Plot Blog

Plotblog provides short topical articles about Alers Road allotments, and is regularly updated by members of the site. If you would like to contribute an article please contact your committee members, Mary Harrison, on Plot 78 or John Harrison on Plot 125B.

Follow Janice and John on their transformation project of Plot 20B

June 09, 2019

Read about Janice and John's project to transform Plot 20B.

Click on the image

Aphids on Fruit Trees

February 25, 2019

Fruit trees attract aphids and plenty of them. Without ants protecting the aphids, predators would make sure there were less aphids. Over time aphids can multiply and affect the vitality of trees and reduce cropping.

A youtuber has come up with a temporary solution to begin the fight against aphids in a quick and easy way - target the ants and let the predators do their work. 

Click on the wooly aphid photo to link to the youtube video which shows the technique to use.

Bees

August 12, 2018

Bees doing their job. Click on the image to see bees in slow motion at work pollinating on our site.

Need a useful allotment calendar planning tool?

July 08, 2017

Ever wanted to produce a handy calendar of things to do and when to plant for your allotment? If you click on the example calendar on the left it will take you to a gardening site where you can select the calendar option, select your area (Bexleyheath), select the vegetables you wish to grow and, hey presto, the site will produce a useful calendar for when to sow, when to plant out, etc. for each of the vegetables selected. The calendar is adjusted to reflect the area you select, to allow for the different weather conditions across the UK.

Water

April 01, 2017

The site water system is old, although this is belied by the appearance of the modern water tanks that were fitted by Thames Water a few years ago. Replacement of the tanks was deemed necessary due to concern by Thames Water that there could be backflow from the tanks into the fresh water supply. More tanks would have been ideal, but we have the number they were willing to fit.

For a number of years Derrick Martin, the Deputy Chairman, has lovingly coaxed the antiquated system along, shutting it down each autumn and persuading it back to life in the spring. Beneath our plots the water flows through a spider’s web of black plastic piping. It is not unheard of for these to be punctured by enthusiastic plot-diggers, and this is one of the things that Derrick checks each spring, early in the morning when only the early bird plot holders are there to see. Once Derrick has checked that the mains have survived the winter without incident he turns on the site supply, keeping the pressure low at first. It is only then that any leaks will be evident by the formation of a wet patch which could be anywhere on the site. This process has to take place slowly when the soil is dry so that any leaks become visible. An undetected leak will be the cause of a large water bill.

Water butts help to keep costs down and are a useful back-up for plot holders before the water is turned on at the start of each growing season. Any shed or greenhouse can have guttering fitted and the site has a supply of guttering and fixings available to anyone who would like to fit a water butt. Plots can then be fairly self-sufficient except during periods of dry weather. The photos show the possibilities - a bank of water butts on one plot and, on another, a row of ivy ‘sculptures’, each one enclosing a water butt.

Garlic

February 07, 2017

Garlic is relatively easy to grow and if planted in well-drained soil suffers from very few pests and diseases. Many gardeners grow garlic interspersed between other crops not only because it takes up so little space but also because it is reputed to ward off a variety of unwanted pests.

Of the two types of garlic, hardneck and softneck, it is the former that is likely to do best in the UK, without protection, as these varieties are hardier than their less weather-tolerant softneck relatives. Some varieties are best suited to Autumn planting and some to Spring planting, so if you missed out in the Autumn now is the time to sow some garlic cloves, but not those sold in shops ready for cooking. Solent Wight is a good variety for Spring sowing in our climate and now is a good time to get them started as all varieties need a cold start to bulb up.

Why do we go to all this trouble for a few vegetables?

July 03, 2016

As a relatively new plot holder who is still very inexperienced in allotmenteering, many of my friends have asked me "Why on earth do you do it and go to such effort for a few vegetables? Surely it's just easier to buy the stuff?". And even my fellow plotholders have laughed at my over engineering and extravagance when it comes to building raised beds, buying new sheds, etc.

The short answer is that this new found hobby has provided me with endless, incredibly enjoyable hours pottering around my plot, and at the end of it all something tangible to savour; really fresh vegetables and fruit which surpass anything you could buy in a  supermarket. When you also make some great new friends, all the better.

 

Sure you need to terminate a few thousand slugs along the way! Sure you end up knee deep in weeds that need constant control! But it's a great way to drop your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol level and generally get back in touch with real things.

 

And when your wife actually pretends to like the vegetable soup you've made, what could be better?

John Harrison, Plot 125B

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