Editorial.

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.

NB.

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: colchesteravenueaa@gmail.com

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.

Thanks.

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.

5-a-day.

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.
http://www.caaa.org.uk

Editorial

Roger Williams has stood down as Site Secretary after 15 years of outstanding and selfless work. As a small token of appreciation we had a whip-round for him. Roger is a steam engine buff, so we secured two tickets for Gina and himself to take a trip on the newly refurbished Flying Scotsman, from Kidderminster to Bridgenorth. Our gift includes a night in a hotel in Kidderminster, with evening meal and breakfast paid for. Bon voyage!

Since the shop at Forest Farm Allotments was broken into in January (the lock was cut off with a disc cutter) we temporarily removed the equipment from our container until we could make it more secure. It should be back to normal soon. Please contact Craig (07944 417528) if you want use of gardening equipment.

Don’t forget to tell friends and relatives that we have vacant plots available. Just Phone the Parks Department on 02922 330 235.

Finally, please give your email address to Angharad  (angharad.ll.jones@gmail.com) if you are willing to receive electronic mailings from the Association, thus saving the Association money for printing and postage.

News from the Shop

Hello everyone. Many thanks to those who have used the shop on a regular basis, and curses on those who were recently seen buying compost from B&Q and Homebase. We know your plot number!

Seriously, we now stock a comprehensive range of compost including the very popular soil improving compost. This is especially appropriate for breaking down clay soil, and, at £3 a bag, is reasonably priced.

We are starting to receive a variety of surplus seedlings (sprouts and tomatoes yesterday). We have in stock at the moment seed potatoes, red and white onion sets, shallots, garlic, peas, broad beans and rhubarb. Throughout the growing season we are able to access local suppliers of plants such as tomatoes, chillies and cucumbers. We are always open to suggestions about improving our product range.

Our opening times are 12.00—14.00, Sat and Sun, when it’s not raining.

We look forward to seeing you in the shop to buy, to exchange surplus seedlings, or just to chat.    Val Finch.

SITE MANAGEMENT AND IMPROVEMENTS

Following the AGM and the appointment of the Executive Committee for 2016/17 and the subsequent decision to appoint a Site Manager a survey of the site has recently been undertaken. We have decided to begin an ongoing upgrade to the site infrastructure. This will inevitably cause some disruption to a number of areas and we will liaise with affected plot holders in due course. This will generally involve replacement of the failing road edging and some road repairs and we trust plot holders will show patience and consideration during the works.

We will be asking new and existing plot holders to please show more attention to the state of their plots as many have on them what we would call unrelated debris, many are very untidy and generally appear neglected despite being obviously in use. This debris such as tyres, rusting and unusable 45 gallon steel drums, metal cages and similar causes the committee to have to pay for its disposal when the plot is vacated which is not acceptable. Items brought onto the site which are not directly relevant to gardening are to be discouraged and in future the plot holder will be required to remove said items

In future, as regards sheds and greenhouses, the only acceptable type of construction is wood or metal/aluminium and polypropylene.  We do of course accept polytunnels provided that an application has been made. We will not accept any redundant/waste white UPVC doors and windows to be used in the construction of sheds and the like. Whilst we know there are already some on the site, as these are historic in nature we are duty bound to allow them to continue to be used. The reason for this change of attitude is simply that when the plot holder gives up or passes on, the committee will be forced to pay for the removal of the UPVC which should originally have been regarded as waste. Along with other items such as tyres which despite the cleanup last year still appear, plot holders are urged to take account of environmental and waste issues when bringing items onto the site. Our view is, if it doesn’t belong in your house or garden it does not belong on your Colchester Avenue Allotments plot. By bringing unwanted items to your plot you could be in breach of environmental waste legislation, and you are certainly in breach by not removing unwanted items for proper disposal. Finally if you want to store water please do NOT use metal drums they deteriorate, become unusable and the site ends up having to dispose of them.

Beginning shortly we will start taking photographs of every plot so that we can manage ongoing issues caused by the above and so identify areas where improvements are necessary, not only to plots but also to the infrastructure

It is not our intention to be unnecessarily strict but we must spend the available funds in a way which is beneficial to the site rather than having to pay out to clear up former plot holders unwanted items which are supposed to be removed on vacating the plot. (Roger Kay)

More on Soft Fruit

Most of us seem to grow strawberries. But there are plenty of other soft fruit to enjoy.

