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PACA Newsletter Spring 2015
Editor: digger@pitshanger.net
 

In this edition

AGM Report  
Bonfires  
Spring Event  
Autumn Show Success  
Welcome to New Members  
Trading Hut News  

 

.

 
Get Ready for Spring  
Plotholder Interview  
PACA Website news  
Obituary: Judy Harris  
Winter Allotment Blues  
Acknowledgements  

 

Report on Autumn AGM

Our Chair, David Housego, reports on September’s AGM

Our Annual General Meeting was held on 23 September at the Brentham Club. 29 people attended and, for those who weren’t there, a copy of the Minutes have been posted on the Notice Board outside the Trading Hut. The main matters agreed were as follows:
 

Funds and plans

Our contingency fund and the accruals from the non-collection of rent by London Borough of Ealing should be brought together and the money used to fund planned infrastructure projects on the site. We have about £14,000 worth of funds currently available and we are applying for a matched grant from the City Bridge fund to enable us to raise and resurface the site access road and improve the site drainage by restoring the drainage outflow at the north east corner of the site into the River Brent.
 

Committee

The Association Officers and Committee Members were elected for 2014 – 2015. The Officers are:
  • Chair - David Housego
  • Treasurer - Roger Davies
  • Membership Secretary - Kathy Clutterbuck
Committee Members in addition are:
  • Anne Bishop (Acting Secretary)
  • Anne Harrison (Newsletter)
  • Malcolm Paice (Lettings)
  • Robert Reynolds (PAGS Trading Hut)
Chantelle Ludski-Lee stood down as Events Secretary, so the Committee would welcome any volunteers to take on this role.
 

Accountants

Merchant and Co Accountants were appointed as Independent Inspectors of our Accounts, and they have now agreed them up to June 2014. Anyone wishing to see the Accounts should contact Roger Davies.
 

Rent Increases

To keep PACA rents in line with LBE rents the annual rental charges are to be raised to £18 per rod from 1 October 2015. The current concessions will still apply. The yearly rental for raised beds is also to be increased to £15 from the same date. The Associate Membership fee will remain at £10 per year.


Dogs on Site

Following a successful trial last winter, dogs on leads will now be allowed on site from 1 November to end of February from this season on. Approval for guide and other working dogs to enter the site at all times of the year can be given on application to the Committee.


Allocation of Plots

The Management Committee will continue to allocate plots about to be vacated, either to people from the waiting list or to an active cultivator of said plot who has been an Associate Member for at least two years.


Bonfires

The Committee agreed to look at a formal bonfire policy, which is set out in a separate note in this Newsletter.


Next Meeting

Please note that our next AGM will be held at the Brentham Club on Thursday 24 September 2015.
 
David Housego – Chairman

 

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Bonfire policy is currently under discussion by the committee. Whether to burn, what to burn and when and how to burn are fairly contentious questions. Some plotholders hate the smoke, pollution and potential health risks produced, while others love the smell of wood smoke and the pleasure of getting rid of all that plant waste unsuitable for composting, not to mention the beneficial potash produced. Discussions in committee touched on all of these arguments resulting in the following proposal:

From May through to September bonfires will only be allowed after 7pm. In the Autumn and Winter bonfires will be allowed after 3pm.

However we urge plotholders to show consideration towards their neighbours even within these times and to take account of the wind conditions and the wishes of plotholders in the immediate vicinity before lighting up. Bonfires should always be tended and made safe before leaving the site.

Watch the notice board or the website for the finalised policy.
The Committee

 

Spring Event

 
It’s Planting Time……..
 
Come and enjoy a FREE hot drink and a piece of delicious homemade cake on Sunday 17th May between 10am and 12pm at the Trading Hut.
 
Bring along any surplus seedlings to swap or give away.
 
Seedlings can be left on the table outside the Hut the day before.
 
All generous gardeners who donate their seedlings will be rewarded with a sunflower seed (all from the same packet to ensure fairness.)  Plant and tend your sunflower and the tallest will win a prize at the Autumn Show.
 
