It’s that time of what has been an unusual year. Socially difficult but crop wise good. See our Christmas fare harvested this week. The potatoes are stored in the shed at home in a frost free environment. Hope you all are doing as well. It’s time to think and plan for the 2021 season.
The vaccines may be just round the corner and many of us are in the vulnerable age group. But whatever our age or health we must stay vigilant and follow all the social considerations until at least April when hopefully the population has been vaccinated and we are in a more normal way of life. I would like to say a big thank you to all for following all the Covid rules we’ve had to follow in 2020 and to continue until we have some control of the Virus.
We are currently experiencing a high level of demand for plots. Therefore, please bear with us at this unusual time. We are working through plot requests in order of receipt and will get back to you as soon as possible.
Saturday we were down on our plots and we have never seen so many on site for ages. Spring is suddenly showing signs, its sunny and dry in the day time and we want to get on.
However Coronavisus is lurking in background with all life restrictions. It may be a place of our respite and outside self-isolation. However I plead to all plot holders by all means talk to your neighbours as you are used to do but keep at least 2 metres apart.
At least we can keep our heads down and prepare our plots for vegetables that we will seriously need this year. So despite the world around us “Get digging and enjoy your allotment!”
Its Spring around the corner. However the ground is very wet and even the weeds are not showing, so it must be too cold to think sowing. Although if you have raised beds or can put a wide plank across your plot you could plant some onion sets. But a job you could be doing, is sort out your Compost Bins. Depending on what you use follow the following suggestions.
1) Black Dalek type, Look in the inspection hole at the bottom. If there is nice black compost. Then get ready to harvest. Lift off the bin and place close by. Put the top material that is not ready yet into the bin as a starter as it will have bugs and bacteria in it . Then use the black material either spread on your plot or left to one side to deal with later.
2) Pallet Bin type, check the compost and if it’s ready use, use it direct on your plots or easily available to when you are ready. If not just move it into the next empty bin. This will charge it up to face the coming warmer weather for harvesting in the autumn.
In the Autumn Compost Corner I mentioned Leaf Mould. If you have been collecting for a few years this material may be ready for using directly on you plot as Leaf Mould is very good for moisture retention through out the growing season. If you only started recently you could give a turn to give an assistance in the composting process.
Have a good composting year.
For more information on how to produce excellent quality compost visit our Compost Corner page.
Plot holders, come along and meet us and make some friends. On the last Sunday of each month 10-12am. Tea, coffee and cakes are provided. Everyone is welcome and we hope that every plot holder can at least devote 1 or 2 Sundays per year. It’s all about making our site something to be proud of and those that attend enjoy it.
Winter is now with us. This is an important time of the year for gardeners and their compost bins. Checking the state of the compost in containers. If it’s dark and well rotted it’s time to harvest it and lay it over cleared ground as a mulch. This has the advantage or suppressing weeds and adding humus to the soil. Next if it still needs more time, physically move it into another bins next door. This will give the heap the more oxygen and put into a better position for using in the spring.
This should give you more space for putting the waste material that comes off the plot that has been all the part of enjoying a good harvest. Remember most waste can go in but any stalks like sweet corn, Brussels etc using secateurs or suitable cutters. Reducing the stalks to no more than 10 cm and in some cases hit them with a hammer to flatten them which helps the rotting process.
Leaf mould is also a valuable mulching material and this is the time of the year to collect it. It can take 3 to 5 years to rot down , depending on the tree/leaf type. However its well worth the wait. Over the last few years I have shortened the time by putting the leaves into builders bag with holes punched in the bottom with a fork. It works because the outside does not dry out like in a wired area. You can find these bags discarded in many a skip.
That very precious commodity that we tend to take for granted. We just turn on a tap and it’s available. If we have no water meter we tend to not worry how much we use. However those with a meter know that the more we use the more we have to pay, Lansdowne Allotments are no exception and we will be billed by the water company for whatever we use.
