Revitalising the Allotments – April 2020

Pests and Diseases
I promise you this will not be another opportunity to go on about Coronavirus. We’ve had too much of that recently. This is a Covid 19 free area!

Pests and diseases trouble plants just as they trouble us humans. How we tackle them is a moot point and one that has divided gardeners for many years.

Since before Roman times gardeners have used all manner of concoctions to wage war against pests and diseases in plants. We have become increasingly inventive and clever devising what appears to be foolproof remedies. However, our cleverness does not necessarily mean we’ve been equally wise; for these efficacious products can have the most devastating effect on not just the baddies that ravage our crops, but also the many beneficial insects and animals that inhabit our countryside (and more specifically our allotments and gardens).

DDT was once hailed as the wonder chemical that would solve all our horticultural and agricultural problems until it was discovered to be slowly accumulating in the stomachs of a host of creatures, including humans, and doing untold damage. That was almost fifty years ago and yet even now big agro-chemical companies (and a host of retail outlets) develop and promote a range of pesticides and herbicides that have the potential of cause untold damage to the environment. Since the millennium, there has been a massive decline in the butterfly, beetle and bee population in Europe and the UK leading to the extinction of some species. Much of that can be laid at the door of these products. Sadly, the story is replicated across the whole world. The disappearance of these vital links in the chain of life means that pollination is threatened. No pollination, no food!

There is however some good to emerge from this. We are seeing herbicides and pesticides being used by fewer gardeners and allotmenteers as they discover more environmentally sustainable ways of controlling pests and diseases. Consumer pressure has led to this year seeing a ban on all slug pellets containing the highly toxic chemical metaldehyde. Fear not gardeners, an equally effective organic pellet using ferric phosphate will be available as a replacement.

Many alternative remedies are cheaper and have the added benefit of enhancing what and how we grow. Stop the pests from getting to your crops in the first place by using a barrier and growing sturdier plants. You might ask how that is done and of course you’ll probably guess, from previous articles, that the answer lies in homemade compost. This will develop good, fertile soil. Look after your soil and it will look after your plant

Getting Ready to Grow
The recent advice to avoid social gatherings does not mean you can’t go to the allotment and begin sowing and planting. What better way to take exercise and yet still maintain social distancing. A friendly wave from a neighbouring plot is breaking no rule.

It has been so heartening to see so many villagers at work.

The Community Orchard, Jam Patch and Cut Flower Beds
Work continues in these areas and we’ve had some tremendous help from villagers on our volunteer days held on Saturdays in March. The information signs we reported on in our last two articles are now in place and look very impressive. Hopefully they’ll also be of use for people finding their way around the allotments. A big thank you goes to Tom Dodd for his design work, to the volunteers who erected them and to Ed Smith from the Telegraph Hill Shoot in Daventry who provided the posts.

We would be very grateful if any gardeners who still have spare perennials or shrubs could donate those for our cutting garden. This will ultimately become a free resource for the village. How much nicer to be able to pick locally grown flowers than buy them at extortionate prices from the filling station forecourt.

Our first crop of rhubarb is coming to fruition and visitors to the jam patch are welcome to pick some for themselves.

Equipment
A range of equipment is 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 Bill Corner (sue.corner@sky.com 01327 342124), Lynda Eales (01327 341707) or Mike Langrish langrish_heyford@hotmail.com 01327341390). We can ensure that you get the equipment you require at a mutually convenient time.

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.

Mike Langrish 

For England is not flag or Empire, it is not money and it is not blood.
It’s limestone gorge and granite fell, it’s Wealden clay and Severn mud,
It’s blackbird singing from the May tree, lark ascending through the scales,
Robin watching from your spade and English earth beneath your nails.

Heyford Gardening Club – March 2020

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Our February meeting featured the welcome return of Liz Taylor of the Woodland Trust who explained the different types of natural woodland to be found in Britain and their associated flora. She also demonstrated how to tell apart the two types of oak to be found here (sessile oaks have stalked leaves; pedunculate oaks have stalked acorns).

We also held our annual arts and crafts show, which again highlighted the range of talent amongst our members.

The photograph section was won by Mike Langrish, Tom Dodd came second and Tony Clewett third.

Philip Reeve won the visual art section with an exquisite miniature painting of a heron, Jean Spokes’ cross-stitch took second place and I managed a third place.

The craft section was won by Mary Newstead with an embroidered bag, Chris West got second with a quilted wreath, and Lynn Ashbee took third with her cupcake quilt.

Our next meeting will be on the 9th March when we will have a talk on snowdrops from Anita Thorp. The evening will also feature the annual daffodil and narcissus show (assuming that there are still daffodils in our gardens by then!).