Edith Rambure Lambert and Monica Booth, Plots 11B and 83, have kindly agreed to organise this event. Now we no longer have an official “Events Organiser,” we rely on individual plotholders to come up with ideas. Let’s hope others will be inspired after this successful event.
 
 
P.S. We also hope to take a plant stall at the North Ealing Primary School fete in the summer to sell off any surplus seedlings and plants, so look out for more information on the noticeboard

 

Show Success

On September 7th last year a most successful annual flower and produce show was held in the Trading Hut. Superbly masterminded by our former Events Coordinator, Chantelle Ludski-Lee , the show attracted over 100 entries in around 50 categories, some of these being considerably more popular than others. The two judges, Karen Jacks, Chair of Pitshanger Community Association, and Sue Hulme ,a landscape gardener who also works  in Stems on Pitshanger Lane, were kept very busy for a couple of hours trying to sort out the best entries.
Eventually the eager participants were allowed back in to view the results. Chantelle not only organised the event but also gained the largest number of awards, closely followed by Charles Vaughan-Jones and Paul Hamill (partner of Tanya White qv). After all the excitement, a mellow picnic in the BBQ area brought a very successful day to an enjoyable close. In the absence of Chantelle, the committee will do its best to emulate the event this September. Keep your eyes and ears open for more information and get growing.

 

Welcome to our New Members

Since the last edition of ‘The Digger’ in July we have been pleased to welcome the following new plot holders to full tenancies, after their successful periods of ‘probationary tenure’.
 
  Plot 33   Melissa Garner
  Plot 50   John McCauliffe
  Plot 152   Zoe Diver
  Plot 188b   David Widdowson
  Plot 190a   Ben Fowkes (& Doris Mueller)
  Plot 208   Nicola Green

The luck of the draw meant that while some took over ‘well-furnished’ allotment gardens in decent condition others have had to work on sadly neglected plots, one almost a jungle! We hope that they will enjoy working on their plots and wish them all a good harvest in the next growing season.
Malcolm (Lettings).

Trading Hut News

Spring is in the Air and the Trading Hut will emerge from hibernation on 28th  February. Seed potatoes and onion sets will be there to greet customers eager to get planting.

 

Get ready for Spring

Our Acting Secretary, Anne Bishop, offers her top tips for successful preparation.
 

Get Digging

If you didn’t finish digging over your plot in the Autumn or Winter then February is your last chance, but only when the soil is not waterlogged and then only little and often.   If you have serious waterlogging on your plot, now is the time to improve drainage – clear the ditches and/or dig new ones. 
 
Incorporate manure/compost into the soil.  It is not too late to add lime but not at the same time as the manure.  Fork in half a pound of lime per square yard – don’t leave it on top or bury it too deep.  Lime improves the tilth (crumb structure) of heavy clay soils.  Lime can also act as a deterrent for some pests e.g. slugs and leather-jackets, and is a preventive for club-root in brassicas and encourages a high earthworm population.

Tidy up

Now is a good time to tidy your plot.  Raking up leaves/rubbish and generally clearing up will help to rid the plot of pests, insect or rodent, that have made their homes there.

Forcing

You can start forcing rhubarb and kale. Rhubarb is forced by placing an up-turned bucket/pot over it to exclude light. The warmer it is, the quicker it will grow so place manure or straw over the top to encourage juicy, sweet shoots. Kale is forced the same way, only there is no need for extra warmth.

Budding

There will be early signs of the arrival of Spring in February. Overwintering vegetables start looking less sorry for themselves and produce new growth, the buds begin to swell on fruit trees and bushes and the soil begins to warm up. You can speed things up by covering the soil with cloches or sheets of plastic to warm it up in readiness for the next batch of sowing and planting. Don’t overdo it - little and often is the plan over the coming weeks.

