SPA HILL ALLOTMENT SOCIETY LIMITED


Newsletter Autumn 2004

DON'T FORGET PLOT RENTS AND SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE DUE ON FIRST OF OCTOBER

If you don't pay your plot rent by 10 November your tenancy ends automatically and the Committee will let your plot to a new tenant.


From The Chairman.

In April 2004, the Society applied for a grant of approx 12000 to fund replacement gates, fencing and water supply system. Recently we have been told that this bid was unsuccessful. Therefore other means of funding this infrastructure work must be found. The refurbishment of the Society's main building continues, in the past month the shop and store have been rewired. Currently the drainage from the planned toilets is being considered in terms of infrastructure and costs.


A Good Time was had by all.

The Society Barbecue on 28 August was a great success. Over 100 members and friends enjoyed themselves. The party ran from 2 pm until 8pm but the work behind the scenes took several times as long. Thank you to the ticket sellers, particularly Antonia who sold two thirds of all the tickets. Thank you to John Timoll for cutting the grass and providing the music and to Malcolm, Tom, and Garry for putting up gazebos tables and chairs. Thanks to Gerry Bauer for masterminding the food; and to Gerry, Jean, Eda, Antonia, John Timoll, Jeanette, Clara, Devon, Eileen Ward, Karen McCrudden, Jack and all the others who helped with the preparation and cooking.

Now that we have the hall and the kitchen refitted there is scope for more social events and we welcome feedback from members. Tell the office or your section Steward what you would like to see happening, what sort of food and music you would like. Perhaps you would volunteer to help with future events. Two members have suggested that we hold a barn dance, it would probably have to be in a hired hall somewhere as our hall isn't big enough, would you be interested in one?

Although the main intention of the barbecue was that members enjoyed themselves they were so generous in donating food etc that the event made over 180 for Society funds.


Armillartia Mellea

To give it its more common name Honey Fungus. Yellow brown toadstools between one and four inches across which grow in clumps, often as many as twenty at a time, at the base of trees. Commonest in the autumn these toadstools when young are edible but have a bitter taste which is removed by cooking. The plant spreads both by spores and by rhizomorphs (black root strands which look like bootlaces). It can do considerable damage to some trees and also to some garden shrubs. Honey fungus has been present in places on Spa Hill for years and we do not want to encourage it. If you see it on the site please report it to your section steward. The large amounts of tree surgeons chippings being used on the site provide an ideal medium for it to grow in if they are dug in before they are fully rotted.

Please therefore use chippings/shreddings only as long term mulches which will not be dug in or stack them to compost until they are well rotted before using them.

Wood which is infected with honey fungus is luminous, it actually glows quite brightly in the dark. Please note that the small blue white toadstool which frequently grows in piles of chippings is the Wood Blewit (Tricholoma nudum) which is supposed to be edible and is harmless to our allotment plants.


A Windmill

Croydon Council's renewable energy consultants, CEN, are discussing with the Society the possibility of a windmill on the allotment site. The idea is to have a small windmill about thirty five feet tall which would be used as part of a programme teaching schoolchildren about renewable energy sources. This would involve supervised school parties visiting the site and the use of our hall from time to time as a classroom. In exchange the Society would be able to use the electricity generated by the windmill to reduce our electricity bills. It would also enable us to find out if it would be worth our while to build a larger windmill which would not only supply all our electricity but would also generate some income for the Society by exporting the surplus to the National Grid. Grant Funding for most of the small windmill project has already been assured, the hope is that the project will be entirely grant funded and that the only cost to the Society will be the insurance of the mill when it is running.


Grass Paths and Roads

For years we have had a minority of plotholders who obey the letter rather than the spirit of the by-laws by mowing exactly half the width of a grass road for the length of the frontage of their plot. There is no harm in this so long as all the tenants on that road keep the grass cut to the same height; but if it is done with mowers set at different heights or one patch is cut much more often than the next then the extent of the grass root growth will vary enough to make the road become uneven over a couple of seasons.

Ideally the plotholders on each grass road should co-operate taking it in turns to mow the whole road. Recently there have been cases where half the width of a side path is being mown regularly and the other half is not. This will eventually cause the side path to develop a slope which could make using it difficult and possibly unsafe. When you cut the grass on your sidepaths please cut the full width of the path. If this causes problems with the adjoining plotholders please tell your section steward.

