September 2020 Allotment News

The Caretaker Principle

We have all come across a kind and genuinely caring caretaker. Perhaps we have also met caretakers who didn’t really care? The following saying attributed to Chief Seattle in the nineteenth century comes to mind “we do not inherit the earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children”. This sentiment guides our approach to the planet, its soil, air and water. It is also the underlying principle behind our allotment rules and tenancy. 

We do not own our allotments. The land is owned by Kettering Borough Council (KBC) on behalf of the people of Kettering to be used for growing crops (food and flowers). We have the enormous privilege to be able to rent our plots at a very low price. We have a corresponding duty to take care of the land for future generations of gardeners; hence we are caretakers. None of us lives forever, so we should think about those who will come after us to enjoy the allotments in decades to come. 

Examples of being a good allotment caretaker include:

  • Controlling weeds and preventing weeds spreading or producing seeds that will grow in the future.
  • Removing carpet or other toxic and hazardous waste that has found its way onto allotments.
  • Composting crop residues and weeds and maintaining soil fertility, avoiding fires,

New Policy on hard standing drives and car parks

In view of the Caretaker Principle outlined above the committee has adopted a new policy and will propose it as a new rule at the 2021 AGM. The new policy is that there should be no new hard standing driveways or car parks on plots. Existing driveways are not affected. 

The committee has noted that several plots now include a car park. This has reduced the area of land available for growing crops permanently. On one field the total area lost is more than a 10 pole plot. The committee decided that this will be unfair on future generations as there will be less land available. 

Allotment waiting lists rising since lockdown

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/aug/10/interest-in-allotments-soars-in-england-during-coronavirus-pandemic

Kettering Allotments Society has also experienced longer waiting lists. At our last count there were more than 90 people waiting for plots. Stewards have been working hard to check on under-used plots and those overgrown with weeds. Some of these overgrown plots are rented by members who have been shielding or self-isolating and quarantined. When this is the case, we have been more lenient than usual. Where there is no good reason for the plot being under-used, stewards have started the process of eviction, which takes some time as it is only fair to go through due process. As soon as is reasonably possible the plots are re-let to the person at the top of the waiting list. 

Hazard of the Month – Aspergillus spores

These fungal spores are easily breathed in and may cause serious lung disease. The spores are produced in some compost and mould. They are common at our allotments in any piles of shreddings, for example the shredded tree branches we sometimes use for mulch. If you notice clouds of dust-like material coming from these shredded trees, you are at risk from breathing in Aspergillus spores. The safety measure to follow when using such compost is to WEAR A MASK; this will prevent or reduce the spores from entering your lungs to infect you. See British Lung Foundation or NHS website for more details.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/aug/06/allotments-covid-share-pictures-stories

Mayor Presents Prizes

The Bridgstock Cup was presented to this year’s winners by Keli Watts, Mayor of Kettering on Sunday 23rd August. Keli also presented prizes to members whose plots were highly commended and the best newcomer. Keli was given a tour of Scott Road field and enjoyed the occasion, despite a heavy shower of rain.

mayor
socially distanced Mayor Keli Watts presents cup to Pat Mullins

Storm damage at Windmill Avenue

On August 25th Storm Francis brought strong winds and heavy rains to large areas of the country, including Kettering. A tree was blown down at Windmill Avenue and damaged the fence. The committee will now look at ways to repair or replace the broken fence and make the area safer. Meanwhile, please take extra care around this area.

Transforming an overgrown plot – latest

see the latest progress on this overgrown weedy plot by following this link and scrolling down. No digging, no watering and a healthy crop of pumpkins developing using mulch…

Solarisation Experiment

Michael, a member at Scott Road has tried solarisation for the first time. This uses clear plastic close to the soil to kills weeds and soil diseases. Solar power does the work. The plastic works like a very powerful greenhouse (remember that dogs die when locked in cars; the weeds die when cooked under sealed plastic). It is important that the plastic is tight to the ground so the heat builds up. See the photo below. Works best in summer.

solarisation

August 2020 Allotment News

Bonfires Allowed ! – but follow the law and guidance

The guidance from the National Allotments Society has been updated.  Barbecues and bonfires are now permitted. It is vital that all safety precautions are taken and we follow the law. See our website for full guidance on bonfires.

