AAA newsletter Archive

JANUARY/ FEBRUARY  2011

Hello Fellow Allotmenteers, Members and Friends who receive our newsletter!

HERE WE ARE - THE FIRST NEWSLETTER OF 2011! Sorry it's a bit late, but I haven't been up to full running speed (health-wise) over the last month or so, so things are a bit behind - too many days of planned activity that have had to go on the back burner I'm afraid. All the cold weather we've had is no help to me either - frost and cold windy weather are no friends of people with my problem! Still Spring is on the way with the days getting noticeably longer. Roll on the equinox, when we'll be invited to play with our clocks once again!

 The other consolation is that this newsletter is a double edition, with February lumped in with January - that's not so bad, these two months aren't exactly a hive of activity down on the allotments anyway. Having said that I'm sure some of you readers are by now eyeing up the Broad Bean and Parsnip seed packets, the end of February is traditionally the start of the spring wake-up process on the allotment. Things will have to get a lot more weather-friendly before I get kick-started into life though! Over the years I've learned the hard way that rushing off too early - before the soil has warmed up - invariably leads to tears because of poor germination and checked growth. E.g. did you know that carrot seeds won't germinate unless the soil temperature is above 7oC and grass needs 11oC to start growing? Nevertheless my trusty seed box (a past small wooden drawer that now has a new lease of life as a seed box since the item of furniture it used to belong to took a hike to the recycling centre) is out of hiding, for checks on seed stocks and their dates, (who can resist doing that at this time of the year?)

Some onion sets have been bought, and I'm going to sow some of my onion seeds (Ailsa Craig) in a seed tray in the cold-frame. The Broad Beans may also get started in there, they'll be planted in saved winter stocks of spent toilet roll tubes. That'll be in the next couple of weeks, along with Early Onward peas and possibly some sweet peas. The plan is to have a show of sweet peas along the fence between us and the public footpath - where the nasturtiums showed themselves off to quite good effect last year. I wonder how many of those will reappear after self seeding? Quite a few my guess is, because they produced thousands of seed pods! If any of them germinate this year I hope they get on with their new, nice smelling, neighbours!

It's also time to order the seed potatoes. I've decided to give Vales Emerald a go as my early (new potato) variety this year - instead of Charlotte. It's a Maris Peer/Charlotte cross so, with such tried and tested varieties in its pedigree, I'm fairly confident that this new First Early is going to be a certain winner. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating as they say. I've read some good reviews about it, one reviewer saying "An ideal variety to grow as a ‘baby' potato".  Apparently "each root will yield a high number of round to oval, white skinned, firm, cream fleshed, great tasting tubers". We'll see - watch this space around June/ July, when my personal female food processor and the rest of the family will give me their verdict! That's the most important and critical review of all!


WEB-STE NEWS!

We have a new associate gardening partner on our web-site. We've integrated Boz's Garden Bookshop into our web-site at http://aberaeronallotments.org. This Gardening Bookshop site is powered by Amazon. Any book purchases that you make off our web-site gets processed by Amazon via Boz's site. Neat!

The selection of books and related gardening literature on offer is fantastic - the prices are the best around (as you'd expect from a service run through Amazon). So when you feel like reading up on any allotment gardening material (especially over the winter months) you'll know where to go - IT'S ALL THERE ON OUR WEB-SITE! In fact, you don't have to wait till winter - why don't you pop over now and have a look? When you get to our site just click on the "Books" tab.


FREE TO A GOOD HOME

Harold Jennings has been in touch. For those of you who don't know Harold he's the Treasurer of the Glanafon Residents Association and a good friend of ours. He lives in the left hand bottom house as you look up to Glanafon (he used to have a palm tree in his garden, but that's a sore point after Jack Frost got his hands on it last year - he now has about 15 baby palms where his pride & joy used to stand).

Anyway Harold & Gwen are having their PVC guttering and down-pipes renewed, and instead of dumping the old stuff he asked if any of us allotmenteers would like some for free. These are ideal for shed/ greenhouse troughs where you're harvesting a bit of water for the water butt. The guttering also has a lot of other clever uses - like a long seed tray. When the seedlings appear, you just push them out in a long  line straight into a shallow trench without disturbing the roots.

If you're interested contact Harold by phone: (01545) 570138.

Or drop him a line by e-mail: haroldandgwen"at"btinternet.com

(The "at" is substituted for "@" to stop nasty spam bots picking up his e-mail address on this page)

So if you're interested it's first come first served!


LIFTING THE FOG

Fog is a nuisance wherever it forms, whether it's the physical stuff that causes accidents, or the metaphorical variety which clouds your mind. Both are equally as dangerous as each other at times.