One constant source of problems is stones being left on the grass raods and sidepaths which damage the mowers. Please make sure every time that you leave your plot that you have not left stones on the road or on the paths. Please do not leave piles of weeds on the grass beside your plot, these can also damage mowers. Most definately do not leave blighted tomato plants on the paths as one plotholder did last week as this just helps to spread the blight to other plots.


POTATO FAIR

The third London Potato Fair will be held at Dulwich College (on the A205 South Circular) on Sunday 23rd January 2005 between 9 am and 2 pm. The fair is held in conjunction with the monthly Farmers market there.

At least eighty five varieties of potatoes will be on sale by the tuber which means that you can buy just a few if you want to try out a new variety. It will include the new 'Sarpo' varieties, the most blight resistant potatoes ever bred.

This year there will also be a seed exchange at the fair ( bring your own seeds (fruit flower or vegetable) and swap them for something that you want but haven't got.) As in previous years there will be a Spa Hill (SHOGG) stand there if anyone would like to help on it please speak to Tim Gundry-White.

All the profits from the fair go to childrens charities.


Potato Diseases.

There have been several cases in England this year of Potato ring rot and of Potato brown rot, the latter is caused by the same bacillus which causes tomato bacterial wilt. These are notifiable diseases which means that if your spuds get either of them you must inform the Department of Agriculture(DEFRA). Fortunately there is so far no sign of either disease anywhere near us.

Two cases of potato virus Yn have been found at Spa Hill this year. (specifically potato tuber necrosis virus PVYntn). Both involved the variety 'Nadine' which is very susceptible to this virus. The virus can be transmitted in the seed or can be soil borne and can persist in the soil for several years.

If your potatoes are suffering from a disease which you cannot identify for certain please tell the Society Office or your section Steward and show them specimens of the diseased plants. If we can't identify what is wrong with them we can get the experts to do it for you and if you are unlucky enough to get a serious problem we can notify DEFRA for you and advise on what action you should take.

It is better to be safe than sorry.


Feedback Wanted

Nikki Cole is an aspiring author who is researching a book based on an allotment in London and who would appreciate it if plotholders would e-mail or write to her with details of why they have an allotment, what they grow on it, how much time they spend there and how they got it. E-mail to research.150.nikkic@spamgourmet.com or if you do not have e-mail put it in writing and hand it to the Society office who will forward it to her for you.


Nursery Trades

For many years Nursery Trades (Lea Valley) Limited a growers co-operative have been one of our major suppliers for the goods which we sell in the distribution centre. We have learned that they are now selling their business and this may mean that in the near future we will need to find new sources of supply which will considerably increase the amount of work which Alf Walters has as Distribution Secretary. Alf always needs help in the 'shop' anyway - If you can spare even one hour a month to help him you should do so.


Important Announcement

Two products which we have stocked in the past are being banned for sale to and use by amateur gardeners. Sale of "Pathclear" has ceased as of 10 September 2004. Sale of "Weedol" will cease as of 30 April 2005.

The last day for Storage and use of "Pathclear" is 10 September 2005.
The last day for storage and use of "Weedol" is 30 April 2006.

To clear the Society's stock of "Weedol" before 30 April 2005 we are offering a special price of two packets for 1.80.


Leek Moth

The leek moth (Acrolepiopsis assectella) is a very small grey brown moth which has caused serious damage to leek crops at Spa Hill this year, we do not often see them here, the severity of the present outbreak is probably due to the mild weather last winter which allowed large numbers of adults to survive in the soil and to start breeding early in the season.

Control is cultural rather than chemical the adults can fly long distances. Make sure that all leek, onion, shallot and chive debris is cleared to the compost bin as you harvest. Leave ground in which these plants have been grown rough dug over winter to maximise frost penetration. Carefully covering young leeks with fleece or enviromesh stops the females laying their eggs. A fact Sheet is available from the Society Office.



©2004 Spa Hll Allotment Society Limited. Page prepared and maintained by Jack. Updated 30 September 2004.