Revitalising the Allotments – February 2020

Weather

It’s soggy on the allotments at the moment and too cold to do much sowing of seed, although bare root fruit bushes and trees can be planted, as long as there is no frost in the ground. It is also the perfect time to prune bushes and trees but plums, cherries and other stone fruit should not be touched until April as they are susceptible to a fungal disease called “silver leaf” if cut during the winter.

If you grow rhubarb you can also cover a few crowns with an old bucket. This will force the rhubarb to seek light and in a month or so you should have beautifully pale but succulent fruit to pick.

If that doesn’t give the allotmenteer or fruit and veg gardener enough to do, these early months of the year are a good time to do structural work such as building compost bins or raised beds.

The Community Orchard, Jam Patch and Cut Flower Beds

These community areas go from strength to strength, although the prospect of carrying out our first major prune is a little daunting. The trees have grown well but if we want them to thrive and take on the attractive shape that marks out a really productive tree, they need some fundamental cutting back. If it looks as though someone has given our young trees a serious haircut, it is all for their good. It means that we should all have more succulent fruit to pick in the years to come.

Several volunteers have recently brushed up their pruning skill by attending fruit tree pruning courses at Waterperry Gardens and with Andy Howard, from the Heritage Fruit Tree Company.

The Jam Patch is looking good and there are now three rows of raspberries, two beds of strawberries and a good range of currant and gooseberry bushes. Once they begin to fruit later this year we will let you know so that you can come and “pick your own”. Depending on how well things progress with the cut-flower beds we are also hopeful that villagers will be able to pick some flowers for themselves. Issues surrounding imported flowers, their carbon footprint and bio-security have led many people to consider the virtues of homegrown flowers.

If, when sorting our their gardens this Spring, any villagers find they have surplus plants, tubers or bulbs, we would be most grateful if they could consider us before disposing of them. Please contact one of the numbers below.

Signs

Further information about what is available and where to find things will be signposted in the next few months. We will be installing a number of attractive notice boards around the allotment making it clear what is a community resource and what is privately owned. Goodwill and respect will be important if our venture is to succeed.

Help

We have a small band of volunteers working on the community aspect of the allotments but are keen to enlist as many additional helpers as possible. This can involve heavier, more labour intensive activities such as digging and clearing, or lighter, low level work such as removing the weeds from around the fruit trees. As an example, if everyone visiting the allotment were able to pull up a dozen shallow rooted weeds from the bark chippings surrounding each tree, it would save a small group of people many hours of work.

A noticeboard outlining the range of different jobs to be done will be attached to the shed situated in the middle of the allotment site. We would like the community aspect of the allotment to be as inclusive as possible and although some people are able to give more time than others, it is, as a certain supermarket says, a case of “every little helps”.

Equipment

A range of equipment is now available for allotment holders to borrow when working on the allotment site, this includes mowers, rotavators, wheelbarrows, brooms and watering cans. Many people will own some or all of the above, but for those who wish to get access to such equipment, please contact either Bill Corner (sue.corner@sky.com 01327 342124) or Mike Langrish 01327 341390). We can ensure that you get the equipment you require at a mutually convenient time.

Although it could not be described as “equipment”, we also have a large pile of good quality topsoil available for allotmenteers to use on raised beds or for topping up existing areas of their allotment. This can be found in one corner of the orchard – you can’t miss it at the moment as it is many barrow loads tall! Please help yourself.

Allotment Holders

As always, if you are considering growing your own fruit and veg and you want to try a small tester plot, or something larger, here are the usual telephone contacts: Sue Corner on 01327 342124 or Lynda Eales on 01327 341707.

As the soils warms up and the evenings get lighter, now is the time to give it a go – and it is cheaper than the gym! They’d love to hear from you.

Mike Langrish

Heyford Gardening Club – February 2020

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

We held our AGM at our January meeting at which Mike Langrish stepped down for a well deserved rest after ten years as our Chairman. Avril Minchin now takes over the helm for a year which looks to be full of exciting talks and events. We also held a competition for the best winter arrangement which was won by Chris Watts. Looking at the offerings on display our gardens are full of colour and interest even in midwinter.

After everybody had filled up with wine and cheese, I was allowed to update them on the progress on our wildlife area.

