Allotment news December 2016

2017 Rents due on 1st January

Our annual rents are due next month. Reminders will be sent later in December. If you have email, the reminders will be sent that way to save postage costs. The good news is that the rent for 2017 is the same as this year – no increase. Another piece of good news is that we now accept payment by online banking. The details of how to pay can be found on our website on the following link

http://www.ketteringallotments.co.uk/rent.html

No bank account? – you can pay by cash at HSBC Kettering branch.

You will need our sort code and account number and you must include a reference on the payment slip at the branch or we will not be able to link your payment to your plot.

Our SORT code is 40-26-07 (HSBC Kettering) and our account number is 2049 8254

You must include a reference of your surname,field (first letter) and plot number.

e.g. for John Pumpkin of Plot 1 on Scott Road field, the reference is PumpkinS1

Contact details form and tenancy agreement renewal 2017

A new contact details form must be completed and sent to the treasurer with your rent.

  • If you pay by cheque, then complete the form and post together with the cheque.

  • If you pay online or by cash at HSBC, complete a form and either post it to the treasurer or email the form to:-allotment.moneyman@gmail.com

  • If you don’t have a printer, you can write the required details on a piece of paper, sign and post it to the treasurer.

  • By paying rent you agree to follow our rules and constitution.

Moved? Changed email?

If your contact details have changed, please let us know. We need up to date details to be able to send you the rent reminders and forms.

Allotment News November 2016

Remember, remember …

Although we discourage bonfires and promote composting all garden waste on our plots or using the municipal green waste recycling bins…

If you wish to have a bonfire, November 5th is probably the best chance you will get. We are less likely to get complaints on that day. This year the 5th is a Saturday. If you are planning a fire, keep your tinder dry to avoid smoke nuisance and take every precaution to stay safe. Only dry woody garden waste may be burned (no carpets, plastics, domestic waste or other toxic material allowed). Burning toxic waste may lead to your prosecution by the authorities and disciplinary action by the committee.

Please number your plot

We are encouraging our members to number their plots. Knowing our plot numbers really helps when contacting the committee, for example when paying our annual rent  (due in January 2017). Please include your plot number with any enquiry or payment, so we know who you are.

2017 Rent – no increase from 2016

We are pleased to announce that the rents will be the same next year. There will be no increase. Good news for all of us.

Please measure and prune any miniature fruit trees on your plot

One of our rules (number 36) states that no trees are permitted on our allotments other than miniature fruit trees. The maximum height of such fruit trees is 8 feet high. If your tree is higher than this you should prune it now (suggested height 6-7 feet so that it remains below 8 feet for the year ahead).

Any other trees (non-fruit) should be removed. Please contact your field steward if you have any queries about this or need specialist help. We can recommend a tree surgeon for larger trees. Always carry out a risk assessment if tree felling, see our Health and Safety Policy guidelines for more details and do not hesitate to contact your field steward for advice.

Improving Security at Margaret Road

The Society has now taken delivery of metal Heras panels to reinforce the fence at Margaret Road. Volunteers are requested to help fit these panels securely. Please contact the Margaret Road field stewards if you are able to volunteer, or email the secretary who will pass your offer on.

Our Centenary Approaches

Did you know that Kettering Allotments Society was first registered in April 1917? Back then we were known as Kettering Allotments Limited and registered as an Industrial Friendly Provident Society. Government legislation has changed these terms, but our Society has continued since then. We know that there were allotments in Kettering and a Society before 1917 as our prestigious annual cup was won by Tom Bridgstock before the First World War. if anyone has any more information on Kettering Allotments in the past, please contact us.  

If you have an idea of how we can mark our centenary, please let us know.