  • Dark smoke is a criminal offence under the Clean Air Act 1993. Only burn dry woody material that will not smoke
  • Never burn plastic, rubber, foam etc
  • do not leave fires unattended – the Fire Brigade may be called and you risk getting a bill for the call-out fee. Have sufficient water to extinguish any fire if it risks spreading
  • check with your neighbours and the wind direction. Avoid fires if smoke will disturb your neighbours
  • Our policy is to discourage bonfires and avoid where possible. Use composting or recycling for waste if at all possible. Click here for more on how to avoid fires
  • If your bonfire is a nuisance, the Council can send warning letters, serve legal Notices, serve Fixed Penalty Notices of £100 or prosecute offenders in the Courts

Successful field tour

The committee has not been able to hold regular meetings since the lockdown. However, we were able to conduct the annual field tour in July, The committee toured the Scott Road field and were impressed by the high standards of the plots. The committee recognises and appreciates the hard work done by members to maintain their plots. 

Cup judges appointed

One piece of formal business was conducted by the committee during the field tour. The cup judges were appointed for 2020. The judges tour all four fields and make their decision. More about the Bridgstock Cup and its history is on our website. http://www.ketteringallotments.co.uk/cup.html

And the winner(s) are:

The judges have come to their decision. They commented on how many excellent plots there are and congratulate the members who have been working hard tending their plots.

For the first time, the judges have awarded the cup to joint winners. These two plots were both equally excellent. 

Joint winners are Jacqui Nix (plot 112 Margaret Rd) and Pat Mullins (plot 132 Scott Road)

Best newcomer award goes to Nick and Karen Needle , plot 54 Scott Road

The following plots are  Highly commended:

Plot 18 Windmill Avenue – Phillip and Greta Lilley

Plot 177 Margaret Road – Michael Nietsche

Plot 32 Northfield Ave – Alan Haynes

Plot 25B Scott Road – Glenn Cherry

Plot 15 Scott road-  Darren and Corrina Stanion 

Plot 9 Scott Road-  Sue Johnson 

Water barrels for sale- Scott Road

One of our members has some water barrels and an IBC tank (thousand litres) for sale. Please contact Darren or Corrina to buy on 07841 938 252

Health and Safety review

It’s Common Sense – so what’s the problem? 

The problem is that common sense is not that common. We all have different ideas of what is sensible and safe. We all know someone who doesn’t seem to have any common sense at all. We all make mistakes; what is important is to learn from them.

As an allotment society we have a Health and Safety Policy. This is needed for our insurance and to protect our members, visitors and the public from harm. From time to time, we review and update our Health and Safety Policy. We welcome suggestions and comments on how we can improve. Please have a look at our Safety documents and contact us with any comments.

Health and Safety is no accident! – a near-miss or lucky escape is the perfect opportunity to re-think and improve what we do. Please contact us if you have a near-miss and we can all try to learn from it to prevent any further incidents. 

Remember – While growing cress, risk assess!

 

Speed limit reminder

Please remember rule number 20 – the speed limit for vehicles on allotments is 5 mph (walking pace). If you want to get to your allotment faster, leave the car behind and run there.

speed

Rats. Constant vigilance pays dividends 

Earlier in the summer, some members reported seeing rats near their plots and unfortunately some broad beans and peas were eaten. Constant vigilance to remove rat hiding places and use of traps has kept the rat population low. Rats may visit compost heaps, so please stay vigilant. See the link below for more on rats in compost heaps

https://www.allotment-garden.org/composts-fertilisers/composting-making-compost/rats-in-the-compost-heap-weils-disease-safety-concerns/#.Xv75ugkwVO8.email

Helping out shielding neighbours

Some of members are shielding at home because of the virus pandemic. They have not been able to tend their plots and weeds have been growing. Fortunately their allotment neighbours have helped out. The photos below show one example. In the first photo, the weeds have grown and are about to flower and seed; a nuisance for the member and his neighbours in future years…

IMG_0142

One section of the plot was covered with 100gsm weed control fabric and weighed down with pallets. The weeds will die and rot and the shielding member will find the plot easy to use when he returns.

IMG_0141

Another section was covered with card and straw. Again the weeds are no longer a problem and the soil will be well mulched and weed-free in a few weeks time.

IMG_0144

IMG_0146IMG_0147

Fly tipping – please be vigilant

see the story below as reported in the Evening Telegraph

https://www.northantstelegraph.co.uk/news/crime/staggering-amount-rubbish-fly-tipped-kettering-woods-2906827

Interesting newspaper article on allotments in lockdown

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/11/allotment-hobby-lockdown-lifeline-trade-deals-britain-food

July 2020 Allotment News

Bonfires still banned

Many of our members have asked when the emergency rule banning bonfires will be relaxed. We are following the guidance of the National Allotments Society (NSALG) posted on their website. People are still dying of Covid19 and those suffering the disease experience difficulty breathing; smoke from bonfires will give them more difficulty breathing. Check out the guidance from NSALG for any updates.

