Urgent! Allotments under threat.

The Threat:
The Government has announced a “Review of statutory duties”, aimed at identifying and removing duties from local authorities which are a “burden”. One of the duties they are considering removing is the duty to provide sufficient number of allotments for people in the area who want one. This means ALL allotments, including existing ones, not just new ones. The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners has some information about this.

What You Can Do:

  1. Write to your MP and point out that allotments are not a burden.  We have compiled some useful background information for you to use.
  2. Look at the Government’s web page on “Review of statutory duties placed on local government“.  Then fill in the “Statutory duties webform” which is in the top right-hand corner.  Time is short. We have only until 25 April.  The webform is a bit confusing, so here are some model answers which you can use.  Better still, write your own. But do fill in the form!

Adam Considers the Proffered Apple

: Brian Wilks, 2011

Try this

Where’s it from?

Take a bite.

Has it been washed?

Just eat.

I can’t see a label!


I don’t know its country of origin!

Don’t make such a fuss.

I just want to know,
It’s not every day I taste forbidden fruit.

It’s not every day you’re offered it.

I hope this isn’t the start of a new diet

Who knows what it might lead to.

Ah well, what have we got to lose?
Here goes.

Brian Wilks, 2011

A Time to Talk

: Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, “What is it?”
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod; I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

Robert Frost

Good Varieties for Hollin Lane

Here are some vegetable varieties that do well here. Please give us your own favourites with a few words saying why you like them.

CabbageGreyhoundTasty and trouble-free cabbage for early summerPeter Byass
CabbageMarner White StoringHuge dense round heads that stand well through the winterPeter Byass
KaleNero di ToscanaFairly hardy - delicious dark green leaves late summer and autumnJoe Foster
KalePentland BrigVery hardy - pick leaves in autumn and winter and sprouting shoots in springJoe Foster
OnionCenturionRound, good cropper, keeps well in storePeter Copeland
PotatoCharlotte2nd early, ready before blight and slugs hit, salad typeJoe Foster
PotatoColleen1st early, yellow flesh, good baker, good blight resistance.Jayne Harnett
PotatoJazzy2nd early, ready before blight and slugs hit, salad type. Better eelworm resistance than CharlotteJoe Foster
PotatoHarmony2nd early, some blight resistanceJenny Ward
PotatoKestrel2nd early, ready before blight and slugs hit, delicious baked or mashed and a good cropperJoe Foster
PotatoNadine2nd early, some blight resistanceJenny Ward
PotatoNicolaEarly main crop, salad variety, some blight resistanceJenny Ward
PotatoRecordMain crop, floury, some blight resistanceJenny Ward
PotatoRemarkaEarly main crop, some blight resistanceJenny Ward
PotatoSanteMain crop, some blight resistanceJenny Ward
PotatoSarpo AxonaLate, good blight and slug resistance, good cropper and keeperJoe Foster
PotatoSarpo MiraLate, good blight and slug resistance, good cropper and keeperJoe Foster

Not So Good Varieties for Hollin Lane

Some fruit and vegetable varieties just don’t work here. Please give us your own experience with a few words about what the problem was.

PotatoMarfona2nd early. The slugs love it.Joe Foster
CabbageHispiNot very tasty. Attractive to slugs.Peter Byass
Brussels SproutEvesham SpecialThe sprouts are mostly blown – hardly any solid ones.Joe Foster
OnionGolden BearNOT tolerant of downy mildew!Joe Foster

Scarecrow in a white blouse

: Nicholas Bradley, Autumn 2004







Now evening, I’m out

on the allotment putting back on
the hat of a child’s scarecrow

for the show tomorrow.
I am the curator, the unseen

hand in the rain.. I’m singing
a Fool’s song from King Lear

when you appear, saying:
come and look at this one.

And you know, I don’t know how,
that Art is

this scarecrow-sylph
slipped in, with its pure poem

of being;
raffia cap,

arm at that angle,
Help The Aged bag.

You have to make a stand.

Nicholas Bradley, Autumn 2004

Frog on the Allotment

: Nicholas Bradley, 2004

It was a good sized frog.
As ever, that glistening motley

wash-leather skin – lemon, green,
yellow, black spots;

it went well with the garden leavings
piled up

with the rolled back old carpets,
April leaves, grass, roots in a heap,

it went under, blended in;

though water,
its skin matched the land colours.

At first I saw it, after a spade thrust,
spring up

then stop, elongate,
as if to show me itself,

unchopped, whole, no missing limb;

as if I’d have sense of it,
come from the beck,

and of where it fitted in.

Nicholas Bradley, 2004

The Dark Allotments, Early April

: Nicholas Bradley, 2004

When I got there

I saw eight magpies on one plot,
one perched on a cane or a pole,

they let me get quite near;
it was raining, no-one else

around. I guess the wrens
and long ago hoards of small birds

are edged out. I half hate
these big survivors, half love

their beauty when I see them,
close, by the four foot pink

and off-pink bush; what is it?

I got digging, the odd whinny
of a horse was all this inner city

garden had on its grey six-thirty
soundtrack, as slowly the church

and houses on the hill
sank below street lights;

I had to get out.

Nicholas Bradley, 2004

Make Your Own Seed and Potting Compost

Make your own seed and potting composts …

You can make your own organic, peat-free seed and potting composts using leaf mould, garden compost and loam. You can make it up as you need it, in large or small quantities. Leaf mould needs to stand for two years. Loam is basically just good garden soil. If you are bothered by weed seedlings you can pasteurise the loam at 80 degrees C for about half an hour. I just pull the weeds up.

The recipes are by volume: shovel-fulls, scoops, or whatever.

  • Sowing compost: 1 part sieved leaf mould + 1 part sieved loam.
  • Potting compost: 1 part sieved leaf mould + 1 part sieved loam + 1 part sieved garden compost.
  • Tomato compost: 3 parts loam + 1 part leaf mould + 1 part garden compost or manure.

Joe Foster