Gardening Blog May 2017

May 08 2017

HI! Welcome to Bristol East Allotments Association. We’d like to tell you a little bit about ourselves. As an Association we are a group of seven allotment sites that vary in size, all are situated within the St George area

HI! Welcome to Bristol East Allotments Association. We’d like to tell you a little bit about ourselves. As an Association we are a group of seven allotment sites that vary in size, all are situated within the St George area. Our office and allotment shop, known as the Trading Post are in Nicholas Lane, BS5 8RU, and are open from 9am to 12.30pm Saturdays and Sundays.

Whilst the office is available for plot enquiries the shop is always busy serving our allotment holders with a wide range of composts, fertilizers, useful sundries and green manure seeds which many of us use to increase soil fertility, but more on that later in this report. We also welcome others to join us as associate members for a nominal annual fee, which we think can easily be recouped by the savings on your first visit to our shop, why not give us try next time you are passing? 

So, what are we up to? Well April has been a fantastic month, as our picture above shows with fruit trees coming into full blossom on one of our plots, everyone seems to be planting seed potatoes and greenhouse shelves are filling up with seed trays. But there is some bad news! Apparently, because we’ve had another mild winter slugs are expected to be abundance this summer, 500 billion of them in fact. Yes I did say billion that really is a lot, hope they’re not all on my plot.

But nature has a way of helping us gardeners (sometimes). Frogs in our wildlife pond have delivered a plentiful supply of tadpoles during the last few weeks as you can see in the photo. Hopefully, once these little chaps grow their legs they’ll be off helping us keep the slug population down a little.

 

As many will know, the world’s largest gardening event, Chelsea Flower Show, takes place during the next few weeks. To coincide with this and the extensive coverage of the show on television and BBC Radio Two’s morning programme with Chris Evans, our members at Hillside Allotments agreed it would be the best time to hold a charity plant sale at St Peter’s Hospice shop in the High Street, Hanham. The plot holders have been busy growing a range of flower and veg plants from seed and every penny they raise will go directly to the Hospice. Many traders in Hanham have supported the growers by sponsoring leaflets to advertise the sale which is on Saturday May 27 from 9am. Please call in to the shops in the High Street and pick up a leaflet if you’d like to know more or get in touch with us. And if you can put one of our flyers up on your noticeboard at work or school we’ll get some delivered to you.

It looks like the sale could be really popular, so if your garden needs a little inspiration or you want a few veg plants to try your hand at make a note of the date and help support a very worthwhile cause, but be there as early as you can!  

For most of us, popping down to the allotment means a few a few minutes’ walk or a short drive in the car. So crossing the English Channel for an hour or two on the plot seems out of the question for most of us! But during a recent shopping trip to France we couldn’t resist stopping off at some nearby allotments after visiting a large supermarket on the outskirts of Calais. Situated in an ideal spot next to an inlet of the English Channel the air at Les Jardins Familiaux was fresh and clean with about 60 plots. 

I was met by a local plot holder who was intrigued to say the least why this mad Englishman was peering over the fence at his allotment. ‘Bonjour’ I greeted him. ‘Parlez vous Anglais?’ I asked as unfortunately my French vocabulary is rather limited. ‘Non, Non’ he replied. This is going to be difficult I thought.

However, I managed to explain that having an allotment in England I was interested to see their plots and he gladly invited me to take a look around. At least I didn’t get arrested. The soil seemed light and sandy as you might expect being near the sea and the plots appeared to be in pairs which were all bounded by low hedges for protection of plants from the prevailing wind. Each pair of plots had uniformed semi-detached sheds (very des res), mostly with two huge 500L water butts attached, no mains water here.

‘Mes pommes de terre’ my new found friend said as he pointed to his Charlotte potatoes, all superbly earthed up and next to his ‘Oignons et carottes’. After I thanked him for his time we started our journey back along the motorway for the ferry back to Dover where many, many more allotments are situated. It’s quite evident our French neighbours are equally keen gardeners. Anyone interested in a day’s shopping in France with a slight twist?

As mentioned earlier, many of our members use green manures to improve the structure and fertility of soil, they can also be used as a natural way to blanket cover bare soil and suppress weed growth whilst the ground is not in use rather than use plastic sheeting. Mustard (Agricultural White) for example, is very fast growing reaching as much as 90cm tall and can be sown from March to September. When fully matured the plants are simply cut down, chopped with a spade and dug back into the ground as quickly as possible so the gases it releases will help keep harmful soil diseases down. Alternatively, the abundant lush growth is useful for adding to your compost bin mix. 

Green Manures are a fascinating subject and worth considering, but we’ve only highlighted one variety here, there are several others for soil improvement which we’ll come back to in later reports, so please keeping checking with us.

Just as this letter was being written our asparagus was just coming into harvest and next month we’ll have an update of how successful our crop has been this Spring, so please look out for that. In the meantime if you would like to get in touch with us our email address is beaanews@gmail.com or you can visit us at www.bristoleastallotments.com.