This year we have had the longest dry spell since 1976. The last real rain 25ml we had was the 4th June and about 20 ml at the end of July but it has still left the ground very dry. One could say we could go another 40 years but weather conditions are never certain so we must plan for the worst scenario.
The committee is committed to having a tank or storage area at every tap on the sites. This way we just need to get our watering cans full by dipping into the tank.
For plot holders who are some distance from a tap we suggest saving rain water on your plot. This by guttering sheds or a water collecting devise to run the water into a barrel. We have guttered our shed and can run the rain water into a) a 800 litre tank and also into a 400 litre bath. This on normal years ( ha ha, not a drought year like this year) is enough for our usage.
Watering: There is watering and there is watering. If you use a hose pipe and spray over the ground or the crop, that is a waste and not good practise. a) you lose water through evaporation, especially on a sunny day. b) the water is not going directly to where the crop needs it ie the roots. c) too much watering the crop directs its roots near to the surface instead of down and is more susceptible to not coping with dry conditions.
The things that you can do to limit the watering you need to do, are when sowing seeds water the drill, sow and cover with soil. However a tip from our experience on the allotment we propagate eg carrots, beetroot, parsnips at home in the greenhouse or the kitchen window in 2” modules or 3” pots, sprinkle a few seeds on the top. When germinated with a good root structure plant out without splitting up and plant in a well watered hole. The use of compost especially on areas that have had some rain or water this acts as a mulch and helps retain the moisure.
Next time the plant can benefit from a drink is when like peas and beans are podding up nearer to harvesting. We look forward to tips and points of view regarding water catchment and water saving.
In essence we should take care how and when we water and do not take the supply for granted.
On Saturday the 23rd June was the 1st Social Event for the new Lansdowne Allotment Association, organised by Jenny and many willing helpers.
Held in one of our community orchards in the afternoon. It was a super attendance with about 50 plot holders, family & friends. They came laden with savoury dips and a wide range of delicious home made cakes and biscuits. With cups of tea provided by Pete.
It was a great opportunity to sit, eat and chat about all things allotment wise. It established that the new association is a community of like minded plot holders that enjoy growing and eating tasty vegetables.
Denham Allotments, in South Bucks, have recently had a break-in where a number of lawnmowers and cultivators were stolen. Please can all plot holders take sensible precautions when using equipment such as keeping valuable equipment hidden and locked away.
Ideally keep a log of these details so that they could be identified if they are stolen:
No, it’s not a plot based party game but, having tendered a month notice to the committee, I am (as of the 25th) no longer involved with the association committees. If you have any communications to make to the association concerning ANY aspect of the running of the site please approach directly or in writing, a current committee member. Thank you.
The next committee meeting is on the 2nd May so an announcement re the new structure should hopefully be forthcoming thereafter.
All sorts of good stuff has been happening over the past week with Dave and team finishing the ploughing of plots, digging the pond in the new wildlife area and levelling the car park on East. The first of the bat and bird boxes have gone up and we have received the 420 trees from The Woodland Trust for the first new wildlife hedges which are to be planted on Monday with the help of the Eastland’s School children.
We are delighted to be able to report how fabulous and ready for planting the site is looking. Thanks to RBC for fulfilling their commitment to us and to Dave for his brilliant skills in clearing all of the old plots and getting us fully up to speed for the new season. Never seen the site looking so good!
We are delighted to report that the 420 wildlife trees that we have been lucky enough to get from The Woodland Trust have now arrived. We are going to be planting them and establishing a wildlife friendly hedgerow in plot No 1 (The Secret Garden) to further enhance this wildife friendly space. As one of our many community initiatives, the children from Eastlands’ School will be popping throughout the planting day in order to help us plant the hedgerow and to get an understanding of the importance of respecting and helping nature. This hedgerow further establishes plot No1 (and in turn) the allotments as a very important wildlife corridor and link in to the Local Wildlife Sites that are currently being established around our site.
