Newsletter Late Winter 2023

Late Winter Newsletter

Dear TAA member,

Firstly, a warm welcome to all new members. I would though like to wish everyone a very belated Happy New Year and hope 2023 will be a great year for gardening.

Weather patterns seem to be changing quite considerably every season making it quite a challenge for gardeners.

2022 was full of extremes, drought, heatwave, pouring rain, floods, gales and hail storms not to mention the snap of freezing weather with sub zero temperatures; perhaps this is now the new norm.

There has also been the battle of keeping wildlife from eating or destroying crops, but in spite of all this most plot holders have been upbeat and seem to have had a pretty good year taking home some tasty home grown produce to enjoy. Some of you who have planned your planting well should still be harvesting leeks, brassicas, swede, parsnips, carrots, winter spinach and more. And many of you are also enjoying the produce that was stored, bottled or frozen during the summer glut. I still have several kg of berries in my freezer waiting to be turned into jam.

The committee met on several occasions last year. The new lease was eventually renewed for Wolsey Drive and Park Road allotments after a lot of negotiations with RBK and hard work put in by TAA Chairman Paul Hay. The good news too is that the new lease is for 25 years (the previous lease was for only 12 years).

It was unanimously decided that there would, yet again, be no increases in plot rents due to the ongoing economic crisis and the fact that the TAA accounts are in a healthy position. Thanks to our wonderful accountant Lynn Boyd.

Richard Post thought it would be a good idea to have plot number signs on each plot. After some research it turned out to be quite an expense to buy a durable plot marker for each and every plot on each site. So we would like to encourage individuals to provide their own or those of you with a creative streak to make one. For example an upside down terracotta pot, old roof tile or large pebble/stone with the number
painted on. Maybe a prize for the most attractive design?

A new policy for trees was also decided. With prior permission from the site Supervisors, only one tree per plot will be allowed and only fruiting trees on dwarf rooting stock as it has become a bit of an issue with some trees getting out of hand and casting shadow on neighbouring plots.

Sheds at Park Road. Many of the shared sheds are in a pretty poor state and asking those that rent them to make repairs is difficult as many don’t have the tools or skill. It was muted that a tradesman be paid to make repairs and possibly replace the very dilapidated sheds on a rolling programme. This would involve raising money for an increase in the annual shed rent; currently at a very nominal £5 for full, £2.50 for half. This will be discussed at the TAA AGM in March (specific date TBA).

A lot of discussion was had about the state of some plots. With the very long waiting lists for both sites it should be a priority to get un-rented plots tidied up and rented out as soon as possible. This may involve paying a contractor to clear a few abandoned plots on the Wolsey Drive site.

The waiting lists for both sites now stand at over 100, with almost a new application request every week. Many people are desperate to take on a plot to grow produce to feed their families especially due to the increased cost of living. Please consider your commitments for the forthcoming year so that your plot is well prepared and cultivated throughout the growing and harvesting season. If you are finding it difficult to manage your plot and think it’s time to give it up, do have a word with your site supervisor. If your plot has been neglected and warnings have been ignored, site Supervisors are obliged by the TAA Constitution to evict the negligent holder and pass it on to the next person on the waiting list.

Now that January is over and we are starting to come out of hibernation it is time to start planning for the fast approaching growing season. Please make a resolution and commit to more time spent on your plot. Firstly we recommend a jolly good tidy up, mend, repair or remove damaged structures. Clear paths for easy and safe access to plots, cut back any over hanging branches or foliage. Remove weeds before they go to seed and spread onto neighbouring plots. Please remove all non compostable materials off site to your general waste bin at home or make an appointment at the local tip for bulkier items. We would also recommend removing any decaying or brittle plastic to avoid it contaminating or leaching into the soil; this includes old carpet, carpet tiles and fake grass. Why not build a compost heap as it is a wonderful way to recycle garden and kitchen waste and make compost to add to your plot.

All the new seed cataloges are out and full of enticing products and it’s easy to get carried away. It’s fun to try something new, but before ordering don’t forget to think of how much space you have and what you can realistically grow on your plot. Seeds are often quite expensive so do plan carefully.

What you can do now: Cut back autumn fruiting raspberry canes, plant bare root fruit bushes, prune gooseberries and currants, split large clumps of rhubarb, prune apple and pear trees. Protect brassicas from pigeons with netting, secure fleece over tender plants to prevent frost damage. Sow broad beans and peas in pots in a cold frame or an unheated greenhouse, but make sure to protect from greedy mice!

Indoor sowings of aubergine, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, onions and tomatoes can all be started mid to end of February.

Just a reminder that rents are now due, if you haven’t already received an invoice please contact the site supervisors.

KHS membership (still £5 a year) can be obtained from Ivan Moll at the Park Road Allotment shop open Sunday and Wednesday 11am till 12.30pm.

KHS Events - Friday 21st April AGM. Saturday 20th May Spring Plant Sale

The date of the TAA AGM will be announced soon.

Happy gardening from The TAA Committee