Remembering Joyce Dixon

This month we are sad to tell you that Joyce Dixon died in the early hours of Boxing Day – she was almost 97. Mary Enache remembers Joyce well and wrote this about her for us to share with you all:

“Joyce Dixon was a local lady who had plots on our sites for over 50 years and was an Honorary Committee Member of BHAS. She wrote that during WW2 her family worked a plot on the Bank of England Sports Ground and then on Palewell Common in the “Dig For Victory” campaign. She remembered having to fetch water in a bucket from the Beverley Brook to water the vegetables. Later she had an allotment on Hertford Avenue near to me but on the Beverley Brook side where she cultivated her plot well into her 80s. I remember her as being a lovely lady like her allotment which was always full of beautiful flowers and magnificent vegetables.”

Trading shed – new stock February 2019

This month at the Trading shed we have new in stock ‘Enviromesh’ (ultra fine insect netting).

You can also still get seed potatoes to start chitting, onion sets and shallots at the Trading Shed (please see the blog post from January for varieties).

Free Plot Markers
Is you plot clearly marked?  If not, we have plenty of wooden plot markers to give away.
Just come down to the Trading Shed any weekend between 11.00 – 12.00 to pick one up.
All you have to do is write your plot number on it with permanent marker.

Plot holder survey results

In 2018 we conducted a survey of plot holders to find out what you think of the allotments and what more the BHAS Society can do to support you. Thank you to everyone who took their time to answer the survey.

As we have outlined in previous newsletters, the Committee has already started work towards addressing some of the issues raised below and will continue to do so this year.

East Sheen Allotment holders survey

50 responses from 242 plot holders

Q1 . Which site is your plot on?

Priory – 32%

Hertford Avenue – 31%

Palewell Park – 16%

The Triangle – 10%

Palewell Pavilion – 10%

Not a plot holder – 0%

Q2 . In your own words, what are the things you like most about the allotments?

Growing my own food – 28%

Socialising with other plot holders – 23%

Being out in nature – 19%

Peacefulness – 15%

Getting away from the pressures of modern life – 9%

Supplies e.g. water, bark – 3%

Exercise – 3%

Q3 . In your own words, what do you like least about the allotments?

Nothing – 15%

Other plot holders – 15%

BHAS Committee – 14%

Weeds on own plot – 11%

Overgrown vegetation/trees on site – 9%

Unattended plots – 9%

Wildlife  – 7%

Theft of produce/vandalism – 4%

Lack of community spirit – 3%

Keys/locks to sites – 3%

Size of plot – 3%

Bonfire rules – 3%

Too many bonfires – 1%

Use of chemicals – 1%

Lack of toilets – 1%

Lack of support from the Council – 1%

Plot too far from supplies e.g. mulch, logs – 1%

Q4 . In your own words, what are the things you would most like to improve at the allotments?

Council to deal with plot holders effectively who are not using their plots/reduce number of abandoned plots – 14%

Nothing – 13%

Supplies (more mulch, water pressure, water butts, shredder, soil improvers, drainage) – 13%

Pruning of trees/vegetation/trimming grass on paths– 12%

Trading Shed (opening hours, more products, bulk deliveries) – 10%

Tidying up the site – 9%

Better security and access (locks, gates) – 9%

Community gatherings – 7%

Waste disposal – 3%

Planting fruit trees in common areas – 3%

Polytunnels for germination – 1%

Lack of communication/don’t know what’s happening – 1%

Politics – 1%

Creation of access-friendly raised beds – 1%

Group chicken area selling eggs – 1%

Dog mess – 1%

Toilets – 1%

Q5 . How strong is your sense of community at the allotments? Move the slider from 0 to 10 where 0 is no sense of community and 10 is a high sense of community

Range 4 – 10, average 7.2

Q6 . How often do you participate in activities at the allotments? (other than to tend your plot) Please choose the answer which reflects your participation the best.

Weekly – 2%

Monthly – 28%

Once or twice a year (e.g. Open Day or Annual Show) – 64%

Never – 6%

Q7 . If you do not participate in activities at the allotments, why not?

Busy with family life/work – 28%

Only want to tend my plot – 25%

Away at weekends – 24%

Don’t like socialising with others – 16%

Not aware of what is going on – 4%

Health problems – 4%

Q8 . What types of activity would you participate in if they were available at the allotments?

