivered through Cardiff Adult Community Learning , with tutor Aisling Judge – who is a professional horticultural tutor and a plot holder at Colchester Avenue Allotments.

Colchester Avenue Allotments Association (CAAA) is a registered charity. Charity no. 1092014.


As you know, our AGM decided not to completely ban the dumping of unwanted material.

Scrap metal can still be dumped at the back of the car park opposite Plot 121. Hard wood prunings can be left to rot down UNDER THE TREES, opposite Plot 121, and behind the car park, on Plot 10.

Soft prunings, weeds etc. need to be composted, taken to Wedal Road, or taken home for the domestic refuse collection. The roots of perennial weeds (bindweed, horse tails etc.) can be submerged in water for six weeks. This will kill them, and the resulting liquid makes good plant food. (the same can be done with comfrey).

Getting started on your plot.

On Saturday, May 27, CAAA will be hosting the first of a series of Saturday training courses for allotmenteers, taking place in our Meeting Room. Organised by Cardiff Adult Community Learning, the session will last from 10 till 2 (4 hours, including a 30 minute break). The cost will be £20 for the full fee, £15 for Concessions.

The course will help you to:

*Learn about you soil, what it needs and how to improve it.

*Keep weeds at bay.

*Start your Summer crops.

*Draw up a simple growing plan.

*Start making your own compost.

*Conserve water on the plot.

*Get the most from your allotment—throughout the year!

To book a place, contact John Hobson, Community Education Officer, on 02920 631144 or

Some problems with apples.

Bitter pit. Tiny brown specks appear in the flesh of the apple, making it unpleasant to eat. This is caused by calcium deficiency, which results from having too little water. Heavy-cropping trees, and those with large fruit, are most susceptible. So thinning the crop may help.

Capsid bug. Raised brown or yellow bumps appear on the apple’s skin. The tree is not harmed. The apple can be eaten after the bumps are cut off.

Brown rot. Fruits become soft and brown, with raised white spots on them. Rot attacks damaged fruit, so remove fruit damaged by wasps, birds or hailstones before the infection can strike. Dispose of infected fruit.

Apple scab. Leaves develop raised grey patches. Fruit sometimes develop scab patches. Try to encourage air circulation around the foliage by regular pruning. Collect up and dispose of infected leaves to avoid the disease spreading.

Winter moth. In early spring, tiny yellow-green caterpillars feed on the foliage. They also damage small fruits. Later the fruits become distorted, with deep cracks in them. The female is wingless, and climbs the tree between the end of autumn and winter. Putting sticky grease-bands around the trunk can stop her getting to the foliage to lay her eggs.

Codling moth. Small white, brown-headed caterpillars feed inside the apple, leaving a tunnel filled with their droppings. The caterpillar’s exit hole is clearly visible. Apples usually go on to suffer from other problems, such as brown rot. You can hang pheromone traps to kill the male moths in early May, or spray trunks and branches in September or October with a biological control such as Nemasys Fruit and Veg Protection. Destroy affected apples.

Fireblight. The blossom suddenly wilts and dies shortly after opening. The shoot withers and dies. If you peel back the bark, the wood will be a red-brown colour. Prune out and destroy all the affected growth. If this is done soon enough the tree might be saved.

Leaf miner. White and brown wiggly lines develop in the leaves. This has no affect on the fruit.

Report of AGM held on April 7th 2017 at the Penylan Bowls Club
The meeting was well attended, with 37 attendees, and 20 apologies.
The Executive Committee for 2017 remains unchanged, as there were no other nominations.
Chair:- Julian Goss
Secretary:- Angharad Jones
Treasurer:- Steven Place
Storekeeper:- Valerie Finch
5 member posts Roger Kay, Mattew Wass , Vic Donnell, Roger Williams, Sue Wilshere, Simon Thomas

The Chairman explained that the role of Site Secretary, previously filled by Roger Williams, had been divided into 4 areas of responsibility. Angharad Jones was the designated Secretary, responsible for minutes, letters and the point of contact with the Council. Roger Kay has taken on the role of Site Manager, Roger Williams organizes and co-ordinates plot letting and Julian Goss attends meetings with the Parks Department and CAHA.

Both Julian Goss and Angharad Jones thanked Roger Williams for the fantastic work he had done over so many years.

