Introduction

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Allotments Guide.

 

Here we are at Phase 3. Gwynedd Council granted permission for an extra piece of land and after securing funding we are ready to start on Phase 3.

There is quite a lot of work to be done. To begin the Play Wall which has been fenced in needs to be taken down. The ground is quite boggy and needs proper drainage.. Water stand pipes need to be put in place. Also, sheds and polytunnels need to be bought and erected. Besides the funding for these projects there is quite a lot of organising and work to be done.   We have just been granted £1000 from the BT funding thanks to plot holder Chris and Jim.  But this will be quickly used once work commences. We are trying to access more funding for polytunnels  and sheds.

This is when joint working and responsibility as a plot holder comes in. The allotment is self-managed by the plot holders.  Basically taking on a plot you are becoming a member of the association. With that comes a responsibility to ensure not only your plot but the project as a whole continues to do well. This is achieved by us all pulling together and giving our time, skills and support when needed for the various events, meetings, accessing funding, maintenance i.e. the demolition of the  wall, drainage, stand pipes etc..

A General Overview

The Website.

www.allotmentsmaesg.co.uk

The website was launched early in 2012. It has proved a good forum for members to keep updated of events and what is happening day to day.  People on the waiting list can keep an eye on the list’s movements. The site  contains articles of events and pictures, what’s happening day to day, minutes of last meetings etc.  People who log onto the website can add posts and comments.

The White Board

We do have a notice board in the Cabin were minutes and notices and general news and even the odd gripe is posted.

The Cabin

The Cabin is where we usually hold our meetings. It is available for all plot holders use. There is a kettle and microwave.  Please remember to clear up after use.

The Community Area.

The community area is situated at the back of the Cabin. Irene keeps this area weed free and tidy.

There are raised beds which Irene and community projects use to grow in. If you wish to know more about the raised beds speak to Irene.

The pond is for everyone’s enjoyment. The local school and youth group do visit under supervision.

There are picnic benches and a pond which are there for everyone to use and enjoy.

Should you have a picnic or enjoy the space in anyway please clear up afterwards.

Composting Area.

Most plot holders have their own compost area on their plot. However, there is a communal composting area which is managed by Stuart plot 4. He has asked if plot holders are contributing to the communal compost please would you leave it to the side of the compost bins and he will sort out. Also, only leave green waste gathered on site.

Bark Chippings. We have bark chippings delivered on a regular basis. The bark heap is found next to the communal compost bins. Please feel  free to use.

Waiting List.

Only those who apply on a form provided by the association will be placed on the list. The form  must have contact details and be  signed and dated. This helps keep our records in order.  The waiting list can be viewed on the website and anyone can request to see the hardcopy.

Meetings.

The association hold monthly meetings in the spring/summer months. It is usually, the first Tuesday in the month. There may be a few meetings over the autumn/winter when needed.

All plot holders are encouraged to attend meetings as it gives you an opportunity to have your voice heard and bring new ideas to the project.  The meetings are an opportunity to express concerns, news and views regarding your plot or site as a whole.

We hold the A.G.M  every  April. This meeting is a time when we look how the previous year went and how the project may move forward.  The finances of the project are looked at re incomings and outgoings. We also nominate and vote for new committee members. The current members are:

Treasurer:  Irene Walls Community Area.

Chairperson:  Gary Sims Plot 15.  

Maintenance Manager: Stuart Babington Plot 4

Secretary:  Julie Simonsen Plot 2.

While the above hold positions of responsibility dealing with general organising of the allotment the success of the project is reliant on the community effort of all plot holders.  In that as plot holders we all hold equal responsibility to the project as a whole.

A good example of this was the laying of the drains in early 2012. Phase 2 was experiencing boggy land because of bad drainage.  Plot holders came together and did the job as a joint effort.  A plot holder provided the digger, another organised the pea gravel and labour was on hand. Oh yes and tea makers are much appreciated.  We came together as a group and the job was done in an afternoon.  If you wish to see pictures of the day visit the website.

This would be a good time to plug the next big job in hand being the bringing down of the wall which has been fenced into Phase 3.

We are planning to set a day for this sometime Jan/Feb 13.  Letters have been sent out asking all plot holders for their ideas to do this and for someone to come forward to co-ordinate the task.

However you can feel you can help it will be appreciated. With plot holders pooling resources, skills and labour we can get jobs needed done without much cost to the association.

Funding.

The association has been fortunate to have accessed quite a lot of funding over the years to enable us to purchase fencing, sheds, polytunnels , The Cabin, Pond, and the various maintenance jobs. We also use money raised from rents and fundraising we have done ourselves. We have recently been granted £1000. From BT for Phase 3. We are also trying to access funding or match funding for sheds and polytunnels. All ideas regarding accessing funding appreciated.

Organic Growing.

We do encourage plot holders to grow organically and not to use pesticides  or anything that would be detrimental  to the environment.  Growing organically is always a positive when applying for funding.  For information on organic growing look at the links page.

Events..

