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Moor Green in January

Happy New Year fellow plotters! "Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right." said my old friend Oprah Winfrey. Well I'm sure she would be a friend if she knew who I was and lived in B13. But it's hard to get going isnt it? Its hard to do anything on the plot when you've had three weeks of rain followed by a hard frost. And it is hard....

But it's beautiful down here this week

Just wrap up warm and look for signs of spring - I found some courageous broad beans on my plot today...

It's amazing that they've survived waterlogging followed by frost. May need to replant the rest of the row but that's for February. It's tempting to put off the whole the trip down the plot idea until next month. But things are happening down on the site - look at all this news!

Dry-ish January in the clubhouse.

Thanks to everyone who turned up for the New Years Eve do . It was a good night!

A special thanks too to everyone who volunteered for the bar and braved the first weekend of the year to play free pool and down a quantity of beer and lager nearing its sell by date. The bar is now closed until the first weekend of February.

But why??? After what seems like forever and with Ann Kennefick’s tenacity we have received money from insurers to reinstate the men’s toilet. Work has already commenced and alongside we plan to upgrade the kitchen units.

And if this wasn’t enough a group of volunteers have repainted the clubhouse interior prior to our new (industrial grade) floor covering being laid at the end of January, which will include scraper matting at both entrances.

So currently the old place looks a bit bereft....

But fear not. We plan to reopen on 2nd February, all welcome (dogs definitely on leads please!). Come and see what the old place looks like now its a new place...

Seedstore Developments

The Seedstore has been a bit quiet since Covid. Though a small group of volunteers has kept going selling the basics, you couldn’t really accuse it of being busy. This has partly been because we used it to store solar panels that had been blown off the roof by Storm Arwen. Remember that? Now that we have reinstalled the solars we can see daylight - sorry, couldn’t resist. So the committee asked Rob Treadwell and Phil Tyson (two of its tireless volunteer members - I may have mentioned the committee of heroes before) if they would take on the job of  rejuvenating, clearing and developimg the Seedstore to make better use of the space.  Says Rob "Phil and I have been working on developing both the building and its resources. Our initial plan was to retain the ability to supply onion and potato seedstuff and assess other materials that members will benefit by accessing on site. Our second task has been the development of workshop facilities for the repair, maintenance and sharpening of gardening tools." So instead of it being a dumping ground for old tools as it has become over the last few years, it's now going to be a place where you can borrow tools, including powertools and get your own tools sharpened. To this end we have added additional lighting and power points to the Seedstore and we're in the process of clearing every last bit of unusable junk out of there so that there will be space - limited but useful - for a workshop. We're not there yet but hope to have the new version developed by Spring. Stay tuned! or just go and talk to Phil (plot 59) or Rob (Plot 221) if you'd like to know more and especially if you'd like to help!

Art Group at The Clubhouse!

City council permission has been sought and received for the occasional use (approximately 30 x 2 hour sessions a year) of the Clubhouse by the members of the Outreach Art Group of Moseley and Kings Heath Shed. This is an already established group of enthusiasts - largely retired . Sessions will be organised following the refurbishment of the pavilion in late January and are likely to begin in early February. The group keeps dialogue through a WhatsApp chat. If you're interested in joining or just to find out more contact Bob on 07754739387 or on his plot (221).

First Homemade Marmalade Competition!

Do you make your own marmalade?

Think it’s the best marmalade on the planet?

Well let’s see if it is!

We would love you to enter a jar of your homemade marmalade into our first ever tasting

competition to be held at Moorgreen Allotments Pavilion on Sunday 3rd March.

As this is our first competition, we will not have categories and it will be based on a

“Traditional” style of marmalade. Your marmalade will be judged on Colour, Aroma, Texture and most importantly taste. The competition will be judged by neutral marmalade lovers who will not have an entry in the competition.

Entering your jar of glowing orange tangy goodness:

You can enter from Saturday 2nd March (bar opens at 1pm until 6pm) and on Sunday from

10am; last entry is at 1pm on Sunday 3rd March.

It is essential that your jar is free of labels as you will be allocated an entry number that will

be assigned to your jar.

Please ensure that your marmalade is presented in (ideally) a new jar with a screw top lid. If

you are recycling an old jar, please ensure it has been fully washed clean and sterilised in

the oven 160°C, gas mark 3 for 15 minutes before use.

If you are new to marmalade making then give it a go, you can find many recipes online and

Seville (Bitter) Oranges are in the shops now.

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday 3rd March.

Allotment Research Study

Some readers will recall that the University of Birmingham in partnership with Birmingham and District Allotments Association to identify the benefits of allotments in the city, including their contribution to food production, local sourcing, etc as well as their contribution to physical and mental well being for 10,000+ plotholders and partners, families and friends. It's really cheering to report that more than 700 plotters have returned the questionnaire which is at the heart of the research. That's ten per cent of all tenants and will give us a strong evidence base for the study conclusions. Research based on information actually gathered from plotholders has never been managed at this scale before and it's going to help, not only in discussions with Birmingham City Council - who need a reminder of how valuable an asset allotments are, in case they are foolish enough to dream of getting rid of them; but also to other allotment associations who now have a toolkit for doing exactly the same research on their patch.

It's not too late for you to help by filling in the questionnaire if you haven't already done so. The survey closes on Sunday 21st January. Just access the link on a BDAC website below. It only takes ten minutes.

Leaf Mulch or Leaf Mould?

There's an enormous amount of rotting leaf matter on site at the minute - near the main gate in those bays and next to the seedstore in big piles. Is it worth spreading it on our plots? Is it leaf mould yet? Our resident horticultural whizz , Oz suggests the following:

Leaf Mulch: This is simply the spreading of harvested leaves in a

thick layer over the surface of bare soil. They can be left uncovered

or covered with netting or matting. Uncovered, they are a food

source for ground feeding birds, and will also be rummaged in by

foxes, badgers and deer. All of which we have on site.

The thickness of the mulch should be between 3 and 6 inches. This is

deep enough to keep the underlying soil warm enough for the

microfauna (worms & smaller) active. It will prevent weed seed

germination and reduce the seed population in the soil. Only a fraction of these leaves will have broken down by the end of the winter. When preparing a seed bed or for planting, remove to

compost heap. Older gardening books make a point of using winter freezing to

break up clay soils. Our currently milder winters have a limited

effect, and the organic matter from the leaf mulch can make up for

this. This is a cumulative effect, meaning that annual repetition has

increasing benefit.

Leaf Mould: Leaf mould is the product of partial decay of leaves. In

dense woodland you can find it under the layers of loose leaves,

blending into the soil.

To make for our use, gather the leaves together, so that the heat

generated by micro-bacterial activity builds up and speeds up. On a

small scale, loosely ( oxygen is needed) filling black bags with wet

leaves and stacking them together will produce fair results in 2-3

years. Gathering the leaves together in approx. 1-1.2m contained

cubes is slightly quicker. This size is a good compromise between

heat retention and aeration.

In practice, with the amount of leaves we have, I arrange four builders

bulk bags in a square. Fill all four, top them up through the winter,

and as the contents shrink during the year empty one into the other

three, then one into two. I expect to have usable mould by the

second spring.

If you want results in one year do as above, but add a sprinkling

nitrogen fertilizer in layers as you fill the bags. The reason for this is that fallen leaves are comparatively rich in carbon compounds, but low in nitrogen compounds. There is plenty

of food for the bacteria/fungi, but little to build proteins and increase their numbers. Adding nitrogen rectifies this. The end result has a higher nutrient content than leaves alone. More like a ‘compost heap’ compost or commercial compost. Spread as a mulch or mix into the top inches of soil.

NB Leaf mould may include live tree seeds. As the heap does not

always get hot enough to kill them all.

Thats all for now folks - happy plotting!

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