Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Baby It's Cold Outside!



This morning outside at 6:00 and 0 degrees at 9:00 with lowest temperatures recorded in the greenhouse of between -2.2 to -0.2 over night from the 10 monitoring locations and that was with the terracotta pot candle heater.



looking at the weather forecast for the next 10 days I think the Terracotta pot candle will be used most nights in the next 10 days


What I really don't understand is why is the temperature dips a degree after the sun has gone at 16:48  but from 23:00 or 11pm until 3am the following morning is rising by 4 degrees. 

I'm so glad the chitting spud are in the warm part of the greenhouse, the over wintering onions are hardy enough to stand the cold. 


UPDATE I asked the question of our weather guru on the Grapevine Grow Your Own Forum and got this answer

What is happening here is that last night we had high pressure with light winds, allowing the cold air to sink towards the ground with nothing much to mix it up. The sky was clear so heat radiated out into space, and you had a frost. During the day these conditions persisted, but the sun warmed the air so it got a bit warmer. Once the sun goes down the heat again starts to radiate into space - a clear or partly clear sky is showing up to about 8pm. After that it starts to cloud over as the pressure falls and this stops the heat radiating into space so fast. Also notice that the wind starts to pick up. This mixes the air and prevents the cold air sinking so the temperature at ground level actually rises.     

Now we all know! 

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Moving Home Part 1

This Sunday my eldest daughter came home and stayed with my wife, whilst my future son-in-law and I moved the bulk of the paving slab and other items that will be useful from my Spencer Road plot to Mill Green. I must admit some of the thicker 600x600mm slabs are a bugger to lift and I was really glad of Andy's help not only for the use of his van but his help and company during the day. 

We met over the allotment at 9am and worked until 4pm having a packed lunch on my brother-In-laws Keith & Pauline's plot so we didn't have to stop and pop home and could get on. Keith & Pauline looked after us well, making us a hot drink nearly every time we came back from Spencer Road with a load of slabs and kerb edgings to drop off.

I now have enough slabs to finish all the paths on Plot 1A and to get the bases down for the shed and the Greenhouse on Plot 1.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Two Water Butts & A Dalek

There were two water butts with stands put up on Freecycle just before Christmas and the person who had them said if the first person didn't collect then I could have them for my new greenhouse.

So today I drove over to Epsom to collect and the same person had a double (long) plastic Dalek which I returned to collect as I could not get them all in the car. I then picked up another two Daleks which don't have the door at the bottom, which I prefer so now I don't have to empty all the full ones on Spencer Road and can leave the smaller ones there for the new plot holder.  

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Purple Majesty Spuds Arrive !

Albert Bartlett Purple Majesty - Second Early 1kg Pack (12-15 Tubers) I've never grown these before but I'm being provided with some seed potatoes to trial by Marshalls, reading the info about them they are the first purple potato to go on sale commercially in Britain.

The web site says "They are potatoes of the richest purple – purple skin and purple flesh, jam-packed with nutrients and antioxidants it makes a fantastic member of the superfood family along with blueberries, pomegranites and kale. With its genetic origins in the Andes, it’s been specially selected for the food market and has enjoyed great success. It’s an early maincrop variety suitable for salads, and of course as jackets which prove a real hit with children fascinated by its dark purple flesh."

Again the spuds arrived in a cardboard box with breathing holes and giant bubble bag packing in a good condition. 15 number spuds the three largest measuring 65, 70 & 75mm but when you still get 15 tubers and the web site says 1kg Pack (12-15 Tubers) I'm happy if a few are on the larger than hens egg size. I have never done it but one could cut the larger spuds in half.

My nieces children were amazed when I grew spuds that had purple skin on the outside, I can only imagine what they are going to be like when they see these are purple on the inside as well. 

Provided by Marshalls Link to Purple Majesty details on Marshalls web site

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Composting WC Arrives


Redrow the contractor who is still working on our pick up and drop off area for us today erected a composting Plastic Toilet which they have so kindly purchased and provided for us.  

This was something that Mick who brings the physically and mentally handicapped guys and girls down to their allotment plot had said he really needed.

They used to be based just behind the allotment and if anyone needed the facilitates, one of the caring team could take that person back to do their business and then walk them back to the plot to continue gardening.

Since their move they have found it increasing difficult as they come in a mini bus and cars, so that if an individual is caught short they can be taken back to the day care centre. 

This model has a Urine Diversion System which separates urine and faeces, eliminating odours and composting to create fertilizer. Made from WPC, its easier to clean and resistant to extreme temperatures.

The solar power and lighting and internal fittings still need to be installed, but Mick will be very happy when he sees it and it's fully commissioned.  

Human Urine As Fertiliser

Before I post about what's happening on the allotment. 



Saturday, 20 January 2018

Fed Up!


I had arranged for my future son-in-law to help me move a load of stuff from Spencer Road to Mill Green Allotment, but it's not going to happen when everything is wet and its raining !

Update 

I needed to do something gardening related, so I baked off a sack of coffee grounds I picked up from a supermarket cafĂ© last night. I had arranged to pick up another sack tonight and when I went to collect noticed that a Costa Coffee had opened on the way back to the car park, and they were in the process of closing and putting all the furniture back in the shop. 