The association over the year has various events to raise funds or just as a get together. . We usually hold a stall at the Bangor Carnival in June. This is an opportunity to raise money for the allotments. Plot holders can help in lots of ways with this from helping on the stall, growing plants for sale and providing transport. This year we had a float in the Carnival and came 2nd   This added £50 prize money to the pot… That too was a joint effort by plot holders. We also have a bonfire and party and Halloween which is always fun. There is also a BBQ, usually at the end of summer.

General day to day running of the site.

Rent. The rent is currently £40.00 a year. Rents are collected in April. Should anyone have difficulty making a one off payment please speak to a committee member.

Constitution.  All plot holders are asked to read and sign the Associations Constitution.

Gate/Lock. There are three gates onto the site. The two gates near the car-park are used by the plot holders. The third gate facing the field is for the football teams to use. (The football teams need to access the site during the football season to access their changing facilities and toilets.)

The two gates the plot holders generally use are locked with combination locks. The combination is changed regularly. Should the lock have to be changed without much notice being given every effort is made to ensure member are made aware A.S.A.P.. It is requested a phone number is given in contact details for this purpose.

Toilet.  There is a toilet on site which is there for the use of all who come onto the site.

Do’s and Don’ts.

Gate/lock  Always lock the gate when you enter and leave the site. The combination is not to be given anyone.

Rubbish. You are responsible for your own rubbish. Please take it home. Do not leave on site or in Cabin.

Vehicles on site are a Health & Safety issue.. Please don’t bring vehicles onto site unless loading or unloading and after unloading remove as soon as possible.

The Cabin is for use of all plot holders. There is a kettle and microwave cups etc.. Please tidy up after use.

Dogs are allowed on site. But they must remain with their owners at all times and never left to wander onto anyone else’s plot.  All dog poo but be cleared up by the owner.

Sheds and Polytunnels  The up keep of polytunnels and sheds are the plot holders responsibility.

Chickens. Plot holders have over years had chickens on site. It was decided at a meeting in 2012 that should plot holders wish to keep chickens or bring any more chickens onto site they should bring that to the next meeting for discussion before going ahead.

Obstructing light.  Always consider your neighbour. When building fences sheds lean-to’s planting trees always consider your neighbour.  It is always advisable to consult with the committee and your neighbour if you are planning to erect a fence, plant a tree, or build in any way.

Equality and Diversity.  Everyone is welcome to apply for an allotment or a raised bed in the communal area.  All members and people visiting the site are treated with respect.

Health & Safety.

With regards to health & Safety  we ask if plot holders bring friends and family especially children onto site they supervise them at all times.  Plot holders should not wander onto other plots without permission of the plot holder.  We would ask everyone not to leave any toxics or sharp objects lying around the site.

New Allotment?

So where to start?

First thing to do is take a look at what weeds are growing. Nettles, docks, buttercups and daisy all indicate that your soil is acidic. Docks love damp conditions. Mares or Horses Tail (Equistum Arvense) also likes acidic soil.

You will now have an idea of what your soil is like. Weeds are a good indication of soil fertility. Lush tall weeds indicate good fertility. Pretty obvious really.

What not to do

I have seen a few people take on a plot covered in docks and happily run a rotovator over it. The perennial weeds will grow from a root fragment and so chopping them up and tilling the soil is a great way to propagate them and ensure you have a plot absolutely covered in weeds a few weeks later. At this point some give up the plot!

What to do to Clear the Plot

Hard work awaits you! First decide how much time and energy you have. There is no way I could clear a plot in one go or even one week. You can cover sections of the plot with thick plastic, carpets or tarpaulins (if you have them) and this will hold back growth until you can get to the section. If you leave an area covered for a year or so then most of the weeds will die.

Personally I do not want areas out of production that long so I just use covering as a holding method.

Now take a small section at a time, looking down 100 feet of weeds is enough to make anyone despair. I found 6 feet patches (15 feet wide) to be about right but those younger and fitter can do more.

Start by taking off the surface grasses and short rooted weeds with a spade – the resulting ‘turfs’ can be stacked to eventually form a loam. The deeper rooted perennials (like docks) need their roots digging out. These are the devil to deal with.

I just added them to a cool compost heap and they happily grew on You can try chopping them (to weaken them) and add them to a hot compost heap. Other methods which do work are drowning in a barrel of water for 3 weeks or tying up in a plastic bin bag for a few months.

Having completed clearing, I then dig over with a fork. The purpose is to break up the soil and extract any weed roots. Watch out for bindweed – this is one that spreads from a small bit of root. A small stem is probably growing from a foot of tubular white root snaking along a few inches below the surface.

One exception to the rule is Mares Tail or Horse Tail. This wonderful weed has roots that go down to hades, well 1.5 metres anyway. The only thing I know to kill them is ammonium sulphamate, a weedkiller often sold for brushwood clearance. The problem with this is that you can not plant for 8 to 12 weeks after use. It’s not approved for organic growers but it is a very safe and simple herbicide.

Moving along

As you clear a patch, consult your overall plan and prepare the ground accordingly. If it’s getting late in the season then consider a green manure. As you get towards the end of your plot you will probably find weeds sprouting behind you. They never stop! Most of these will be annual weeds whose seeds have been germinated by your clearance exposing them. Don’t worry – you can just hoe them off.

Please note this document is organic and may change with the needs and the developments of the association and its members.