National allotments week - 10th - 16th of August

National allotment week is upon us and this year the theme is 'Growing food for health and well-being', a reflection of the many benefits of growing and eating your own fruit and vegetables.  The president of the National Allotment Society, Phil Gomersall, says about this year's theme

"This year every week has been National Allotments Week, with more people than ever realising that growing your own food is a great way of eating healthily, getting some outdoor exercise in the fresh air and acquiring new skills. Plot-holders have also benefited from the contact with nature and the easy camaraderie on allotment sites, helping to retain their mental health and stay positive during these worrying times.”

And it is so true!  Coming down to the allotment has been like a small slice of normality for me.

Thinking ahead - seed saving

seed in a handI hope everyone is well and safe. These are such troubling times but it has to be said, an allotment is a real gift. Although I do have a garden at home, it is lovely to go up to the allotment and work quietly on the plot. There are some plots around me where people have been very busy and they are looking very good.

Last autumn, I started to think about saving some of my own seed. I did this because I had the experience of several packets of seed from different suppliers with very poor germination rates. It was a good time to think about this because if you have tried to buy any seed recently, you will have realised that the seed companies are inundated with everyone wanting to grow some of their own food. Many seed sites only open their website for a few hours and then close again until all the orders have been packaged. Others have a queuing system before you can get onto the site and some are just shut. Someone needs to be out in the fields sowing plants for next year's seed! Thank goodness for Kings and the allotment association!

The Exmouth Mutual Aid Covid-19 Support Group

The Exmouth Mutual Aid Covid-19 Support Group is now recruiting the large number of volunteers that will be required to ensure that everyone gets the assistance they need.

Closing Gates around Dusk

Please take due care and follow government guidelines re touching surfaces.

  Ham. Lane Pound Lane
Monday Olly D  
Sue H (K Rd gate)
Karen W 21
Tuesday David S Fiona P
Wednesday Geoff H Phil B
Thursday Dave C 169 Jan G
Friday Gill W Rick L
Saturday John M 106 John W 73A
Sunday Steve C 104 Helen M
     
Reserves Karen C
Bernard T
Jenny I 146
Kate W 246A
Ian and Lorraine C
 

Several people, particularly at PL, have said they are flexible about which evening they cover so please let me know if you can cover one of the open slots or one of those already taken. My priority has been to cover the weekends.

Free Compost - trailer collection only

Paul mentioned the availability of free compost at the AGM and he has provided the following information.

The chap I spoke to was Lyn Chadwick .
He gave me a card with Tel : 01395 239416.
He was emphatic about trailers not bags.
You can see on their page the very large trailer I mentioned that needs some form of tractor unit provided by the "consumer"

From John S - I have been in touch with a haulage company and delivery in a 12 ton lorry is likely to cost over £600.  I have also contacted Bruce, who delivers his manure to the allotments, and he says it's impractical for him to collect and haul.  I think it best for now if members make their own arrangements.

The best blogs for vegetable growers

It has been a wet and windy December which means that I haven't been down to my plot as often as I would usually go. I did get down this morning and it looked like a gale had blown through with the asparagus ferns all over the place and one half empty water butt blown over.  This is my favourite time to catch up on fruit and vegetable blogs and to plan the big projects for next year.  On the plot I want to move a small tunnel frame, cover it and use it to grow a peach or nectarine in as they need winter protection against peach leaf curl.  At home I am removing 22 pittosporum trees that had been used as a hedge on a west facing boundary so that I can plant a range of fruit trees instead. It's a lot of digging!

Anyway, what about the blogs? Below I have listed the those that I most like to read that are about growing fruit and vegetables. They are not in any particular order, but I hope that there is something here that is worth sitting by a fire and reading whilst the wind and rain batter the windows and plants.

Town Council Grant for Course and Polytunnel Project

One of the four objectives of the EDAA constitution is to ‘arrange for instruction in horticulture’ and, to this end, we have been working on developing a Beginners’ Vegetable Growing Course, modelled on the RHS course at Rosemoor. This involves providing an inside growing space and some mini-allotments, one rod in size, for the course participants. The course will start in February.

Making your plot sustainable

There are so many different things to think about nowadays on an allotment: using less or no plastic, planting for bees, climate change, using water efficiently and the erosion of soil quality.  I wake early and often listen to Farming Today where they discuss the soil and the loss of soil quite a lot. It has even become one of the story lines on The Archers. I was shocked to hear that we were only 30 to 40 years away from having soil with no fertility with only 100 harvests left. 

Making and using compost is one of the key ways in which we can keep our soil healthy and the allotments are helping by offering compost bins at an excellent cost but there are many ways of keeping your plot soil healthy and productive so this post focuses on one couple who are developing sustainable methods of running their plot.

Making your own compost

composting

Go-to contacts for composting:
On Pound Lane chat to Tony (PL37).
On Hamilton Lane chat to Joy (HL11), Bill (HL60), John (HL71), Anne (HL133), Dave (HL169) and John (HL250).

The first aim of the compost heap is to enable allotment waste to be removed from the growing area without the need for bonfires or trips to the tip.  The second aim is to make a wonderful soil conditioner.

You will soon be able to can now order a pallet compost bin kit (a brand new version of the bin shown) from the HL shop or you may prefer to make your own wooden bin or use a ‘Dalek’ bin.

Daleks and Pallets - How do you compost?

compost binWe are being encouraged to make compost from veg waste from our plots to reduce the need for bonfires and journeys to the tip and to provide a wonderful soil conditioner.  Some commercial bins can be expensive but the committee is in the process of sourcing pallets and lengths of strong rope, all that is needed to make a simple single or double bin.


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