February 2018 Allotment News

Seedy Saturday on February 17th in Northampton


from 10am – 4pm at Castle Hill United Reform Church, Doddridge Street, Northampton NN1 2RN. Entrance fee £1

Dates for your Diary – our 100th AGM

2018 AGM is on a Wednesday!

A real break with tradition – (the Corn Market Hall was not available on our usual Tuesday)

This is our 100th AGM! – on

Wednesday 14th March at 7:45pm at Corn Market Hall

More details on our website – link below


Bagged Alpaca Manure for Sale

Bags of alpaca manure, commonly referred to as ‘Black Gold’ for sale.

Alpaca manure is said to be one of the richest organic manures available, with high levels of nitrogen and potassium. It does not need to be composted before using and can be placed directly on or around even the most delicate plants.

Bags weigh approximately 12lb and I charge £1 per bag, collection is from Broughton.  To arrange purchase, contact Rachel either via email or on 07590 610056. email address


Other manure available – see website

For other suppliers of manure, see our website page


To dig or not to dig, that is the question

To dig or not to dig, that is the question. Whether it is nobler for the veg for soil to suffer the outrageous fortune of spades and forks, or to take up mulching against a sea of weeds and by smothering end them?”

No doubt if Hamlet had an allotment he would be pondering this dilemma. Several of our members have reported interest in the “no-dig” gardening methods as extolled by Charles Dowding. There is a lot of information on his website


The evidence is strong that “no-dig” give better crops, is better for the soil and easier than digging or rotovating. The TV programme Beechgrove Garden also did a trial last year and found the vegetables in the “no-dig” plot were bigger than the dug plot.

See page 7 of the factsheet (link below)


So perhaps it is a case of “mulchers of Kettering unite, you have nothing to lose except your spades”

But let’s leave the final words to the poet Seamus Heaney



Between my finger and my thumb   

The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound   

When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   

My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds   

Bends low, comes up twenty years away   

Stooping in rhythm through potato drills   

Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft   

Against the inside knee was levered firmly.

He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep

To scatter new potatoes that we picked,

Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.   

Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day

Than any other man on Toner’s bog.

Once I carried him milk in a bottle

Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up

To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods

Over his shoulder, going down and down

For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap

Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge

Through living roots awaken in my head.

But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests.

I’ll dig with it.



January 2018 Allotment News

Happy New Year to our members

Almost imperceptibly the daylight is increasing and we can plan another growing season. If you have not yet ordered your seeds, it is not too late to consider mail order or online shopping.

We recommend Kings Seeds and Real Seeds, although there are many interesting varieties in Marshalls and Seeds of Italy or the Organic Gardening Catalogue.

For potatoes, onion sets seeds and other gardening why not try the Garden Shop in London Road, Kettering?


Rent is now due

Our annual rent is due on 1st January. You should have received a reminder by email or post. The rents and membership subscriptions are the same as last year. You can pay online, by cheque or by cash at the HSBC branch in Kettering. Full details are on our website www.ketteringallotments.co.uk

Vacant Plots – waiting lists cleared on 3 of our fields

Good news for anyone in Kettering who wants an allotment; we have now managed to clear the waiting list on 3 of our fields. The only field with a waiting list is Scott Road. We hope to be able to allocate plots to those waiting quite soon. A few plots usually become vacant at the end of January from those who have not paid their rent.

News from the National Allotment Association (NSALG)

Please click on this link for the latest newsletter from the National Allotment Society.


Why did the chicken cross the road?

Perhaps it wanted to go to Lidl? We received reports just after Boxing Day that a chicken was loose in the area of land around the Slade river along Northfield Avenue. Field stewards have been trying to contact allotment poultry-owners in case they have lost a bird, but it is possible the chicken escaped from a nearby property, eg Railway Avenue, as we are aware that some households in that vicinity do keep them.

Virus warning about Ulloco

Advice from DEFRA (the Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) about a virus that could affect potatoes and other crops in Ulluco



Poultry keepers are watching out for news of bird ‘flu

Bird flu may arrive with migratory species and can devastate poultry, so please keep your hens away from any wild birds to be safe, see below for details




Please consider joining the Friends of the Green Patch

Please note this message from Sue McKay of the Green Patch:-

The Green Patch is in the process of forming a Friends of The Green Patch group so that we can apply for funding.  We are hoping next year to build a new hen area and install a new bee hive, plus replace the skins on our current poly tunnels.  I would like to ask you and your members if anyone is interested in being part of this group.  It would not require much of a commitment as we will only meet up occasionally.  Please give it consideration as it would mean such a great deal to us.  Thank you.

