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Go to the supermarket and take a look at those immaculate dead straight cucumbers, leeks, pure white cauliflowers, uniform potatoes without a blemish on any of it. How satisfying it is to take home your crooked carrots, potatoes of all shapes and the rest of your hard worked crops, with the satisfaction of knowing it's all your own work. M.B.

 

USE OF WATER ON OUR ALLOTMENTS

 

Members’ Responsibilities

All members are urged to maintain at least one water butt and to provide some simple means of catching as much rain as possible in it.  As a safety measure, water butts must be covered. Members may use water from the communal butts situated by the container whichcapture water from the roof.

The mains water supply is turned off in the winter to prevent frost damage. Once this is turned on again (normally in April) please remember that our water is metered and use it economically.

In exceptionally dry weather, hoses may be used to re-fill personal water butts from the mains but never to water plots directly.  Water should be applied to plants and seeds by watering can.  As we have only two taps, please remember that others may need access to them as well as you.

Good Practice

It was agreed at our AGM that the Committee would provide some guidance on the most effective and economical use of water.  Views do vary on this but the following general principles have wide acceptance for average weather and conditions and members are urged to follow them.

1. Seeds will need some water when they are sown and the same applies when seedlings are planted out - so water in carefully with a can.  But be careful not to overdo this or small seeds, especially, will be washed away.

2. Thereafter, if there has been no rain, water should be applied sparingly until they are properly established.

cont.

3. There is no point in sprinkling small amounts of water on the surface as it will evaporate before penetrating. Some plants can be positively damaged by watering on their leaves so it is always best to water around roots.

4. By far the best time to water is in the evening.  Early morning is the next best alternative but watering in the heat of the day achieves little, and is wasteful, because of evaporation.  It is also likely to “bake” the surface, making it harder for water to penetrate when it next rains.

5. Shallow-rooted plants (e.g. peas) generally need watering more often than those with deep roots. Parsnips, carrots and similar plants are likely to grow longer and straighter without additional watering as they will “dig deep” to find the moisture they need. Applying water near the surface of such plants can do more harm than good as the roots may turn upwards to reach the moisture.  It may also produce forked roots.

6. Lastly, remember that while all plants will die eventually if they have absolutely no water, many perennials in particular (e.g. rhubarb) have amazing powers of recovery.  So don’t give up on them too easily!

VRAS Committee

March 2012

 

ONE IS NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW!”

 

 

Manure... An interesting fact.

 Manure : In the 16th and 17th centuries, everything for export had to be transported by ship.

It was also before the invention of commercial fertilizers, so large shipments of manure were quite common.

It was shipped dry, because in dry form it weighed a lot less than when wet, but once water (at sea) hit it, not only did it become heavier, but the process of fermentation began again, of which a by-product is methane gas. 

As the stuff was stored below decks in bundles you can see what could (and did) happen.  

Methane began to build up below decks and the first time someone came below at night with a lantern......., BOOOOM!

 

Several ships were destroyed in this manner before it was determined just what was happening.

 

After that, the bundles of manure were always stamped with the instruction ' Stow high in transit ' on them, which meant for the sailors to stow it high enough off the lower decks so that any water that came into the hold would not touch this "volatile" cargo and start the production of methane.

 

Thus evolved the term ' S.H.I.T ' , (Stow High In Transit) ,…………. 

“So it’s really not a swear word”, which has come down through the centuries and is in use to this very day.

 

You probably did not know the true history of this word.

Neither did I.



 

 






You Have a New Allotment!

AN AMUSING ARTICLE I FOUND ON WEBSITE SORRY ABOUT THE SWEAR WORDS. M.B.

 

Enjoy!
You Have an Allotment!

Starting out on an allotment will be both exciting and yet very frightening. You will have been to visit the site and seen all the immaculate ( I hope ) plots with cloth capped old fellas leaning on a spade nattering the day away. Sweet pea flowers growing among runner beans, massive chrysanthemums swaying in the breeze, row upon row of perfect summer cabbages . What a perfect picture its painted .

Wake up you're dreaming!

