Newsletter Winter 2018/19

Whetstone Stray Allotments Newsletter Winter 2018/19

Winter Newsletter

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all luscious tomatoes, slug-free salads and perfect potatoes in 2019.

Committee Meeting
Saturday 12 January 11am
All plot-holders are welcome to come along to this meeting where we will be welcoming new committee members Allison, Julie and Helen, and discussing some of the ideas that came up at the AGM in November. The proposal to put up new gates at the tops of paths, where this is practical, was agreed at the meeting and Crispin has already begun drawing up plans. The practicalities of a tool-sharing scheme, proposed by Allison, and allowing our buildings to be used by more plotholders, proposed by Rents Officer, Sean, will be discussed, along with plans for the next work party.

Work Party
Sunday 20 January 10.30am
We had such a great turnout for the last work party that we are having this one on a Sunday again, as it seems to suit more people, especially those with school-aged children. We will be continuing work on widening the lane to Field 3, supporting the banks and putting down new surface material. If we have enough volunteers we may also be able to carry out other tasks, such as reinforcing boundaries by planting hedging and improving the first path on Field 2, as proposed by Ian at the AGM. As always, volunteers will be rewarded with a convivial lunch at 1pm.
Remember that helping to maintain our self-managing allotment site is the responsibility of all Whetstone Stray plotholders (who are often pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it is meeting people from other fields). Let’s make this the biggest turn out ever. Field 3 plot-holders especially welcome.

Wild Weather
Climate change means extreme weather conditions are becoming increasingly common, and storms can do a lot more damage than any vandals; Whetstone has already seen one polytunnel blown off its plot on Field 1 this winter, so please make sure your sheds, greenhouses and other structures are secured. It’s not just structures – flying bins, fruit cages, watering cans, tables and chairs can cause real damage, so please pay attention to weather forecasts and, when storm warnings are issued get down to the site and check that everything is secure.

Shed Security
Even locked sheds are vulnerable to thieves, especially over the winter when there are far fewer plot-holders visiting the site, so never leave anything of value in your shed or greenhouse. Sadly, in winter, sheds are also very tempting to homeless people looking for somewhere to sleep. Last year a fire destroyed a shed on Field 2, probably because someone lit a fire to keep warm and it got out of control; it’s an issue on all allotments, not just at Whetstone Stray, see this example at Jeremy Corbyn’s allotment.
If you do see a crime taking place call 999. If you are concerned about something that is less urgent, contact our local neighbourhood police team on 020 8721 2975 or 07920 233746, but their resources are stretched so please don’t expect them to send Luther to investigate your missing wheelbarrow.

Seedy Sunday
Sunday 3 March 12 noon – 2pm
After last year’s successful event this looks set to become a regular date on the Whetstone calendar. Just bring your saved seeds, surplus seeds, slightly past-their-sow-by date seeds, foraged seeds and take away lots more seeds. Everything is completely free – envelopes provided – just bring pen and paper to write sowing instructions. Stay for a cup of tea and something to eat and catch up with your fellow plotholders.

Seedy Club
Sharing the cost of buying specific new seeds and potatoes, is a great idea as there are usually far more than anyone needs in one packet and it gives you the chance to try several different varieties. Peter from Field 2 used to do this in a Seedy Club at his last allotment (as well as sharing a meal from the resulting crops at the end of the season). He is keen to start something similar at Whetstone Stray, so if you are interested contact

Facebook Group
Whetstone Stray Plotholders facebook group has become a really useful addition to communications at Whetstone Stray. Since it was created a year ago 51 plot-holders have met up online and in real life. We’ve shared advice and plants, moans about missing crops and tools, offers of help, the surprise discovery of a stash of ‘borrowed’ items, and photos of picnics, work parties, unidentified seedlings, newts and foxes, and video of a beautiful slow worm. To join just go to the Whetstone Stray Plotholders facebook page, click on Groups at the bottom of the left hand column, and send a request to join, with your name, field and plot number.

Seasonal Tips
Keep coming to the plot. This is a wonderful time of year for bird watching, and for tackling jobs like digging out brambles and other invasive weeds before they start to grow again in spring.
Winter-prune apples and pears trees ( not stone fruits) and gooseberry and currant bushes.
Last chance to prune grape vines.
Add grease bands to the trunks of fruit trees to prevent winter moth caterpillars
Add organic material – compost or well-rotted manure – to your beds.Start ‘chitting’ potatoes by putting them in a single layer in egg boxes somewhere cool and light so the eyes will develop into shoots.
Force rhubarb by covering the crown with a special large pot or a pile straw to exclude the light . When the shoots reach the top of the pile – after about 4 weeks – remove the cover to reveal tender pale stems.
Check stakes, wires and ties on fruit buses, and trees.
Check netting to keep off pigeons.
Clean pots and seed trays to prevent diseases and viruses from last year affecting your new seedlings.
Brush heavy snow off branches to prevent them from breaking.
Remove dead leaves from Brussels sprouts ad cabbages or they can spend mood and downy mildew.

Seasonal Recipe
Spiced Parsnip and Apple Soup
A delicious warming soup for winter days. If you don’t have all the spices you could add a teaspoon of curry powder.
700g parsnips (chopped)
40g butter
1 tbsp oil
2 onions (chopped)
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 litre vegetable stock
1 large Bramley apple or sharp eating apple (peeled, cored and chopped)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
6 cardamon pods (remove pods and crush black seeds)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste
A dollop of double cream, Greek yogurt or crème fraiche to serve. (optional).

Melt the butter and oil in a heavy pot.
Add the onions until they are soft.
Add the garlic and spices and cook for 2 mins
Add the chopped parsnips, apple and vegetable stock.
Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the parsnips are soft.
Add the chopped apple and cook for 5 minutes.
Liquidise with a stick blender.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add a dollop of cream, Greek yogurt or crème fraiche.
Serve with crusty bread.

Comments? Ideas? Suggestions? News? Great photos to share?
Get in touch at

Newsletter: Dorothy
Website: Brian