It was great to see so many of you over the weekend and I am delighted to report that over 70% of all the new keys have been allocated over the two days but, obviously, we still have some outstanding.
You can exchange your old key for a new one on an ongoing basis from the shop on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 11am -12 noon.
You will not be issued with a new key if you have not paid this year’s fee(s), if you have not returned your completed membership form or if you do not hand in your old key. You can pay by cash or cheque or the day if necessary.
The rubbish amnesty is officially over. The RBC guys have been hard at it for the past few days clearing 20/30 years worth of all sorts of detritus. All piles have been cleared today – 8th February and we are ready for the ploughing of plots.
As was originally negotiated, to ensure both plot holder and site security, we organised a complete change of all locks and keys and we have now been supplied with these by Rugby Borough Council. We are going to change the locks on the morning of Saturday 10th February and the new keys will be available for exchange on that day from outside the shop between 9am-9.30am, in the shop from 11am – 12 noon and from outside the shop between 1.30 and 2pm.
Key exchange will continue to be available on an ongoing basis from the shop on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 11am -12 noon.
To obtain your new key (and possibly some seed potatoes- Pete has a vast array in stock at amazing prices) pop along to the shop with your old key and plot number and simply exchange it for a new one.You will not be issued with a new key if you have not paid this year’s fee(s), if you have not returned your completed membership form or if we have not had your old key returned. The new keys are black banded ones for the East site and orange ones for West.
All of the key deposits paid originally to RBC have now been transferred to us.
Please note you will not be able to gain access to site after Saturday 10th unless you have exchanged your old key and we MUST have that old key returned.
Thank you for helping us to improve the site security and good gardening.
The collection of all site waste is imminent (7-10 days). This is a rubbish amnesty for all SITE waste (including wood, metal, plastic etc. etc.) Please get it to the large piles on disused plots on East and the empty plot adjacent to the car park on West ASAP. We need to clear it before we can get the plots ploughed. Thank you.
An aluminium greenhouse frame was removed from East site between Monday evening and Thursday afternoon. Please check your plots and report anything to Warwickshire Police on email@example.com
If you have any plot rubbish including metal, wood, carpet etc. could you ensure that it is placed onto one of the rubbish piles on one of the disused plots ready for collection. Due to the quantity of rubbish produced the council will be employing a grab truck to collect it all and not a skip amnesty as was originally planned. A date has not been set yet but please do this as soon as possible. Thank you.
Fresh from tenancy negotiations with RBC it has been agreed that you can have December foc for Christmas. We will invoice on 1st January and Jan – Dec will be the new invoice year. You will receive your welcome pack in approximately two weeks. Happy Christmas.
As the main growing season comes to an end a lot of our tools will be lying dormant until next year, but a little care now will more than pay dividends next year. Believe it or not, petrol goes off over time and manufacturers suggest it should be used in a month in small engines like strimmers and chain saws as if it’s just left in your machines the old petrol produces gums and solids that can clog up the carburettor and the rest of the system.
You can get additives like Briggs & Stratton Fuel Fit that stabilise the fuel and extend its shelf life but for winter storage you’re best to drain the fuel from the tank and then run the engine to clear the last fuel from the system.
Check your manual for how to ‘mothball’ your equipment, for example where there is exposed metal as on the rotavator tines or chrome, run over it with an oily rag which will prevent corrosion.
Electrical equipment and hand tools just need a good clean and the oily rag treatment where appropriate. With wooden handled tools a rub over with linseed or teak oil will help keep the wood in good condition.
It’s a good idea to check rotary lawnmower blades. If they’re chipped or blunted then you can sharpen them ready for next year but do take care not to take more off one side than another as it will throw the blade out of balance and this can damage the machine.
Most garden machinery shops offer blade sharpening and balancing at a small charge. If you’ve equipment that really needs a shop service, now is the right time to get them in because everyone else will be taking them in the spring when they’re needed.