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PACA Newsletter Summer 2015
Editor: digger@pitshanger.net
 

In this edition

Chair's Annual Report  
Good Neighbours  
Children  
Memorial Garden  
Raised Bed  
All Hedged In  

 

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Welcome to New Members  
Autumn Show  
Rent Increases Reminder  
Rubbish On Site  
Driving Through Park  
Acknowledgements  

Chair's Annual Report

Dear Plotholder,
Chairman portrait

Welcome to productive gardening.

I’d like to begin by welcoming the new plot holders who have joined us since last September  and I hope they are enjoying their plots. Unlike last year, we had a fairly dry winter with few flooding problems and the warm weather in the spring has got the growing season off to a good start. There seems to have been a good crop of soft fruit with strawberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants and other berries doing well so far this year. Vegetables are generally looking good with lots of peas and beans and potatoes doing well on many plots.
 

Thefts and Damage

After fifteen months without a break-in, unfortunately we had two in quick succession at the end of March and in early April. The PAGS trading hut was broken into as well as the storage shed behind.  Although a number of tools and implements were taken from these and tenants sheds on the site the thieves appear to have only taken small items they were easily able to carry away. We reported the incidents to the police but, as we expected, they have been unable to recover any of the stolen items. The police safer neighbourhood team do patrol the site and it’s thanks to them and our own vigilance that there haven’t been more incidents of theft. Robert Reynolds and Charles Vaughan Jones repaired the damage to the trading hut and made it secure very quickly. We’ve also had the damaged perimeter fence repaired where the thieves broke in. However we’re still sorting out the insurance claim with our insurers as repairs and replacing stolen items will cost the Association over £1000, of which we should be able to claim back nearly £700.
 

Grant Application and Essential Site work.

We applied for a grant to the City Bridge Trust to help us with reconstructing the site access road, but were turned down as they no longer make grants for capital expenditure for site improvements. So we are now looking at possible lottery funding of up to £10,000 to help us. Any other ideas on grant funding sources would be greatly appreciated! Ealing Council have connected drainage from the park along our southern boundary into the central and western drainage ditches that run through our site and connect into the river. In return the Council are looking at helping us to improve the site drainage by connecting up the existing drain outfall on the eastern side of the site under the footpath which runs along our northern site boundary and out to the River Brent, subject to funding.
 

New Hedge

We’re pleased to say that we had the hedge laid by a professional hedge-layer along the southern boundary in January and that the hedge is now thickening up nicely, which should help to improve security along this boundary. We’ve also taken down the chestnut paling along the park side of this boundary and with the new footpath that the Council have laid this boundary looks much more presentable.
 

Toilet News

Responsibility for looking after the site compost toilet has been taken over by Doig Simmonds, with help from Robert Reynolds, Tom Lafferty and Pasquale Marro. The last time I looked in there it was spotless, but if you have any concerns about the condition of the toilet please let us know.
 

Seedling Swap and Last Year’s Show

We had a successful event – a ‘Seedling Swap’ on Sunday 17 May, thanks to Edith Rambure Lambert and Monica Booth, who organised it and provided coffee, tea and delicious cakes. The site produce show and barbecue last September also proved very successful. We were lucky to have two external judges, Karen Jacks, the PCA chair, and Sue Hulme, a local gardener. The Ludski-Lees were the overall winners, with Charles Vaughan-Jones second and the Hamills, who’ve had their plots for only a short time, third. Chantelle, our events organiser last year, has offered to help with the produce show again this year together with a late summer barbecue, which will be held on 6 September. Look out for more information on the noticeboard. Although we didn’t have a stall at North Ealing School fete this year, we were able to supply them with several trays of pelargoniums and tomato plants thanks to Anne Bishop and Antonio Rumori.
 

Website developments

Stefan Jasinski is progressing our new website, which we hope to have ready in the autumn. Special thanks also to Robert Reynolds and all those who have helped him in the trading hut again this year. Please support the trading hut by buying your seeds, tools and garden products there. If we don’t use the hut then Robert won’t be able to keep it going.
 