Sue Mckay

Environmental Project Officer

Tel:   07739327022 

Pumpkins against Poverty – near and far

a story of finding good uses for surplus veg

In 2017 one of our members grew far too many pumpkins and squash. The seeds were sown in May but in June it became clear that a serious miscalculation had occurred and he was left with 54 seedling plants and no space left on the allotment. Fortunately his allotment neighbours were very generous and three different neighbours agreed to having some extra pumpkins and squash on their plots.

The summer was good and a marvellous harvest was produced, so now the problem was what to do with so many pumpkins and squash?

The orange pumpkins were taken to this member’s place of work and used for a charity fund-raising project. An amazing £166.25 was raised for Pumpkins Against Poverty – a scheme run by Practical Action


See this great video link https://practicalaction.org/support/pumpkins

By December there were still a lot of surplus winter squash, many were too large for a family meal. Johnny’s Happy Place was approached– this is an amazing and welcoming weekend cafe space. “Pay what you can afford” hot food is served every Saturday and Sunday lunch. http://www.johnnyshappyplace.com

From a contact at Johnny’s Happy Place the squash were donated to the people organising Christmas lunches for those in need at St Edward’s Church. The squash were served on Christmas Day and any surplus used for the soup kitchens around Kettering.


So these Kettering pumpkins and squash managed to help people in need both near and far.

December 2017 allotment news

A quiet time for some?

The growing season has really slowed down by this time of year, but some members are still really busy on their plots, preparing for next season and harvesting winter crops. Brussels, kale and parsnips are at their best after a few frosts and there is plenty of free mulch available at some of our fields. For example, Scott Road members have been fortunate to receive delivery of tree leaves and wood shreddings. Many thanks to KBC and local tree surgeons for this. Scott Road members are busy barrowing these leaves to their plots for composting and mulching. Great fun on a cold winter’s day!

Rent reminders

Our rents are due on January 1st  2018, so this is a very busy time for our treasurer. The 2018 rents are unchanged from this year, so that is £2 per pole and £2 membership subscription. This means that a typical 10 pole plot only costs £22 a year and a 5 pole plot costs £12. A real bargain.

Be sure to complete an annual membership form and send it to the treasurer so we have up-to-date contact details.

There are several ways to pay

  1. by online banking to our HSBC account
  2. by paying cash over the counter at HSBC branch in Kettering – but give your name and plot number as a reference so we know you have paid
  3. by cheque payable to Kettering Allotments, posted to the treasurer.

Full details of how to pay are on our website

Be vigilant for signs of rats

With winter frosts we sometimes get unwelcome visitors in our compost bins and sheds. The rats are looking for somewhere warm and cosy and perhaps a bit of free food. This is the best time to set up rat traps in your shed and keep the vermin population down. Be sure that any rat traps or bait is out of reach of birds or children; inside a shed is often a good place.

Margaret Road annual pumpkin and marrow competition

The Margaret Road field held their annual competition at the end of October. We only got the results just after the November newsletter was published, so here they are, a bit late

Congratulations on the winners and record breakers this year. Two questions for the Margaret Road competitors:

  1. What is your secret?
  2. What do you do with a 62 lb marrow?


Results 2017


1st Rebecca 62.15 lbs* (new record)

2nd Mary 23.0 lbs

3rd Dai 22.5 lbs

Runner Bean

1st John/Stuart 39cm

2nd=Darryl/Mary 35cm


1st Rebecca 124 lbs* (new record)

2nd Dai 99.3 lbs

3rd Charlie/Kieron 85.2 lbs

4th Mary 82.1 lbs

Junior Pumpkin

1st Morgan 11.8 lbs

Unusual Veggie. No overall winner but lots of funny entries.

Thank you to all who made an effort and joined in.

Waiting list growing

Our waiting list is getting longer. If you no longer require your plot or want to reduce the area you rent, please let us know so someone who is waiting can start an allotment soon.

Data Protection

New data protection laws are coming into force soon, so this is a good time for our Society to review its policies and practice. The committee will consider this issue at its December meeting. Meanwhile, please be assured that the only data we have on our members is contact details (name, address, phone and email). This data is kept secure and not shared with others, apart from our obligation to provide membership lists to the National Allotment Society (NSALG) as part of our membership.

Please contact us if you have any comments, suggestions or queries on this or any other matter.

Your suggestions

One suggestion received from a member after the November newsletter was to increase the rents so the Society has more funds to invest in facilities for members. This suggestion has been passed to the committee and will be considered. It is too late for the 2018 rents as these have already been fixed by the society. In recent years our policy has been to keep rents low and use our funds wisely to get maximum benefit for the membership. If you agree with the idea of paying more rent and investing in infrastructure or machinery let us know.

November 2017 Allotment News

Bonfires allowed?

It is committee policy to discourage bonfires and against the law in some circumstances. However, Sunday November 5th is, perhaps, an exception as long as due consideration is given to safety and smoke nuisance is avoided. Full details of our bonfire guidance can be found on our website.


Rents for 2018

Good news from the committee! The rents for 2018 will be the same as 2017. There is no change in rents or subscription rates. Rent will still be £2 per pole and membership subscription will be £2 per member.

2018 Rent reminders and payment requests will be sent out in early December, and payment is due on 1st January. Please make sure that your contact details are up to date so that you receive the rent reminder.

Dogs on Leads

Please be reminded that all dogs must be kept under control and on leads on allotment land. This is one of our rules. Rule 18 also states that all dog faeces must be bagged and removed from allotment land to be disposed of correctly.

Field stewards have received several complaints from different fields of incidents when dogs have been allowed to roam and not kept on a lead. Many people are afraid of all dogs and even dislike them; responsible dog owners understand this fact and keep their pets under control and on a lead.

Waiting list getting longer

Our waiting list is growing and more people want allotments. Please let us know if you are not intending to renew your membership for 2018 so we can allocate your plot to someone on the waiting list. If you have not been cultivating your plot recently then you will be asked to give up all or some of it. Please note that after 3 months non-cultivation your plot is considered to be vacant and you will be evicted so that someone on the waiting list can have an allotment.

Summer time is over – tracks may need to closed to vehicles

Now we have changed the clocks and summer time is over, the field stewards have turned off mains water and read the water meters. Winter weather means that the soil stays wet and it may be necessary to close our tracks and ridings to vehicles. This is to prevent your vehicle getting stuck in mud and also to prevent damage to the ridings. Please respect any signs or traffic cones when ridings are closed to vehicles.

Scott Road IBC water tank offer

One of our members (Brendon Smith) on Scott Road has two (2) IBC water tanks for sale. These hold a thousand litres of rain water. He is asking a very reasonable price of £15 each. Please text Brendon if you want to buy one on

07783 177 291

Seeds catalogues

Now is a good time to browse through seed catalogues and decide what to order and grow next year. We recommend Kings Seeds and Real Seeds, although there are many interesting varieties in Marshalls and Seeds of Italy or the Organic Gardening Catalogue.

October 2017 Allotment News

Unwelcome intruders deterred

Quick-thinking members on Scott Road were able to deter unwelcome intruders recently. The intruders had already damaged some plots and were continuing when they were spotted by one of our members. The intruders retreated and full descriptions passed on to the Police. Other members were quickly alerted and maintain a high state of vigilance. Many thanks to all concerned.

Please report all crimes to Police

Please dial 101 to report any crimes. Please report any crimes and get an incident number. If the Police are slow to answer the phone, consider online reporting, email or Crimestoppers. on 0800 555 111.

Please inform your field steward of any incidents or crime as well or contact us to keep us informed.

Margaret Road gate

We continue to get complaints about noise from the Margaret Road gate. Our committee members and field stewards have made great efforts to reduce this noise and ask your continued cooperation. A further request is for Margaret Road members use the far gate next to the Green Patch, so that our neighbours are not disturbed. Also, please make sure that car radios are off and all possible efforts are made to use the gate quietly.

Fully let with waiting lists

Our fields are fully let and we have waiting lists. If you are finding your allotment too much to maintain, please consider giving up some or all of it. That way we can offer a plot to those waiting.

Mains Water Off until April

Our mains water is turned off at the meter at the end of September. This reduces our water bills and gives added protection to the plumbing during the cold winter months. Now is a great time to install a rainwater collection tank or barrel. Rain is free and does not contain chlorine or other artificial ingredients. A shed on an average plot in an average winter can collect a thousand litres of free rain that may be needed in dry weather next year. Why not consider ebay to buy a water barrel?

News from the National Allotments Society

The latest news from the National Allotment Society is below. Kettering Allotments Society pays subscription to NAS, so we are all members of this important organisation.


September 2017 Allotment News

Cup winner 2017

and the winner is…

Congratulations to Jackie and Brian Nix of Margaret Road field who have won the cup this year. The runner-up who came in a very close second place is Pat Mullins. The final decision was so close that the judges had to re-visit both plots to make their final decision.

Further congratulations also go to Greta & Philip Liley for the Best Newcomer – a fabulous start to allotment gardening and likewise Highly Commended to Mandy McQueenie also a new allotment member in 2017.