Now it would be rude not to ask them if I could save them the bother of land filling a huge sack of coffee wouldn't it ! I now have 15 litres of coffee grounds in buckets with lids sitting in the kitchen drying out over night, the smell is wonderful, and no the lids have not been put on yet.

Allotment Gardening Guidelines

This afternoon I had a meeting with Bill Wyatt of the London Borough of Sutton to go through the draft Allotment Gardening Guild which forms part of the contract between the London Borough of Sutton and idverde who have taken over the management of Allotments for the borough with the tenant.

The meeting was held in the offices at Denmark Road that I worked at for 18 years and during that time I had worked on three different floors as council departments tend to move around when they grow and reduce normally due to changes in legislation and increases and reductions in staff and methods of working.

Although I have been gone from there a long time there are still a small number of member of staff that remain that I recognised and they me. It saddened me to find the at Annex building top floor was completely empty and was being used as meeting areas. For all the criticism that council officers have had to put up with over the years, I can say that when I worked there, you did your best, you didn't hide behind a call centre and call back within 48 hours, you took ownership of a problem or an enquiry from a resident and dealt with it, because you were a public servant and felt a sense of duty and a duty of care.

The externalisation of services to save money has done the complete opposite the refuge collection service has been a complete nightmare for both the council and the residents of the borough and the experience with Allotments going out to external management has equally been as poor in the first year, but luckily for them the council have had bigger fish to fry.

As a result of the meeting we will finally have an updated document that correctly defines who is responsible for what, missing sections of the document have been re written and it has been reviewed by all member of the Allotment Gardening Group i.e. The Council, Idverde and the Site Rep Association.

So now I just need to type up the final edits and we are good to go for the Allotment Gardening Group meeting in February.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Allotment Drop Off & Pick Up Area

The weather has not really been very nice to us recently, rain, rain and more rain and then when there is a little sun I have things I have to do and can't get down to the allotment.

I did manage to cut the weed membrane for Plot 1 and it's been in the back of the car. I have another bucket of shredded paper and a couple of owls so they went down to the allotment this morning.

I managed to talk to the Redrow Contracts manager as progress has stalled on the works they are kindly doing for us, and the area by the main wooden gates has become a bog and really needs some weed membrane and type 1 or risings rolled into the ground. 

The area where the composting wc is going is only have completed and the mini digger has churned up the entrance. There is all of a days work to complete laying the hard standing and hopefully as I've given a couple of nudges before and after Christmas something will happen soon, as I'm getting it in the neck from other plot holder, who I don't think appreciate that this is a freemans project and being done when men and materials are available, but I do understand their frustration.

I managed to clear and bag us a number of plastic bottles from the pop bottle greenhouse that I have to a new plot holder that returned to me when he gave the plot up.

Hopefully I will be able to transport some daleks and materials over from Spencer Road to Mill Green on Saturday as I have roped in my future son-in-law to give me a hand. Lets just hope that the weather holds.

      

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Owl Bird Scarer

Reduced to £1.50 at Homebase so I picked a couple up for the Allotment  

Code: 374642cm
Product Name: Brown Owl Garden Ornament and Bird Scarer
Colour: Browncm
Material: Recycled polyethylenecm Dimensions: (H)41 x (W)18.5 x (D)17.5cmcm

Product Summary: This life-size garden owl ornament is excellent for perching upon rooftops, around the garden and in common nesting areas to frighten birds, possums and other pests that are damaging your house or plants. Stop nuisance critters entering your property day and night using this brown owl bird scarer.

Hang on a minute do we have possums in the UK?

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Weed Membrane

No Allotment visit this Sunday but I did manage to cut two length or weed membrane for against the wall, before it got too dark in the afternoon. If we get some reasonable weather and it's not too windy I will go into melting / cutting path and bed size sheet production, so that when the better weather and longer days arrive, I have all the materials I need ready to get on.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Size Is Relative

This morning I had a committee meeting on Spencer Road Allotment. I took the opportunity to ship eight kerb edgings and some of the contents of the shed from Spencer Road to Mill Green Allotment.

It makes sense to move stuff with every visit, the thing is I only really need to visit Spencer Road now to move stuff I want to keep, and to undertake minimal work to keep the weed down so that my plot does not become a problem for those around it, I've been there had that one done to me and I really don't want to become a problem neighbour, before I give up the plot. 

The Catawissa Walking Onions are already growing and it will be a shame to leave them on the Spencer Road plot  but I do have the next generation in the Space Saver Greenhouse in the back garden and I need to form the bed for them on plot 1A at Mill Green sooner than later.



I had trimmed up the offcut from the second strip of weed membrane with a soldering iron at home during the week, as it was so shaggy. The trimmed offcut can be seen in the photo above, up against the wall on the right of the photo on the boundary between plot 1 & 1A.

This sheet of weed membrane felt like it was huge whilst I was working on it in the back garden, but out on the allotment it's covers very little ground, and felt so small and really proves that Size Is Relative.

I marked the wall with chalk (highlighted on the photo) and measured the length of the wall at 8 metres. I needed to verify the length, so that I could cut to the required two lengths off the 2m wide rolls I have purchased. These length will be used to cover the area where the shed and greenhouse is planned to go, and the OS map is out a little as I estimated 9m lengths would be required.

Ultimately I need to measure the plot and work out the actual area I have as I have found that most plots are much smaller than what they charge you for, but no one from the council has ever actually measured the plots. .