Seeds           

After the middle of the month, it is safe to think about sowing the seeds of early vegetables. Prepare a seed bed and sow e.g. ‘White Lisbon’ Spring onion, early short horn carrots and early types of lettuce, try a cut and come again it saves on time waiting for a heart to form. Also try sowing of parsnip seed if you really want large roots but use a canker resistant cultivar. You can also put in early peas and broad beans using a hardy cultivar. However, it is too late to sow the broad bean ‘Aquadulce’ it is only really suitable for growing overwinter.

Garlic and Onions

February is the traditional month to plant out garlic and shallots.

Prepare the ground as you would a seed bed and plant using a trowel - don’t push the bulbs into the soil. Plant the garlic cloves about 2ins/5cms deep and leave the tips of the shallot bulbs just at the soil surface.

The birds will pull one or two out leaving them lying on the ground. Net or replant them as soon as possible - birds are likely to lose interest.


Check your Fruit Trees

Check over any fruit trees and bushes for damage and disease problems and take appropriate action. Top dress them with a general fertilizer at the recommended application rate. In February, prune late/autumn fruiting raspberries down as low as possible and mulch around them. Trim back summer fruiting to around 6ft to encourage the development of fruiting side growths.
 

Potatoes

Check last year's potato bed for any volunteers (left-over small potatoes) and remove them to avoid passing on disease problems and blight.  Choose another area for this year’s potato bed which will benefit from a good application of compost or rotted manure that can be forked in.  It’s time to chit potatoes (PAGS has an excellent range in) in a frost-free place with indirect light so they will produce short strong shoots, getting them away to a faster start. Use egg cartons or seed trays to keep them in. Don't forget to label them so that you don't get confused as to variety come planting time.

Editor: However, when the weather is really bad, perhaps the best plan would be to stay home in the warm looking at seed catalogues and drawing up your cropping plan for the next season!

If you can give a little of your time to help keep PACA going, please email:
secretary@pitshanger.net.

 

Magic Marrows and Wheelbarrow Rides

Plotholder Interview: Allotments across the Generations

Tanya White, a headteacher in a comprehensive school in Maidenhead, and her partner Paul have had their plot for just a couple of years. When she and I got chatting at the Flower and Produce Show back in September, she let slip that although her current plot holding was of recent date, her association with Pitshanger Allotments went back to the 1960s. How come, I wondered, and arranged to meet Tanya to find out more about this intriguing history.

Names writ large

Tanya’s grandfather, Bill Eggins, a boiler man at the Royal Masonic Hospital,  moved to the brand new Cuckoo Estate from Wandsworth in 1938. Already a keen gardener, on retirement  in 1963, he  acquired a plot on the land that is now Gurnell Grove  Estate. When this was to be built over a few years later, the Council offered him a replacement plot on our Pitshanger Site and this is where Tanya’s early allotment memories and probably her incipient love of gardening took root. Although Tanya as a child lived in Windsor, visits to Ealing were fairly frequent and as young children in the later 60s, she and her sister remember the fun of being wheeled all the way down the Ruislip Road to visit Grandad’s precious allotment. “My abiding memory is of Grandad’s 'magic marrows'”, smiles Tanya. “ During the early part of the summer holiday, Grandad would ask my sister and me to choose our special marrow plant which he claimed would then develop magic powers. Later he would secretly carve each of our names into the skin of the growing marrow. When we next visited, perhaps in late summer or early Autumn, there would be these huge marrows with our names writ large. Magic indeed!”

Proud Grandad and Fantastic Neighbour

 “Grandad was incredibly proud when I went off to Leeds to do my degree. I was certainly the first in the family ever to do so”, she reminisces. It was the chance of a promoted teaching post in Hounslow that brought Paul and Tanya back to Ealing and the opportunity to relive history at Pitshanger Allotments. They had to wait 3 years before a plot became available, this being at the height of “grow your own” fever.
 
“The plot we were offered was intimidatingly overgrown and we would probably soon have lost heart had it not been for the amazing support, encouragement and advice we had from our neighbour, Charles Vaughan-Jones. We really can’t stress enough how much the right neighbourly advice from a seasoned gardener can help” (A lesson there for us all perhaps?)