Angharad Jones explained that the Association is now responsible for inspecting plots. These inspections are carried out on a regular basis throughout the year, with plot holders being informed of any concerns regarding a lack of cultivation or the accumulation of rubbish on their plot. The Council retains the power of eviction – which is supported by photographic evidence taken during plot inspections.

The shop had a difficult year with an attempted burglary, which resulted in the renewal of the roof, and an invasion of rats, which caused significant loss of stock. Both problems were sorted. Val Finch thanked everyone for the support shown to the shop.

In the Treasurer’s absence, the Chairman thanked Mohammed Moulani for auditing the accounts again. The meeting agreed that he be appointed auditor for the next financial year.

Roger Kay, the Site Manager described the work done on site. He explained the importance of water conservation, as the Association is now responsible, under the Local Management Agreement, for paying the water bill. He was clear that hoses must NOT be connected to any mains trough – they can only be connected to containers in which rainwater had been collected.

He explained that any experiences with intruders must be reported to the Police or via 101.

The new container will be used as a Meeting Room. He asked that, if anyone had any suggestions for uses, to pass those suggestions on to members of the committee.

He explained the importance of Work Parties and announced that Refreshments will be available in future for those participating in work parties.

A large part of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of the draft resolution regarding dumping on site. This resolution was modified and passed by a clear majority:

“We resolve, therefore, that in future, all rubbish that plot holders wish to dispose of, must be taken off site by THEM – excluding green waste and scrap metal.”

From now on, plot holders must compost as much green waste as possible. To help with this, it is hoped that workshops on compost making will be held.

Any scrap metal must be put in the designated area at the back of the car park next to the A48. Some green waste may be put behind the bank next to the same car park as well as behind the car park near Plot 8.

ON NO ACCOUNT should any rubbish/green waste be left on any car park.

Roger Kay was re-elected as Convener for the 2018 AGM.

Colchester Avenue Allotments Association (CAAA) is a registered charity. Charity no. 1092014.


It’s time to be thinking of buying seeds for next season. In order to take advantage of the half-price seeds scheme, contact Matt for an order form (07709 959585). Tot up the prices of the seeds you want, divide by two, and give the money, in cash, to Matt. Please do not attempt to give your order form to any other member of the Committee. It complicates matters.

We now pay our own water bills, as an Association. So we have good reason to take water harvesting more seriously. The more water we can harvest, the smaller our bill will be. The Committee hopes soon to get hold of a supply of water butts to sell to plot holders, to help with this.

When in the mood for a spot of DIY, plot holders might consider numbering their plot, so it can be more easily identified. If you have forgotten your plot number, Roger Williams can help you out (02920 492934).

Paths and Fences.

Can I remind you of the rules and your responsibilities affecting paths and fences? Our site is laid out in such a way that adjacent plots are separated from each other by a path. The purpose of these paths is to avoid boundary disputes and provide access. They must not be obstructed. They are not owned by anyone.

The paths are normally half a metre wide. However, where a path gives access to an inner plot (one which does not front directly onto a roadway), one of the paths leading to the inner plot will be a metre wide—wide enough for a wheelbarrow.

Corners of plots are marked by yellow boundary pegs, which should not be moved. If you are unsure of the exact boundaries of your plot, ask any Committee member and we will check the boundary pegs for you. It is your responsibility to maintain the paths around your plot by cutting grass and ensuring that the paths are not obstructed. Normally this is done jointly with your neighbours.

If you want to erect a fence it must be on your side of the path. You are not entitled to incorporate the path into your plot. And the Council has ruled that fences cannot be higher than one metre, to minimise the shading of adjacent plots.

Roger Williams.


If you change your address, Tel. No. or email address, please tell Angharad (07779 170662). Also, tell her if you want to receive Newsletters, etc., from the Association by email. Contact her on:

Shop Matters.

At the time of writing autumn has actually arrived. For a long spell of mild weather we managed to persuade ourselves it was still summer. But there are now more leaves on the ground than the trees and it’s time to face the fact that winter is coming!

I have spoken to a few new plot holders in the last few weeks, most of them enquiring about weed suppressing fabric. Some were surprised to hear that they could be planting Japanese onions, garlic, shallots and broad beans now for an early harvest in the spring. We do have these in the Shop, as well as the usual variety of composts. I also have a load of spare pots and would be glad to pass them on.

