Whetstone Stray Allotments Newsletter May 2018
A great place to stock up on healthy plants, many of which have been raised from seed by the Mencap Group on the Community Plot and are sold very cheaply. Please drop off your own plant donations on Saturday 12 May when the sale is being set up – or bring them to the Community Plot beforehand. Please bring homemade cakes on Sunday 13 May from 9.30am. All proceeds from the Plant Sale go back to the Community Plot.
Sale times: 10.30am-12.00 noon, Sunday 13 May.
Later this month committee members will be inspecting all the plots on the site. In the first year one third should be cultivated, in the second year two thirds, working up to a full plot in the third year and thereafter. Other issues will also be covered, such as health and safety and checking oak trees for oak processional moth (see below). If you want to bring anything to the Committee’s attention email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crispin has arranged another delivery of Eco Compost for Thursday 3 May.
Delivered free, twice a year, by London Waste in Edmonton the compost is made from green and food waste collected from North London boroughs. The lorry is very large and can only deliver to the area at the top of field 1 and only on weekdays. A donation of 50 pence to our local hospice is suggested for each barrowful you take – you can do this in the Trading Hut on Sundays between 10.30 and 11.30am.
Lost and Found
When Allison and Sean found that a well-hidden camping stove had been taken from their shed they didn’t expect to see it again, but a week later a neighbouring plotholder on field 2 discovered it in his shed among a neat stash of other equipment, presumably ‘borrowed’ by a homeless person using the shed in the cold weather. A wheelbarrow has been returned to Ayat, but there are still two stoves and a light green box waiting to be reunited with their owners. If you think they may be yours, please contact Sean email@example.com.
Some of the rubbish put out for collection recently could not be taken unfortunately because it contains asbestos. If you think you might have asbestos on your plot – probably in sheds built before 1999 when it was banned – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can arrange for it all to be removed by a specialist company.
Thank you to everyone who helped plant native hedging along the Holden Road field footpath, and pruned the buddlia and planted rosa rugosa on the grass by the Trading Hut.
Big Dig and Capital Growth Training
At the Big Dig in April we planted potatoes and wild flower seeds, and made newspaper pots. The Big Dig is a London-wide event organised by Capital Growth which supports food growing in London and runs training at various community gardens across London. This year Whetstone Stray will be hosting a Capital Growth training in herbalism, and making your own cosmetics and household cleaners. Interested? Contact Brigid or Les at email@example.com.
Oak processional moth infestation
These are affecting oak trees in the London area – you can see a photo here.
The caterpillars’ tiny hairs can cause skin and eye irritations, sore throats and breathing difficulties in people and animals who come into contact with them. The caterpillars live primarily on oak trees and move about in nose-to-tail processions. If you spot an infestation on the site let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and inform the Forestry Commission who are mapping infestations at email@example.com.
Asia has found some very beautiful newts and a toad in her pond on field 3 (see photo) so slugs won’t stand a chance on her plot.
There have been lots of sightings of slow worms recently – this is great news as they also eat slugs and snails. Slow worms are not snakes and are completely harmless (though they may hiss if you frighten them). Please be careful when treading on, or removing, plastic and weed fabric as they may be hibernating underneath. Find out more here at the RSPB.
A red kite has been seen flying low over field 1, probably hunting for mice, rats and other prey. Please do not use any poisons that could threaten the wonderful diversity of wildlife on our site – organic slug pellets are on sale in the Trading Hut.
At the AGM in November it was agreed that noisy equipment, such as strimmers, should not be used on the site after 12 noon on Sundays, as a way of increasing tranquil enjoyment of our site. Radios should never be played loud enough to annoy your neighbours.
Barnet Allotment Federation (the borough-wide organisation of which all Barnet allotments are members) have given the Community Plot a pear tree.
Growing Tips for May
Sow leafy crops, such as lettuce, spinach and parsley, while it is still cool.
It’s now too late to plant seeds which require a long growing season, such as tomatoes, peppers, chillies and aubergines, so if you haven’t got these already growing, buy them at the Plant Sale (see above).
Do not plant out tender plants, such as beans, tomatoes, courgettes and the like, until all risks of frost are over. Young plants are very vulnerable to hungry slugs and snails, so wait until they are a bit tougher and consider organic slug pellets, or digging a pond to encourage frogs and toads.
If your tasted Rita’s nettle and wild garlic pesto at the Big Dig you will know how delicious weeds can be. Here’s another way of using them – don’t forget to wear gloves when picking and handling nettles. Wild garlic – also known as Ransoms – is in bloom now – it has pointed green leaves like lily-of-the-valley and smells strongly of … garlic. Very pretty and very invasive – so eat as much as you can.
Nettle and Wild Garlic Soup
1 large bunch of young nettles (or the tender tops)
1 large bunch of wild garlic
2 medium sized potatoes, diced
2 medium onions, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped into small pieces
1 pint vegetable stock
A knob of butter
Salt and pepper
Wash the nettles in a sink full of cold water and a large tablespoon of salt. Wearing rubber gloves add your nettles and wash thoroughly, drain and pat dry with a clean towel.
Separately wash and thinly slice the wild garlic leaves.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium temperature and add the onions, cook gently until soft then add the potato and celery, cook until tender.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium temperature and add the onions, cook gently until soft then add the potato and celery.
Cook for a further 5 minutes, then pour in the stock.
Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potato is tender. Add a splash of water if it needs it.
Add the nettles and wild garlic and let this cook for a further 15 minutes
Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Pour into a blender and blend away.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve garnished with cream and wild garlic flowers with some nice crusty bread.