Specialist talks/expert demonstrations – 35%

Happy with what is already on offer – 18%

Anything social (evenings) – 14%

Communal site/plot clear ups  – 12%

Food related e.g. BBQ – 7%

Trips to interesting places e.g. gardens – 5%

Vegetable/seed exchange – 5%

Plot holder inspections –  2%

Child-friendly activities  – 2%

Q9 . Would you like to volunteer for the Society?

Already do – 33%

No thanks  – 61%

Yes – 6%

Q10 . Are you a member of the Allotments Society?

Yes – 98%

No – 2%

At plot… 2 with Sheena-J Clark

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For January, we have been chatting to Sheena Clark who has a plot 2 at the Pavilion allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

I have had an allotment since August 2016, we were originally on Triangle site which was a lovely little plot but moved at the beginning of Autumn to Pavilion to a bigger plot.

What jobs have you been doing on the allotment this month?

This month we have tidied up, raked up the leaves and kept the bird feeders topped up.

What crop has done well this year?

This year we had a great crop of tomatoes but they were very slow to ripen. Beetroot, raspberries and cucumbers also did really well. The flowers were good too especially the Dahlias.

What are you planning to grow next season?

We grow fruit, veg and flowers,  we don’t grow any fruit or veg that won’t be eaten, peppers, cucumbers. raspberries, rhubarb, beetroot, apples, pears, plums, potatoes, carrots just the usual really.

What’s your favourite recipe to make with your harvest?

I make chutney’s, and jams with our harvest. standard recipes that my family have used for years.

In addition to gardening of course, do you have any other hobbies or skills?

I love my allotment, its our outside space as we live in a flat, I can quite often be found just sitting on the bench on a nice day, on the not so nice days I can be found in a different sort of tree as my other hobby is genealogy (family history) which I really enjoy.

Trading shed – new stock January 2019

The Trading Shed (Hertford Ave) will reopen again from Saturday, 12th January 2019.

Opening times: Sat and Sun between 11.00am and 12.00

It now has a good range of high quality gardening gloves available.

There will be onion sets (Red Baron, Stuttgard varieties) and shallots (Golden Gourmet, Red Sun varieties) available.

There will also be seed potatoes of the following varieties: Accord, Lady Christl, Red Duke of York, Charlotte, Wiljm, King Edward, Desiree, Maris Piper and Picasso.

Prices:
Potatoes are £1.20 per Kg
Onions are £1.50 per 500g
Shallots are £1.70 per 500g

At Plot… 62 with Paul Crompton

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For December, we have been chatting to Paul Crompton who is at plot 62 at the Priory allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

About 7 years.

What jobs have you been doing on the allotment this month?

This month planting onions, garlic, one or two new shrubs, cutting back big blackberry bush, facing cutting back lots of raspberry canes which did not produce fruit last 12 months because drought and unusual weather.

What crop has done well this year?

Blackberries did well but raspberries a big zero.

What are you planning to grow next season?

Just planning to improve growing conditions at present and not sure about 2019 except hoping for better weather.

In addition to gardening of course, do you have any other hobbies or skills?

I am a famous tai chi teacher – look me up on internet, author and translator in field of martial arts.  Currently teach half a dozen elderly groups around southwest London.

Horseradish

We recently had an enquiry about horseradish from a plot holder and how to remove it from your allotment site permanently. We thought it would be useful to share our tips here in case anyone else is having the same problem with this vigorous and hardy perennial.

Process for removal:

1. Dig all the way around the horseradish plant you want to eliminate. Place the elongated, narrow blade of the transplanting spade (or any sharp garden shovel) at least six inches away from the crown of the plant to avoid cutting through any outlying roots.
2. Lift the entire plant from the ground with a garden fork and move it away from the hole.
3. Examine the inside of the hole for any pieces of white root, no matter how small, and remove them.
4. Check the area around the hole for green horseradish sprouts. Dig up and discard any you find.
5. Clean the tools to avoid spreading any small horseradish root particles to other parts of the garden.
6. Harvest as much of the root as you wish to use and dispose of the rest of the plant. The top can be cut off to go in the compost pile, but dispose of the roots in the trash or give them away so they can’t resprout in the compost.
7. Fill the hole back in with soil. Do not till this area of the garden or replant it immediately.
8. Replant the area with whatever you wish when no more horseradish sprouts appear.

