Whetstone Stray Allotments Newsletter August 2019

Annual Show
The Whetstone Stray Annual Show is on Sunday 8 September.
You can take part by entering your produce, donating raffle prizes, baking cakes and savouries, volunteering in advance for tasks at specific times on the day, or helping clean and set out the Trading Hut on Friday 6 September from 10am.

We’ve updated the show to make it simpler to organise and more relevant  to contemporary tastes – so no more online form in advance or cash prizes in envelopes; the cooking entries now put more emphasis on using ingredients from our plots – think carrot or courgette cake rather than Victoria sponge and fruit cake. You can also enter photos, drawings, flower arrangements, jams, jellies, pickles, cordials, flavoured oils and spirits. There is a special Novice class for people who have had a plot for 3 years or less, and categories, such as miniature gardens, painting, drawing and collage for children under 15 who are related to plotholders.

On show day, Sunday 8 September, between 11am and 1pm, just  bring your vegetables, fruit and flowers, plus photos, drawings, paintings, cakes and savouries for the competition and perhaps to sell on the refreshment table afterwards. (All food for sale should have a full list of ingredients to protect allergy-suffers.) You will be given a paper plate for each entry – simply write your name and plot number on the reverse side, put your produce on it and set it out in the designated area on the tables. Please stay around to help set up gazebos, tables and chairs. In the afternoon we need people to sell refreshments for an hour or so, between 1pm and 5.30, sell raffle tickets, and show visitors around the site. At 5.30 please help to put everything away and then stay for a celebratory end of season barbecue.
There will be no parking in the area around the hut on the day of the show. More details of all the categories will be sent in a separate email later this month and in September’s newsletter.

Communal Orchard Work Party and Picnic
Thank you to Ayat, Elspeth, Kim, Helen, Allison, Sean, Dorothy, Weldon and Rita for cutting back brambles and removing the rotting carpet in the Communal Orchard on Field 2. Looking forward to a great crop to juice on Apple Day in October.

Please don’t use sprinklers, or other automated watering devices or leave hosepipes running unattended. Did you know that overwatering near harvest time actually reduces the flavour of some crops? It’s obvious really that water will dilute the taste – find out more here:  https://www.growveg.co.uk/guides/how-to-water-for-better-tasting-crops/

Butterfly Watch
Spend 15 minutes taking part in the world’s biggest survey of butterflies by simply counting butterflies on your plot on a sunny day before 11 August. Download the app and identification charts at 
Butterflies are very sensitive to changes in the environment which is why counting butterflies is like taking the pulse of nature. Sir David Attenborough says, ‘That simple pleasures of looking at butterflies in the garden is calming to the soul and spirit and good for us all.’ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44895558

A pile of rubbish has appeared by the main gate and is increasing daily.  Please remember that plotholders who dump rubbish on paths and in communal areas are in breach of our Terms and Conditions and risk losing their plots when leases are renewed in October. If you are responsible for this pile of rubbish, please remove it immediately. Rubbish on our site is an eyesore and encourages illegal fly-tipping.

Sharing Crops
Just a handful of fresh beans or a marrow can make a real difference to someone who relies on tinned and dry provisions from food banks to feed their family. If you are drowning in courgettes and beans, and have run out of recipes or friends and family who want them, you can share your crops through the Olio app https://olioex.com/ Started in Crouch End just three years ago, Olio has now gone global and is a really simple way of reducing food waste by sharing unwanted food locally. And of course, you can request food (and other items) too. Read more about it here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/02/recycle-the-weetabix-what-i-learned-from-a-month-on-the-app-that-tackles-food-waste

When you are harvesting your crops please save some seeds from your crops to bring to next year’s Seedy Sunday in February. Not all seeds will come true to type but it’s interesting to try (and completely free). www.seedsavers.org/how-to-save-seeds

Seasonal Growing Advice for August
Harvest regularly. Beans and courgettes can quickly turn too big or stringy if you leave them for even a day too long. Try not to leave even the tiniest potatoes in the soil when you are harvesting – they are delicious and quick to cook. If you overlook them they can re-emerge next year as ‘volunteers’ and may carry disease, as anyone familiar with the tragic history of Ireland can tell you.
Keep on weeding and watering. Spread well–rotted mulches after rain to keep moisture in the soil.
Pinch out the tops of climbing beans to encourage growth lower down.
Pinch out and feed tomatoes.
Give extra support to peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers as the fruits get heavier.
Plant out new strawberry plants.
Keep earthing up potatoes, to stop them from turning green in the light.
Dry out garlic, shallots and onions.
Prune currants, gooseberries and summer-fruiting raspberries.
Prop up heavily-laden fruit trees so the branches don’t break.
Sow Italian vegetables, such as radicchio and cima di rapa, and orientals, such as mustards, pak choi and mizuna. It is also possible to still sow beetroots and carrots – some people say they are sweeter when sown in August.

Seasonal Recipe for August

Courgette Fritters
Keep an eye on your courgettes – hidden under with their enormous leaves it’s very easy for them to turn into marrows if you turn your back for a minute.
(Makes 10)
500g courgettes
½ tsp sea salt
30g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
30g fine polenta or cornmeal
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
Grating of nutmeg
Black pepper
You can also add 15g fresh chopped herbs, (dill is good), crumbled feta, cheddar or parmesan
Oil for frying
Coarsely grate the courgettes into a colander and toss with the salt. Leave to drain for between 30 minutes and an hour, and then place on a tea towel and twist tightly to get out as much moisture as possible.
Mix the flour, polenta and baking powder together well in a large mixing bowl, then stir into the courgettes, with the spring onions, beaten eggs, black pepper and a good grating of nutmeg (and the herbs or cheese, if you are using them). Season again lightly.
Coat the base of a frying pan with a decent layer of oil and put on a medium-high heat. When hot, dollop spoonfuls of the batter around the base and flatten slightly. Cook for a couple of minutes until golden brown, then flip and repeat. Blot with kitchen towel to get rid of excess oil and serve immediately, while hot.
Serve with something acidic to cut though the oil – a salad of tomatoes, onion, chilli and garlic with lime juice is good. 
Adapted from How to Make Perfect Courgette Fritters by Felicity Cloake in the Guardian.

Newsletter: Dorothy and Allison
Website: Brian