If you're an AAA Plot-holding member you REALLY need to NOW
to understand what this "fog" is all about

 


FLOODS UPDATE

Yes - it's happened again - another flood. it was particularly nasty this time as the rain we had in the second week of January lasted quite a few days. Incidentally the picture to the left of Tig (from Plot 11) wading around my plot (17) in her wellies was taken in November last year. This time the sun didn't come out the next day!

Councillor Elizabeth Evans had been in touch with us between the two floods to say that Lyndon Griffiths from the Highways department has been out to inspect the storm drains on Panteg Road. The only trouble is there's not a lot to see unless we're actually in the middle of a flood. Our friends at Glanafon Estate were also suffering. This time water was gushing down Panteg Road, under the tarmac at the top of Glanafon and it then resurfaced with a vengeance by the blocked gully at the bottom of the estate. guess where it disappeared from there? That's right - straight across our site, down the slope to where it formed a lake over part of plot 16 & most of plot 17 - until the flood in the Aeron river subsided and then our land drains took it away. The trick is to stop the bulk of it coming on to the site in the first place.

Councillor Evans is still trying to arrange a site meeting between ourselves, the Glanafon Residents Association and engineers from the County Council's Highways department. She herself will also be there along with Rachel Mills from the Environmental Health dep. but in her role as the Liaison Officer between the  Tidy Towns initiative and C. C. Council. Tidy Towns is a two part initiative between Keep Wales Tidy and Welsh Local Authorities, funded by the Welsh Assembly Government. The project seeks to work strategically by empowering the people of Wales to take responsibility for their local environment. Part of it's remit is to develop community gardens and allotments. Having a site that floods this badly does not help the aim of making the area more attractive or "tidy" - especially when the public footpath is cut off and under nearly two feet of water!

Having said that, we are very pleased with Councillor Evans' response and efforts to date, and we sincerely hope that she can make some headway with our help, and support from the Glanafon Residents Association in the coming months.

Since the GRA has had a change of committee personnel (well a new chair and a reshuffle) our relationship with them is at an all time high, following an exceptionally friendly and constructive meeting our Management Committee had with their committee at the end of last year.

We're glad to report that we have resolved our little differences from the past. Those differences were mostly based on  misunderstandings and wrong assumptions that had built up on both sides during our Phase 2 site works and also the repairs that the GRA had to carry out on their sewage pipe that runs alongside our allotment site, and under our car parking and access area. It is hoped that by working together in harmony we will be able to get the Council to recognise the problem and help us both out in our common goal of reducing the damage that is repeatedly caused by flooding.


HOW DO WE MEASURE UP? (At Cae Ffynnon Wîn?)

Allotment sites are either Council owned & Council managed (most common). Council owned (allotment) land but privately managed (that's us) or privately owned & privately managed.

 Regardless of which of the above three types are available, the services expected are the same. The NSALG make suggestions regarding the minimum services that a plot-holder should expect. So how does the AAA measure up?

WATER. We have water on-site. The water usage is metered and we depend on each plot-holder doing an "honesty" recording of how much water they use. The minimum water provision on site should be one source point per six to eight plots. We have 6 stand-pipes between 17 plots so that's 1 water source per 2.8 plots - excellent - 10/10 on that one.

BOUNDARIES. Our boundary fencing, gates etc. are in good condition. Most of the boundary fencing consists of 3x3" posts in concrete with weld-mesh fencing and wooden gates. These were provided by the "Tidy Towns" initiative that has been set-up by the Welsh Assembly Government. Each local authority has a "Tidy Towns" liaison officer. Funds are made available for this kind of work to promote a nice environment and good facilities in towns & villages. Rachel Mills (one of C.C.C.s Environmental Health Officers) is our liaison officer.  Another 10/10

ENTRANCES. We have 4. Two narrow pedestrian accesses and one main 10' wooden gate for vehicle access. All in good condition. The main entrance has a combination padlock for security. As yet there is no notice board with details up. However one has been made and will be up soon. 9/10 (because the notice is not up yet).
BUILDINGS. We have a few individual sheds, but no communal shed provided by the AAA. We have no toilet facilities. So it's a 5/10, because we have no toilet but we score 5 because plot-holders are allowed to put up their own sheds.
COMPOSTING. A high percentage of our plot-holders do compost their garden waste, and many also bring material on-site for composting. We don't have a communal compost heap, but we provide ample room (off the plots) for individual plot-holders to establish a compost heap (or bin) for themselves. 10/10.
So that quick little comparison test shows that we are doing very well.

Perhaps we'll get a full 10 across the board if we can in the future  arrange toilet facilities on site and provide information boards for the public. A pat on the back is deserved!


PLANTING FRUIT TREES

Some of you will probably recall that I mentioned in our last Newsletter that I had some fruit trees delivered from Nurseries (another of our web-site sponsors) between December and the New Year. I was in a quandary because when they arrived we were in the middle of the big deep freeze. If I left them to the elements they'd probably die of cold. On the other hand I didn't want to store them indoors, because the warmth could tempt them out of dormancy before they'd been planted. In the end they got wrapped up and stored in the back of the old white van that I use for my allotment hobby. It seemed to do the trick. They haven't died (yet) and they seemed fast asleep when I finally got around to the big plant.

There's apple, apricot, plum and a fig tree with also a Kiwi Fruit tree (that's still in it's pot) - it's earmarked for some trellis on the shed - when the shed eventually gets built.  There's also some raspberry canes, Gojiberry, Tayberry and a domesticated thornless blackberry called Loch Ness that's found a home along my fruit support wire-work. That should give me something to look forward to in the coming years - assuming they don't drown before they get established. Fruit trees don't like wet feet, but a week or so ago my apple and apricot trees were looking like mangrove swamp plants in the Florida Everglades!


ON-LINE VOTING

Most of you AAA plot-holding members who read our newsletter, will be aware that we recently had an on-line vote on the acceptance of two resolutions that had been put forward by the General Management Committee. This was done for the sake of democracy and inclusion of all members in the decision making process during a  difficult period, whilst we've had to suspend meetings on the advice of our National umbrella organisation the NSALG. Most of you will be aware of the reasons for the temporary suspension of meetings. Hopefully this will be a period in our history that we will soon be able to put behind us for the future.

The voting result was:

In favour of the two resolution A "Yes" vote 5
Opposed to both resolutions A "No" vote 1
Abstentions Selected "Abstain" on voting form 0
Non Voters Members who did not vote for various reasons (mostly not known). 10

The first resolution asked members if they supported a £10.00 reduction in Plot rent/ membership fees for the year 2011 - 2012. This reduction was suggested following an in-depth Treasurer's report on the health of our association's accounts and what accumulated finances were available for our plot-holding members. This figure will be reviewed annually and any adjustments will be made as we can afford them. The 2011 - 12 year is covered. So each plot-holder will pay £30.00 plot rent + £10.00 membership fee. Giving a total of £40.00/plot/annum. Until it is reviewed again in 2012.

The second resolution asked members if they accepted a new, comprehensive and legally robust Plot Tenancy Agreement document that had been drawn up by the General Management Committee following strict guidelines suggested by the NSALG and which would provide better tenant protection for the plot-holders. Unlike the previous Tenancy Agreement the new document also took into account the over-riding jurisdiction of Ceredigion County Council's Land Lease Agreement with the AAA. The new drafted Tenancy Agreement has been vetted for accuracy and legal contractual validity by an independent qualified lawyer.

The only amendment that has been made to the final draft that was circulated for approval by our plot-holding members before the vote is Clause 16 paragraph 16.13 which now reads:

16 TENANCY RULES

THE TENANT:

. . . . .

16.13     Will NOT allow children to play, or walk, on other people’s allotments without their permission. No child under the secondary school age of 11 years is allowed on the site unless he/ she are supervised by an adult. Children must be supervised within the confines of the Garden Plot occupied by The TENANT.

The original Final Draft For Approval read as follows:

16.13       Will NOT allow children to play, or walk, on other people’s allotments without their permission. No child under the age of 14 is allowed on the site unless he/ she are supervised by an adult. Children must be supervised within the confines of the Garden Plot occupied by The TENANT.

 The above amendment was made following requests from a number of our members to change it. The GMC felt that this amendment was fair and reasonable. If any members do not agree with the amendment then they are welcome to contact the General Management Committee and a vote will decide whether the amendment stands. If we do not receive any communication by March the 1st then the amendment will remain.


IT'S THAT "CHITTY" TIME OF THE YEAR AGAIN!

 

Have you got your seed potatoes yet? If you can't find what you're looking for locally (and please DO try to support our local suppliers whenever you can) then why not give JBA Seed Potatoes a look-up?

JBA are one of our association's web-site sponsors and they have a wonderful range of seed potatoes at excellent prices. You can order from your armchair off their on-line shop. Just click on the graphic to your left to have a peek.

A fascinating veg. is our humble spud. It's history is amazing, and we seldom realise the journey it has taken to land up on our plates. It's difficult to visualise life without potatoes isn't it? But up until the late 16th century the potato was the secret food of the South American Indians. It was domesticated by pre-Inca people about 8,000 years ago (they selectively bred the poisonous wild plant until it was safe to eat - I wonder who the guinea pigs were?).

The potato is of course a close relative of the Tomato and the Dahlias. It's not recommended that you eat their leaves either, because like many plants of the Solanaceae family the leaves of potatoes do contain high levels of a certain poison. They are also direct relatives of nightshade - the deadly member of their family! This little snippet of information also helps us understand why our tomato plants are so vulnerable to blight. In the blight spores eyes the tomato leaf is just as inviting as those of it's cousin the potato.

If you'd like a few more interesting facts about potatoes read this short article by Andrew Haynes that I've reproduced here by kind permission of the Grow-It magazine.

 


THE EDIBLE GARDEN SHOW 18 - 20th of March 2011

The Edible Garden Show is THE ultimate Grow Your Own event!

For anyone passionate about Grow Your Own, Brew Your Own… or ANYTHING to do with healthy eating or home produce… there’s one must-visit event for your diary – The Edible Garden Show 2011. From fruit and veg to bread making, from poultry to organic herbs, and from bee keeping to home brewing, The Edible Garden Show is THE ultimate Grow Your Own event.

Taking place at Stoneleigh Park – Britain’s most famous horticultural venue – this spectacular national show will bring together experts and exhibitors from across the world of Grow Your Own.

Need to know how to get there? Click HERE.


RAISED BEDS OFFER AT HARRODS HORTICULTURAL

You'll be glad to hear that we've negotiated a nice little 10% discount for you at Harrods Horticultural!  The discount is only available for  timber raised beds on their website To get your discount, just type in the voucher code 'HHRB10' (without the quote marks around it!) when prompted at the checkout.

To view the product now, please click HERE.


CONGRATULATIONS TO TOM BEAN & HIS FELLOW ALLOTMENTEERS

At Feidrhenffordd Allotment association Aberteifi/ Cardigan!

 


DID YOU KNOW?

Consuming more home-grown produce, increasing dietary fibre and reducing carbohydrate intake would lower the number of early deaths every year in the UK - by as much as 33,000That's 7,000 deaths from heart disease, 5,000 from cancer and 3,000 from strokes!

"Not a lot of people know that" !


KEEP ON LOOKING AFTER OUR LITTLE FEATHERED FRIENDS

These little creatures REALLY are a gardener's best friend. We know the odd blackbird will pick out your newly planted shallots and the wood pigeons can be a real menace in the brassica patch, but overall birds are a huge ally to us in the garden and especially on the allotment plot. It doesn't take that much effort to protect your cabbage, shallots and peas from birds. What they'll give you in return makes their nuisance habits pale into insignificance.

Garden birds still need help to survive even though we're gradually easing ourselves past the worst of the winter weather. Most of the smaller birds will still perish overnight in the cold - if they can't find enough food during the daylight hours - daylight time is still very short, even though the days are getting longer at this time of the year. You'll also probably have noticed that the little birds are starting to sing (especially on nice mild days) - a sure sign that their mating and nest building time is approaching. A small bird  can still use up to 10% of its body weight during just one cold  night, and unless it's able to feed well every day to replenish its reserves, a prolonged cold spell could be catastrophic. In normal circumstances the fat reserves built up by the bird will keep it going for a few days, that survival can be assured with just a little bit of effort from us. But mortality tends to increase rapidly if a cold spell continues on to a second week.

Also bear in mind that the numbers of robins are at their lowest levels since 1997, following a huge drop in their population - according to the British Trust for Ornithology (REALLY bad news for us allotment growers). The Trust say that the number of robins is 27% lower than average for this time of the year, which they attribute to the great reduction in their food during two successive big winter freezes.

What can we do? Get out there and start feeding!


CONTRIBUTING

Well that's it for this edition. By the time I get the next one out to you, we'll probably all be building up a head of steam preparing our plots for sowing and planting!

If any of you would like to contribute to our newsletter, either with a story, information on plants/ pests & diseases, news, tips or just a recipe. Then please contact me at any time. All relevant material received will be published.

Or you can click on this e-mail address to open a Form-Mail page that links to my personal e-mail account.

Keep up the good work! Keep healthy and happy doing so!

Kind Regards,

G

 

Gwilym

Aberaeron Allotment Association Chair

AAA and Gardeners Chat-Shed Webmaster

 

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QUOTE: Gardening is a labour full of tranquility and satisfaction; natural and instructive, and as such contributes to the most serious contemplation, experience, health and longevity. - John Evelyn