Welcome Stephen – new steward for Scott Road

Stephen Payne is the latest addition to our stewarding team at Scott Road. He is ready to help, has great ideas and suggestions. He has already organised a straw delivery, set up our Scott Road Facebook page and helped clear a vacant plot ready for a new tenant, amongst other things. To contact Stephen, see his phone number below.

Facebook page  for Scott Road

Scott Road allotments now has its own Facebook page. Members are sharing tips and ideas, answering questions and offering surplus plants. To join, search Facebook for Scott Road Allotments, Kettering and ask to join. Content is moderated.

Track improved at Scott Road

Many thanks to Jo, Gareth and Andy who worked really hard to improve one of the tracks at Scott Road recently. The new track is brilliant, almost as smooth as the M1

Good neighbours

Is your neighbour isolating, shielding or unwell? Thanks for helping

In this difficult year many people have been told to isolate or stay at home and shield to avoid possible exposure to the virus. Their plots will not be tended and may have got overgrown. Many allotment neighbours are helping to keep these plots tidy. Many thanks if you have helped in this way. 

If your neighbour’s plot is getting weedy and overgrown please let us know and we can enquire with your neighbours on ways to help. Your first point of contact is your field steward. Here are the contact numbers

Margaret Road – Tony and Sue Munt 01536 392 742

Windmill Avenue – George White 01536 

Northfield Avenue – Harry Pope 01536 503 263. or  07518 265 286

Scott Road – Stephen Payne 07788 627 525

Scott Road – Pat Mullins  07967 516 625

Russell Attwood 07981 598 332

Lasagna Gardening finally reaches the Sun newspaper

see the link below. Some of our members have been using no-dig and similar methods for many years. It is good to see these successful methods being circulated more widely.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/11759484/woman-share-simple-tip-stop-weeds-grow-garden-newspaper/

On a similar theme, Check out our photo blog on transforming an overgrown plot without digging

Remain vigilant and prevent fly-tipping

With bonfires banned and queues at the recycling tip, instances of fly-tipping are being reported all over the country. We need to keep vigilant and maintain our site security (lock gates etc) to prevent any fly tipping on allotment land. 

Most allotment waste can be recycled – as compost. If you have any non-recyclable waste on your allotment, consider taking it home to your wheelie bin, or ask your stewards for advice and suggestions.

June 2020 Allotment News

Waiting lists longer than ever

The very unusual circumstances of 2020 mean our waiting lists are growing faster than our vegetables. Many people have contacted us to ask for plots during the lockdown. Existing members have tended their plots more regularly and a few have been shielding or isolating, so we have had far fewer members evicted or giving up.

If you are finding your plot too much to manage and want to reduce in size or consider sharing, then please contact us. You will make someone on the waiting list happy.

Restrictions still apply – no bonfires etc

Stay safe, maintain social distance and other precautions until advised otherwise by the authorities. Please check NSALG (National Allotments) website for latest guidance. News reports indicate that Kettering is a local hotspot for corona virus, being the 13th worst in England in the last 2 weeks of May, see link from the Evening Telegraph

Drought looming

It appears that May was one of the driest on record, after the very wet winter (remember February, with news stories of floods?) Please try to conserve water where possible, for example mulching to keep our water bills as low as possible this year. For ideas of how to use mulch and never water, see our pages above

See below for a photo of an IBC rainwater collection system on a plot at Scott Road, still nearly full on May 29th. This member had filled the IBC and many barrels with winter rain.

IBC

Beware!

Just a thought, but if or when we do get some rain, the slugs will be very hungry! So be vigilant with your anti-slug patrols.

Bulk compost deliveries 

We have been contacted by Michael Young who can deliver compost to your plot in bulk. This is composted municipal green waste, screened to 30mm. A fully loaded Transit tipper truck is £160 including delivery and a half-load is £100 .But 5 loads and get one free! Contact Michael on 07810 262 625 for more information. 

Birds of prey at risk – be vigilant

We are fortunate to have regular sightings of red kites and other birds of prey overhead. Tragically there are some people who do not admire these magnificent creatures and persecute them. The Police have launched a campaign called Operation Owl  to help protect birds of prey. Please be vigilant and report any incidents using their website

News story from BBC about illegal killing of birds of prey

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52667502

Mulched garlic – never needs watering

DSC05567

May 2020 Allotment News

Covid 19 restrictions

see the full list from the National Allotments Society

 

NO BONFIRES!