Your plot's this one with old bikes and mattresses where half the plots waste wood and metal were dumped by the nearby plot renters, where they have burned their rubbish. Massive weeds and brambles hide a shed somewhere in the back, oh and not forgetting the smashed up greenhouse base where someone took all the aluminium frame for scrap and now some miserable old git is looking you over as if you are next in line for the local prison cells.

Welcome to the allotments "here's your key" says the secretary, "oh and your first year's rent is £75. Can you pay by the end of this month? We won't worry about the last week of this month as you're new and you may need a little time to get it cleaned up". Off he or she goes never to be seen again.

So now you're left standing there with a look of bewilderment on your mush. A thought flashes across your mind, "What the **** have I gotten myself into here?"
Home beckons with a cup of tea and your purse or wallet feels lighter now. It should do £75 for a tip is a lot of money to pay out .

Large glass of alcohol in hand, it is time to sit and think what you have taken on. How are you going to go forward? Those thoughts of home grown proper tasting vegetables is a long way off now. More to the point, what the heck are you going tell your other half about what you have spent the money on?

"Morning, I'm going down the allotments" a shout goes out to who ever hears it. Spade, fork, shovel, bin liners, gloves, secateurs, loppers, bow saw and wheel barrow goes into the car. Good job you've got a big one or you'd be buggered. Here you are, surveying your domain, standing in front of the new setting for your dream with the tools all out the car. Now what? Where and how do you start?

OK, slow down matey . Have you though what you are doing here? No? Well let me try and guide you how I would tackle this small problem. "Small, SMALL?" Are you taking the urine, pal? 
No, it is only one small problem in the way of how you intend to carry out your plans but by asking for advice and listening your progress will be not so much quicker but definitely smoother

So lets start with how do you want to garden. With fertilisers the non organic way or no fertilisers the organic way? What you want to go non organic this year but organic next? OK good idea saves a good bit of time in the long run. Now let's start work. Get the tools going we need to start clearing rubbish to make the going easier.

So off to the skip with the old mattresses . The old metal and wood can go too. What the heck are you going to do with the old fire site? No worries, let's get busy on the rubbish .

A couple of hours later and we have cleared what you can see. The weeds have taken a stomping from your feet and now let's get to it and start cutting down these large weeds, the tall brambles and such . Pile them high and take them to the skip? No we can make use of the fire site. Pile them up on there. Anything that is green woody etc. can burn. The fire site is already there so use it.

Now it's hard work with just secateurs and loppers. Especially when you did not bring your rake from home! So listen to what you're thinking. "I could use a strimmer here. No electric on the allotment site so it will have to be petrol. I wonder if I can hire one?"

Yes you can, look in the phone book! Costs about £25 a day plus a couple of gallons of petrol and ask for help in knowing how to use it from the guy renting it to you. Not much point in getting it if you don't know how to start it and keep it running . Erm thought crosses mind again "Hubby / older son can play with this toy ? No? Oh you used one before?"

OY stop standing there thinking and get on with the damn strimming then. The brush cutter blade is the thing to sort this lot out . How high to cut the stuff? AS LOW AS POSSIBLE. What do i do with all the rubbish? YOU BURN IT ON THE FIRE SITE Do I have to tell ya everything??

Yippee! You're at the end of the plot and its a clear view back to the car. The shed, if you can call it that, is now in view and also the greenhouse base is not as bad as you thought. Those paver's can be used again and the trowels and other stuff left in the shed. That shed has loads of unmarked bottles and jars that contain all sorts of strange looking concoctions. Skip them, this shed is a liability. To the FIRE SITE. Pile the shed on first, then all the weeds and rubbish and get a good blaze going.

Damn! it's rained for a week now. Those blasted weeds will come up higher than ever . "Must have a word with Munty for some weed killer, he has some that will kill trees standing. Round-up he calls it. Some kind of glyphosate stuff for farms." So Munty comes and gives you a helping hand with the weed killer besides that little sprayer is no good for large lumps of ground, the back pack one he has will sort it in no time .

Stay off it now for a couple days and don't touch the weeds for 7 to 21 days when they will have gone to straw and they're dead and I mean dead. If you get any parts I missed you go over them with your little sprayer and whack them again, then just let it be. If you like I will come and rotovate it when you calls me Pay the petrol only 'cos I like you. Munty thinks, "and I get to play with my new toy" 

Ok bet you thought that blessed Round-up was never going to work. That Munty, he said 21 days maximum not a ruddy month. Still it rained for half of that. He did say the sun was really needed to make it work quicker. Called him in yet to come and rotovate the ground for you?

And what the heck have you been doing while the Round-up got to work? Oh, I see ya put a nice shiny new shed on the plot, wow and new manure bins full of cheap dung. A cold frame and a new greenhouse on the site of the old one. Bet your hubby hasn't seen the bank statements! OK, Munty's here with a machine . Bloody hell what a monster! "Nice innit?" says Munty "this will chew the ground up lovely"

So off he goes chomping through soil that was full of weeds just a few weeks ago. Dang its looking better already. 1 hour later after going over it a couple times the soils a rich dark brown colour.

Now you bang loads manure on it, except where you want to put your carrots and such and I will chop it all in for you no charge. I will be back in a couple hours to collect the machine and will do it then. Winking as he goes tootling off . 

True to his word Munty's back. You shoved manure over three quarters of the plot and within minutes the machine is chopping it up and burying the majority of it. Another hour and he's gone leaving you to look at the soil that now looks like it could produce more than a few docks and nettles.

So what now? Excitement comes to fever pitch as you stat to rake the whole area level putting your toe point on any manure clods and burying them. Now it's level the whole plot looks magnificent. The new house and shed, compost bins all look as if the skies opened and the gods dropped them into a space like some kind of art . Lots of hard work cut down to a month or so.

Now what would it be if you didn't have the Round-up and the machine to dig it?


 
A yard a trip, digging all the weeds out and then waiting for the rain to end week after week. Maybe you would have stopped digging to put a shed and greenhouse up .along with the bins of course. 4 months maybe? OK, so you want to be organic. You still can starting now. For goodness sake, what ever the previous owners use on the soil is going to take a couple years or more to leach out so let it happen over the time you're growing things your way.

Home for a cuppa and then work out where you are going to plant what. After a week of rain you're back to the plot . Oh No! what's all them weeds? Oh bugger it's mares tail. The Round-up got all the rest of the weeds but not them So what the heck are you gonna do now? "That there stuff will grow through concrete!" a voice pipes up. It's your evil looking neighbour. Yes, I think its mares tail isn't it? He replies, "Sure is, grow through blinking concrete that stuff ya know. Only way to get rid is hoe every scrap as pokes through soil, nowt other will kill it"

Thanks for the advice. "advice is free, only good if it's right advice" he says. "Your ground turned up right then?"

"Yes, it's wonderful." you say "I am looking for any good advice on gardening I can get as I am a beginner". "Aye", he says, "so we all was one time. Anything you want to know just ask. Always here for advice good or bad “

Not so evil after all, you think. Oh, and welcome! You have made it. You're an allotment holder. And now the hard work begins

 

A is for   Allotments hard work to get them right
B is for.  Bugs and birds it seems like one big fight fight.

C is for.  Committee keeping us on our toes
D is for.  Downpours and we get plenty of those.

E is for.  Eagerness to get our seedlings sown
F is for.  Fun when at last we find them grown.

G is for.  Good it was basking in the heat 
 I is for.   Indian Summer wasn't it a treat.

J is for.   Joints that ache when digging has been tough tough
K is for.   Knowing when to stop when you've had enough.

L is for.   Longing to eat the first runner bean
M is for.  Magic when at last the first one is seen.

N is for.   Nasty folk that tamper with our sheds
O is for.   Oh! and nicking stuff from our veggie beds.

P is for.   Picnic it was fun despite the rain
Q is for.   Quality of entries in the show again.

R is for.   Realizing we need our gates shut tight
S is for.   Stopping the little so and sos coming in at night..

T is for     The treasure hunt and the kids that had such fun
U is for.    Uncovering the bounty and prizes to be won.

V is for     Value of our crops we know are fresh from the ground
W is for.   Wishing we could have them all the year round.

X is for.     Xmas and 2014 is getting near
Y is for.     Yule tide greetings and a happy new year.

Z is for.    Zombie that's me without a doubt
                Why 'cos I've missed the  (H is for) out.

H is for.    Happy gardening to one and all.

M.B.

 

 


ODE TO VALE ROAD ALLOTMENTS

ON OUR VALE ROAD PLOTS WE STRIVE,
TO KEEP OUR PRECIOUS PLANTS ALIVE,
CATERPILLARS UPON OUR GREENS,
A LOSING BATTLE SO IT SEEMS,
WHITEFLY BLACKFLY AND SLIMY SLUGS,
THERE`S NO END TO THESE PESKY BUGS.
A FEW DAYS ABSENT AND  WEEDS WILL GROW
AND IN THE WINTER ALONG COMES SNOW,
BUT STILL WE BATTLE AGAINST ALL ODDS,
TRYING TO MAINTAIN OUR FEW RODS.
DAVID, CHERIE, AND THE GANG
KEEPING ORDER THE BEST THEY CAN.
YET IT`S A FIGHT THAT CAN BE WON,
AND IN THE END IT CAN BE FUN.
THE PEACE AND CALM THAT SOME DAYS BRING,
IT`S SHEER BLISS WHEN BLACKBIRDS SING.
THERE ARE GREAT CHARACTERS LIKE RON
THAT WE CAN SURELY RELY UPON,
FOR TALES ABOUT OUR YESTERYEAR,
WHEN JUST SIXPENCE COULD BUY YOUR BEER.
RICHARDS OUT TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT,
LOST FIVE STONE HE`S DOING GREAT.
OTHER FOLK HAVE TIME TO TELL,
OF GARDENING TIPS THEY KNOW SO WELL.
FRESH AIR, SUN, AND CHEERY CHAT,
SIMPLY NOTHING MORE THAN THAT,
IS ALL WE NEED, KEEPS US ON THE GO,
WITH OUR TROWEL, SPADE, AND HOE.
SO PRAISE TO OUR ALLOTMENT SITE,
HAPPY DAYS IT`S WORTH THE FIGHT.

MICK BOTTING

 

   
   


 

PAUSE FOR THOUGHT

 Feeling down? Don`t pop pills just grow sweet peas up a wig-wam of canes. Art therapy, music therapy, and exercise therapy have been around for a long time, but gardening therapy is a newer idea. The charismatic T.V. presenter Monty Don who him-self fought against depression once had the same idea.

`The first thing I do is get outside it doesn`t matter what the weather is or time of year, it is essential to go out of doors. Even a complete novice can learn how to plant and tend a sunflower or a pot of herbs

` I enjoy the tranquility of gardening. I do a lot of stopping and listen to the birds. Gardeners are not only taking exercise but creating at the same time. Two hours of gardening and you`ll have all kinds of exciting results. Happiness is something you find along the way in life, I`ve been told.

The most surprising gardens I have ever seen are behind prison walls. There the therapeutic benefits of tending growing things has long been recognised. Nelson Mandela kept a small garden during the decades of his incarceration on Robben Island. He wrote `Being a custodian of this small piece of earth offered a small taste of freedom.

And that`s what it`s all about : creating a place of beauty.

( A few extracts from an interesting article from the `Daily Mail` written by Rachel Billington)


SUPER-MARKETS - NO CONTEST !!!

I have often heard remarks that working an allotment has no benefits and it`s much easier to go to a super-market for your fruit and veg, rather than slaving away on an allotment in all weathers.

Well according to the National Trust you can save £1500 producing your own on a ten rod allotment excluding the man hours. It`s true you can put in a lot of hard work to get results but the rewards are priceless.

What greater pleasure can you have when you taste your own home grown toms, carrots, beans or any other veg or fruit that you care to mention. One packet of seeds that you sow can produce a vast amount of veg. Shopping at the super-market you can afford a little grin of satisfaction when you pass by the astronomical prices of runner beans for example at £2 per bundle and it can make you feel good when you know you can grow your own fresh beans for next to nothing.

And you can benefit from healthy exercise without paying for a gym. There are people to meet and socialise with, and it makes gardening a great leveller when you are meeting fellow allotmenteers from all walks of life. Gardening is the common factor. But if you are not that way inclined you can just get on with it without interuption.

Vacant allotments nowadays are becoming as rare as hen`s teeth, so if you are fortunate in having one make the most of it and relish the fact that you are keeping yourself fit in mind and body.

Mick Botting


Allotment Fever

Mick Botting on his passion for community gardening published in THE COUNTRYMAN April 1998

It`s over 40 years since I started cultivating an allotment just over the road from where I live, but I remember the first day well. It was a crisp winter`s morning and my peace was shattered as I was about to take our the first spit of my new plot. `Your dog`s just peed on my plot, can`t you keep him under control.` This was my first introduction to the many different characters whom I would meet over the coming months.

This man turned out to be the moaner of the group. If it wasn`t too hot or too cold, his back was giving him great pain, and he blamed the weather, or the government for most things. But he was still there since being urged to Dig for Victory during the second world war. In those days of course,it had been an important part of the war effort to feed the nation.

There is an assured comradeship in gardening and while we tend our vegetables, fruit and flowers, there is always someone who is willing to have a chat. If you go away for a holiday your colleagues will make sure that your plot is looked after, and offer advice if needed.

Bill, who has a plot near to mind, has a wry sense of humour that can be seen by the placards he puts around his plot such as `Don`t kill yourself in your garden, do it in mine instead` or `Self peeling potatoes`

Jack Martin is our oldest member at 92 and he trundles his wheel-barrow about in all weathers looking a picture of health and as agile as anyone 30 years his junior. It could be put down to all the fresh air he gets.

Our senior lady Margaret Buckfield, is 80 years old and still finds the energy to cultivate her plot despite going to the local `Age Concern` twice a week to look after `the poor old dears` as she delicately puts it.

Another old-un, Percy Frost who has just given up his plot after a lifetime of gardening is as deaf as a post and his shouted conversations can be heard 500 metres away. A tactile man, Percy has an eye for the ladies and if he ever spots a skirt among the cabbages he makes a beeline for it. He then offers his advice on how to do the garden and sneaks his arm around her at the same time.

On the plot next to mine is a chap my wife Val and I call Mr Overalls, but Alf to his face. A retired waterboard official he is in charge of turning the water on and off in the summer and winter which he does with pride. Alf always wears thick overalls and wellington boots even if it is 90 degrees in the shade. It was something he learned while serving in the army in the African desert in the last war. Apparently it was supposed to keep you cooler wearing all those clothes.

Another favourite of ours is Wally. We admire him for, despite being almost blind, he will walk a couple of miles from his home to his beloved allotment. Poor Wally fell down on his garden path one afternoon and couldn`t get up and he lay there for two hours before he was found. We help him distinguish his weeds from his seeds and mow the grass for him.

The younger men often bring their wives and family with them and make a day of it. The children love to run around in a traffic free envoironment and help by sowing seeds on their own little patch.

There is a young man who grows giant pumpkins and enters them in agricutural shows. Others enter flowers and vegetables where prizes can be won for their efforts. Arthur and Margaret Keen win prizes at the local horticultural shows for their beautiful sweet peas, roses and scrumptious vegetables.

We do get a few fly-by-nights who take on a plot and don`t realize that it takes a bit of effort to get results. They boast about what they are going to do and how much they know about gardening but in a very short time they are gone and never seen again.

Kipling wrote `Our England is a garden and such gardens are not made by singing "Oh how beautiful" and sitting in the shade. That`s true but gardens and allotments are made to be enjoyed, so when the hard work is over, what greater pleasure than to sit in the shade and admire those rows of vegetables that will feed a family through the year.

                                       

 

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