                Work commences on the plot

 

A Man for all Seasons

I was interested to know how much Bill’s approach to his plot differed from Tanya’s.

“Well… I think in the 60s, gardeners tended to focus on the traditional staples such as onions, carrots, leeks, potatoes, cabbage and sprouts, those  tried and tested crops that would make the family self sufficient in them for much of the year. Grandad was definitely not a fair weather gardener and would put in hours on his plot regularly throughout the year. When not on his plot, he would be out earning a bit of extra cash doing gardening jobs around the Pitshanger area”.

Tanya also stressed how much Bill used and relied on the Trading Hut which was obviously as valued a part of our allotment site 50 years ago as it is today.
 

Changing Climes, Culture and Crops

In contrast to her grandfather, and perhaps reflecting our changing culture and climate, Tanya and Paul are much keener to experiment with what to Bill would have been unheard-of exotics. Courgettes have replaced 'magic marrows' and Borlotti beans and Cavolo Nero have ousted the traditional runners and cabbage. Celeriac is now preferred to potatoes!

“We are yet to produce a successful crop of broad beans”, concedes Tanya ruefully.

I wonder what Bill would have advised. One thing I can be sure of is that Bill would be just as proud of Tanya’s present gardening exploits as he was 30 years ago when she headed off to Leeds to take her degree.
 

 Interview by Anne Harrison

 

PACA Website: New developments

Plotholder Stefan Jasinski is currently setting up a new website for us based upon our existing website, which was developed a number of years ago. The intention is to have our own domain name at pitshangerallotments.co.uk and this will be arranged once we are happy that the new website is working satisfactorily.
 
The site can be visited at www.jasinski.co.uk/PACA/, but we should emphasise that at the moment the pages show work in progress. When developed, we hope to have links to other allotment websites and useful sites, such as the Ealing Allotment Partnerships site and the National Allotment Society site. We are including plot maps, our constitution and rules, ‘Digger’ newsletters and AGM minutes. We also want to include news items and  information about events. Potential plotholders will be able to get onto our waiting list via the website as well.
 
If you have any comments about the site or ideas about what should be included on it please let us know via secretary@pitshanger.net . Thanks to those who’ve already provided us with photos to include on the
site.

 

Judy Harris: Obituary

 
Judy died on 15th August last year aged 77. She had been a stalwart of our allotment community for many years. She was a founder member of the first self managing PACA committee and played an active role, with Doig Simmonds and Roger Davies, in gaining our independent status. Judy was also an active member of wider Ealing society being secretary of Ealing Civic Society in which role she fought many planning battles to protect the character of our environment.

On the site, Judy was actively involved in maintaining the public areas of the site around the compost toilet and the memorial garden. She was also a regular organiser of the annual produce show together with the late Sheila Sloss

As for her own plot (74), Judy brought her Scottish background into play by planting a beech hedge for protection from the chill east wind (obviously an essential in her native north). Her neighbour, Elizabeth Cave, recalls: “Judy was a lovely neighbour, happy to talk but never garrulous. I remember how very supportive she was to Sheila during her terminal illness. I am delighted to have been able to inherit Judy’s plot and privileged to be reaping the benefits of all her hard work”. We all thank Judy for the time and energy she gave to PACA and hope newer, younger members will be moved to follow her dedicated example.

 

    Winter Allotment Blues

Don’t say digging makes us sicken,
That  labour and the sores are vain,
That weeds  grow and couches thicken
As things have been, they will remain.
 
For while your tired back, vainly breaking
Seems here no painful inch to gain,
Far beneath, richer soil making
Comes silent growth, rewarding pain.
 
And not by winter darkness only
When spring days come, comes in the light;
Below, life grows, slow, how slowly!
But summer, look, the plot is bright!

 
Anne Harrison (with a lot of help from Arthur Hugh Clough, 1819-1861)

 

Acknowledgements

Editor: Anne Harrison

Design: 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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