Good morning fellow plotters. Unfortunately (but not for him) your editor has been away for most of the month of March so it has not been possible to produce a full monthly Newsletter as usual. Apologies - normal service will be resumed in April. There are a few urgent notices to pass on so please read on.
Plot inspections will take place in April/early May. We had a meeting last night of Zone Reps to fix an outline timetable and they're likely to take place in the last two weeks in April. These will be led as usual by Paul Rooney , the site manager with a small group of fellow committte members and the relevant zone rep where available. These inspections are always approached sympathetically - we want to solve problems, not create them. So if you're concerned that your plot isn't cultivated for good reason, like for example bereavement or illness, Covid-related or otherwise, please let your zone rep or Paul know. If your plot is now too big to cope with for whatever reason, we are definitely up for a discussion on dividing the plot in two.
Rent Collection - What do you think?
Due to the current cost of living crisis, we were wondering if there would be any interest in paying your rent for next year in instalments of six monthly payments starting in our new financial year in April.
We would work out your payments for you. If you are interested in this scheme, payments would be made - preferably by card - after the committee meetings which are the first Saturday in the month and usually finish by 12.00. Payments would be made to the treasurer (Maureen) and recorded in the accounts. You would then be given a receipt which would be dated and signed.
If you are interested please email email@example.com to register before 7th April 2023
Mentor/Helper/Gardening Guru required - and it's paid!
We've just had a request from our pals at Ward End Allotments - read on....
Wanted: Sessional worker with green fingers!
Ward End Gardeners Association is an allotments association in East Birmingham which manages 5 allotment sites of various sizes. In recent years we’ve been actively encouraging more groups and organisations to rent plots and develop gardening projects for their client groups as well as welcoming people who don’t have gardening or allotment experience. New gardeners – whether older people, people with disabilities or children – benefit from support, encouragement and experience which they can get from ‘old-timers’, but many of ours have died or retired, leaving only a few on our sites who can fill this void.
So we're now in the process of setting up grant-funded projects to give us the resources to pay for a mentor or gardening guru!
Do you have what it takes, are you available several hours a week, starting most likely in April?
If we do secure grant funding, this opportunity could suit people with a variety of backgrounds. It could be someone young with gardening skills and knowledge, looking to put into practice what they’ve learned on their horticulture course. Or someone with no qualifications but years of experience of growing vegetables, fruit and flowers. More importantly, it needs to be someone who gets on well with people of all ages and backgrounds, and is able to communicate their enthusiasm and skills to help build the confidence of inexperienced gardeners. Ideally we’d also hoping to find someone who can speak Punjabi as many of the newcomers are older people born in Pakistan, with limited English, but it’s more important that the person can appreciate different cultural backgrounds than be fluent in any language.
If you’re interested and want to know more, please contact Hester Blewitt, Secretary Ward End Gardeners Association, on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07812 248447, or contact them through their website: www.wardendallotments.org
Great Big Culvert Project
The nice people from CPC Civils have now completed the massive project replacing the culvert and strengthening the banks of the stream between Zones D and A. They've done a great job, been very friendly temporary residents and gone beyond their brief in terms of tidying up after they've finished - to the extent of sweeping all the main roadways on site and clearing the big tarmacked area to the left of the main gate which has been a mess for a couple of years at least. Big thanks to Joe and his team - and Paul for keeping on such good terms with them throughout that we got much more out of the project than we expected.
Can we make two requests
Close the main gate. Inevitably with contractors on site, the gate has stayed unlocked accidentally from time to time. Unfortunately if it's open, everyone assumes it should stay open. If it's open now that the contractors have gone, it means somene couldn't be bothered locking it. Please lock the gate behind you at all times. We are getting into the period when produce on plots starts to attract unwanted outside interest...
Don't leave any rubbish in the area near the main gate which the contractors have now cleared - see below. It's really helpful for cars parking to access the bays full of leaf mould, grass cuttings and wood chip in the area, for access to the borehole header tank and for plotholders using the path leading to Zone B.
Easter Weekend - Bar Opening
The bar will definitely be open on Saturday and Sunday 1.00 - 6.00 as usual (as will the Seedstore - get those spuds planted!). It may be open Monday if we can get volunteers.
Dogs on Leads
We've had a few complaints from plotholders about dogs straying onto their plots and, ahem, leaving stuff there which they have to deal with. Please keep your dog on a lead and ensure that you take away any dogpoo.
MasterClass - April (and some free advice from Oz)
The following recommendations are taken from the February and March editions of Which Gardening.
Best seed suppliers. Online purchase. Not just food plants
Kings Seeds: Value for money and range.
Real Seeds: UK sourced, Heirloom varieties.
Chiltern Seeds: The most extensive list of seeds available.
The next 3 are: DT Brown, Simply Seed, Mr Fothergill.
We stock Kings Seeds in the seed store, and Mr Fothergills seeds are widely available in Garden centres etc.
Best suppliers of Plug Plants. Online purchase
Brookside: Good range. Can order delivery to specific date.
Woolmans : Originally a Chrysanth specialist, now wide ranging list.
Sarah Raven: Wide range of veg. and flowers. Good Quality.
DT Brown: Very good for vegetable plants.
Next two: Crocus & Hayloft.
There is no systematic selling of plug plants or seedlings from the seedstore, but we may develop some sales in the coming months. It depends on plotholders offering excess young plants.
Best Mail Order/Online plant suppliers
David Austin: Rose Specialist. The display garden & sales area is always worth a visit.
Brookside: See above.
Woolmans: See above
Claire Austin: Iris and Peony specialist, with good range of other herbaceous.
RHS Plants: Partner with Crocus, who have their own sales site, for plant production. Very good website if you don’t know exactly what you want.
Ashridge trees and Pomona fruits also score well.
Best Bulb suppliers
Bloms Bulbs: Long standing record as bulb supplier
Peter Nyssen: Based in the Keukenhof area of the Netherlands. Very large range of bulbs.
Farmer Gracy: English face of Dutch family.
Beth Chatto and Burncoose also mentioned.
Please note the next Masterclass will be on the 22nd April. We will look at some other ‘Best Buys’ and practical matters. Oz