Due to the shape of the plot of land that forms Mill Green Allotments, every plot is a different size but they are all charged out at the same area, unless you have measured the plot and inform the council / Idverde what the actual size is.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Kestrel - Second Early Spuds Arrive

The 2kg sack of Kestrel - Second Early spuds courtesy of Marshalls arrived a couple of days ago and finally I have them in a tray ready for chitting, which is one of the first jobs of the veg gardening year.

Chitting potatoes means sprouting the tuber – putting it, most eyes upright, in a light, cool but frost-free place at about 50F (10C). Now you try and find somewhere that is light and 10C all day, it's practically impossible to find. They have been put in my Space Saver Greenhouse with a propagator over to keep the temperature up, it's 7C outside and between 8.1 to 8.5 in the greenhouse at the moment but we are looking at falling night time temperatures and possibly -1C and snow next weekend, so this weekend the bottom of the space saver will be cleared and I will start using the terracotta pot heater to keep the frost at bay or when extremely low overnight temperatures are expected bring the spuds indoors for the night.   

The blurb on the Marshalls Web Page said to expect a Pack of (25-30 Tubers) I actually got 24 because there are 7 much larger than the expected egg sized seed potatoes in my sack, indeed they are supposed to be 35mm - 55mm and I have a couple of 80mm, a couple if 70mm & a 60mm spud, but 24 is still enough for a bed and a half or a three row bed of spuds.

I'm using a 24 tray module and they were complimentary so I'm happy, but Marshalls need better quality control with regards size or reduce the number of spuds to 24 on their web site as some customers may not be happy.

They arrived in a box with four breathing holes on 2 on each side and for a moment I expected an animal and not spuds. I have to say they look extremely healthy, and have no large chits on them like you find when buying from a DIY store.   



I may use the three row and place watering pop bottles in the middle row where the holes are crossed which gives me 24 holes to plant in assuming I don't loose any between now and when they go in the ground which is scheduled for the last week of March

Kestrel seed potatoes produce smooth skinned tubers with purple eyes, and a winner of many prizes at exhibition. They have an old fashioned flavour, and make good chips and roasts well because the soft flesh does not absorb much fat. Consistently shows good resistance to slugs and blackleg. which I really need after the slug attacks last year. 

Link to Kestrel details on Marshalls web site

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Quality Street Tins

I went and did some shopping at Tesco and picked up 2 tins of Quality Street for £1.25 each. They were limited to two tins per customer which I thought was a good thing.

So more Chocolate to stuff at Easter I guess once all the Christmas Chocolate has finally gone, but I get to use the tins down on the allotment to keep the mice out of my stuff

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Composting Cardboard

Working for the Allotment and not on the Allotment !

More evenings spent cutting cardboard boxes left over from Christmas into strips and then small squares so that my worms and critters in the Daleks can get through the cardboard and have edges to attack, and they will decompose faster.

This is the time of year I'm building stocks of Brown material because come March I know Greens in the form of grass will be coming at me from all directions, Sister, Sister-in-Law, Daughter and my own back garden. 

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Monday, 8 January 2018

View From the Greenhouse Door

Not a great deal of activity in the greenhouse in January as one might expect. I'm waiting on some potatoes to show up which will need chitting but in the mean time here is what the greenhouse looks like


Excuse the rubbish in the bottom of the Spacesaver Greenhouse and it needs sorting but until I have made room elsewhere that's where its going to stay. 


The SoilFixer SF60 Spring Onion experiment appears to be holding it's own, and if I can get to a point where I have the existing greenhouse cleared on plot 1A and get the new greenhouse erected on Plot 1- I will relocate the experiment to one of the allotment greenhouse, until the last frost and then then it can live outside


The second level is currently holding a tray of everlasting onions sent to me by a fellow member of the Grow Your Own Grapevine Forum, and this year they appear to be holding their own. Last year they died for some reason and didn't live up to their name. The other tray is Catawissa Walking Onions as are all the onions on the third level down from the top.

The pad on the stick on the bottom shelf right hand side is supposed to be for use in a car but it's useful in helping me remove moisture that builds up on the inside of the greenhouse and it's door as access is obviously difficult.

The tin foil panels help reflect the light and help reduce the amount of lean that young seedlings and plants have trying to get to the light.      

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Clearing The Plot - Day 5


It's been some time since I have been able to get down and continue clearing and working on plot 1, what will having a weekend away, Christmas and wet weekends, but today I managed to get a visit in from 9 - 1:30. I had to recover the lids from the incinerators and from one of the storage bins, and then worked on digging out the tree roots and covering as much of plot 1 As possible with the weed membrane.


All manor of materials bags of leafs, hoop frames, bread trays, concrete slabs and timber recovered from the plot have been used to weigh down the weed membrane. I started to reduce the level in the internal corner formed by the wall and weeded and extracted the dross from the soil. 


Here is the view up the allotment from the entrance. I'm hoping I have enough on the weed membrane to hold it down against the wind. Time passes so quickly when you are busy on the plot.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Planning and Reviewing January in Previous Years

Reviewing the diary over the last five years for January

2013 - Infrastructure works, Laying concrete 43 slab paths and patio area, Collecting Leafs  
 
2014Infrastructure works, Plastic edging from the Window Factory, Digital Thermometers from Lidl, dismantle a greenhouse, Bean trench, Chitting Potatoes, Onions from seed  

2015 -  Coir Blocks from Poundland, Onions from Seed, Spacesaver Greenhouse, Chitting Potatoes, Onions from seed. Allotment Winter Tidy Up   

2016 - Infrastructure works base for the Shed on Spencer Road, Sarpo Spuds arrive end of January, and were set chitting


2017 - Infrastructure works, Laying concrete slabs, Base for the patio area on Spencer Road,  Digital Thermometers from Lidls for the additional green house and Grow Station, Tomato Compost & Coir to the plot as soil conditioner  

Planned for 2018

If the weather permits I have planned Infrastructure works, clearing and weeding the area on the new plot in the location of the shed and greenhouse and if at all possible covering over the whole of the plot with weed membrane in January.

I will keep a look out for the Digital Thermometers from Lidl and purchase a few additional ones for the greenhouse and to replace a couple where the screen is not quite as good as it was.  

To Do List  
  • As much infrastructure works as the weather will allow 
  • Comfrey water butt to be taken from Spencer Road back to Mill Green -
  • Weed & Level the Shed and Greenhouse Area
  • Dig the tree out of the middle of the plot
  • Remove the Trees from along the wall  
  • Lay weed membrane over the whole plot
  • Collect the slabs from Spencer Road
  • Lay the slabs for the shed and Greenhouse  
  • Erect the greenhouse -
  • Make Air Onion raised bed frame
  • Move Comfrey Pipe from Spencer Road to Mill Green - 
  • Rhubarb Bed to be created

Home

  • Cut more path weed membrane
Reminders
  • Purchase vent opener for new greenhouse.-

Tomato Grow List for 2018

There is a thread on the Grow Your Own Grapevine Forum asking what tomatoes grapes will be growing this year which got me thinking a little earlier than usual

I will be growing the usual 22 flower Buckets in the back garden and I want to grow my Crimson Crush 4th generation self saved seeds and Rapunzel on the allotment and lots of short bush varieties in the greenhouses assuming I manage to get the new plot ready and the third greenhouse (2nd Plot) erected in time.

I've catalogued all the tomato seeds in my Seed Box

Then I've sorted my Tomato seed collection by Growing Habit

In January 2017 when rain stopped play on the allotment, I created a three year plan for 2017 - 2019 that when out of the window when I accidently bought more tomato seeds in the Wyevale seed sale

So the final cut for 2018 will be determined this month on a day when rain stops play again, but what I have established so far is;

My Grow every year standards are

01 Beefsteak
02 Gardeners Delight
03 Crimson Crush F4
04 Kibitz
05 Money Maker
06 One Hundreds and Thousands
07 Outdoor Girl
08 Stupicke Poini Rane
09 Rapunzel


So that is 13 More varieties yet to be determined, this will be based on the age of the seed saved so that I may replenish the seed stocks and keep my collection viable.

The Greenhouse varieties will be

01 Bajaja
02 Balconi Red
03 Minibel
04 Red Robin
05 Rosella
06 Sub Artic Plenty
07 Super Roma
08 Tiny Tim


So (at the moment) there is a planned total of 30 different varieties to grown this year! 

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Jar Saving for Beetroot Pickling

It's not just tins that are being saved. After pickling beetroots in all manner of different saved jars in 2017, we decided that as we have Doritos and dip on a semi-regular basis that all the different various jars would go and that we would save the Doritos dip jars, because they have a nice wide neck, and all the lids will fit each other. Even the Tesco Own brand is the same jar and lid.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Flowers On The Plot

When I first got my allotment my thoughts were only of food and not flowers, but gradually I have started to appreciate not only flowers visually but how they support and attract pollinators especially Bees, and how they can encourage certain predators or repel troublesome insects.  

We are quite lucky that we have a bee keeper on our plot, and the bees enjoy my ivy bush/ tree that grows above and behind my shed and the flowers on the comfrey. They spend time in my runner beans and other beds pollinating on their way to and from these two nectar resources which are at the furthest end of my plot from where their hives are located at the back of the drop off and pick up area.

Poached egg plants, (Limnanthes douglassi) are very easy to establish, they are supposed to be self-seeding, but I end up growing a new batch each year, and I plant these in the Runner Bean bed.  

The best thing about poached egg plants is they flower for such a long season and they attract hoverflies and ladybirds which love to feed on blackfly and aphids. So successful are they in quelling these invasive little insects which are ‘farmed’ and ‘milked’ by ants, that over the last few years since discovering them that  I have not had to wash off the aphids with soapy water, which always seemed to have a detrimental effect on the runner beans and since using the Poached Egg Plants I've had wonderful crops.

English marigold (calendula) is superb for hoverflies, which will eat aphids but I have not tried them on the allotment as I only normally see French Marigolds in the seed sales.  

French marigolds are the real smelly ones and can be used to deter whitefly. Mexican marigold does too, but it grows over 5 foot tall, and I don't think I will be growing any of that variety on the plot.


Wild Flowers for Bees In previous years I have received free packets of specially selected mix of wild flowers that will not only look beautiful, but will also attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators to my Allotment. There are enough seed in the pack to cover half a square metre so that's 0.5m x 1.0m.

I use flower buckets and place them at the end of each of the paths between my beds on the allotment. Not forgetting to collect seed heads in September for re sowing the following year.

Daffodils & Blue Bells - I purchased a shed load of Daffs and relocated a quantity of Bluebells from the back garden to the Comfrey bed on plot 1A some years ago.

It's nice to see the early growth, however in 2016 & 2017 they started to show a little early in December !. Somehow it makes me happy to see early signs of Spring in the midst of Winter, and they welcome me to the plot and make me smile.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Tin Time


It's that time of the year when you start collecting the left over tins from the Shortbread, Classic Sweets, posh biscuits and Jacobs Crackers (not in the picture but I have my eye on it) as the square ones are really useful as mouse proof storage down the allotment.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Trees On Allotments


The subject or trees on allotments is one that comes up on a regular basis, due to.

·         Perimeter Trees around the site boundary producing shade

·         Trees on neighbouring plots that are unmanaged growing too tall and producing shade on neighbouring plots

·         Roots from trees just off the allotment holders plot that are invasive and reducing moisture content in the soil

There are those council run and church run allotments that have put in place stringent rules for the planting and management of trees, indeed some allotments issue Tree Notices instructing tenants to reduce the size of their trees when they get over 2m.

Case Law – Trees on Allotments

Hastings Borough Council’s had been encouraging Mr Rock since 2008 to bring the level of cultivation of his plot up to an agreed and acceptable standard, as he had had planted 11 pear, plum, apple, cherry and apricot fruit trees on his allotment, hoping to make enough jam to give to his pensioner neighbours.

In February 2011 the council felt they were left with no option but to serve notice requiring him to improve the levels of cultivation as he was in breach of his tenancy agreement as his trees were not occupying sufficient space for the plot to be deemed as cultivated.

Rather than cultivate his allotment, Mr Rock sought an injunction and a declaration from the court to preserve his rights as an allotment holder. The Local Authority contested that Mr Rock was not entitled to the relief requested; the judge dismissed Mr Rock’s claim and awarded costs to the council and was forced to pay £650 in legal fees as judge ruled against him

However Mr Rock fought an epic David versus Goliath fight for almost two years to stop the council evicting him from his plot for only growing fruit trees and ended up celebrating a landmark victory and the case cost taxpayers £3,000. The case makes interesting reading and shows the problems in altering Allotment rules and applying them retrospectively

Read more at

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2188779/Allotment-owner-refused-cultivate-vegetables-patch-fails-court-bid-stop-council-evicting-him.html

https://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/news/allotment-holder-wins-landmark-victory-over-council-1-5598582

The London Borough of Sutton / Idverde Allotment Gardening Guide has this to say regarding trees on your Allotment.

“If you want to grow ornamental or forest trees, please contact idverde to discuss what you intend to do. We will try to find a suitable plot for you on one of the larger sites. We do not encourage tree-growing on normal allotment plots as large trees cast shade over a wide area and take water and nutrients from your and neighbouring plots. Where possible, you should plant small fruit-trees in the middle of your plot, not on the edges where they may cast shade over neighbouring plots.

Allotment gardeners must not remove or prune trees on allotment sites. If a tree is causing you difficulty please contact the Local Authority Tree Officer”

The main problem with this liberal wishy washy guidance is that, whilst they do not encourage it they also are not banning it, in part because the Allotment Gardening Guide is relatively young with the first version being written in 2010 and that the case law Mr Rock v Hastings Borough Council has set a precedence regarding applying new rule retrospectively 

The second reason that more stringent guidelines have not been included within the Guidelines is that the Local Authority doesn’t have money or resources to monitor and enforce any hard and fast rules or guidelines.

I believe that better guidance needs to go into the publication or needs to be produced as a supplement to the Allotment Gardening Guidance document to advise new allotment holders how best to manage fruit trees on allotment plots, This needs to be discussed by the LBS Allotment Site Rep Association prior to and possibly at the meeting on the 19th February.

Only Fruit Trees should be grown on Allotments


Ideally dwarf root stock fruit trees should be grown in pots to ensure fruit trees remain manageable.

Trees should be located in the middle of your plot, or in such locations that they only cast shadow on your plot throughout daylight hours. If grown in plots or containers the roots will not become invasive on a neighbouring plot holder.

They should be maintained and not allowed to grow to a height greater that 1.5 – 2m maximum, those that do will require pruning back to an acceptable size.

Some taller fruit trees such as Bramley’s apple and taller plum trees will not be suitable for growing on allotments.


Dwarf fruit trees such as apple and pear trees may also be grown in restricted forms such as espaliers or cordons, again located such that the trunk is in the middle of your plot and they are trained such that they do not cast shadow outside your plot during the day.


The pruning of step-over fruit trees is probably easier to understand than normal pruning. They seem to have taken a bashing fashion wise and are looked upon as old fashioned which is a great shame. They can offend nobody and they take nobody's light whereas any trees planted on an allotment even the miniatures if not pruned correctly can cause real arguments.

Tenants are responsible for removal of self-set trees which should not be allowed to grow to establishment

Problem Trees on the Boundary & On Plots (London Borough of Sutton)

The London Borough of Sutton has a Tree Strategy and state “The Council will protect and enhance the tree stock while remaining sympathetic to the interests of residents; the Council will ensure that the tree stock is managed in such a way that continuity of tree cover will be safeguarded for residents and visitors now, and future generations.” And that,  

“With any population of trees there are a number of common sources of complaints including overhanging branches, shade, leaf/fruit fall, obstruction and physical damage, etc. Many of these problems can be dealt with by regular management.”

