Occasional Articles and Allotment chat and comments.
On Sunday mornings during Spring and early Summer during trading hours (10:00 - 12:00) we leave the allotments gates open. At all other times the gate should be closed behind you when coming in or out. To minimise contact in these infectious times, the gate is often left open as a kindness to others by the plot-holders nearest the gate when they are on site. Please don't leave the gates open if they are not there, even if you find it open already. Thanks.
Competition - Challenge Shield Judging
Judging for the Shield takes place in the middle of July. Six weeks from now.
The shield goes to the best second year plot-holder. That is someone who was first allocated a plot with us in last year's growing season - is that you? The judging takes into consideration the tidiness of the plot, quality of crops, variety of crops and good use of the space available.
The winner is announced at the AGM in November.
Trading Hut Stock Update
Now that the Trading Hut is opening again on Sunday mornings, it seems stock is moving quite fast. We have now sold out of 4' canes, compost, and growbags. But in addition to our normal stocks we still have plenty of 8' canes, and on the roll - bird netting (4M wide) , insect netting (like enviromesh) 3M wide and, weed matting (2M wide). If you can't make Sunday openings, a member of the committee might be willing to open up during the week. Please observe distance rules.
Vacant Plots and Waiting List
Not surprisingly the lockdown, now in it's 10th week, has made people think of being outdoors and our waiting list has grown rapidly. Initially we stopped allocating plots to help restrict contact, but on balance have decided that we shouldn't hold back so, as of today, we have no vacant plots.
Trading Hut - Opening Again
Since the garden centres have been allowed to re-open, we have decided to open the Trading Hut again on Sunday mornings from 10:00 - 12:00. One person in at a time please. We have restocked with compost, and the usual fertilisers. so there should be most things you need.
It seems the Pied Piper hasn't passed through this year, and a number of people have reported seeing more rats than usual - me included. Some of the reasons that have been suggested are - fewer foxes being seen - the rats have moved from W Byfleet because the restaurants are closed - more food waste is available because of the recycling centre being closed.
Please help by not making it easy for them to feed and breed.
- Food waste should only be added to a compost bin that is fully enclosed, and preferably with a base that is rat-proof (paving stone, chicken wire etc.
- Don't provide them with a home - they love piles of rubbish and junk - Martyrs lane is now open again for both green waste and general rubbish.
- See the RHS info on this
Please do not use poison - it's often ineffective, can kill other animals, and poisoned rats can crawl away and die elsewhere and then poison scavengers.
Lockdown Side Effects
Many of you are making the most of the freedom the allotments allows, coming down regularly and working hard. However, we do have a number of vulnerable people and key workers amongst our members, and some of them will not want or be able to feel safe enough to visit. Consequently, please be tolerant with overgrown plots (generally there are fewer this year than most) and if you know them, perhaps offer to help with their plot in some small way.
If you are unable to get down regularly (for whatever reason), do please let me know so we are aware, and do ask for help if needed.
Stay safe and well, and keep up social distancing - with eight weeks behind us - let's not waste it.
From 1st April through to the end of October, bonfires are not allowed at the allotments. I know the recycling centre at Martyr's Lane is closed, and so it's tempting to consider burning garden and allotment waste, but we have been specifically asked by the Borough Council to not relax our no-bonfires ruling.
Despite the cancellation of the various local competitions and shows our own West Byfleet Allotments Challenge Shield will be awarded as normal this year. The shield goes to the best second year plot-holder. That is someone who was first allocated a plot with us in last year's growing season - is that you? The judging takes into consideration the tidiness of the plot, quality of crops, variety of crops and good use of the space available. Judging takes place in the middle of July.
If you are new to the allotments this year - next year is a target for you.
Oak Processionary Moth
A reminder of the previous warning - there were reports of Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) in the area last year, and it expected the infestations will continuing to spread across London and Surrey. Oak trees around allotment plots are particularly partial to infestation. OPM’s are known to cause skin rashes and should be reported if spotted. Please keep an eye out and report any sightings to the Council and a committee member if the sighting is on or near the allotments. It may be that oak leaves in the leaf pile at the allotments contain last year's hairs from the caterpillars, be wary and handle carefully just in case.
The OPM caterpillars start emerging in April from eggs laid in Oak trees the previous summer.
Allotments & The Virus - Update No. 2
In order for the allotments to remain open, we must all behave responsibly. It's difficult because we all have friends at the allotment we normally chat with. Confinement means we feel the need to chat more when we meet someone, and the allotments is generally a happy relaxed place to be. Let's keep it that way, but please consider the following (extract from the National Allotments Society Coronavirus news page)
Members should take the following precautionary measures:
- Keep hand sanitiser in your shed and wash your hands regularly
- Use hand sanitiser before opening and closing any gate locks
- Observe “Social Distancing” with each other 2-3 metres
- If you take your children to the plot, ensure that they stay within its confines and do not run around on communal paths and spaces.
- Do not share tools
- Do not wash your hands, tools or veg in water troughs
If you can't get hand sanitiser, use gloves or a plastic bags to open and close the gates.
Another extract from the internet
The virus doesn't move, people move it.
We stop moving, the virus stops moving.
The virus dies. It's that simple.
Allotments & The Virus - Update
Following the Prime Minister's announcement last night (23rd March 2020) I have had numerous enquiries about whether the allotments will remain open. It is not clear to me what the ruling is regarding allotments - it could be interpreted that, like parks, they should remain open for exercise; so for now we will not close them, but ask you to think clearly about whether, by going to the allotments, you are putting others at risk.
If you decide to come to the allotments, then government rules on social distancing and gatherings of no more than two people should be strictly applied.
There are several plot-holders who fall into the vulnerable class. It is our collective responsibility to ensure we don't put them at any more risk by going to the allotments.
Common sense dictates that if you or any member of your household feel unwell you should not visit the allotments whatsoever.
Use wipes on the gate lock if you can or alternatively wash your hands. We cannot take on the task of sterilising the allotments - it's just not workable, it has to be down to you the individual - so we ask you all to be responsible.
If I get clear advice or the rules change again we may have to make the decision to close the allotments until further notice.
The Trading Hut
The Trading Hut will be closed until further notice.
This will not be provided unless the situation clears.
Stay well and try and enjoy the Spring and stay cheerful if you can.
Chairman, West Byfleet Allotments & Gardens Association