All posts by Lesley

Annual Allotment Get Together: POSTPONED

Our Annual 2022 Get Together “Bugs, Bees and Broccoli” has been postponed due to the extreme temperatures experienced this weekend. There is no shade for a safe public gathering on the allotments, so we will re-convene when the weather cools down and when the speakers are next available. We think this will be in October – also Harvest Festival  and Apple Day time- watch this for information.

Allotment holders have been observing wildlife and Tony Perry has done a moth survey. His survey is amazing. See the display he prepared for our event.

Good Gardening to all in 2022…Brilliant Leaf Mould

There are several bags of leaf mould FREE for allotment holders on the BCCS site – fill your wheelbarrow and help the fungi in the soil.

What is leaf mould good for?  Garden Organic has an excellent page of information on leaf mould

Anecdotally I always use leaf mould on my onions – they have always grown better when mulched with leaf mould. Leaf mould has few nutrients but it is likely the moisture retention qualities that help vegetables especially during dry periods.

December 5th World Soil Day

How can we care for our soils now and keep the Life in our Soil healthy and abundant? Care for your allotment plot – minimise your digging (less hard work),  Mulch Mulch Mulch  and use leaf mould to encourage beetles and the other wonderful scrabblers, dabblers and activists in the soil web

Autumn Celebrations on the Community Orchard

On our Apple Day of 17th October we gathered in glorious sunshine to weed and mulch, and welcome Pamela Heathcote-Amery, Heather Amery’s partner, to plant a celebration tree in memory of Heather A “Sweet Damson”had been chosen and we cracked a bottle of Heather’s ‘fizz’ (it had been kept in the allotment hut since the last gathering Heather took part in!) over the tree. Pamela had kindly been brought by her nice Nicky. Pamela said a few words , and we all remembered Heather’s joyous contribution every year to the community orchard. We enjoyed apple cakes, tea and conversation.

The apple crop has been good this year so the sweet and gorgeous Lodgemoor Non-Pareil and Chaceley King apples are still on offer to allotment holders and community orchard members.

Annual Get Together 2021 “Plotting for the Future”

Allotment holders celebrated National Allotments Week 2021 on Saturday 14th August, exploring the contribution allotments CAN make to our future. A few members of Bisley Community Orchard and from BisCAN ‘s “Biodiversity, Nature Recovery and Food Group” joined us, and we all enjoyed the workshops in brilliant sunshine: –

Andy and Jeannie, organic smallholders from Horsley (they lived in Bisley a few years ago) gave a great presentation on fermenting, pickling, canning, bottling and drying their vegetables. It’s not so difficult to have home-grown food all year –no plastic, virtually energy-free, and no waste – all good for a more sustainable food future.

Ian, BCCS Director, explained why peat should not be used for in gardening. He listed commercial outlets (on BCCS and Allotments websites) where good quality peat free compost is available (in addition to BCCS’s own peat free compost of course). Note that our own Stancombe Farm shop is now stocking Sylvagrow, a recommended peat free compost (limited supplies until next spring)

Caroline showed everyone her organic allotment designed for wildlife. Her plot, with its gorgeous display of wildflowers, demonstrates we can all grow our food – vegetables and fruit – and help nature.

The “Growers Question Time” session turned (quite rightly) into informal chats with delicious home-made cakes and tea.

This event showed that “Growing Your Own” food, on an allotment, or in your own garden, is a positive way we CAN help address Climate Change, Biodiversity and Nature’s Recovery.

Third Lockdown: TAKE CARE Social Distancing

Please take great care and continue to follow social distancing guidelines to help control the spread of coronavirus and check for the latest guidance. Please also make sure that when you enter and leave the allotment site use a hand sanitiser on the locks and gates.

Only Allotment tenants are allowed on the Chestergate Allotments site. If you see anyone else on site please ask them politely to leave the site. There are some members of the Community Orchard Group who are not allotment tenants – you will probably already know them (partly because none have dogs) so will be walking to take exercise or meditate.

Avian Flu

The Government says it is a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds.

Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from 14 December onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.

Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns. They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:

  • housing or netting all poultry and captive birds
  • cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
  • reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and using effective vermin control
  • thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle
  • keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry and captive bird housing or enclosures
  • minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds



Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity


World Soil Day 2020 (#WorldSoilDay) and its campaign “Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity” aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil biodiversity loss, increasing soil awareness and encouraging governments, organizations, communities and individuals around the world to commit to proactively improving soil health. MULCH your garden to create healthy soils, vitality in your vegetables and vitality for you!


Celebrate the super-composers”  WORMS who do all our work by joining in

The theme for the 5th annual World Earthworm Day on 21st October 2020 will be “Super Composters” – celebrating the relationship between man, waste and worms! The Earthworm Society of Britain has put together this “virtual meetup” (webinar) 2.30-4pm 21/10/20 with the Field Studies Council for those interested in learning more about vermicomposting and the important role that earthworms can play in helping us deal with our waste.

4 interesting speakers including Anna de la Vega who will talk about worm farming revolutionising global agriculture and organic waste management, helping us move towards regenerative practices that have the capacity to directly  tackle climate change and repair degraded soil.  Anna offers a global perspective, and how we can make changes at a local level through community led action and within the home.

A Healthy Environment for Hedgehogs





A good Healthy environment for Hedgehogs

A month ago two very young hedgehogs were found – they were thought to be abandoned – on the Chestergate Allotments in Bisley. They were taken to the Stroud Hedgehog Hospital founded by the Annie Parfitt .On Saturday 15th August at our annual allotment ‘get together’ (everyone social distancing!) Annie told allotment holders how allotments – and of course gardens – can easily become healthy environments for hedgehogs. She brought the two abandoned hedgehogs back, now big and healthy, and we were entranced as she released them, in the allotment hedge. She had previously checked that we don’t have badgers on the allotments. One plot holder Peter Benn has volunteered to be our Hedgehog Warden and has built hedgehog houses with old pallets and leaves, created a small pond, and keeps water bowls near the allotment water tanks filled with clean water for hedgehogs.

Annie left us with specific guidance to keep our allotment & gardens healthy for these endangered mammals:

  • No slug pellets, rat or other pest poisons
  • Make sure all gardening mesh is not left loose on the ground- it can be fatal as hedgehogs are curious creatures and get tangled (as can many wild animals – a couple of years ago an allotment holder found a huge dead grass snake in some mesh she had left on the ground – it had got completely entangled and couldn’t get out. )(Makes me think of all those miles of fishing netting left in the sea and the fate of many fish & marine animals)
  • Make gaps in hedgerows and fences between houses
  • Be a bit untidy – leave piles of wood, leaves and brash, especially in hedges

This all sounds like organic gardening!!