September is an ideal time of year to start or add to a compost heap.

Composting is the original recycling and gardeners have been doing this for hundreds of years. Every allotment should have a compost heap (or two). This will help in two ways; firstly getting rid of waste and secondly turning that waste into valuable soil improver and plant “food”.

Evidence of composting is also one of the criteria that our judges use when awarding the Bridgstock Cup.

There are many ways to compost your garden waste and most gardening textbooks have a chapter on how to. Sometimes this can seem quite technical, but if you are new to it, don’t worry. You can choose the method(s) that best suit your circumstances, but if you are unsure, please ask for advice. Fortunately we have experienced allotment members who are happy share their wisdom. We even have a Master Composter on our committee who can give you the benefit of his expertise.

For some of us composting is such a fascinating subject we can get really technical and excited. For example there is the Carbon:Nitrogen ratio and how to balance the “green” waste with the “brown” waste. Many allotment gardeners even have a small patch of comfrey plants so their leaves can improve our compost.


Why not try a horizontal compost heap?

Let the worms do the hard work as your compost also keeps the weeds away!

First put a layer of thick cardboard on the soil. No need to remove annual weeds, the card will kill these by blocking out the light. On the cardboard add a layer about 4 inches deep (10cm) of crop residue or pulled-out weeds. The cardboard should be completely covered and not visible. For a finishing touch add a layer of grass cuttings or other shredded material, if available.

The layers rot and decay, the worms do the digging for you and the weeds die. In a few months you will have enriched topsoil without having to fill a compost bin, turn it and then empty it.

Blight on potatoes and tomatoes

Blight is a devastating disease of potatoes and tomatoes. It is caused by a microorganism called Phytophthora infestans and was the cause of a terrible famine in Ireland in the 1840s. Blight is worst in warm and humid conditions and is very common in September when we have dew in the mornings. If you see signs of blight on your potatoes or tomatoes you need to act quickly, or your crop will be a complete failure. Here is a photo of blight on a tomato leaf…leaf blight

The photo below shows a more advanced infection – in a few days the entire crop will be ruined…


For potatoes – cut off all of the foliage and compost them; then leave the potatoes in the ground for two weeks. After the 2 week wait you can dig them up. The blight spores start infecting from the leaves and only later spread to the tubers, so removing the leaves stops the infection spreading. Consider growing a blight-resistant variety next year (Sarpo mira is really good). See below for potatoes with all foliage removed, safe from blight…


For tomatoes – ideally before blight starts, remove the leaves in mid-August. It is too late for this year, but meanwhile remove every leaf as shown in the photo below…


Time to plant Garlic

September  is a good time to plant garlic (although October is also fine). If you have grown some this year, you can simply get a bulb, separate the individual cloves and plant these. Garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow, so if you have never tried before, why not give it a go?

August 2017 Allotment News

A course for allotment beginners for only £20

A course for allotment beginners provided by the National Allotment Society at Barnsdale Gardens, (near Oakham) on 20 August

Email diane@nsalg.org.uk to book

Click on the link below for more details

Starting your allotment course from NSALG on 20 August


An informative tour

The committee enjoyed a tour of Margaret Road and Windmill Avenue on 18th July. We were all impressed by the good work being done at both fields. As usual we all learned something and got good ideas to try out on our own plots.

Bad news- our grant application was unsuccesful

We applied to KBC for a grant towards the cost of installing fencing at Northfield Avenue. Unfortunately our application was successful. Here is the message from KBC:

Thank you for your application for a Community Fund grant. Unfortunately on this occasion your request has been unsuccessful. The fund was heavily oversubscribed this year. All applications to the Borough Council’s Schemes are evaluated by a Head of Service whose decision is final.”

Need help on your plot?

Two young men have offered to help our allotment members this summer holiday. They are off to college in September and can clear weeds, dig or do other allotment work for a reasonable fee. Contact Taylor on


or his cousin Mason on 07986 871 959


A good time to sow green manure

August is a great month for sowing green manure. As space becomes available, for example when potatoes are dug out or onions harvested, sow green manure seeds and they will germinate really quickly. This is better than allowing the soil to be bare as it will quickly become covered in weeds. Green manure can be bought very cheaply if you go to the pet-food store and buy wheat or barley, or dried peas sold in supermarkets for soup, or try coriander or mustard seeds from the herbs and spices shelf of a local asian food shop. All of these will grow and are much cheaper than any packets of seeds from a garden shop or catalogue.


Growing Brassicas without digging or weeding?

see our latest blog page!