Tishi Kohli

One sad event this year was the death of Tishi Kohli, a long standing tenant with several plots on the site. He died in March and a funeral service was held at Mortlake Crematorium. A good number of plotholders who’d known him for many years went to the service along with his close relatives and many from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), of which he was a member and stalwart supporter. He had asked for a very simple service with no speeches and we all listened to beautiful Indian ragas that he had chosen. His cheerful presence and helpfulness will be much missed.
 

AGM... Resolutions and Nominations sought

Finally the Annual General Meeting this year will be held on Thursday 24 September at 7.30 at the Brentham Club. It is your chance to have your say about the way that the Association is run. But do please remember that the Committee are volunteers giving up their time to run the Association. You can offer resolutions for changes to be made in the site management. These have to be notified to us and supported by another association member. You may also feel that you or another plot holder should be on the Committee. Your nominations should be sent in and need to be supported by one other association member as well as yourself.  If recommending a person other than yourself please make sure they agree to stand! Resolutions and nominations should be with us by Monday 14 September at 6pm. We look forward to seeing you all at the AGM and have a productive summer on your plots.

David Housego – Chairman
July 2015

 

Getting Along with Our Neighbours on Site

We all appreciate the solitude and independence of “owning” our own plot of earth and enjoying the freedom to do as we wish beyond the confines of home, family and work commitments. However, we are never totally alone and our behaviour on our precious plots will inevitably impact on our many neighbours on the site. This is particularly the case as the very varied members of our gardening community will have many different approaches to working their plot depending on age, fitness, cultural background and time available. Tolerance of different approaches is essential and varieties of approach to plotholding (within the confines of the rules of course) should be celebrated.

It is often beyond the scope of our chair or other committee members to act as mediators or police so we have to rely on you to cause the minimum annoyance to those around you. 
 
What does good neighbourliness on the site mean? Here are some reminders about possible sources of tension:  

 

No Grazing!

There is nothing more infuriating to the diligent gardener than to see the fruits you have tended and grown alongside the allotment path being blithely taken by other passing site users. It beggars belief that these individuals are unaware of the effort invested in growing a crop if they themselves are plotholders, so, for the avoidance of doubt, let us call this behaviour by its rightful name - petty theft.
 

Bonfires

Please respect the rules: no bonfires in the summer months until after 7pm. Even then, please be aware of which neighbours are around, which way the wind is blowing and consult those in your vicinity before lighting up. Remember, your neighbours may have breathing problems.
 

Weeds

Keeping your plot free of weeds ( as far as possible) not only helps you but also helps your neighbours.
 

Noise and Visitors

Obviously modern appliances cause noise and a good neighbour should try to consult those close by before starting a vigorous bout of strimming or similar. If you invite visitors on to your plot remember the rule of no more than 6 visitors per plotholder ( not per plot!) It is the plotholder’s responsibility to ensure that visitors do not wander around the site. This is strictly against the rules and can cause considerable annoyance.
 

Trees Create Shade

Although crop bearing trees are welcome on your plots, please consider your neighbours and the likely impact of their shade on those around you before planting. Large native, other than fruit, trees or purely ornamental trees should not be planted.
 

Drains and Paths

Here you have shared responsibility with your immediate neighbours, so please discuss the best way to keep these shared spaces clear and tidy.
 

Serious Problems?

If you witness or experience serious breaches of these “rules” then please immediately call the number on the gate to summon a member of the committee who can then take appropriate action.
 

Positives Too

No need to dwell entirely on the negative. As the Australian Soap theme tune reminds us “Neighbours Can be Good Friends”, Think of all the advice, encouragement and offers of seedlings and surplus crops our neighbours can offer us and  remember that a gardening nightmare shared is never quite so bad.
 
The Committee

 

Can Children really Enjoy Allotment Life?

Lucy Algar ( Plot 49) writes about keeping children interested  and involved on her plot

 

Happy Times Past and Present

Plot 49 has been our plot for nearly 16 years now, Margaret gardened this plot before us and her brother before her. It is a place that held many happy memories for Margaret and her brother and it certainly does for us. For instance Isobel has fond memories of making mini gardens and vegetable monsters for the PACA Autumn show. It is here that I have watched my children (Isobel 17, Jack 15 and Connie 8) get muddy, find worms, look at centipedes, pick flowers, fall in the pond, dig potatoes and simply lose themselves in the joy of cultivating the earth. It is where we have planted seeds, watered them and watched them grow. It is the space where I have enjoyed seeing their little faces covered in purple blackberry juice and where they have experienced the deliciousness of picking and eating warm, ripe strawberries. It is also the place that has given me space to stand back and watch my children grow.
 

Connection to the Earth

I grew up in the country where understanding the seasons, knowing when to plant seeds and when to harvest them was absolutely second nature to me. I could not give my London children the same experience but plot 49 has given them the connection to the earth and to the pattern of growth, harvest and decay that is so central to human life.
 

The Bliss of Solitude

They have all found the plot, as I do, a very special place to just be. When I asked him his thoughts about the plot Jack said it was a good place to be alone and he and I were often alone there when he was about six or seven. He always woke up early and so at about 6.30am on summer mornings we wandered to the plot to check on our plants, to weed and to be alone. I remember walking there and him saying that it felt as if we were the only people in the world. So this is also why plot 49 is important, it is where we can be alone. I remember my joy on these early morning plot visits at seeing dew on the ground, knowing that Jack enjoyed the misty quiet as much as I did.
 

Pride in Produce

Connie tells me that the plot is her second home. Recently we have made time in the mornings to visit the plot to pick flowers before school. She has enjoyed giving them to her teacher, proud that she has grown sweet peas, nigella and cosmos. Proud too that she can tell her teacher and friends the names of the flowers. I am thrilled that the plot has given my children the core understanding of the importance of growing your own food. I am also excited that in our chaotic, often complicated world plot 49 gives us lots of small but incredibly special shared moments and the space to recognize their importance. I am looking forward to Connie and I digging our first 2015 potatoes at the plot today. We also have currants, courgettes and flowers to pick and I am so happy that she will eat fruit and veg that she has planted and nurtured.
 

Now for the child’s view… Josh Ludski Lee (10) contributes his thoughts

 
I like the allotment but do think that it can have some not so fun bits occasionally.  I really like planting and have even made my own flower garden - I started it last year and have a  bigger one this year in one of my Mom's raised beds. Bringing children down to the allotment is a great idea because it encourages children
 to enjoy gardening. A good idea is to encourage your child to start their own little gardening patch.

I don't enjoy carrying wheelbarrows full of wood chip around but when it comes to growing my own flowers and produce I thoroughly enjoy it. This year I planted all my Mom's onions, garlic and some potatoes, as well as the flowers in my patch. 

When I am on the allotment, I enjoy building dens out of poles and tarpaulin and then playing with my friend in it and having my picnic lunch in it. In June, my parents (Chantelle and Malcolm) bought me a pop up tent which I can use at the allotment. I think that children should be introduced to gardening more as it's a healthy activity and you can grow your own veg. A good start is to bring your children down to the allotment and another great idea is to bring your children to flower shows such as the Royal Hampton Court Flower Show, where I've just been.

 

 

 

Memorial Garden… A  Peaceful Spot to Share and Care for

As you rush to your plot for that all important weeding and watering, you may pay little attention to the garden immediately to your right next to the trading Hut with its attractive layout and planting. No, this is not an individual plot but a memorial garden for the whole of our community to enjoy and hopefully support. Originally this was a plot too small to let and the late Sheila Sloss (died 2010) offered to design and maintain it as a community garden. This she successfully did until her final illness. The bench there was bought by PACA to commemorate Sheila’s efforts on our behalf.

Since then Maggie Simpson has run a team of volunteers, a.k.a. The WeedaThugs, to keep it tidy.  She explains:

“After Sheila died, I started a mailing list of volunteers to come down and weed and tidy the plot. We try to get down there about once a month in the growing season and put in an hour or so’s work before rewarding ourselves with coffee and cake. There is no pressure to come regularly and new volunteers are most welcome to join the mailing list”
 
If you would like to be part of this friendly group and contribute to our community, please contact Maggie at maggiesimpson0@gmail.com

 

How Much Can You Do in a Raised Bed…..?


I took up a raised bed a few years ago and I am very pleased that now I am able to continue growing vegetables and flowers on the allotment. Other plot holders have been kind and  have offered me surplus seedlings. And I am happy to plant them alongside whatever I have started off myself.

This year I am looking forward to seeing what my donated ‘courgette’ turns out to be, as it is now making flowers. They are yellow and very small and very un-courgette-like! Last year a friend helped me by giving me plants and also things for ‘underplanting’. So I had runner beans and an aubergine underplanted with radishes.

I love spinach and chard so I always re-seed these plants to have a constant supply. I prefer cherry tomatoes to regular size ones as they ripen often before the blight arrives. I usually plant about 6 to 8 tomatoes and the same number of runner beans. That takes up half of the bed. I usually have about 8 to 10 leeks, 3 potatoes and a few shallots. This year I sunk in a tray, which I filled with water for the insects and birds to drink from. The birds or the winds brought in a beautiful plant, which looks a bit like chamomile or mayweed with fluffy leaves and small white flowers.

In a small space next to my plot I arranged with Roger to grow some wildflowers for a year, as the area was so full of nettles I couldn’t get to my compost bin. So far the cornflowers and poppies have flowered. And the nettles have retreated to the sidelines!

 
Judy Gordon, plot D5

 

 All Hedged In


I’m sure you will have noticed the new hedge along our southern boundary. If not, these excellent photos by Judy Gordon will remind you.
I asked Roger Davies a bit about the history and execution of the project.
“It all stated around 10 years ago, when the Council planted hawthorn 'whips' along the boundary”.
“Whips  ?”  I queried.
“These are specially bred saplings which grow to be flexible enough to bend and weave into a growing hedge. At the same time, the growing plants were protected by a double row of chestnut palings. These are now barely visible. After 10 years of growth the 'whips' were ready to be woven into a hedge."

"This is a pretty specialist procedure and there are not many practising hedgers working in London. We needed the services of a Tring-based member of The Hedgelayers Association, Mr Dean Dyer. He completed the work during the winter months and we can now see the luxuriant and bushy growth of a successful hedge”.
 
Not only does the hedge offer maximum security, it is also environmentally friendly and attractive to the eye.. So please take time for a closer look next time you’re passing.
Roger Davies in conversation with Anne Harrison
  

 

 

Welcome to New Members

Since the last Newsletter, the following plotholders have passed their probationary periods and become tenants. We welcome them to the Association. We hope they are all enjoying their plots and are beginning to gather the fruits of their labours despite some trying weather conditions this season.
  • Plot 98 Amir Muhadi
  • Plot 108 Jillian Malone
  • Plot 114 Neil Fretwell
  • Plot 156 Addison Redley
  • Plot 158B Ian Stack
  • Plot 161 Jorge Perez Vidal
  • Plot 162 Susan Mellish
In addition, we also welcome a small number of more recent probationary gardeners who have been given an extended time to get to grips with some particularly overgrown plots.
Malcolm Paice, Lettings Officer

 

Our Annual Autumn Show

After the high standards set at last year’s show, you will all be eager to enter your best produce for this year’s event which will take place on Sunday 6th September in the Trading Hut. Full details of categories and arrangements will be posted on the noticeboard soon. As last year, the show will be followed by a picnic for members and their families. 

 

 

Reserve the date.

News from the Committee

Rent Increases Reminder

You will shortly be receiving your annual invoices. As agreed at last year’s AGM, your rent will now be £18 per rod with the usual concessions available. Raised Bed rents will increase to £15 and Associate Membership will remain at £10. There will be no concessions available for Raised Beds or Associate Memberships.
 

Rubbish On Site

Piles of rubbish heaped on plots is not only very unsightly but may also be a health hazard. It is likely to  provide breeding grounds for unwelcome pests. Biodegradable rubbish must be either composted or burnt during permitted times. All non-biodegradable rubbish must  be removed from the site in your own transport. This will become a key criterion in the next round of inspections. So please take stock of what you have lying around your plot and act.

Driving Through The Park

We all benefit from being able to drive onto the site from time to time, but we have to take great care when doing so to avoid causing a nuisance to other park users and possibly losing this essential privilege.

Remember to always have hazard warning lights on and not to exceed 5mph
 

 

Acknowledgements 

Editor: Anne Harrison

Assistance from: David Housego and John Kane

Feedback on the newsletter is welcomed and can be made via the suggestions box outside the Trading Hut or by email to digger@pitshanger.net
Copyright © 2015 Pitshanger Allotments Conservation Association, All rights reserved.


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