1 July 2023 Newsletter

Dear Plotter

A reminder that our AGM is coming up on Thursday 13th July at 8pm in the Rose Room at Swallowfield Parish Hall. An agenda will be sent separately by MailChimp.   As always, you are invited to ask questions at the meeting. If you cannot attend, you can still ask a question, which should be put in writing in advance to me. As you know, I am stepping down, having been Secretary since September 2018. At the last Committee meeting, it was decided that the Secretary’s role should be broken down as follows to make it more manageable: a Membership officer (show rounds, renewal letters and management of the waiting list); the Secretary would organise room bookings and type up the minutes, and another member would write the newsletter. Hopefully, this makes this role less daunting! (It’s not that difficult!!) We are still looking for plot holders to step up and take their turn to ensure the continuation of the allotments. Thanks are due to all those tireless committee members who are stepping down from their role. You have done a sterling job over many years!

In preparation for the submission of accounts, please would you now make any outstanding payments for manure and wood. Thank you.

We have noticed that, along with the disappearance of bricks, the new pink wheelbarrow has not been returned to the shed. If you know of its whereabouts, please return it immediately.

The Open Morning raised a total of £432. Thank you to those people who helped raise these funds. It will be up to the new committee to decide how to use them. You also can make your suggestions at the AGM. There are some new plants for sale at the end of the polytunnel including a lot of dwarf kale plants and some cabbages. Please help yourselves and make the usual donation. Thanks to Caroline on plot 5 for the additional donations!

Later this month, we are having some drainage work done to help alleviate the flooding that we experienced over the winter and spring. The nature reserve (plot 12) will be dredged down to the gravel, removing all the clay and silt to enable water to collect there and there will be some ground works done at the back of the sheds to unblock the natural flow of water. We are grateful to Deepwater for their help in this. There may be some noise and disruption but the end result should prevent flooding.
The last working party saw the burning of the bonfire, cleaning and weeding of the polytunnel, and mowing. Thank you to Tim, Linda, Duncan, Lucinda, Alison and Liz who braved the heat to finish some important jobs.

July is a main harvesting month; it’s a bit late for sowing or planting but there is still time for lettuces and salad leaves, and more sowings of fast growing peas, beetroot and carrots are possible. If you have cleared some of your early crops, you may have made space for planting out sprouts, cabbages and cauliflowers raised from seed. Of course, you’ll have to keep watering!
VEGETABLE SEEDS TO SOW: peas and French beans, kale, Kohl rabi, (winter) radishes, sprouting broccoli, Swiss chard and turnips. Sow chicory, endives, lettuces and radishes, rocket and other salad leaves and spring onions.
VEGETABLES TO PLANT OUT: Brussels sprouts, winter cabbages, autumn cauliflowers, French beans, kale, leeks and sprouting broccoli.

Pick peas and beans before they get too big and tough; pick a handful every few days and eat immediately. Keep picking individual spears of calabrese and sprouting broccoli so that they regenerate and keep on producing. Regularly lift beetroot. Cut Florence fennel bulbs with a knife about 1 inch above the surface and leave the stump in the ground. New feathery leaves should sprout which can be used in salads or stir- fries. Continue lifting garlic as leaves turn yellow and wilt. Harvest your first shallots this month after the foliage has died down.  Harvest early varieties of carrots when still young and turnips before they grow too large. Harvest broad beans when the pods have swollen and pick regularly from the base of the plant. Pick spinach leaves regularly to prevent bolting and keep watered. Let your rhubarb plants recover ; don’t pull any more. Harvest spring onions and sow some more! The first crop of celery should be ready this month; water before digging up to retain freshness. Pick cucumbers before they grow bitter.
Harvest your berries (gooseberries, currants and blueberries) when plump and shiny. Pick strawberries regularly and don’t leave mouldy or damaged fruits on the plant.

  • Water to prevent salad leaves and spinach from bolting.
  • Dry out onions and garlic by lifting the bulbs and laying them on the ground in the sun.
  • Pinch out tops of climbing beans to prevent your structure from toppling over.
  • Spray runner bean flowers in dry weather to help setting.
  • Pinch out side shoots of tomatoes and the growing tip once 4 to 5 flower trusses have formed. 
  • Feed tomatoes and peppers.
  • Earth up brassicas and potatoes. Water potatoes once the flowers appear.
  • Tidy up summer strawberries by removing dead leaves and cutting off or pegging runners to create new plants.
  • Lightly summer prune currants
  • Cut down to the ground finished summer raspberry canes.
  • Continue to tie in new shoots of blackberries.
  • Continue to check netting and keep an eye out for pests!

Best wishes for a fruitful summer!

Claire Hamilton
SPAA Secretary