Our next meeting will be on the 10th February when we will welcome Liz Taylor of the Woodland Trust who will talk to us about woodland flora. We will also hold our annual Art and Craft competition; the classes will be

A photograph (on a theme to be decided)
A piece of visual art in any medium
An item of craft work.

Programme for rest of the year
March 9th: Anita Thorp: Snowdrops Mini Show – Daffodils
April 6th *: Clare Price: Propagation; Mini Show Tulips
May 11th: John Lee; Penstemons; Seed Swap ; Mini Show of Spring Flowers
June 8th: Patsy Raynor: Plants in Literature and Anecdote; Mini Show Roses
June 20th: Village Hall Fete
July 13th: Summer Party
September 14th: Autumn Show
October 12th: Philip Aubury: Garden Ponds
November 9th: Plant Swap
December 14th: Christmas Tree Festival
*(NB a week early due to Easter)

Things to do in February
1. Plant bulbs in pots for the summer
2. Plant bare root trees and shrubs
3. Sow broad beans and sweet peas.

Mark Newstead

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www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Nether Heyford Community Wildlife Area – February 2020

View from The Wildlife Patch

Well, 2019 ended very wet and 2020 has begun just as wet. This has meant that not much work has been done on the patch since Autumn last year. Before the rain came we did put the pond in place and fill it with water. However, there is still some tidying up to do round the pond edge and the pond needs planting ready for use by frogs etc. We will choose plants which provide habitats that attract species already known in the area or even attract new species. Although we have still to make a detailed list of what these plants will be. We will mostly use plants that are known to grow in the wild locally, then after establishing them in the pond, allow it all to develop with as little intervention as possible.

On the rest of the patch, Mary and Mark have sown most of the available ground with a wildflower and grass mixture that should form a sward similar to that which would have grown in antiquity and still exists in some parts of the county. It is hoped by doing this we we will encourage more species to make a home in Nether Heyford. There is also another plot planted with the “Cornfield Annual” mixture that was so successful in providing pollen as food for a variety insects last year.

What have we learned in 2019? One lesson for me has been to be prepared to change plans with new knowledge. For instance the original plan was to have a lot of flower rich grass that we could mow once a year as in many wildlife reserves. Our insect count demonstrated that long unmown grass with flower rich grassland easily available is much more conducive to what we want to achieve. Another surprise was when our insect recording (especially Butterflies and moths) demonstrated that southern species are colonising suitable habitat well to The North of their previous strongholds. We recorded a Jersey Tiger Moth and a Cream Spot Tiger Moth. Both are unmistakable large, showy, southern moths that are steadily moving North as our climate warms up. I logged a Dusky Sallow Moth which is a new moth to me and is similarly moving extending it’s range to the North.

The identification and recording of wild species is major part of our work on the patch and is the main way that we gauge success or otherwise of the project. This work can be very time consuming yet exciting and rewarding. Mary and Mark have done wonderful job of recording Bees, Wasps, Beetles, Flowers etc.. I have recorded a few Moths, Woodlice and Molluscs. There is still much work to be done in 2020.

We also have a target to involve local children in the project but have yet to decide on what form this work will take.

Dave Musson

Parish Council – December 2019 Meeting

Nether_Heyford_Parish_Council_2019

The December meeting was held as normal on Monday 6th in the  Baptist Chapel Schoolroom.

Like all Council meetings it was open to the public.

Reports from the District and County Councillors: A report from Cllr Brown was read out, explaining that progress towards Unitary authorities was on hold due to the current political situation. He also gave details of NCC’s draft budget consultation. Cllr PB also referred to the uncertainty regarding the initiation of the Unitaries because of the General Election. He gave details of the refuse collections over the holiday period.

Public Participation: Mrs Matthews expressed concerns over the situation regarding flooding in Watery Lane and in support of the proposals of the highways department to alleviate it.

PCSO:  was felt to be doing a good job, and was visible and friendly.

Streetlights: Lights outside the Baptist Chapel, 15 watery lane, between Bliss Close and the Luddle, and Rolfe Cresc. all to be reported as out.

Roads and pavements: Poor condition generally. Conifers in South View had been cut.

