Whetstone Stray Allotments Newsletter June 2019
Herbalist training, Watering tips, Summer Picnic, Annual Show,
Seasonal Tips and Recipes
Thank you to everyone who bought seedlings and refreshments at the Plant Sale. We raised nearly £200, which is enough to keep the Community Plot going in seeds and compost, for another year. Thank you to Crispin, Maggie, Rita and Weldon for plant donations, and Joanna, Lyn and Siobhan for the delicious cakes.
Sheds are for storage of tools and plants, not to provide onsite living spaces, which may well encourage rough sleepers. All constructions must comply with the rules on size and should not adversely affect neighbouring plots, by blocking out light, for example. If you are planning on building a shed, greenhouse or polytunnel, or enlarging an existing one, you must contact the committee in writing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Herbalist Rasheeqa Ahmed is returning to our site this month at 10.30am on Tuesday 18 June to lead a session on Plants as Medicine ad Healing Allies. Last year his Capital Growth training session was very popular and interesting. You can book at https://www.capitalgrowth.org/training. Discounts are available to anyone who has been involved with the Community Plot, contact Les or Brigid for details. There will be further Capital Growth training sessions in July.
Boys from Finchley Catholic School have recently been seen and heard causing a nuisance and being abusive towards plot holders and users of the Community Plot. Pupils from Finchley Catholic School have been banned from our site for a long time, and have been reminded about this by the Head Teacher. If you see any Finchley Catholic School pupils on site please call the School on 020 8445 0105.
Summer is nearly here and it’s great to show off our plots to friends and family but if you are entertaining please consider your neighbours. Make sure your guests stay on your plot and keep an eye on children who will be very tempted to explore further. Keep dogs on leads, no amplified music please and no ball games – Swan Lane park has plenty of room for those. Barbecues are fine – just keep them under control so they aren’t mistaken for bonfires.
Best done early or late to avoid evaporation and the scorching of leaves from sunlight magnified by water drops, but most of us just have to do it when we can. Water the base of the plant not the foliage (which will attract slugs), use a can with a rose or a very gentle spray on seedlings and young plants. Please don’t hog the tap when others are waiting to use it, and be aware that using a hose higher up a field greatly reduces the pressure for those watering further down and may cause them unwanted flooding. Don’t leave a hose running if you are not holding it – it’s too easy forget about it. Sprinklers and other automated watering devices are not allowed. If you find a hose attachment on a tap please leave it there (and consider keeping a spare well-hidden on your plot).
The shop is open from 10.30-11.30am on Sundays this month. Thanks to Peter, Rita, Weldon and Helen for ordering new stock and overseeing deliveries, and Carmen, Marion, Maggie, Angela and Brigid and all the Committee members for staffing the shop on Sundays. If the shop isn’t open it’s because there aren’t enough volunteers – if you would like to help keep it open get in touch at email@example.com Please remember to bring cash only.
Our Summer Picnic in the Communal Orchard on Field 2 will be from 11am on Sunday 14 July. Come and help cut back the grass, (so we have somewhere to sit) and bring food and drink to share. This year the picnic is open to the public as a mini opening ceremony for the launch of London as the first ever City National Park. http://www.nationalparkcity.london/
Our Annual Show will be on Sunday 8 September. If you would like to be involved in planning a new, easier to use format, come along to a meeting in the Hut at 6.30pm on Tuesday 2 July or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please remember that no power tools should be used after noon on Sundays. Our neighbours are very grateful for this rule which means they can now hear birdsong rather than strimmers and lawnmowers.
We all love hearing the birdsong at Whetstone, but please don’t use bird feeders or leave food out on the ground for them. There is plenty of food for birds on the site at this time of year ( as anyone who has had all their peas eaten can testify) and bird-feeders can attract rats.
June is one of the busiest months of the vegetable gardener’s year. Warmer weather and longer daylight hours make it the time to plant out any seedlings you have been raising – just make sure you protect them from slugs.
Like all plants, weeds put on a growth spurt in June taking up much-needed water and nutrition from your crops – so keep on top of them.
Mulch to suppress weeds and keep moisture from evaporating from the soil.
Net brassicas to prevent butterflies from laying their eggs and soft fruits to protect them from birds.
Carrot fly will become active as the weather warms up but cannot fly above two feet, so surround your carrots with mesh of that height.
Earth up potatoes so they don’t turn green due to exposure to the light.
Feed asparagus and leave the ferns to turn brown.
Build supports for tomatoes, beans and peas.
Feed tomatoes as soon as the flowers set and the tiny fruit appear (see recipe below).
Comfrey Tea Fertiliser
Comfrey tea is a free, organic and very smelly fertiliser which is rich in potassium and nitrogen. You will see lots of comfrey around the site at this time of year – if you don’t have any, ask your neighbours. Comfrey is very invasive, so if you are planning on planting it choose the variety Bocking 14, which is sterile so won’t self-seed.
Harvest comfrey leaves from established plants – wear gloves as they can irritate the skin. Fill a bucket about half to three-quarters full of comfrey leaves and place a brick on top of the leaves to press them down. Fill the container with water and cover to keep the flies out (and the smell in). The water will turn dark and very smelly in about 20 days. Dilute it by at least 50% percent before using. Comfrey tea is potent so a little goes a long way.
Wilted comfrey leaves can also be used as sheet-mulch manure. Place two or three layers around the base of plants or bury them in the soil 5 cms deep next to crops including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, currants, gooseberries, and fruit trees; the high nitrogen and potassium content of the leaves will be almost immediately available to crops. Don’t use on leafy crops such as lettuce and spinach – the nitrogen boost may cause them to go to seed prematurely – or on rooting crops, such as carrots. Do not drink!
Broad Bean and Pea Bruschetta
A delicious and nutritious snack that tastes of early summer. Don’t worry, if black fly has destroyed your broad beans and pigeons have eaten all your peas, it works just as well with frozen ones.
300g broad beans
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 slices sourdough bread, halved
125g soft cheese such as ricotta or, spreadable goat’s cheese
Handful of pea shoots or watercress
Tip the peas and beans into a large pan of salted boiling water, then cook for 3 mins. Drain, cool under cold water, then drain again thoroughly.
Put the 4 tbsp oil in a pan, heat gently, then add the garlic. Cook for 3 mins, very very gently, until the oil is infused and the garlic has softened but is not coloured. Tip the oil and garlic into a jug and cool.
Whizz the peas, beans and almost all the zest in a food processor, then trickle in the garlicky oil. Add the garlic cloves, almost all the lemon juice and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. The mixture should be swirling around the bowl nicely by this point, but shouldn’t be too fine in texture. Scrape the sides down if you need to. Season well – you’ll need about 1 tsp sea salt and lots of black pepper. Add the rest of the lemon juice to taste. Spoon into a dish, swirl the top, then drizzle over the remaining extra virgin olive oil.
To serve, toast the bread, then spread with the soft cheese. Dollop a good spoonful of the mixture onto each piece, drizzle with a little more olive oil, scatter with the remaining zest, then grind over a little black pepper. Top with a few pea shoots and serve.
Newsletter: Dorothy and Allison