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 https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/leafmould
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.
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
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.
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.
Please take great care and continue to follow social distancing guidelines to help control the spread of coronavirus and check GOV.uk 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.
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
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!
Important: members are warned not to bring to the allotments any grass clippings from lawns that have been treated with products containing Aminopyralid or Clopyralid herbicide in the previous year. Such products selectively kill broadleafed weeds that are growing in grass. Unfortunately these Aminopyralid and Clopyralid herbicides are persistent, and can kill plants that are later given compost made from grass that has been treated with them. Please either ask your lawn care company to confirm that their products don’t contain Aminopyralid or Clopyralid, or check on the RHS list of products, link 2 below.
1. RHS advice about the issue of Aminopyralid and Clopyralid poisoining compost
2. RHS list of products containing Aminopyralid or Clopyralid
3. Article about this problem affecting gardeners in the USA
Best of all, of course, go organic in your garden, and stop using weedkillers.
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 http://helpahedgehog.org .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!!