Members Newsletter

  JUNE 2021

BRRR! PHEW! BRRR! PHEW!

So – April’s very hot and dry days gave way to the coldest and driest April nights on record: 22 overnight frosts compared to the usual 10-12. Then came the coldest and wettest May since Google alone knows when …. and here we all are looking at our flowers and vegetables running weeks behind normal. Even bluebells slammed on the brakes to make sure they weren’t caught out and damaged by late frosts ….

We’re confused by it all, but just imagine what our plants are making of it …… and, much, much more importantly, how insects and birds and all wildlife is coping …. if the natural world continues to get out of sync then the stark and catastrophic reality of climate change will rapidly become something we can no longer push to the back of our minds. 

But maybe, read on, we’ll soon spot some governmental action, (late, but better late than never, I hear some say ..)

SOCIETY NEWS:

A MESSAGE FROM MAL REYNOLDS: 

As your Chairman I was particularly disappointed with the decision to delay the lifting of lockdown restrictions and the continued effect on being able to hold the Society’s AGM.  We have missed two AGMs and it is my intention to hold one as soon as guidelines permit, which hopefully will be mid August.  It remains the Committee’s intention to hold a Flower and Produce Show hopefully on the 18th September so please keep that important date in your diary – and eyes peeled for a change of venue.

In addition, a social evening and hopefully an apple /pear juicing day are being planned.  

I hope that you are all keeping well and benefitting from the produce from your garden and/or allotment.  The Store continues to be open on Saturdays between 0900 and 1130 hrs and should you wish to discuss any matters I am there most of the time.

VISIT TO GEOFF HAMILTON’S BARNSDALE GARDENS: https://www.barnsdalegardens.co.uk 

These famous gardens are now open to group visits …. at the time of writing dates in August are available

If we can muster 20 visitors the entry fee will be £9.00 per head as opposed to £11.00.

The gardens are about an hour down the A1 from Lincoln – and we’d have to travel under our own steam …..

Available dates are limited so please, as a matter of some urgency, send expressions of interest to Dave Cordingley, with your anticipated numbers and contact details.

01522 523640 

07 456 607 112 (text only please) 

bobandcogs@ntlworld.com

ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE…

FROM 2024 THE SALE OF COMPOSTS CONTAINING PEAT IS DUE TO BE BANNED.

We’re told ……

Why?The world’s peatlands are a front line protector of the climate, holding, and keeping safe, more CO2 than the world’s forests – far too great a store of that damaging gas to release into the atmosphere just for the the convenience of home gardeners. 

This ban follows a 2011 government ‘voluntary target’ to eradicate peat from the amateur gardening world by 2020 – a target which the government / industry / we gardeners missed by a mile: this new commitment, however, might stick, so what’s one to do?

The advice this gardener has to offer is don’t wait until you’re forced into it, accept the challenge, buy some peat-free composts and learn how they’re different … but do your research and spend wisely: 

THIS IS DEFINITELY A CASE OF YOU’LL GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

A quantity of bottom of the market peat-free compost, (made from municipal garden waste) came our way recently. Most of the bags had to be thoroughly riddled to clear out massive amounts of plastics, glass, stone and lots and lots of assorted bamboo and other chipped but uncomposted woody materials  ….. and then, when used, the compost set like concrete, restrained germination, locked out air, locked in nitrogen and thereby pretty-well ensured failure.

A recommeneded peat-free compost bought at RHS Harlow Carr was perfect – but costlier, and there’s the rub; at the moment the best peat-free composts are dearer.

So if/when, willingly or unwillingly, you move to peat-free composts,  be aware that at the moment it’s a bit of a minefield and, if you buy cheap, be prepared for some disappointment. Spend a bit more and you can anticipate excellent results.

Most importantly, you’ll be  minimising destruction of peatlands across the globe and you’ll be helping mitigate against the climate disaster we see getting closer and closer.

In the meantime the committee take a balanced and pragmatic view and will continue to supply peat based compost for those members who wish to continue using it.  

WATER: While we’re on the subject of climate / weather / heat – if you’re an allotment tenant who uses a hosepipe then please remember that once you’re running the water, the supply down the line reduces ….

 Others need access to water too, so be fair to them and please don’t hog the supply. 

And remember sprinklers are not permitted.

SOCIETY CONSTITUTION 

The constitution can be seen on the society website:

HAPPY GARDENING …

Comfrey Tea Fertiliser

Comfrey is a fast growing herb that grows in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. It can grow up to 5 feet tall with long slender leaves, black skinned roots and clusters of purple, blue, and white flowers.

Whilst comfrey is a wonderful plant for gardeners; a word of caution, some
comfreys are difficult to control, they spread everywhere and are bets to be
avoided. The variety Bocking 14 has been tested and compared with others and found superior in every respect. It can provide a cost effective nutrient rich source of fertiliser that can be used throughout the year. Best of all, Bocking 14 is sterile. It will flower and provide nectar and pollen aplenty but will not produce viable seed and spread. Rotovate it, however, and every little piece will spring into life. Take root cuttings and pot on and you can bulk up your collection. Bocking 14 plants are available from many on line sources.


The growing of comfrey has many advantages for gardeners and whilst it can be used for animal and poultry foodstuffs the best of all is that it can provide a cost effective nutrient rich source of fertiliser that can be used throughout the gardening calendar. The leaves can also be used as a mulch, liquid feed, to boost compost and when used as a foliar spray can prevent powered mildew.


Comfrey, in permaculture terms is called a ‘dynamic accumulator’ providing all three micronutrients essential for the growth; that is nitrogen(N) phosphorous(P) and potassium(K) commonly termed NPK. In addition, it contains high levels of other important nutrients such as magnesium and calcium.

The comfrey tea making process involves the breakdown or decomposition of comfrey leaves, either shredded or whole, in water over a period of time. Eventually the breakdown will result in an extremely smelly greenish brown slurry. Once complete the decomposed leaves which may be place on the compost heap or used as a mulch.


Dynamic Accumulator
Dynamic accumulators is a term used in
the permaculture and organic growing
literature to indicate those deep rooted
plants that gather certain minerals or
nutrients from deep within the soil and
store them in a more biodegradable
form and in high concentration in their
leaves. These can be used as a source of
fertiliser or mulch.

Useful Information
1lb = 454grams 1kg = 2.2lbs
1litre = 1.75 pints 1gallon = 4.55 litres
1litre = 1000 cubic centimeters
1gallon = 4550 cubic centimeters

Ratio of one gallon of water to half a pound of leaves. e.g. fill a 5 gallon bucket with water and 2.5lbs of comfrey leaves

The longer the leaves are steeped in water the stronger the resulting tea. Normally, between two and six weeks will provide a good strength of tea which needs to be diluted before use. Depending on the method used for steeping the leaves the resulting tea can be stored in screw-top bottles for use later.


Steeping Methods:
There are several methods of steeping the leaves to obtain the fertiliser the most common is to place the leaves directly into a bucket. The problem with this is that it is a messy job separating the decaying leaves in solution. Placing the leaves in a hessian sack will make this easier. Alternatively; one may use a barrel/container with a tap at the bottom. Using this method and continually adding water and leaves provides a regular supply of fertiliser.
The important that the leaves are placed in a hessian sack. A quick steeping method similar to brewing tea is to pour boiling water over the leaves
and leave for around 24 hours. Remember, to place a lid on the container whatever method is used.

TIPS:

  1. As the comfrey decomposes it smells atrocious, much like raw sewerage and it is necessary to cover to contain the smell and prevent an invasion of flies.
  2. Put the shredded leaves and a hessian sack so that the decomposed leaves do not block the holes or tap depending on the method used.
  3. Dilute the tea before feeding to plants and do not feeding to seedlings. As a guide the darker the tea the more it should be diluted.
  4. The tea makes a ready to use liquid feed for most vegetables and an ideal
    substitute for commercial tomato feed (except you might need to add a teaspoon of
    Epsom salts per 5 litres to provide magnesium.
  5. When handling comfrey leaves one should wear gloves as they may cause irritation.
  6. Further reading:
    Link: https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/comfrey

Jobs for the month – April

Now that we approach the start of Spring there is plenty to do in the garden or on the allotment.

A busy month for both sowing seeds under glass and planting out hardened plants. Still the possibility of frost until the end of the month. Final preparation of vegetable beds and continue to inspect fruit trees for disease etc.

This month’s saying: ‘Hoe when you can’t see a weed and one will never see a weed.’

Seeds to be sown – Indoors Planting Out Harvest Activity
Cabbage,
Broccoli, Sprouts, Cauliflowers, Kohl Rabi, Swede, Parsnips, Kale, Carrots, Leeks, Courgettes, Cumbers, Peas, French Beans, Runner Beans, Broad Beans, Salad Leaves, Radish, Rocket, Spinach, Beetroot, Chard, Pumpkins, Marrows, Tomatoes, Squash, Fennel, Sweet Corn.
Maincrop Potatoes, Cabbages, Beans, Peas. Those vegetables raised in the greenhouse/ Poly tunnel in pots. Last chance to plant out onions /Shallots. Artichokes, Asparagus Early Peas, Rhubarb, continue to harvest brassicas such as Broccoli, Spring Cabbages, Cauliflowers, Kale, Lettuce, Salad Leaves Spinach and Swiss Chard. Greenhouse grown potatoes. Final digging/ rotavating vegetable beds. Preparation of Runner bean trench. Harden off small plants. Continue weeding.
Seeds to be sown direct to soilFRUIT