The Green and Play Area: The Green was felt to be in good order. CK felt more trees were needed, AW wondered whether sponsoring would be popular. Play Area inspected and no problems.

Playing Fields: Netball Court had been started.

Trees: Churchyard and Green pollarding to be done in early New Year.

Allotments: Wildlife area progressing well. Pond being developed. 5 Allotments free.

Footpaths: Very muddy in the exceptionally wet weather.

Churchyard: Hedges trimmed, wall in good order.

Canal: MB reported the dog mess situation had improved.

Joint Burial Board: Fallon name plate details to be kept on file. 3 recent interments.

Youth Club: All going well. PCSO had visited to introduce himself.

Defibrillators: Both checked and in order.

To reconsider the situation regarding kerbs in Watery Lane. Discussion took place about the reasons for the problems in Watery Lane and about the proposed solutions from Highways, who recommended raising the dropped kerbs on the residential side of the road opposite the allotments, and dropping the kerb on the allotments side by 1 ½ – 2 inches over a 3 metre length. Highways have the funding to do the work. Resolved To support the Highways plan.
Resolved. To purchase a Sand Bin for placing in the area, and later to purchase sand and bags when it is installed.

To consider the provision of an office. This was a long term project, deferred for the present.

Church roof/Alarm. Council considered a contribution towards funding for a replacement steel roof, and an alarm system. It was felt an immediate contribution could be made, and further assistance given if required. Resolved. £1000 to be contributed towards the replacement roofing.

To consider removing the Memorial Green hedge. Resolved. To remove the hedge.

To consider signing the Armed Forces covenant. Resolved. To sign the covenant.

Grants Policy – to adopt. Deferred.

Neighbourhood Plan – No report on progress due to the illness of Mrs Corner.

To consider the recommendations of the Finance committee regarding the 2020/21 Precept. In light of the decisions at the meeting it was felt better to defer acceptance of the Finance Committee recommendations until January.

ACRE Village Awards 2020 – Resolved. To support the Village Hall Management application to be put in by Alwyne Wilson.

PDF of Full Minutes December 2019

Reporting Highway and Footpath Issues. The Clerk will report issues that Council is made aware of, but Council would encourage residents to use the FixMyStreet service to report issues themselves as there will then be no time lag and first-hand reports are almost always better than 2nd or 3rd hand reports. The service can be found here: www.fixmystreet.com 

It is easy to use; you can have your own account and can check up on any issues you have reported.

Council meetings take place on the first Monday of each month (unless there is a Bank Holiday)

Clerk to the Parish Council: Guy Ravine, c/o Old Dairy Farm, Upper Stowe, Weedon, Northamptonshire, NN7 4SH
Telephone: 07935 931787
Email: netherheyfordparishcouncil@gmail.com

Next Meeting
The next Parish Council meeting will be on the first Monday of the month at the Baptist Chapel Schoolroom at 7.30 pm and is, like all Parish Council meetings, open to all Parishioners.

For further useful information about Nether Heyford Parish Council and full contact details for the clerk and the councillors please visit our Nether Heyford Parish Council page.

Parish Council – November 2019 Meeting

Nether_Heyford_Parish_Council_2019

The November 4th meeting was held as normal in the  Baptist Chapel Schoolroom.

Like all Council meetings it was open to the public.

Flooding: We have been subject to heavy rain again, and the village has largely escaped the problems it has caused elsewhere in the County, and other parts of the Country. The lane between the Heyfords had to be closed for a time, and while that is inconvenient it is better to have the water there than elsewhere in the village.

Public Participation: Jo Dixon informed Council that the Tennis Club was fundraising towards a target, and had been applying to Sport England for funding, but that they wanted to deal with the owners of the land, so she asked Council whether they would accept contact from Sport England.

Mrs Reeves felt that Council should thank Mr Arnold for all his efforts on behalf of the village in regard to flood alleviation. The Chair thanked Mr Arnold on behalf of the Parish Council. Mr Arnold said that a great deal of work had been done, and that it had helped improve the situation regarding flooding.

Reports: Roads and pavements. The sign on Hillside road by the Green had been knocked over. Clerk to follow up regarding the signs that need painting.