Hybrid Berries
These are mostly a cross between raspberries and blackberries. They include Tayberries (developed in Scotland) and a number of others like Loganberries (developed by Mr. Logan in the US) and Brownberries (developed by Mr Brown in the US). Loganberries now come in different strains. LY59 is a good one to try. 
Hybrid berries need to be trained, preferably on wires stretched between posts.

Soft Fruit bushes
These include blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants and gooseberries.
 When they mature they need to be about 5 feet apart. After 3 or 4 years, prune blackcurrants by taking out a quarter of the oldest branches at the base, to encourage new growth. Remove dead and diseased growth, and branches that are too low, unless you want to start a new plant by “layering”—that is, pinning a low branch to the ground in spring, where it will put down roots, and severing it from the parent plant and digging it up in winter. (This can be done with all the above fruit).

Gooseberries, red- and whitecurrants can be pruned by removing half of the new growth at the end of each branch in the autumn, as well as removing dead or low-lying growth.

Raspberries
There are many varieties, but they fall into 2 categories—summer raspberries, which fruit on last year’s canes, and autumn raspberries, which fruit on this year’s new canes. Summer ones ripen over a short period. They also need to be supported. Autumn ones produce a handful of fruit every couple of days, but should carry right on till the first frost. They don’t need supporting.

Blueberries
They like wet, acid conditions. Plant them in ericaceous compost, mulch them pine needles, sawdust, peat or leaf mould, and water them even if it’s raining! Try to use rain-water rather than mains water, it’s more acidic.

Feeding
All of these fruit (except blueberries) will benefit from a feed of sulphate of potash in late winter, and of sulphate of ammonia in April. And they can be mulched with well-rotted manure or garden compost to suppress annual weeds and to conserve moisture. Even then, an occasional heavy watering in dry weather, when fruit is forming, will also help.

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


Autumn 2015 Newsletter

Editorial

MIND
Cardiff Mind, a charity helping people with mental illnesses, has had its funds cut. The charity therefore has to give up its large plot on our site. We are being given a number of items of their equipment, which we will offer to the highest bidder amongst plot holders. We will return any money raised to Mind, and keep hold of the unsold items. The equipment consists of:

Lawnmower, wheelbarrow, strimmer, hedgetrimmer, fruit cage, cultivator, polytunnel, ladder, a few forks, spades, rakes and an edger.

Please contact Julian Goss (07974 015135) if you are interested in entering the fray.

ERECTING STRUCTURES
In future anyone wanting to erect a structure on their plot: shed, greenhouse, fruit cage etc., will need to get an application form from the Secretary.

TENANTS AGREEMENT
At present, when plot holders sign the form accepting a plot, the form is sent off to the Council, which duly sends out a bill for the rent. Rather oddly, the Terms and Conditions governing plot holders are listed on the back of this form, so plot holders never normally get to see it. This system needs to change. But, since Council Depts. often move at a snail’s pace, we include a copy of this Schedule with this Newsletter.

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING
We have spent good money clearing green waste dumped on several of our car parks. If you want to get rid of green waste please take it up the ramp opposite plot 121. Or take it home for the Council collection of Garden Waste. Or, better still, compost it.

It is also worth knowing that, under the new Local Management Agreement, we now pay for the mains water we use on site. We receive an annual grant (taken out of the rents we pay as plot holders) to pay for this. So we should harvest as much rain water as possible, reducing our water bill, in order that some of this grant can be ploughed back into paying for other improvements to the site.

MAKING COMPOST
Add nitrogen-rich (green) vegetation, and carbon-rich (brown) shredded prunings, thin cardboard, and paper, in equal proportions. (Don’t add piles of grass clippings by themselves. They will turn to slime). Cardboard should be torn up (don’t use shiny cardboard) and paper scrunched up. Loo rolls and egg boxes can be used as they are. Don’t let the compost dry out, but don’t drown all the insects that help to turn your rubbish into beautiful compost. Mix it up monthly. The compost is ready when it is brown and looks like soil. Don’t worry if there are a few bits of stick in it.

Homemade compost is one of the best things you can use to keep your soil healthy and your plants thriving. Adding composted organic material introduces essential organisms that may not be found in other soil improvers. It also helps to improve soil structure, water retention and drainage.