I am writing this article whilst the second storm in two weeks is lashing the trees. We have already had a very wet winter although there has been little frost so far. Snowdrops are already over and daffodils are fully out and I notice buds nearly bursting on our lilac. This leaves a dilemma, if the season is so advanced, should I get on sowing seeds now to get an early start, or are we likely to get cold weather in the weeks to come? The soil is so wet now that, even without further rain, it will take a while to dry out so perhaps it would be wise to wait a while.

Speaking of plants in pots, I planted some anemone corms in pans in the greenhouse in the autumn, but some creature has been digging in the pans and nipping the developing buds off, I’m not sure whether this is due to mice or renegade sparrows, but it’s all very frustrating.

Things to do in March
1. Top dress container grown plants with fresh compost
2. Prune roses
3. Lift and divide crowded perennials.

Mark Newstead

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www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Village Hall – News – November 2019

Pantomime
Tickets are selling well for ‘Dick Whittington’ to be presented in the Village Hall on
Sunday 29th December at 2pm. Prices are £9 for adults and £3 for accompanied
children up to age 11. They can be purchased from Richard: 01327 341 044 or
07801 862 140, or Alwyne: 01327 340 803.

Last year they sold out, leaving some people disappointed. Make sure you don’t
miss out this year. If you would like to donate a raffle prize, either for an adult or
child, ring Alwyne.

New Welcome Sign
Thanks to the efforts of Tom Dodd and Arthur Hanley, a splendid new decorated
and illuminated sign has been mounted in the entrance foyer.

Christmas Decorations
The village hall will be decorated on Sunday 17 November at 2.30pm in readiness
for this year’s seasonal festivities. If anyone fancies giving a hand, tea, coffee and
chocolate biscuits will be on tap.

Alwyne Wilson

Nether_Heyford_Village_Hall_Book_2019

Village Hall – News – October 2019

Pantomime
Following the ‘packed house’ success of last year’s pantomime, we are looking forward to this year’s production: ‘Dick Whittington’ to be presented by The Looking Glass Theatre Company in the Village Hall on Sunday 29th December at 2pm. We’re already receiving requests for tickets so we advise you to book early before they sell out again. Tickets – £9 for adults, £3 for children up to age 11. They can be purchased from:

Richard 01327 341044 or 07801 862 140, Alwyne 01327 340803.

Fete Photographs
Tom Dodd, our voluntary photographer has produced a large, colourful montage of this year’s fete, which is now displayed in the village hall. He’s happy to provide individual photographs – no charge but a donation to the fete funds would be welcomed. Contact him on: 07887 743157.

Village Hall Secretary
Following our recent invitation for a new Secretary, we are delighted to welcome two: Judith Cattermole as management committee secretary, and Pat Paterson as our new special events secretary. As next year sees the 60th anniversary of the building of the village hall, we expect to be even busier than usual, so our two new secretaries will make a valuable contribution to our team.

Alwyne Wilson

Heyford Gardening Club – May 2019

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

At our April meeting we expected to welcome the return of Patsy Rayner, but unfortunately due to a family illness she was unable to attend so Mike Langrish and Tom Dodd put together a presentation on the Community Orchard and the improvements that have been made (and are still being made) to Heyford’s allotments.

The evening also featured our annual tulip bench show. For once the weather has been good for us and there were plenty of entries with some impressive blooms on show.

The large flowered section was won by Pauline Guglielmi, John Dunkley came second and John Wilson came third.

The Small flowered section was won jointly by John Dunkley and Val Jackson, and Jill Langrish got third place.

Our next meeting will be on 13th May when someone from Branch Out MK will talk to us about “Helping People to Grow Through Gardening”.

April is the cruellest month…
At time of writing we’ve just experienced an odd week of weather. After the unseasonable warmth in February the last few days have featured nightly frosts and sunny periods with cold air. These sort of conditions can be very challenging for gardeners damaging fruit blossom and early flowers; it has even pinched shoots of ivy and box. If you like me are growing plants in an unheated greenhouse it is important to keep one eye on the weather all the time as failing to close the house up at night can risk losing tender plants to cold while not opening them during sunny spells can cause the temperature inside to soar to damaging levels despite the chilliness outside. Apparently next week will be much warmer; perhaps I will be able to start sowing the tender crops for the summer after all.

Some Things to do in May
1 Repot cacti, succulents and house plants.
2 Divide and replant spring flowering bulbs
3 Keep a watch for lily beetles and viburnum beetles

Mark Newstead

www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments