Spring 2016 Newsletter

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.

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