ALLOWED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES

CONSIDER OTHERS, PARTICULARLY THOSE WITH BREATHING PROBLEMS, eg virus patients

  • Corona virus (Covid 19) causes serious breathing problems
  • The effects of bonfires are serious for people with other breathing difficulties including asthma who will suffer badly
  • Fires that get out of control cause extra and unnecessary strain in the emergency services who are all working hard to keep YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS SAFE

COMPOSTING IS NOT ONLY BETTER FOR SOIL BUT ALSO FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

STAY SAFE AND CONSIDER OTHERS

  • Keep hand sanitiser in your shed and wash your hands regularly
  • Use hand sanitiser before opening and closing any gate or lock
  • Observe “Social Distancing” with each other 2-3 metres
  • Do not share tools
  • Minimise the contact with each other
  • Do not wash your hands in water troughs
  • Stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as much as possible
  • If you display any symptoms of coronavirus stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days or until symptoms have passed.

Fly Tipping

Please be vigilant on and around allotments in case of fly tipping. The Council’s amenity tips/recycling depots are closed because of the current restrictions and there has been more fly tipping nationally during the lockdown. If you see any fly tipping please take a photo and report it to us.

What to do with your waste…

  1. Compost all garden waste (see common gardening myths article below). You can compost all garden waste one way or another. Worried about weeds etc, try bag composting – see low maintenance gardening
  2. Take waste home to your wheelie bin – recycle any metal and bottles etc in your recycling (blue) bin and put non-recyclable waste in your black bin.
  3. See your field steward for advice on bulky items. Eg At Scott Road we have a scrap metal area and a carpet collection area ready for when a skip can be ordered. Margaret Road recently had a skip.

Common Gardening Mistakes

see the link below on common mistakes made by gardeners….

https://www.sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk/read-this/these-are-common-gardening-mistakes-beginners-make-according-charles-dowding-and-how-avoid-them-2549319

Then and Now – compare 1941 Dig for Victory with 2020 allotment methods

1941 then…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=358&v=35NpLveVZDg&feature=emb_logo

2020 now…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LH6-w57Slw 

Avoid Bonfires to save lives

Latest insight in light of corona virus:

avoid bonfires for the sake of those with breathing difficulties…

Please see the insight below from another part of England:

bonfire

Avoid large family groups

Keep checking the latest updates from NSALG and HM Government. We are lucky to be allowed to continue allotment gardening. You must follow the instructions, so no large groups, even from the same family. No barbecues. Do not allow your children to wander off your plot. Disinfect the gates and padlocks when entering and leaving the field. Full guidance from NSALG here

London Road Garden Shop delivering plants this week

Plants, eg cabbages, beetroot, sweetcorn etc all arriving this week for delivery.

Phone or text to arrange deliveries 07961 806 049

Latest allotment updates – 7 April 2020

Water is on

We have turned the tap and the mains water is now on. Please use responsibly to reduce our water bills. Please check the troughs for leaks or over-filling and report to us if there are any problems. We encourage all members to collect free rainwater to conserve valuable drinking water and reduce our bills.

Avoid large family groups

Keep checking the latest updates from NSALG and HM Government. We are lucky to be allowed to continue allotment gardening. You must follow the instructions, so no large groups, even from the same family. No barbecues. Do not allow your children to wander off your plot. Disinfect the gates and padlocks when entering and leaving the field. Full guidance from NSALG here

London Road Garden Shop delivering plants this week

Plants, eg cabbages, beetroot, sweetcorn etc all arriving this week for delivery.

Phone or text to arrange deliveries 07961 806 049

See their Facebook page for any updates and information, link below

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Garden-Center/The-Garden-shop-257346370953538/

April 2020 Allotment News

Emergency Procedures on allotments

For updated Cover 19 emergency procedures on allotments- check this link to NSALG regularly

https://www.nsalg.org.uk/news/covid19-information/

Unprecedented Times

The Covid19 pandemic is affecting us all.

Many members are self-isolating if they have pre-existing medical conditions or are unwell.

We are all required to comply with the restrictions imposed by HM Government and are following advice published by the National Allotments Society (NSALG) on its website.

Many thanks to Monica and field stewards who printed and laminated the information and tied it to our gates.

Disinfect the gates, padlocks etc

At the time of writing, allotment members are still allowed to cultivate their plots as their daily permitted exercise. Keep your distance at all times and no social mixing or sharing of tools. Check NSALG website for updates or new restrictions.

if we keep distance from others, our main vulnerability on an allotment is touching the gate and padlock. Therefore, please disinfect/sanitise these before and after handling them and wear gloves. Wash hands regularly with soap (but don’t use water buts to wash).