Allotment Tenants and plot holders are not actually specifically listed in Section 4.  LIST OF STAKEHOLDERS, but it could be argued that they fall under the category of “Residents and resident’s groups” However under Section 6.1.2 Policies, the first Policy states

Policy 1

The Council will carry out a visual tree assessment (VTA) of the existing tree stock on highways, parks, cemeteries and allotments on a minimum four-yearly basis 

All requests for tree pruning would have to follow the procedure in 6.5 Dealing with Enquiries

6.5 Dealing with Enquiries

6.5.1 Introduction.

The Arboricultural Section receives on average 2000 enquiries per year with regard to trees on highways, parks, cemeteries, allotments and trees on other Council owned land. They range from general enquiries about pruning and planting to reporting dangerous trees. Following any enquiry, the Section has to determine the level of response required.

There is a list of scheduled inspections for allotments on the council’s web site which can be found at https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200453/parks_trees_and_open_spaces/1126/trees/4

There is nothing in the strategy document regarding keeping the height of trees to a reasonable level around allotments of planting species of trees that do not grow to an excessive height so as not to cast shadow onto an allotment site.

In discussion with Bill Wyatt Technical Services Manager of the newly formed Neighbourhood Services department who was historically Deputy Parks Manager and had responsibility for allotments, there is no money to undertake such works and, as that is the case when the strategy document comes up for review, the council will not be modifying the document such that the needs of light by allotment holders will be taken into account.

This is because the council will not add work to the Tree Strategy document for which they have no or sufficient funding. So very catch 22 when you go back to the start of the document that states

 “The Council will protect and enhance the tree stock while remaining sympathetic to the interests of residents; the Council will ensure that the tree stock is managed in such a way that continuity of tree cover will be safeguarded for residents and visitors now, and future generations.”

So sympathetic but unable to actually do anything about it, whilst acknowledging that;

“With any population of trees there are a number of common sources of complaints including overhanging branches, shade, leaf/fruit fall, obstruction and physical damage, etc. Many of these problems can be dealt with by regular management.”

So the trees will be looked at every four years, but are unlikely to be reduced in height because there is not the money for height reduction unless there is also a risk to health and safety of the stakeholders.

This article forms a basis for a discussion thread on the LBS Allotment Site Rep Association Facebook group. If you are a Site Rep in the London Borough of Sutton please do request to join the closed Facebook Group.

Plan for Plot 1A in 2018

This page is dedicated to Mill Green Plot 1A. It holds my thoughts and plans for 2018 and it will be under development from now October 2017 over the winter months and will no doubt be modified on a continuous basis. I've had this plot since 2012 and the soil have received lots of love and attention over that time. the soil is much improved from what I took on and most large stones have been removed and all those that come to the surface each year are weeded out. The soil here is good for deep roots like Parsnip and Carrots.   



SEASONS

Spring     22nd March - 21st June
Summer  21st June - 22nd Sept
Autumn   22nd Sept - 21 December
Winter     21st December - 20th March


ASPARAGUS

I have been wanting an Asparagus Bed for some time, I even bought some but they came before I had created a bed for them. They are still on the agenda but as to if they will happen this year, I doubt it as I have plot 1 to create. However if we are going to get a load of manure what better time to create the bed for them.  


BEETROOT - Beds 8 & 9

We eat and pickle a lot of beetroot, Currently on the plan Bed 8 and half of bed 9 is dedicated to beetroots

I normally start the beetroots off in the greenhouse in vending machine cups, this year will be a two pronged attack Successional sowing will take place every in a third of a bed length every 3 - 4 weeks so that they can be harvested and pickled in batches.

Sow from March 2-4 weeks before the last frost when the ground is warm.

BRUSSELS SPROUT - Plot 1A Beds and if possible a Bed on Plot 1

I never did get the additional bed in at Spencer Road in 2017, but I did manage to get 5 different varieties in at Mill Green Plot 1A which were Bedford Darkmar 21, Cromwell F1,
Evesham Special, Mongomery F1 & Rubine Purple Sprout

This year I hoping for two beds of Sprouts and grow on two of the following varieties

                                                 Sowing           Sowing        Harvest 
                                                 Indoors         Outdoors

Bedford                                                           Mar - April       Sep - Dec                                
Bedford Darkmar 21           Feb - Mid Mar      Mar - April    Mid-Nov to Jan
Brest F1                                 Feb - Apr          Mar - April       Nov - Feb              
Brodie  F1                              Feb - Apr          Mar - April       Nov - Jan  - T&M                  
Morgan
Cromwell F1                       Feb - Mid Mar       Mar - April      Sep - Dec                                
Evesham Special                   Feb - Mar          Mar - April      Sep - Dec - Mr Fothergill's  
Mongomery F1                   Feb - Mid Mar       Mar - April      Nov - Dec
Nelson                                    Feb - Apr          April - Jun       Aug - Nov
Rubine Purple Sprout             Feb - Apr          Mar - April      Nov - Jan 

So Harvest period from August - February that's potentially 7 months of fresh sprouts.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH - Plot 1

Last year I had planned to grow butternut squash around the base of the sweetcorn on Plot 1A, that didn't happen, I was too late sowing and they never really took off. This year as I have a new plot and we are getting some horse manure I'm thinking Waltham Butternut squash can be grown on an uncultivated area in the South West corner of plot 1 off a pile of manure covered in cardboard.

CABBAGE - Bed 2

2017 Plan to be updated for 2018 I'm really undecided about cabbage, as I had such a disaster with it during 2016 mainly due to the vast amount of slugs, I have been contemplating Kale, one to ponder I think. Ideally small spring green type cabbages are what I'm after.

May Update - I have started off Spring Greens in the greenhouse and in the meantime my brother-in-law Keith has given me his excess brassicas so Bed 2 now has nineteen Savoy cabbages and eight Cauliflowers in it. 



CARROTS - Beds 7 & 8

Do best in beds that have not been recently manured

No Carrots grown in 2017, I want to grow many more in 2018 and want to grow big "bugs bunny type" if possible. I have acquired a number of different variety seeds, the Wyevale seed sale is responsible for a large number of them as I can't resist a bargain.

I'm looking at one and a half beds on Plot 1A but if I can get a bed ready on Plot 1 I will have one bed on each plot.

1st Sowing in Bed No 7 - Plot 1A

Amsterdam 2 (Solo)          - Jan
Early Nantes 2                  - Jan

Nairobi                              - Jan
Cascade F1                      - Feb *
Early Scarlet Horn            - Feb
Early Nantes 2 Frubund   - Feb
Romance F1                     - Feb

Autumn King 2                  - Mar

2nd Sowing in Bed No 6 - Plot 1A or a new Bed on Plot 1  

Chartenay Red Cored      - Mar
Early Nantes 5                  - Mar

Jitka F1                             - Mar
Nandor F1                         - Mar *
Nigel F1 Hybrid                 - Mar
Paris Market - Atlas          - Mar *

Royal Chantenay 3           - Mar
St Valery                           - Mar


* Short ideal for starting  in loo rolls

CAULIFLOWER - Beds 3

The best cauliflower I have ever grown was during my first year, and I'm thinking it was beginners luck as I have yet to repeat the success, but I have to try at least one bed. I still have some Jamie Oliver Cheesy F1 seeds and All The Year Round Cauliflower seed Suttons 2016 and Mr Fothergills 2017 Sow indoors Jan - March / Sow Outdoors March - June Plant Out March - August and Harvest June - Oct so some successional sowing needed here me thinks to extend the harvesting season.  

May Update - Eight cauliflowers now in Bed 2, thanks to my brother-in-law Keith and his excess growing my ones dies in the two day Summer we had in April. Bed 3 to be used for spring greens (if they grow) and Broccoli again donated by Keith.

CUCUMBER  - Bed 16

I have historically grown Marketmore & Burpless on this plot and they both did really well, for 2018 I will be growing both again.
 

GHERKIN - Bed 16


Piccolo Di Parigi - Second year growing Gherkins and only because my sister loves them so I'm waiting to see how she liked the ones I pickled for her in 2017 but have bought some new seed anyway.

GREENHOUSE - Plot 1A

The greenhouse got limited use in 2016 as too much rubbish had / has accumulated in it. The plan is to empty, clean and reduce the staging in it such that I can use it for what it's meant for in 2018. The access problems in 2016 - 2017 contributed to the lack of use , but now that Redrow & Natta Construction have constructed and nearly completed the drop off and pick up area, I will be able to get to the allotment on a regular basis to take full advantage of the greenhouse, and If I'm lucky I will have another on plot 1 by the start of the growing season in 2018. 


INFRASTRUCTURE

Over winter the objectives are


  • Clear the greenhouse completely
  • Clear and Tidy the storage Area
  • Weed Membrane paths between Beds 1 - 5  
MARROW - Plot 1


If I pile some horse manure covered in cardboard in a couple of locations in the South West Corner of New Plot 1 then I can grow Marrow as well as Butternut Squash


Long Green Striped   - To be used by Dec 2018 Sow April - May Harvest July Onwards
Long Green Trailing Exhibition Marrow - from Jungle seeds no use by date on the pack or sowing and harvesting information other than sow in peaty sterile seed compost 7mm deep at 25-30C Germination  2 - 3 weeks. Once germinated these grow rapidly and will need good light. Plant out after all frost have passed in a rich manured compost.   


MELON - Greenhouses on Plot 1 and 1A

This is something new that I want to try and grow in the greenhouses at both allotments in 2018 if the greenhouse on plot 1 is erected. I have three different varieties to try, Rugoso di Cosenza giallo, Ogen & Sugar Baby.

The packs appear to say Sow from March to May, Plant out May June and Harvest August to September / Early October.   



ONIONS

2017 Plan to be updated for 2018 Bed 13 currently shows Over Wintering Onions, however no onions will now be grown on this allotment due to the white rot problems on the site, so all onions to be grown on Spencer Road this year. So that means I need to find something else for bed 13.

PARSNIPS-  Beds 13

My parsnips were allowed to go to seed on this plot two years. They were given to me by Edita another plot holder and after three sowings of bought seed that did nothing, the ones from the allotment seed took and I ended up with a wonderful bed of Parsnips. I also have a packet of seed that came free with a gardening Magazine to use.