Things You Will Need: 
– Needle-nose or transplanting spade
– Garden fork

Tips:
– Remove horseradish plants in the late fall or early spring if you want to get in one last harvest; otherwise dig at any time.

Curious about horseradish?

Alternatively, if you fancy giving this crop a try we recommend growing it in pots or raised beds to keep it under control as it can quickly become invasive. The RHS gardening website has some great growing tips for Horseradish and Riverford has a lovely recipe for a sweeter Apple and Horseradish sauce.

Image source: RHS

New wood and chippings bays

Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed the refurbishment work on the wood and chippings bays at the Hertford Avenue entrance has begun. After clearing the site of the original pallet boards which had started to rot and break down, wooden sleepers have been erected to form a new boundary. We still need to firm up the ground immediately next to the path, to stop the delivery lorries getting stuck in the mud.

Bay 1 (nearest the main gate) has been enlarged and will be re-designated for the logs. Bay 2 in the middle will remain the wood chip store and the 3rd bay will be for compost from Richmond Park when it’s available.
Thanks to John Hynd, Rashid, Desmond and John Padgett for all their hard work so far.

If you would like to lend a hand moving the logs from their existing bay,  please feel free to pick up one or two logs as you walk past and take them down to the newly created bay.

Hertford Avenue wins London in Bloom Allotment Award

At the beginning of November at the annual Allotment prize giving at the Town Hall, Derek Lawrence-Brown and John Padgett received the London in Bloom Allotment Award on behalf of the Hertford Avenue plot holders.

It came as a complete surprise, although we obviously knew that Derek had shown the London in Bloom judges around the allotments back in July.

We were judged to have the best kept and well-cultivated Allotments out of all the London Boroughs and the award was presented  by the Mayor of Richmond upon Thames.

The judges’ comments are below:

This large allotment site is clearly well used. Judges met the allotment site rep and heard about its activities that included three organised community events each year.

Engagement appeared to be thriving and a broad range of produce was in cultivation.

The site is well organised and maintained and green waste either removed or composted as appropriate. A regime of using wood chip in certain areas of the site as a mulch  is in place.

At Plot…30a with Dino & Sarah Franz

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For November, we have been chatting to Dino and Sarah Franz who are at plot 30a at the Hertford Avenue allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

After almost five years on the waiting list, my husband was offered his first allotment late this past summer at Hertford Allotments.  The plot had been left untended for quite some time, but luckily some of the site reps and volunteers, had kindly cut down many of the taller weeds to prevent seeds from spreading; old plastic was also covering some of the existing raised bed.  After several weekends of digging and clearing, we put down new wood chip on the old existing paths and brought in two tons of compost to bring up the soil levels within the beds; within three weeks of getting the allotment keys, we planted our first two plants: green beans and swiss chard.  (And this was much to the delight of the young allotment foxes, who immediately dug everything in that one single bed every other night for a couple weeks!).

We found a shed and fence panels on offer on Freecycle and put those up.  As the beds were cleared one after the other , we planted some purple sprouting broccoli, perpetual spinach, and parsnips; we also just removed our (inherited) dahlias after the first frost.  We knew we had quite a few dahlias, but when clearing the beds, we ended up with 20 plants we hope will regrow next year!

What jobs have you been doing on the allotment this month?

This month has been clearing the remaining beds for the over winter plants; planted out all of our over wintering garlic and popped in some radicchio, we also finished putting up the last of the fence panels and hope to finish shelves in the shed in the next few weeks.

What crop has done well this year?

This year, the crop that did the best was our inherited dahlias followed closely by our green beans – next year will hopefully have a wider variety!

What are you planning to grow next season?

Along with the dahlias, we’re also hoping the existing gooseberry and raspberries plants will also come back next year along with a few asparagus plants we know are lurking in one bed!  We are looking to plant onions,  leeks and to get a few squash plants on the go, and maybe even some flint corn.

What’s your favourite recipe to make with your harvest?

Our overwinter cabbage is doing amazingly well, so we’ve been experimenting with different recipes.  Our all time favourite so far is cabbasta – cabbage with pasta – with a simple and easy recipe.  (https://www.abelandcole.co.uk/recipes/cabbasta-anyone)

In addition to gardening of course, do you have any other hobbies or skills?

Dino cycles and Sarah runs marathons and also loves website design (and redesigned the BHAS website earlier this summer).