Easy weeding at a reasonable price

Some members have started using black membrane plastic to cover their plots in winter to keep the weeds down. It is important to use a thick heavy grade. Some thin materials are sold in shops will get shredded by the wind and are almost see-through, so weeds just keep growing.  You need at least 100 gsm thickness (grams per square metre).  See this link on Amazon for  one supplier The photo below shows an experiment to compare black fabric mulch with straw on top of cardboard.

fabricmulch

Meet the committee

This is the first of what we hope will be a regular feature to enable you to know more about your committee members.

Russell Attwood – committee secretary and field steward for Scott Road

Factfile

  • favourite vegetable – pumpkin
  • favourite tools – scythe and hoe
  • enjoys mulching, weeding and singing pumpkin songs

pumpkinking

Allotment News October 2016

An evening of entertainment

On Wednesday 26th October at 7pm at Kettering library you can experience an exhilarating evening’s entertainment. Russell Attwood will be performing his celebrated presentation on pumpkins and other amazing vegetables. Tickets only cost £5 and all proceeds go to a very good cause – the library projects to encourage children to read.

Comments from those who have seen Russell’s show in the past:

  • “an unexpected pleasure”
  • “a show like no other”

Learn how to carve your pumpkins like this..

dragon

More complaints about bonfires

We have had more complaints about bonfires – both at Margaret Road and Northfield Avenue fields. If you have a bonfire that produces smoke nuisance you will be subject to our disciplinary policy and may be prosecuted by the Environment Agency. See our previous advice in the September newsletter and avoid bonfires. For more detail, see our website advice on bonfires

http://www.ketteringallotments.co.uk/bonfires.html

2017 Seed potato catalogue from London Road shop in Kettering

Click on the links below for a pdf of the list and catalogue from this shop:-

seed-potato-list-2017

seed-potato-catalogue-2-2017

Moved house or changed phone number?

Please keep us informed of your contact details. If we do not have up-to-date details we cannot contact you with important information, for example, the rent reminders for 2017.

Do you use Biochar?

Some of our members have been trying Biochar. This is an interesting idea using charcoal to improve the soil that was used many years ago in the Amazon rainforest. If you have used biochar please let us know your experiences. Meanwhile, enjoy this picture of a pumpkin patch on a Scott Road plot.

pumpkin2016

September 2016 Allotment News

The Bridgstock Cup 2016

Every year the cup is awarded to the best allotment in our four fields. A small group of judges are appointed by the committee. The judges tour all 4 fields in July and have a checklist to help them decide the best allotment. The criteria that the judges use are listed on our website

And the winner is….

The 2016 winner is Mary Spence , plot 60 on Margaret Road. Congratulations and well done.

Runner-up..

Two members have been awarded runner-up

  • Yasmin Barber – plot 0 Northfield Avenue (yes there is a plot zero – long story)
  • Idalina Gouveia – plot 42 Margaret Road

Please number your plot!

The committee has agreed to encourage all members to number their plots. This helps in many ways. Many members have now made numbered signs for their plots, with some really imaginative and creative signs installed.

The committee has also agreed that from 2017 one of the criteria used by the judges for the Bridgstock Cup will be having the plot numbered.

A date for your diary – Wed 26 October @ 7:00pm

Would you like an evening of entertainment, horticultural education and fun?

Our secretary, Russell Attwood, is giving his famous presentation on pumpkins at Kettering Library. Be prepared to be educated about growing pumpkins and get other gardening tips, plus other ideas on pumpkin lanterns and cooking squash. It will be great fun. Tickets are only £5 – contact pauline.goodman@uwclub.net for more details.

A great shop for gardening supplies

Thrapston Farm and Garden has a good stock of gardening supplies, including tools, seeds, fertiliser, wellingtons and poultry supplies.It’s well worth a visit.  Check out their website.

23-25 Midland Rd, Thrapston, Kettering NN14 4JS          01832 735111

The above shop can order you a scythe!

This shop can order a scythe if you wish to buy one. From as little as £40 for a basic model to £120 for a professional scythe.

BONFIRE COMPLAINT!