The Green and Play Area: It was felt that the hedge on the Memorial Green should either be replanted or removed as it was in poor condition. Decision deferred to the next meeting.

It was resolved to allow the Heyford Singers to hold “Carols on the Green” on the Green in December, and resolved to give a grant towards expenses to the Heyford singers.

The Fair was supposed to be coming in September but had not done because of poor weather.

Playing Fields: It was resolved that Council to approach Sport England on behalf of
the Tennis Club, and to accept funding.

Trees: The hedge in the jitty between the Memorial Green and Church Street was in need of attention. It would be checked to see who owns it.

Allotments: A report on expenditure was given and additional funding requested in next years precept. Mr Thorneycroft had asked for assurances that schoolchildren would be allowed to enter the new playing field through the allotments and was concerned that a gate had been chained and padlocked. It was not clear who had done this. The hedge between the water pumping station and the allotments was in need of attention.

Canal: It was reported that volunteers were doing many minor jobs.

Youth Club: to seek Quotes for external lighting so children could stay outside longer.

Defibrillators: In good order.

Neighbourhood Plan: A report on expenditure was given and a request for additional funding made to cover work on site assessment. Any money left over would be returned.

The Housing Needs survey would be distributed shortly, with a return date of 29th November. Part 1 would be filled in by all, Part 2 would be for those who intended to move or downsize in the next 5 years.

Precept Meeting: will take place on November 28th and set the budget for the next
financial year. Village organisations wishing to apply for funding must apply by
November 25th at the latest.

Reporting Highway and Footpath Issues. The Clerk will report issues that Council is made aware of, but Council would encourage residents to use the FixMyStreet service to report issues themselves as there will then be no time lag and first-hand reports are almost always better than 2nd or 3rd hand reports. The service can be found here: www.fixmystreet.com 

It is easy to use; you can have your own account and can check up on any issues you have reported.

Council meetings take place on the first Monday of each month (unless there is a Bank Holiday)

Clerk to the Parish Council: Guy Ravine, c/o Old Dairy Farm, Upper Stowe, Weedon, Northamptonshire, NN7 4SH
Telephone: 07935 931787
Email: netherheyfordparishcouncil@gmail.com

Next Meeting
The next Parish Council meeting will be on the first Monday of the month at the Baptist Chapel Schoolroom at 7.30 pm and is, like all Parish Council meetings, open to all Parishioners.

For further useful information about Nether Heyford Parish Council and full contact details for the clerk and the councillors please visit our Nether Heyford Parish Council page.

Revitalising the Allotments – December 2019

Weather
As a nation we love to talk about the weather. It’s too hot, too cold, too wet. And gardeners are even worse. However, for once it would seem as though something very odd really is going on with our weather and more particularly, our climate.

As I write this, the river is again overflowing its banks, the playing field resembles a lake and the allotments are getting soggier by the hour. The poor folk of Fishlake are trying to salvage possessions from their flooded homes and it is snowing in Gloucestershire. Just two months ago I dug down two spade depths and the ground was as dry as a bone. For two years now we have had a bumper crop of grapes, the fig tree is flourishing and we’ve just picked the last of our beefsteak tomatoes from the allotment. In the near future we are likely to reap both the benefits of a Mediterranean climate and its drawbacks (including a whole host of little beasties that do nasty things to our flora and fauna).

I guess if there is any lesson to be learnt from all this it is be ready for ‘change’ … and plant more grapes!

Trees
The community orchard goes from strength to strength and the trees we planted just a year ago are looking in good health. Several of the orchard volunteers are about to embark on pruning workshops and they will then be wielding the saw and secateurs on the trees, creating an even better, well shaped orchard for the coming Spring.

I was fascinated to read an article in the Prattler some months ago about a local resident who had successfully grown trees from fruit stones and pips. It is a fascinating thing to do but does not necessarily result in producing good ‘true’ fruit.