Information from KBC – Kettering Borough Council

These guidance notes in summary suggest allotment holders:

• Keep hand sanitiser in their shed and wash their hands regularly

• Use hand sanitiser before opening and closing any gate locked

• Observe “Social Distancing” with each other 2-3 metres

• Do not share tools

• Minimise the contact with each other for example no handshakes

• Do not wash their hands in water troughs

• Recommend that all communal facilities are closed

• If allotment holders have livestock on the site and must visit twice a day, then they should take a photograph on their phone of their livestock, based on what is happening in other countries they may eventually have to print off a government form to leave the house but if challenged it would be good to be able to show a photograph of where they are going.

• Plan ahead to ensure that you have food and medication delivered to you during this time

• Stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as much as possible

• If you display any symptoms of coronavirus stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days or until symptoms have passed.

Further advice from the Association can be found at the following link:

https://www.nsalg.org.uk/news/covid19-information/

Please all stay safe

Waiting Lists Growing

Many people have contacted us to apply for an allotment. The government restrictions mean that we cannot process these in our normal way. Please be patient.

News from Northampton

Meanwhile, nearby in Northampton there is a news story that might interest you

https://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/people/northampton-borough-council-makes-u-turn-over-allotment-user-ban-2518129?itm_source=parsely-api

Some ideas to cope with restrictions

If we cannot get to our plots as often due to lockdown restrictions there are some things we can do to minimise the catching up when we resume.

Cover the ground with black weed control fabric or cardboard and mulch.

This mulch will suppress weeds in the coming weeks. If you then have plants or seedlings to go out then cut a small hole through the mulch and pop them in. see more in our post on low maintenance gardening – link below.

 Very low maintenance gardening.

IMG_0325

Urgent update on Covid19 Pandemic

Please read this advice from the National Allotment Society on the virus pandemic

https://www.nsalg.org.uk/news/covid19-information/

Coronavirus Emergency Measures

Following the Government update on 16 March 2020 and the ongoing situation with COVID-19, all group NAS meetings have been cancelled with immediate effect and will be reviewed on the 30th June 2020. This is a worldwide unprecedented and challenging time for so many people and of course the health and safety of our members, volunteers, and staff remains our number one priority.

I know many Associations, have taken decisions to cancel plot inspections, seed swaps, association trips and annual judging; scheduled Committee meetings and AGM’s should also be postponed.  It is important that any plot-holders over 70 years and those with underlying health issues follow the guidance and informationissued by the government.  It would be a good idea for Associations to give a telephone or email address for anyone with problems to allow contact.

Any plot-holder who is self isolating because a household member is ill with corona-virus should not be visiting the site.

Associations should display an advice notice on their boards. It is important that anyone attending the allotment takes care to stay the appropriate distance from others, avoid body contact and wash hands at taps, do not wash hands or use detergents in the water tanks and please pay attention to notice boards.

It is essential that no un-authorised people are allowed onto the plots for the duration of this emergency, if you do wish to bring someone to assist with work on the plot, please ensure that that this is notified either to Secretary or Site Manager.  Careful consideration should be given to introducing anyone over 70, those with underlying illness or pregnant women.

We are living through a crisis, the likes of which none of us has experienced before, not since war time has the community spirit that exists on allotment sites been more important.  Please remember to look out for one another during these very difficult times.

Members should take the following precautionary measures :

  • Keep hand sanitiser in your shed and wash your hands regularly
  • Use hand sanitiser before opening and closing any gate locks
  • Observe “Social Distancing” with each other 2-3 metres
  • Do not share tools
  • Minimise the contact with each other for example no handshakes
  • Do not wash your hands in water troughs
  • If you have communal buildings on site such as toilets, communal huts or shops please consider the risk to yourselves and your volunteers if they stay open. If you do keep them open make sure that hand -sanitiser is available and clean on a regular basis; at least twice a day.
  • Click here for guidance if you do need to clean an area that has been visited by an infected person.
  • If you have livestock on the site and the restrictions become more severe, take a photograph on your phone of your livestock, based on what is happening in other countries you may have to print off a government form to leave the house but if challenged it would be good to be able to show a photograph of where you are going.
  • Plan ahead to ensure that you have food and medication delivered to you during this time
  • Stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as much as possible
  • If you display any symptoms of coronavirus stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days or until symptoms have passed.

Those Association who operate shops will have to consider what action to take, whether to close totally, allow only one person in at a time, currently accepting cash is not a good idea.  We must all consider vulnerable families, friends and fellow plot-holders and give assistance where needed.

Government advice about the Coronavirus is updated on a regular basis at this link.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

For NHS information and advice CLICK HERE