Whetstone Stray Allotments Newsletter August 2020

New Path Stewards
Thank you to everyone who has agreed to be a path steward (we still need one for plots 131-141). We hope that this will help to improve communication in all directions on our large site.
Taking plotholders’ concerns such as security, trees and taps to the committee, sharing tools, reporting unauthorised bonfires, helping plotholders who are struggling, sharing plants and organising picnics are just some of the things that can be more easily done by people who know the plots around them well simply by walking down the path every time they visit the site. Path stewards will be provided with a map with the plot number and first name of every plotholder on their path, but to really improve communication they will need your email or phone number. If you do not want your contact details to be shared with your path steward you can opt out by contacting  whetstoneallotments@yahoo.co.uk before 1 September.
Here are your path stewards:
Holden Road Field Plots 1-29        David Plot 7
Field 1 Plots 30-62                         Maggie Plot 58
Field 2 Path 1 Plots 63-74             Ian Plot 68
Field 2 Path 2 Plots 75 – 93          Nick Plot 80
Field 2 Path 3 Plots 94-113            Kim Plot 110B
Field 3 Path 1 Plots 114-121          Marion Plot 117
Field 3 Path 2 Plots 122-130          Stephen Plot 122
Field 3  Path 3 Plots 131-141         Volunteer still needed
As usual, in summer bonfires are only allowed after 4pm on the first Wednesday of the month – that is Wednesday 5 August this month. Several plotholders who have had fires at other times have received emails warning them that they risk losing their plots if they continue to ignore this rule. Local residents have asked that we consider wind direction and don’t light a fire if smoke could adversely affect our neighbours, both plotholders and local residents who may be enjoying their gardens on a summer evening. Small barbecues are allowed at any time – please respect government guidance on the number of guests attending.
Good relations
Getting on with other plotholders is an essential part of being a member of Whetstone Stray. If you are feeling unhappy with a neighbour’s behaviour please talk to them about it politely, or leave a note for them, rather than firing off a complaining email to the committee as your first response. It was sad to hear at a recent zoom meeting of the Barnet Allotment Federation – of which Whetstone Stray is a member – that some local sites are having to spend hundreds of pounds on professional mediation to sort out disputes between neighbours. We are a self-managing site and we all need to take responsibility for what happens rather than expecting someone else to sort it out for us.
There’s been a big leap in our water usage which could result in increased rents. Please report any leaking taps and remember that hoses should only be used when you are actually holding them – not simply left running on the ground. Sprinklers and any other form of automatic watering device are not allowed. If you watch Gardeners’ World, you’ll see that great gardeners never use hosepipes – they use watering cans to get the water exactly where the plant needs it.
The composting toilet near field 2 is now closed on the advice of the National Allotments Association (NAA) because the bleach required for the deep cleaning necessitated by Covid 19  is not compatible with the composting process. This toilet is kindly cleaned and maintained by plotholders Rita and Weldon and should only ever have been used by those who were given the code after being inducted into its use; if it reopens in future there will be a new code which should not be shared with anyone who has not done this.
Trading Hut
The sale of compost, manure and other supplies from the trading hut will not be possible until a process of cashless purchase can be set up – this is also on the advice of the NAA. If you would like to help with doing this please contact whetstoneallotments@yahoo.co.uk
We do not have enough parking spaces for even one car per plot so if you are inviting friends or family on busy summer weekends please tell them to park outside on the street.
Quiet Sundays
Please remember that power tools should never be used after 12 noon on Sundays. This is greatly appreciated by our neighbours in Ridgeview Road, who enjoy being able to hear birdsong rather than strimmers. If there is a lot of grass on your plot consider making paths narrower or covering them with opened out compost bags and wood chippings to reduce the amount of mowing necessary in summer. Two local tree surgeons now regularly deliver free woodchip to our site so keep an eye out for a fresh pile.
Plot Inspections
Covid 19 meant many plotholders couldn’t come to their plots so we did not have inspections in the spring. However there will be inspections is September so make sure your plot is looking its best.
Seasonal growing advice for August
Sad to say tomato blight arrived early at Whetstone Stray this year  – if your plants are affected please burn them or bag them up and remove from the site. Don’t compost them.
Now is the time to sit back, look around your plot and make a note of what has been a great success and what you would like to do differently next year.
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.
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 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 say they are sweeter when sown in August.

Newsletter: Dorothy
Photo: Ayatollah