Newsletter April 2016

Whetstone Stray Allotments Newsletter April 2016

April Newsletter

Large slow worm, found on March Working Party


Saturday April 16th 10:00am to 2:00pm

Our Community Plot project has been included in the BIG DIG. This is the national day for volunteering in community gardening projects. It’s a great way to get the Community Plot under way. Plot holders and volunteers from the local community will come together for: clearing, digging and sowing seeds. Click here for more information.

It will be a great day, a chance to be there at the beginning of this valuable project, meet new people and have fun doing something worthwhile. Everyone is welcome.

Tools needed for Big Dig
If you can’t attend the Big Dig, you can still help…we will need as many tools as we can get our hands on!

As part of your Spring clean, please check your sheds to see if you have any tools that you can donate or loan for the Big Dig. We particularly need: forks, spades and rakes.

To loan or donate your tools please either bring them to the Trading Hut during the Shop opening hours, or call Les: 07957 388033.

As part of our development work we are establishing a link with the Conservation Foundation, their work includes repairing and refurbishing tools for community projects, so even tools which are not in good order can be handed in, and we will pass them on to The Conservation Foundation.

Spring Cleaning
The Spring rubbish collection will be on Sunday 3rd April. Please keep rubbish on your plot until Saturday 2nd April. From Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning, rubbish can be placed adjacent to the parking areas. The truck will arrive around mid-day and will start collecting rubbish at the far end of the site.

Do not put out any organic matter for rubbish collection, this should be burned or composted. Please make separate piles for metals.

Please also take this opportunity to clean up the communal areas near your plot. We are cleaning the Community Plot on Saturday 2nd April and any help will be appreciated.

April is the last month on which bonfires are allowed at any time on site.

Remember the Shop will be open the first Saturday of the month instead of Sunday. For the rest of the month, it will be open on Sunday as normal.
Prices of some popular items are now lower than last year!!

We look forward to seeing you in the Trading Hut for a cuppa! Tea and coffee is available for 50p. There is also a new library area.

There are still some seeds left over from last year, which are available free of charge, to anyone who agrees to grow some seedlings for the Plant Sale.

Plant Sale
The Annual Plant Sale will be held in the Trading Hut on May 1st.

Keep sowing seeds, there is still time to grow seedlings for the Plant Sale. Proceeds go towards other activities on site, such as the Annual Show.

Seed Swap
Peter Gordon has been in touch to say that he used to be part of a seed club, he’s told us: There were seven of us and each season we would each pick 3 vegetables, we would then pool our money and buy 21 packets of seeds (or more if needed). Each person would then grow three packets of seedlings which were shared between the group. At the end of the season the group members shared a meal of the vegetables they had grown. The group also bought some direct sow vegetables such as potatoes, collectively so that they had more varieties.

Peter would like to know if others would like to set up a similar seed swap-and-share group on Whetstone Allotments, he says: is anyone interested in doing something similar here? It may well be too late this growing season – but if people are interested we could perhaps meet up this year and do an informal seed swap and then go full steam ahead next year – any suggestions for improving the modus operandi are of course welcome. My email address is and mobile 07711 021042.

The water is now turned on.

Repairs to our water supply are expensive, so please do not dig around or near to water stands, and keep your boundary well clear of the plumbing line (straight line between the taps).

Main Gate
Several plot holders have complained that they have found the gate open recently. This makes us less safe, and there was a recent attempt to fly tip on our site. Fly-tipping can cost us all a lot of money.

Always lock the gate behind you, and if you find it open, please close and lock it.

In March, we had a visit from Clive Herbert, of the London Natural History Society. Many thanks to Elspeth for this useful contact. Clive very kindly came to see Field 4, with a view to the possibility of developing it as a conservation area.

He advised us that the first step is to monitor our site for wildlife over a period of time, and stressed the importance of keeping records.

It is hoped that this year we will be able to carry out some surveys of the flora and fauna in the Field 4 area, and would like to hear from any members who may be interested. We particularly would like to hear from people interested in wildlife photography. Sadly, this project is currently not suitable for children, as there are many hazards left over from the days when Field 4 was allotments.

Clive also emphasised the importance of compost heaps to beneficial and harmless wildlife, such as slow worms and grass snakes. The slow worm in this month’s picture was found on Holden Road Field – and was safely moved to a large compost heap.

Keep the reports coming in of sightings around the site, especially the summer migrants, and we will find ways of recording these appropriately (please get in touch with any ideas for doing this).

Tips for April
Now is the time to plant potatoes, but keep an eye on the weather forecast, we can still get frosts, but you can cover the emerging shoots with fleece (available in the Shop).

You can sow indoors: courgettes, tomatoes, chillies and peppers, pumpkins and squash, cucumbers, herbs, brassicas, corn, beans, basil.

You can direct sow on the plot: beetroot, parsnips, carrots, turnips, broad beans, chard, spinach, coriander, leeks, lettuce, mizuna, parsley, peas, radish, peas and salad onions – and there is still time to sow onion sets, shallots and garlic.

Later in April, you can sow beans, corn, squashes and brassicas direct on the plot.

Try not to be in too much of a hurry to plant and sow seeds if the conditions are not right for example heavy rain or frost. Nature always has its way of catching up!

March Working Parties
A BIG thank you to Marco, Marie, Dave, Julie, Sean F-T, Aidan, Les, Brigid, Ros, Charlotte, Cathal and the 28 guests from our local synagogue who turned out to support our site. Our guests were lovely, had real community spirit, and worked not only on the dry hedging but even clearing the plots at the bottom of Holden Road field.

Both days were very successful: the South/West boundary was sealed with dry hedging; a lot of live native hedging was planted, and the borders of the Holden Road Field path were mostly cleared of bramble. It should now be possible to maintain this path, which is used by many members of the public, several of whom stopped during the Working Parties to congratulate our site on the improvements. For pictures (and movies) see our website and Flickr.

Committee update
The most recent Committee minutes are on the website here.

Get in touch
Please get in touch with any ideas for the Newsletter. The deadline for the Newsletter is 4 days before the end of the month.

We would also love to hear from anyone who would like to add artwork, information or any other ideas to the new Members Contributions area of the Website. Children’s contributions would be especially welcome.