POTATOES - Beds 10, 11, 12 and two additional Beds on Plot 1

Lady Christi - First Early - SoilFixer Experiment in Buckets Year 2 Lady Christl potatoes are an excellent first early variety that bulks up early in the season and can be harvested after just 8 weeks of sowing. Derek on the Spencer Road allotment introduced me to Lady Christi when he had too many seed potatoes in 2016 and donated some to me. This year they will be sourced from local Wyevale or other garden centre only because I can see what I'm buying.

Albert Bartlett Vivaldi - Second Early - 2.4 x 1.2m bed - Can be grown on as main crop - Sweet creamy taste - Great baker - I selected these because my kids were always saying my potatoes are not as good or as large as the shop bought ones for baked potatoes and this is one they believe is better than mine have been historically. Will be sourced from local Wyevale or other garden centre only because I can see what I'm buying.

Albert Bartlett Purple Majesty - Second Early 1kg Pack (12-15 Tubers) I've never grown these before but I'm being provided with some seed potatoes to trial by Marshalls, reading the info about them they are the first purple potato to go on sale commercially in Britain. They are potatoes of the richest purple – purple skin and purple flesh, jam-packed with nutrients and antioxidants it makes a fantastic member of the superfood family along with blueberries, pomegranites and kale. With its genetic origins in the Andes, it’s been specially selected for the food market and has enjoyed great success. It’s an early maincrop variety suitable for salads, and of course as jackets which prove a real hit with children fascinated by its dark purple flesh. Provided by Marshalls Link to Purple Majesty details on Marshalls web site Charlotte - Second Early - 2.4 x 1.2m bed Are mentioned by name in many recipes. That's always a good sign because in the end the purpose of growing potatoes is to eat them and recommendations from recipes is a sure sign of good taste, and they have never let me down. They are on the waxy side which makes them excellent for boiling, they hold their shape well and are delicious hot or cold. Using them for roasting and to sautĂ© produces excellent results. Will be sourced from local Wyevale or other garden centre only because I can see what I'm buying.

Kestrel - Second Early - 2kg Pack (25-30 Tubers)  so enough for a bed and a half or a three row bed, these are another trial packs courtesy of Marshalls and were not on my radar until offered. Kestrel seed potatoes produce smooth skinned tubers with purple eyes, and winner of many prizes at exhibition. They have an old fashioned flavour, and make good chips and roasts well because the soft flesh does not absorb much fat. Consistently shows good resistance to slugs and blackleg. which I really need after the slug attacks last year. Provided by Marshals Link to Kestrel details on Marshalls web site



Estima - Second Early - 2.4 x 1.2m bed - Good Uniform Shape Ideal for Boiling and Baking last year I bought a 2kg sack bought from Wyevale no chits on them. Another shop bought potato I selected because my kids said they liked the shop bought ones. I looked at the small print on the label and read that they had been grown in Norfolk by Neil Van Poorvilet Variety Estima, up until then I had never heard of the Estima variety, but now I will grow them every year. Will be sourced from local Wyevale or other garden centre only because I can see what I'm buying.

Jelly - Main Crop - 2.4 x 1.2m bed modern variety has smooth skin, is long and oval in shape and has rich, yellowy flesh – reported to be a good roaster that makes superb, golden coloured chips! The tubers have good scab resistance and it is known to have excellent drought tolerance. I've selected these as this was a variety that we bought from the supermarket when the home grown spud ran out, that were particularly good and a nice size for baked potatoes and they roasted very well, plus I did have a bit of a scab and slug attack problems this year with some Sarpos that I grew. I found that Mr Fothergills can supply these if my local garden centre or Wyevale can't.

RHUBARB - Beds 15 & Plot 1

I've just inherited some Rhubarb from Plot 1 and I have the Rhubarb that came from a fellow plot holder on Spencer Road to transport over to Mill Green.



RUNNER BEANS

2017 Plan to be updated for 2018 Last year only one bed of runner beans were grown, in 2017 both beds will be grown - Scarlet Emperor seeds from 2016 will be used.


SWEETCORN

2017 Plan to be updated for 2018 Two beds of sweetcorn planned for this allotment variety Lark F1 and two beds of Swift on the Spencer Road. Butternut squash to be gown in the same beds as the sweetcorn to maximise the growing area. I'm happy for them to wonder over the path between the two adjacent beds.



TOMATOES

2017 Plan to be updated for 2018 The F2 Crimson Crush did really well on the allotments over the last two year, I will grown some outside again or in Flower Buckets if beds are not ready for them as well as the Rapunzel out in the open. I will also grow some small bush varieties in the Greenhouse as it's only 1.8m x 1.2m of 6ft x 4ft. The covered grow house skin has finally failed and if repaired in time, tomatoes will be grown there as well as in the Little House on the Allotment extension to the shed.


WILDFLOWERS For Bees

2017 Plan to be updated for 2018 I have received two packs of wildflower seed for bees from two different sources this year. Historically I have not grown flowers on the allotment apart from the Daffs and Bluebells that come up early in the comfrey beds and the Poached Egg Plants that are grown to attract aphid eating ladybirds. This year I will plant a minimum of 4 - 6 flower buckets of wild flowers per allotment and move then around to encourage the pollinators in.