Eight members of the group met at the Burnham Allotments on 20 July 2015 where members Annie and Clive each have 5 ‘rods’ of land.
We were all amazed at the size of the allotments area and the talent, expertise and sheer hard work which clearly goes into growing vegetables, fruit and flowers there. Members had lots of questions as we viewed the plots discussing ways to improve the soil, recipes for ‘gluts’ of fruit and vegetables and so on.
The sheer volume of produce Clive has picked from his allotment is testament to the work he has put into it – 10 lbs of green gooseberries; 8 lbs of red gooseberries which were deliciously sweet; 10 carrier bags full of broad beans. He planted his broad beans last Autumn and they are now all harvested. He has plenty more delicious treats to come including new potatoes and a variety of large blackberries so plentiful on their bushes that we could only wonder who would get there first – Clive or the birds!
Annie’s allotment is a picture. It is divided into sections by grass paths with a shed and water butt in one corner and large compost bins at the edge. Everything is flourishing and crops included: tomatoes – Annie grows the variety called Ferline which is supposed to be blight-free (watch this space!), strawberries (she has picked around 14 lbs this year), dwarf beans, red and savoy cabbages, carrots, parsnips, Florence fennel, raspberries, potatoes, butternut squash, shallots, courgettes, runner beans, lettuce and plenty of flowers. Annie uses strawberry ‘mats’ available from horticultural companies instead of straw and finds them more satisfactory. She makes an annual plan for her allotment in the winter. Also she swaps produce and ideas with her allotment neighbour who has a large plum and greengage tree on her plot
Snippets of information on rules and services we gleaned from our visit included: no bonfires on Sundays or if the wind might blow smoke towards houses; must chop down plants which have seeded so that the seed does not blow onto other allotments; Water ‘for agricultural use’ is available for a small annual fee from taps placed among the allotments. It is apparently permissible to run a hose from tap to your own water butt but not to water your plot from the hose; plenty of plots had empty plastic bottles on sticks which make a noise in the wind to scare the birds away. There is a waiting list for allotments and members who had had allotments before gave advice about clearing and planting a plot bit by bit otherwise you risk disenchantment if you try to clear the whole plot before planting – it becomes an impossible and unrewarding task.
Members retired to Mary’s garden for tea after the allotment visit and were delighted to see her garden full of colour and the greenhouse full of ripening tomatoes. We were struck by a number of things not least a trachelospermum jasminoides with its lovely scent arching over a bench seat. The cake provided by Annie was delicious.
Members will next meet for a picnic at Hyde Hall Flower Show at the end of the month and the August meeting will be held in Trish’s garden in Southminster.