We have received a complaint from KBC about a bonfire causing smoke nuisance. Please note that such complaints will lead to disciplinary action against you by the committee and/or prosecution by the Environmental Health team at Kettering Borough Council.  It is our policy to discourage bonfires as there are better and safer ways to recycle garden waste. Before you consider a bonfire, check out the guidelines on our website

Improving Security at Margaret Road

Keeping our allotments secure is a top priority of the committee and any incidents of theft or vandalism are considered at its meetings. We have worked hard with the Police and other bodies to improve security in the past and will continue to do so when any incidents occur. It is important therefore that all such crimes are reported both to the Police and your field stewards.

Meanwhile, the committee has agreed to spend approximately £1500 on new fencing materials to reinforce the boundary at weak points on Margaret Road allotments. We have learned from previous work done at Scott Road and found the most effective and economical methods to  make the fence more secure.

A useful way to kill difficult weeds – use Solar Power!

At this time of year we sometimes pull out weeds that are difficult to compost because they have many seeds, for example dock, nettles etc. Most compost heaps do not get hot enough to kill the seeds, so when we use the compost we will have thousands of weed seedlings. In the past gardeners may have  been tempted to burn these weeds, but we are discouraging fires, so what else can we do to kill and compost these weeds?

Solarisation! – using solar power to kill the weeds as they compost. Simply put the weeds under clear polythene (e.g. in a clear plastic bag) and leave in the sun. The heat of the sun will kill the weeds and they will also rot. See picture below

solarization

The plastic bag is tied with string and turned over every week or so whilst we have warm and sunny days. The top half gets really hot, but the lower half doesn’t; this is why it is turned. This bag contains nettles, grass, docks and some comfrey, so will produce rich compost. The intense heat will be as hot as a locked car on a sunny day. You could also use a clear plastic sheet on the ground.

Prevent plant disease – please remove spoiled potatoes

We all have a few potatoes that get attacked by slugs or get holed by the fork. Some gardeners leave these spoiled potatoes on their allotment and only take the healthy ones home. Leaving these spoiled potatoes may spread diseases such as blight. Our advice is to remove all potatoes from your plot and dispose of any spoiled tubers in the grey wheelie bin (garden waste). This will help KBC reach its recycling targets too. Potato foliage (leaves etc) can be composted in your own compost heap, even if affected by blight as the spores will not survive in compost.

August 2016 Allotment News

Thanks to the volunteers

We sometimes forget to thank our many volunteers and helpers. Many allotment members help in different ways to keep our fields well ordered. Some of the voluntary help that has been done recently includes:

  1. A member who uses her cordless battery powered strimmer to keep the grass on the ridings and paths short. This is something we should all be doing on the paths next to our own plot, but this member strims the paths to many nearby plots. Thank you.
  2. Likewise, several members use lawnmowers to keep the grass short and the paths navigable. Thanks.
  3. A member who has taken some old carpets and other rubbish to the tip. As has been mentioned before we should no longer be bringing old carpets to allotments, but for many years this was thought a useful way to suppress weeds and there is still a lot of old carpet on our fields. We now know that carpet may contain harmful dyes and if it is left for a long time it is very difficult to remove, particularly when wet. A dry spell in the summer is an ideal time to take your stanley knife to any carpet on your plot, bag it up and take it to the bin or tip. Unfortunately carpet is non-recyclable.
  4. Members have been collecting stones from their plots in buckets and then placing these in the pot-holes or wheel ruts along the ridings and tracks. This helps keep the ridings navigable and safe. Thanks again.
  5. Neighbouring members helping each other, for example when one is on holiday or unwell. A member has helped out a neighbour who is new to allotments and had a badly overgrown plot. Weeds were removed and rubbish cleared ready to take to the tip.
  6. A member who repairs the mains water troughs when faults occur. Although we encourage members to collect free rain water, we still have some mains water troughs and these do require maintenance. This service saves the Society a lot of money on plumber’s bills.
  7. Members who close and lock the gate(s). It is a requirement to close the gate behind you but occasionally a gate has been left open. Thankfully our conscientious members spot it and lock it quickly. Thanks again.
  8. Members who look after a friend’s chickens when he has been unwell, keeping them housed and fed safely and protected from the local fox.
  9. A member who is co-ordinating the key allocation for the secure container at Scott Road.
  10. Committee members who volunteered to be cup judges for our annual cup award. Many thanks.

What have we missed?

The list above is only what has been seen recently. If you know of any other voluntary help that is being given please let us know and we can thank them too. Make a comment please.

Please volunteer yourself

If you are able why not volunteer to help the Society. If you are not sure what needs doing, please ask your field steward. There are usually many tasks that need doing and we can always use more volunteers.

Mailing list update

Our committee members, field stewards and officers are also volunteers. They have to fit their service to the committee into their busy lives as well as tending their own plots. This is why it has taken so long to update the mailing list. If you have not received the previous newsletters, we apologise. Fortunately you can access previous newsletters on this WordPress site. If you no longer have an allotment and do not want these newsletters, please contact us so we can keep the list up-to-date.

Waiting Lists news

We currently have short waiting lists at Windmill Avenue and Northfield Avenue. Windmill Avenue has little turnover, so waiting times are very long as there are so few plots that become vacant. Northfield Avenue has experienced quite high turnover, so waiting times are quite short. Scott Road is full but plots regularly become vacant and so waiting time is very short. Margaret Road is nearly full, with a few vacant plots.

Problems occur when a plot is neglected and becomes very overgrown with weeds. This year we have seen some plots where the weeds have reached 8 feet high! Field stewards have to work hard then to find out of the tenant has given up or is unwell. Sometimes tenants have moved without telling us. Due process has to be followed before a tenant on an neglected plot can be evicted, meanwhile the weeds keep growing. Striking the balance is not easy and often stewards have their diplomacy skills tested.

This is where you can help! If you notice that your allotment neighbour has not been cultivating and the plot is becoming neglected, talk to your field steward. Enquiries can be made and the steward can offer support if the tenant is experiencing difficulties or begin the eviction process if it is straightforward neglect.

Scythes make a comeback

Members on Scott Road have been re-discovering the usefulness of a scythe to clear overgrown areas, weeds and tall grass. The scythe has been used for centuries before the combine harvester, mower and strimmer. Now it makes a comeback for superior weed cutting.

See this story form the Daily Telepgraph

Scythe vs strimmer – which is best?

A scythe:-

  • is lighter to carry
  • sustainable, as it doesn’t need petrol or oil (fossil fuel) (but is does need carbohydrates!)
  • “starts up” first time
  • cuts a larger area with each sweep
  • is quicker than a strimmer ( see youtube for contests)
  • collects the cuttings in a neat pile rather than scattering them everywhere
  • less need for eye protection (safety glasses must be worn with a strimmer)
  • is quieter
  • low maintenance

Where to buy a scythe?

Try the scythe shop – mail order.

http://www.thescytheshop.co.uk

or try eBay e.g. http://stores.ebay.co.uk/greenfingersstore/

 

 

Allotment news July 2016

Successful tour of two fields = aka “Field Inspection”

The committee of Kettering Allotments Society meets several times a year on the second Tuesday of the month. Instead of a formal meeting in June, the committee tours two of our allotment fields. This has always been called the “Field Inspection” but recently this wording has caused anxiety in some members. Members had visions of clipboards and reprimands but nothing could be further from the truth. What happens is that the committee members gather and walk around the fields. They can see the fields for themselves and this improves their understanding of the issues facing each field. They can observe the progress of projects that have been paid for by Society funds and can learn from the amazing allotments some of our members cultivate.

In order to ally the anxiety felt by some members, we are considering re-naming the “field inspection”. Suggestions please for a less threatening phrase to describe this cordial tour of our fields that helps keep our committee members updated.

Highlights of the 2016 Field Inspection

  • Committee members were impressed by the progress made by several new members at Northfield Avenue and Scott Road. In particular, the extra plot created at Northfield in the last year is really good.  An area at Northfield that had previously been really untidy has been cleared of rubbish (the committee had funded the skip for this).
  • The hedge trimming at Scott Road was also admired. The committee had paid a contractor to cut own overgrown hedge down to 2 metres. The hedge is thickening up nicely at the base. Heras panels have also been tied in to close gaps and the field is now far more secure than a few years ago.
  • A large tree had been felled and removed from Northfield, allowing more light into several plots and making them more viable for growing vegetables. Rule reminder – the only trees allowed in our rules are miniature fruit trees, maximum height 8 feet
  • The new car park created by committee member Pat Mullins at the top end  of Scott Road is very impressive. Known as “the riddler” Pat has single-handedly sieved most of the stone on this hard standing.
  • Some plots are overgrown and neglected on both fields, despite being fully let. There has been a lot of turnover, with many plots changing tenants.

The Challenge

Following the “field inspection” the committee accepts that the challenge for 2016 is to work with our members to encourage everyone to cultivate their plots effectively and not allow weeds to take over. Some plots have been abandoned leaving a lot of rubbish behind. We have a way of evicting tenants who fail to cultivate or neglect their plots using our rules, but this takes time as we have to use due process and give reasonable time allowances for tenants. It is much better if we can have a constructive dialogue with tenants who are not coping. Sometimes the tenant reduces the size of plot and we can re-let the rest to a new member. If you have any suggestions  or comments on this, please contact us.

Some bad news

Unfortunately there has been some crime at Scott Road. Tools and a heavy duty B&Q tub have been stolen from a shed (plot 90 and 104b). These were fairly new spade and fork and a brand new pair of long handled shears, still in their wrapping. If any other Scott Road members have had sheds broken into or items stolen on the night of 20 June please call the police and quote the crime number  16000162787. The police will then be able to link the crimes together and look for patterns as they investigate.

National Allotments Newsletter

Kettering Allotments is a member of the National Allotments Society (formerly known as NSALG). This means that all of our members are part of this organisation and we get protection and benefits. Their latest newsletter can be found at this website.

Annual Cup Judging

The judges for the annual award for best allotment have been appointed. They will be making the rounds at some stage during July. For more details on the cup, visit our webpage on it.

 

June 2016 allotment news

Growing season gets into top gear!

With the warmer weather and long  hours of daylight, June is the peak time for growing plants – including weeds. Allotment gardeners are busy weeding and tending their crops. Fingers are crossed for occasional rain and we sincerely hope that there are no more frosts until late October.

Field Inspection on June 14th

On June 14th the Annual Field Inspection takes place. This year the committee will tour Northfield Avenue followed by Scott Road. It is quite informal and an opportunity to meet the committee and show off your plot. The inspection season continues as the judges start their deliberations for the annual award of the Bridgstock Cup. See the Kettering Allotments website for details of the cup.

Changed your contact details? – let us know

If you have moved or changed phone number or email, please let us know. Contact us using the link in the menu at the top of the page.

Change of circumstances? – let us know

If you have been ill, or other circumstances have affected your ability to cultivate your plot, please keep us informed. We don’t want to know your medical details, but we have a duty to ensure that plots are cultivated and weeds controlled. In the past some members have not kept us informed when their circumstances changed and then expressed surprise when they receive a warning letter threatening eviction for non-cultivation. Cultivating your plot and controlling weeds is one of our rules.

Waiting lists and vacant Plots

Two of our fields have waiting lists – Windmill Avenue and Northfield Avenue. Scott Road is fully let and does not have a waiting list. Margaret Road has a few vacant plots. We are encouraging those on the waiting list to consider a plot at Margaret Road. If you know of anyone who wants an allotment in Kettering please let them know that we do have plots and encourage them to contact us.