Allotment News June 2017

Let there be light…

June is the month of light evenings and a very busy time on allotments. The long hours of daylight mean that our plants (and the weeds) are growing at their fastest rate. Now that the drought we experienced in April has come to an end, the plants have their ingredients for photosynthesis (water, light and carbon dioxide). I am often asked why weeds grow so much better than crops. The answer is very simple – millions of years of natural selection and evolution (survival of the fittest). Weeds have evolved to compete and survive – don’t let them win. We can keep on top of weeds in many ways, including hoeing, pulling them out by hand or mulching.

Time to mulch between crops

Once crop plants are established it is a good idea to mulch between rows. The mulch suppresses weeds, retains soil moisture and eventually rots to improve the soil in future years. Common mulches are compost, grass cuttings and shredded weeds. It also helps to put a newspaper (several sheets thick) or piece of cardboard down first as this suppresses weeds even better.

The joy of hoeing.

If you thought that only Santa had fun with “hoe hoe hoe”, think again! What better joy can there be than hoeing a row of vegetables? And think of the good it is doing….

  1. removing weed competition, allowing the crops to get the full benefit of any light, water and soil minerals.
  2. turning weeds instantly from a liability into an asset as they die, decompose and enrich the soil.
  3. adding oxygen to the soil, so improving mineralisation by aerobic bacteria and releasing more nutrients for the crops.
  4. loosening the top centimetre of soil, preventing compaction or cracks in the clay, so conserving soil moisture.
  5. Improving your own physical and mental health as only gardening can do…

Member with a mower for sale

One of our members, Lynda, has a mower for sale (photo below). If you are interested in buying this please contact Lynda direct on

Fully let

All of our fields are now fully let. We have waiting lists of people who want allotments. If you have an allotment but are no longer able to cultivate it, please let us know so we can re-let it to someone on the waiting list. If your plot is neglected and there are genuine reasons, please contact your field steward urgently to explain. Our rules state that if a plot is not cultivated for  3 months then it is considered vacant and may be re-let (Rule 32)

Role of the Field Steward

Our field stewards play a vital role in the smooth running of our Allotment Society. They are our first point of contact on day-to-day matters. Stewards often get a lot of complaints, which is understandable, so please be considerate and try to share good news with your steward too.

Field Steward vacancy

We are looking for another steward for Northfield Avenue. If you know someone who has the diplomacy and skills to be a field steward, please let us know. Field stewards need to be good listeners and show a good example to other members.

National Allotment Society Newsletter

Kettering Allotments Society members are also in the National Allotment Society. This gives us access to public liability insurance, legal advice and the protection of being part of a bigger national organisation with many years of experience in promoting and protecting allotments. Their latest newsletter is available here.

Waste, recycling and storing material on allotments

Allotment gardeners are usually very good at recycling and re-using items, but there comes a time when something is no longer useful. This is the time to take the item away to the tip/recycling centre. Items that are no longer useful must not be left or dumped on allotments. Some items and materials are specifically banned from being brought to allotment land for health and safety reasons, including:

  • carpet – toxic chemicals may leak into the soil
  • car tyres – hazardous waste
  • pressurised gas cylinders (e.g. Calor gas, butane) – if you use one for a barbecue etc you must take it home with you after and not leave it on allotment land.
  • other hazardous items and materials, such as broken glass

Useful recycling or bulk storage? – an example

Most of us have a few old pallets or other pieces of wood etc and make use of them to build compost bins etc. However, a stack of 10 or more pallets is not reasonable. Such items need to be used or removed from the allotment. Large-scale storage is not what allotments are for and may be a hazard. If in doubt, ask your field steward.

Slug patrol

Imagine that you are a slug. You have barely survived the winter, then all of April was really dry so you had to hide somewhere and “hibernate” (aestivate) to keep moist and not shrivel up. Then it warms up and finally rains – you are hungry! There are some nice freshly-germinated seedlings just planted. Gardeners beware. These molluscs mean business, so send for the slug patrol…