All named fruit trees come about as result of something called ‘grafting’. This is a process whereby a young branch from a good, productive tree is fixed onto a vigorous rootstock from the same genus i.e. apple branch to apple rootstock (you can’t mix apple and pear or plum and cherry). The two cut pieces are spliced into each other and sealed with tape during February/March. Providing the two cut surfaces meet smoothly a ‘graft’ is achieved and the result is a tree with all the fruiting characteristics of the good, productive tree and all the vigour of the rootstock. Next time you see a fruit tree, particularly a youngish one, take a look at the trunk near the ground. You’ll see a knobbly knuckle. That is the graft union. Earliest records suggest this practice has been going on for thousands of years, although it is likely that it first occurred by accident when two different trees simply rubbed against each other, wore down the bark and fused together.

Grafting isn’t really complicated and if you have the right growing material, a sharp knife and little patience you can do it yourself. Whilst the bulk of the wonderful trees in our community orchard came from specialist grower Andy Howard, several have been grafted by us. It is as cheap as chips to do … £3 to £4 for a vigorous dwarfing rootstock and the rest is free or easily available in your shed or garage. Within a year you’ll have a tree that is a metre tall!

Community Cut Flower Patch
Following on from the creation of the community orchard and jam patch, work has now started on the community flower patch. Digging was hard when it was dry and it is harder still now the ground is wet (I told you that gardeners obsess about the weather). However, the beds are starting to take shape. With the kind donation of paving slabs from our local Bowls Club we will be able to divide the beds so that flowers are easily accessible. The flowers we have on offer will be a mixture of annuals from seeds collected or donated, some perennials and both spring and summer bulbs. If you can help in any way by letting us have unwanted seed or plants you have lifted/divided, do let us know. We are keen to cover the soil; that is good for the environment and stops the weeds from having a nice bare patch to colonise.

Allotment Holders
It is so good to see that more plots on the allotments are being cultivated and that many of the new allotment holders represent the younger generation. Growing your own fruit and veg is for old and young alike and all are welcome. If you want to join us here are the usual telephone contacts: Sue Corner on 01327 342124 or Lynda Eales on 01327 341707. They’d love to hear from you.

Wildlife
Dave, Pauline, Mark and Mary, our wildlife enthusiasts, have written quite extensively in the past about the wildlife area they have created on the allotment and I have no doubt they will be keeping you all briefed about future developments. However, I must just mention the wonderful pond they are in the process of creating within this area. It is going to be a huge asset to the allotments as a whole, as good ponds encourage a host of beneficial wildlife. We look forward to our first batch of frogs, newts and toads.

Mike Langrish

“When eating a fruit, think of the person who planted the tree”
Vietnamese Proverb

Heyford Gardening Club – December 2019

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

At our November meeting we had the pleasure of a return visit from Caroline Tait formerly of Coton Manor, who has spent a year in Philadelphia in some magnificent gardens on a Horticultural Fellowship. Caroline’s account was fascinating despite the technological gremlins that tried to sabotage her pictures.

Our December meeting will be on the 14th and will feature a talk on snowdrops, to anticipate the spring, and there will be a competition for a Christmas display. The meeting will start at 8:00 pm as usual.

Disasters and triumphs

This year my leek plants grew particularly well, and knowing that they can be attacked by leek miner (which is a species of fly) I kept them covered with fine mesh netting all summer. I took this off in September, but when I pulled the first leek a few weeks later I found it full of little maggots. At this point I did what I should have done much earlier and checked the RHS website where I discovered that the fly is active in October and November. The net went back on. So far it seems the damage has been limited. Moral: know your enemy!

On a more encouraging note I had several areas where I had spread compost over vegetable beds without digging it in, mainly due to lack of energy. These areas turned out to be particularly productive despite the hot dry summer. This is a system I shall continue in future.

We tend to think of trees as being long lived organisms, but this year a white-berried rowan that I had grown from seed suddenly died after twenty years. This had happened to another rowan that we had some years before. Is this due to the rich living in Heyford? They seem to live much longer in the hills of the north and west where the soil is poor and conditions more exacting. I have noticed that the same seems to have happened to the hawthorns outside our house on the Green, which were healthy bushy trees when we arrived forty years ago, but which have dwindled sadly since.

Some Things to do in December and January

1 Keep ponds clear of ice.
2 Put out food for the wild birds
3 Buy and plant bare root trees and shrubs (if weather permits)
4 Sit indoors and decide what seeds to buy for the spring

Mark Newstead

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www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments