We are going to hold our first (and last!) working party of the year on Saturday December 4th to give our communal areas a good clear-out and trim before winter sets in in earnest.
And as Christmas is coming we’ll add a festive note to the activities – do wear your Christmas jumpers and hats to keep you warm.
Meet at the Trading Hut at 1.00pm, bring gloves, secateurs and other useful hand tools with you.
Refreshments will be provided for workers – we may even run to some mulled wine –
For the benefit of new members, we have traditionally managed the upkeep of the communal areas on-site mainly by holding around 10 working parties a year, although Covid has meant that we haven’t held formally arranged working parties during the pandemic. There’s always a good convivial atmosphere, usually a couple of hours work followed by drinks and a snack for our workers and the satisfaction that the site has been restored to good order. We won’t ask you to tackle anything you can’t manage and there will be plenty of people around to help.
As an incentive, working party attendance will earn you a credit, two of which will give you a small reduction on your annual plot rent come renewal time in October.
The following dates were agreed as bonfire days at the Woodhouse Allotments AGM held in September. They follow the pattern of the first Saturday + the first Sunday of each month until the end of March, but avoiding Christmas and New Year weekends.
The days are as follows and no bonfires may be held at other times.
• Saturday October 2nd
• Sunday October 31st
• Saturday November 6th
• Sunday November 28th
• Saturday December 4th
• Sunday December 19th
• Saturday January 8th
• Sunday January 30th
• Saturday February 5th
• Sunday February 27th
• Saturday March 5th
• Sunday March 27th
Please follow good bonfire practice every time you have a bonfire.
Bonfire code of practice
• If you have been building your bonfire for some time, check that animals have not taken shelter under it before lighting.
• Consider wind direction and the way the smoke will drift once lit.
• Build it in an open area away from sheds, greenhouses and other flammable items.
• Have a hose pipe or water supply ready should it get out of control to dampen it down or extinguish the flames.
• Keep the bonfire small.
• Leave children and small pets unattended or near a lit fire.
• Build a bonfire close to your shed, or next to a fence.
• Put things on a bonfire that will cause smoke, explode or cause toxic pollution.
• Leave a bonfire unattended.
ALWAYS stand at a safe distance from the bonfire once it is lit.
The sun shone on the summer Social and Produce Competition on Saturday. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to get together and indulge in allotment chat and, of course, the delicious food supplied by all. Graham Clark’s apple scrattler, producing freshly pressed apple juice, was kept running in high demand all afternoon.
For the record, the results of the competition are as follows. Thanks to all our entrants – some particularly beautiful baskets and produce displays this year.
Tallest sunflower – David and Sonja Bleecker – 3.07m
Heaviest onion – Paul Young – 260g
Heaviest tomato – Paul Young – 400g
Heaviest potato – Paul Young – 500g
Heaviest beetroot – Michael Evans – 1.34kg
Heaviest courgette/marrow – Paul Young – 4.28kg
Longest runner bean – Christina Erskine – 37.5cm
Best plot sign – Genevieve and Adrian Guthrie – ‘Route 66’
Best 5 of any produce – Andy Duncan and Corinne Stannard – courgettes
We are very glad to report that Bartlett’s Tree Experts removed the oak processionary moth (OPM) nests from the affected oak trees on site yesterday. There were 17 nests in total, most of them in the large oak tree on the south side which overhangs our site.
Although the existing nests have been removed, there is clearly oak processionary moth in our area and we will need to be vigilant and to have the oak trees on site regularly monitored from now on.
I should imagine everyone knows what an OPM caterpillar looks like by now, but just in case, if you see a cluster of caterpillars looking like the ones below on an oak tree on site, do please notify a member of the committee with the location.
There are other, very hairy, caterpillars that you might find on fruit and vegetables. OPM caterpillars tend to stick to oak trees and to be found en masse as in the picture. Worth checking, though.
We also have the option to ask the Forestry Commission to authorise spraying our oak trees in spring with a preventative bacterial control, as part of their programme to contain the spread of OPM. This would be at no additional cost to the allotment society.
You may already have spotted the Hut now has a smart new noticeboard and postbox – the first of many improvements to the facilities and running of our shop.
We also now have our first stock in for 2021 of potatoes, spring-sowing alliums, compost, manure and seeds.
For the duration of the current COVID lockdown, the Trading Hut will not open at its traditional times; however, it will be open from 12 midday to 1.00pm on Sundays for you to collect any orders you have previously made. Order forms are available from the Trading Hut door.
Either post your order into the letter box on the Trading Hut door or email it to us. Prices for all items are posted on the new noticeboard outside the Trading Hut; prices for potatoes, onions, compost and manure are posted below as well.
Please follow good practice when holding a bonfire – it really isn’t a question of burning everything on your plot as quickly as possible:
A good bonfire can be built using the wood in your pile to create a small teepee-shaped fire well away from any trees or structures.
Bonfires should be used for woody waste – anything leafy should be composted. Material for the bonfire should be as dry as possible before burning – wet stuff produces thick smoke. Please take care not to burn any plastics or anything other than wood. Anything non-compostable and not suitable for burning should be taken to the recycling centre at Summers Lane, which has now reopened on a book-in-advance basis.
All normal bonfire precautions should be taken, such as:
Checking before you light that no hedgehogs or other wildlife are living in the wood pile
Adding waste gradually to the fire and not allowing it to grow too big
Burning dry waste only – do not burn wet wood as this creates choking smoke
Not using petrol or any other kind of accelerant
Not leaving the fire unattended at any time
Ensuring that the fire is extinguished before you leave the site.
During the pandemic, Woodhouse Allotments has suspended rules allowing bonfires on our site.
We now propose to allow our members to light bonfires from Thursday October 29th to Sunday November 1st, and then again on Saturday November 7th and 8th. This is to enable our members to dispose of the considerable amount of woody waste that cannot be easily composted or taken to the Recycling Centre that has bult up since February this year.
Our lease with Barnet Council allows bonfires between October and the end of March; however, out of recognition that many of our neighbours in roads surrounding the allotment site are now spending more at home than normal, and that we now have a primary school as a close neighbour, we banned all wood fires during March and from the beginning of October this year.
We have chosen this time to relax the ban to coincide with half-term and also the weekends either side of Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes night, when one might reasonably expect bonfires to be lit elsewhere, including in our neighbours’ own gardens.