What can I add?
Rhubarb leaves, comfrey, nettles, annual weeds (before setting seed), perennial weed tops (avoiding roots), plants with mildew, black spot and blight, scrunched paper, cardboard and wood ash.

What should I avoid?
Large quantities if newspapers, large amounts of woody clippings, dog faeces, cat litter, large amounts of sawdust, plants suffering from viral diseases, coal ash, bread, cooked food, meat and dairy products.

THE SHOP
Thank you to everyone who used the shop this summer. Many of you brought in surplus seedlings that were immediately snapped up. Please let’s do the same next year. By the time this Newsletter is published I hope that Japanese onions, garlic and broad beans will be available. I try to open the shop on Saturday and Sunday between 12 and 2, but as any of you with children will know, you never know what crisis will face you next. I am usually on plot 56 (next to Roger Williams) on Wednesdays and Thursdays. So come and get me. I don’t mind opening the shop at any time. (Val Finch)

HALF PRICE SEEDS
We’ve had a half price scheme for a number of years now, using a reputable company with a wide range to choose from. Please pick up an order form from the shop, or phone 07709959585. Deduct 50% from the price, and give the form and the money (cash only) to me. Not to Val or any other member of the Committee. Put your plot number on the form. Wait till we have enough orders to satisfy the scheme. And you’re there. Please double check that you’ve got your sums right. (Matt Wass)
Colchester Avenue Allotments Association (CAAA) is a registered charity. Charity no. 1092014.
http://www.caaa.org.uk

COLCHESTER AVENUE ALLOTMENTS ASSOCIATION

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 Donnelly

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.

The National Allotment Society (NSALG) is a huge organisation with one focus; allotments. Specifically helping to provide, promote and preserve UK allotments. They work with all levels of governments in the UK, along with a range of other organisations and landlords to ensure they can do this. Since 2011 His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is the patron of the society.

Aside from offering members support, advice and guidance, they have a host of other benefits for members including; Allotmenteers Liability Insurance, Allotment and Leisure Gardener magazine sent quarterly, £25 cashback on home and car insurance, membership to the Kings Seed Discount program offering up to 62.5% discount on seeds and a £5 voucher for new members, exclusive discounts at Reedy garden supplies, birdfood.co.uk, Moonshine Plant Boosters, RHS plants and lots more.

Membership for an individual is only £23, click here for more information and to join.

Wind & Weather

The weather over the last week has been pretty atrocious with wind gusts up to 50mph. As our allotments are pretty high up and exposed, it may be worth visiting your plot when weather allows, if you haven’t already, to check if you have any damage. If you do go up while it’s windy, please be careful of any items which could be blown though the air. And if you spot any damage to your plot, do your best to clear it while ensuring your safety. And if you spot any serious damage to plots other than your own, please let the committee know. Below you’ll see weather for the next 7 days (if you’re viewing this article on a computer) or today’s weather if you’re on a mobile or tablet, so keep an eye on the weather and keep safe. 🙂

Allotment WEATHER

It seems we have to send another reminder to plot holders about disposing of rubbish on site. Again people are having to clear rubbish which has been dumped on the site which should have been removed by the people who created it. We provide facilities for people to dispose of scrap metal and green waste; you can leave your green waste under the trees opposite plots 121 and 10 and you can also leave any scrap metal under the tree opposite plot 119B (see the map for more details)

ALL other waste including plastics, bin bags, food packaging, wood, broken tools etc MUST be taken off site. The committee have to spend a lot of money each year removing this waste from the site and it’s money which could be going towards items and facilities which plot holders would find more beneficial. Rubbish removal is clearly outlined in the tenancy agreement all plot holders agree to, and anyone caught fly tipping on site would potentially find their tenancy at risk. The nearest waste centre is at Lamby Way where you can dispose of non recycling waste as well as other materials (see here for more information).

If you require any more information, please contact a member of the committee.

Thank you.

 

National allotment week is an annual event set up by the National Allotment Society and has been going since 2002. The national event is to raise awareness of “allotments and the role they play in helping people to live healthier lifestyles, grow their own food, develop friendships and bolster communities.”

The Allotment Society say “This year’s campaign week theme is “Shared Harvest” celebrating the fact that plot-holders share their crops with family, friends, colleagues and worthy causes, including food banks. Each plot in the UK can benefit up to 8 people!”

Keep an eye out for events relating to this closer to the time and check out all the information on the Allotment Society website