Newsletter May 2019

Whetstone Stray Allotments Newsletter May 2019

Plant Sale
Sunday 19 May 10:30am. Refreshments available.
If you have kindly grown some seedlings for the sale, or you find that you have more than you need, please bring them to the Hut on Saturday, the day before the sale, when it is being set up.
The plant sale is a great place to stock up on healthy plants, many of which are grown by the Mencap group who meet on Thursdays. We also welcome donations of cakes and baked goods on the day. If you have any small pots that you don’t need, please leave them by the Community Plot gate (but only small ones, please).

All takings from the sale go to the Community Plot, to buy seed and compost for next year. Your generosity in donations and shopping at the sale, is much appreciated.

Site Inspection
In the coming weeks 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 accumulated rubbish. If you want to bring anything to the Committee’s attention email

Bonfires and barbecues
No bonfires are are allowed in May and June – the next time you can have one is Wednesday 3 July. Barbecues are allowed – but please keep them small. Please tell your neighbours if you are planning a barbecue (and think about inviting them). If you are having guests, remember you are responsible for their behaviour; they should stay on your plot and not wander onto others’ plots or pick crops.There are lots of dangers on our site – ponds, rusty metal, glass, sharp thorns – so visiting children should never be allowed to explore on their own.

Annual Show
The Annual Show will be on Sunday 8 September.
Everyone enjoys this celebration of our site but its current format requires a lot of work beforehand, which always falls on the same people. This year we are completely rethinking the show so it will be as much fun, but more relevant to 2019, and fairer to everyone. We are considering getting rid of pre-registration, the online form, cash prizes and pre-war cake recipes, and introducing new categories such as exotic vegetables, keenest volunteer, best cake using plot-grown ingredients and best plot for wildlife. If you’d like to be involved in creating a wonderful new show for Whetstone Stray, please get in touch on

Quiet Sundays
Please remember noisy power tools, such as strimmers, should not be used on the site after 12 noon on Sundays. This was agreed at the AGM in 2017 as a way of increasing tranquil enjoyment of our site and respecting the peace of our neighbours in Ridgeview Road. Music should never be played loud enough to annoy your neighbours.

Trading Hut
The newly-painted hut is open on Sundays from 10.30 to 11.30. Canes, compost, top soil and a new delivery of farmyard manure are all in stock at good prices – thanks to Peter for organising this. If the shop isn’t open it’s simply because of a lack of volunteers, so if you want the shop to stay open please offer to help staff it at

April Work Party
April’s work party was a great success Julie, Dave, Elspeth, Rita, Weldon, Brigid, Les, Dorothy and Helen cleared out the tin hut and lean-to, burned rubbish, put what we couldn’t burn out for collection, and painted the hut. Thank you to Maggie and Crispin for organising lunch, Vanya for the fabulous salad and delicious pavlova, and, especially, Patricia and Dominik for spending all day creating an amazing tool rack (see photo) – it’s a veritable work of art!

Community Plot
The Big Dig in April, should have been a wash out as it was really cold and windy, but, amazingly, 20 people turned up and had a great time. You may notice a familiar-looking scarecrow on the Community Plot, and a lovely new sign. See pictures on the Community Plot blog.

Gardening for Older People
In 2019, the Community Plot is taking part in a research project with the Centre for Ageing Better, supported by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.The aim is to find out what works best for older volunteers in community gardens. If you would like to share any insights or tips regarding gardening as an older person, please let Les and Brigid know at

Growing Tips for May
Weed as often as you can – if you let weeds run away from you now it’ll be hard to catch up later.This is the month when you can really start planting seeds directly into the earth: beetroot, kale, beans, peas, rocket, radish, chard, spinach, lettuce and salads, carrot, spring onions and much more. It has been one of the coldest May Bank Holidays on record, with huge hail stones raining down, a reminder that tender plants, such as tomatoes and courgettes should not be planted out later in the month when 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 (on sale in the hut) or digging a pond to encourage frogs and toads.

Earth up potatoes to prevent the tubers turning green when exposed to the light.

Put up supports for runner beans and peas (lots of canes on sale in the hut).

Support broad beans with strong twine (also on sale in the hut) strung between canes to support heavily-laden plants.

Net brassicas, peas, strawberries, currant and gooseberry bushes to protect them from hungry birds.

Thin out seedlings to give them enough room and light to grow. Water regularly with a fine rose. Harden seedlings off before planting them outside.

Pinch out the top shoots of broad bean to discourage blackfly.

Thin out crowded raspberry canes to allow sunshine and air to penetrate.

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).

May Recipe: Spring Salad
A delicious, fresh salad that celebrates all the taste of spring vegetables.
12 new potatoes
10 asparagus spears, sliced on an angle
150g young broad bean
150g peas, podded
3 spring onions, sliced on an angle
drizzle of olive oil
1 lemon, juice only
2 shallots, cut into rings
15 mint leaves,torn
handful of pea shoots
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp Dijon mustard
5 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp walnut oil
300ml extra virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and blanch the potatoes, drain and carefully slice in half.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Drop in the asparagus, broad beans, peas, and spring onions and cook for a couple of minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop them cooking but not to cool them.
Spread on a tray with the potatoes. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
For the dressing, whisk together the mustard and vinegar in a bowl, slowly adding the oils. It should have a thick consistency, like a sauce. Season with a good amount of salt and black pepper.
Mix all of the vegetables with the shallots, herbs, watercress and pea shoots and pour over the dressing.
Eat with crusty bread and a sprinkling of parmesan, if you like.

Newsletter: Dorothy
Website: Brian