Could anyone needing seed potatoes tell me which variety, so I can order the most popular ones? The Shop opens 12—2, Sat and Sun.

Cheers. Val Finch.


I thank everyone who contributed to the imaginative “Site Secretary Departure” present of a train trip on the Severn Valley Railway, pulled by the Flying Scotsman and the Tornado steam engines. Despite the 8am start, the weather was perfect and there was a terrific atmosphere both on the train and on the lineside. I was deeply chuffed by your kind gift.

Roger Williams.

Growing Garlic.

There are two types of garlic: ‘hard-neck’ garlic, which tends to have fewer, fatter cloves, and ‘soft-neck’, which stores better. There is also ‘Elephant garlic’, which looks like a huge version of garlic, and is used in the same way, but is actually a member of the leek family. It has a slightly milder flavour than proper garlic. And it’s expensive.

For regular garlic, many gardeners use bulbs bought from the greengrocer. But these may not be free of disease, and they may be more appropriate to warmer climate conditions than we enjoy in Wales. Of course, we can keep back some of our own garlic for planting next season (especially Elephant garlic, because of the cost). And we tend to get better results by using the larger cloves.

Most garlic varieties can be planted out in November or in February. If that’s not possible, they can be started off in pots in an unheated greenhouse and planted out in the spring. But they all need a spell of really cold weather, if they are to develop proper cloves.

Harvest the bulbs when the leaves turn brown. If they are not lifted at that time, the bulbs will split into cloves in the ground. Hang the bulbs up to dry before storing them in a cool, dry place.


Keep Colchester Avenue Site Tidy.

We would like to remind existing plot holders, and inform new plot holders, of their obligations as gardeners on our site.

It is forbidden to bring vehicle tyres on to the site for any purpose. To hold down ground cover it is best to use timber, stones or bricks, all of which can be recovered on the site. Last year we were forced to pay for the removal and disposal of 385 tyres at a cost of almost £500. Money that could have been better spent on other things, as you will agree. Other items which have no place on our site include red and white road cones, shopping trolleys and other such debris. The rule of thumb must be that if you don’t want it in your garden at home, we don’t want it on site. You will be asked to take such things away. During a recent removal of accumulated rubbish which consisted of glass, children’s toys, bottles, plastic bags of rubbish, abandoned PVC doors and windows etc., the Work Party loaded almost FIVE tonnes into a large 17 m3 waste bin which cost us £900 to dispose of. THIS IS CLEARLY NOT ACCEPTABLE. Such costs prevent us from spending our funds on site improvements, and, in particular, on security.

It is against the Council’s rules to use hosepipes on the site, even to syphon water from the troughs. If hosepipes are discovered by the Committee during the regular site inspections, plot holders will be asked to remove them. Failure to comply may result in the Council terminating that person’s tenancy. Whilst on the subject of water, please do not interfere with the troughs or the ballcocks. We don’t want to waste water from overflowing troughs as we are now responsible for paying our own water bills. If there is a problem with a trough, please contact Roger Kay (02920 464556).

Please drive responsibly on the site, as parents do bring children to help them in their gardens. As an Association we very much wish to welcome the next generation of gardeners into our midst, and we would like to make sure the site is safe for them. And don’t forget to use the car-parks, rather than obstructing the roadways.

Remember to secure permission before erecting a greenhouse or a shed. They MUST be of a regular aluminium or timber construction. Constructing them out of miscellaneous PVC doors and windows is not on.

After a number break-ins and thefts this year, we have reinforced parts of our boundary fence with heavy duty steel mesh. As long as we have the money, we will continue to improve security, and the quality of our roadways, as well as dealing with horsetails/marestails, which will require special and costly treatment, and which we can only do with the agreement of plot holders.

Some plot holders are using tarpaulin as ground cover. This does not allow rain to pass through, and it encourages moss to grow. We would recommend buying permeable ground cover from Craig (07944 417528). It is more user friendly, and will not sour the soil.

Thanks to everyone, in advance, for their co-operation in helping to make our site a better place.

Roger Kay.
Colchester Avenue Allotments Association (CAAA) is a registered charity. Charity no. 1092014.