Get ‘Em Young!

Following that instruction has given the world everything from prodigies like Mozart to the Hitler Youth, but what’s that to do with allotments?

Well, we’re fortunate in being surrounded by handsome mature trees in the parks around us, which beautify our setting. The downside is that these – especially ash, sycamore, and willow – produce a myriad of wind-blown seeds, which readily take root on every plot across the site. The hawthorns also do this, but saplings tend to be either close to the trees or where birds drop after having eaten the haws.

Ash seedling – they can hide but the alert gardener will find them!

It’s just a matter of fact that considerations of shading and the terms of tenancy require us not to allow broad leaf trees such as these to grow on our plots (nor, for that matter, conifers or fruit trees more than 4m tall). Also, we mustn’t maintain them if they’re already growing there when we take on our plot, but remove them. If we didn’t, then the whole site would rapidly revert to primordial forest.

Sycamore saplingone of a fair number on plots around site!

So we should dig these up as soon as we notice them. When they’re seedlings or saplings this is very easy and no trouble at all. However they grow very quickly, putting down deep tap roots, and so the longer we delay, the harder this unavoidable job will be!

If anyone – or their predecessors to their plot – has overlooked to remove such a tree, and tackling it would be problematic, then if they message PPAA Committee, and where the stem or trunk is more than say, 50mm in diameter, they’ll give what help they can for its removal. 

There’s since been brilliant work by a new plot holder in dealing thoroughly with this daunting challenge. Please accept our sincere thanks for a fine example set!

If the tree’s semi-mature or larger, then in some instances  – where it’s kept well pollarded, or is not a very large variety, e.g. buddleia – a pragmatic decision to leave well alone may be taken, but please don’t any of us ignore the likes of ash, hawthorn, willow, and sycamore!

Minutes for PPAA Committee Meeting held on 9th August 2022 at 19:00 by Zoom

Present: Philip Reardon (Site Rep), Wendy Gunter (Treasurer), Richard Masterman (Chair), Jenny Howell, Sue Jones, Dan Philips, Alan Coombs

Apologies: Jon Townley

Previous Minutes:

  • Items from Committee meeting 8th June 2022 to be addressed as agenda items
  • Items from Working Group meeting 11th July 2022
  1. Work to update the Constitution is on hold. Jenny stated her view that proposals should be formulated prior to Council feedback/agreement. 
  2. Web site updates have been completed with continuing review. Thanks to Sue and her team.
  3. Maintenance of plots: covered by agenda item

Chair Report

  • CAHA/Site Reps meeting had taken place with notes distributed to committee members
  • Skips had been arranged, filled and removed from site.

Site Representative 

Council matters

  • Nothing further received regarding storm damage to perimeter walls, overhanging trees or the blocked/overflowing culvert. Dan suggested escalating the issues via CAHA.
  • The allotment management software operated by the Council is in the process of a full upgrade but is not expected to be operational for some considerable time. This further slows down the Council’s process of managing poorly attended and overgrown plots.

PPAA matters

  • Philip reported that of the 15 confirmed vacant plots 10 had been let to new tenants although 4 of the outgoing plot holders were contesting their removal. He stated that the 5 remaining plots would remain unlet pending Council resolution of the disputes.
  • There was discussion regarding the provision of detailed information to the committee regarding the status of overgrown plots, plot inspections, Clear or Quit notices and a detailed schedule which committee members could work from in order to assist with progressing site actions. 
  • Philip stated that he felt a lack of support from the Council, from some committee members, and had been subjected to aggressive threats from some plot holders, and stated that he would step down from the roles of Site Representative and PPAA committee member with immediate effect, and withdrew from the meeting.
  • In the absence of a Site Representative other committee members undertook to monitor Council/Site Rep correspondence and other duties pending appointment of a new site representative.
  • The meeting continued.

Treasurer’s report

  • Wendy confirmed the PPAA account was up to date and in order with a positive balance.

Any Other Business

  • Dan agreed to set up a sub-group to review all communication formats with a view to rationalising. 
  • Plot holders are reminded to keep contact details up to date with the Council to avoid obsolete details being used.
  • The boundary lines between plots have become very indistinct in places. A member of the Community Gardens has previously carried out minor maintenance work and will be approached again to see if interested in helping to clear paths.
  • Dan reported that the work within the polytunnel had progressed well and further improvements to provide additional grow beds will continue through the coming months.
  • Sue agreed to contact the stables to get an update on manure deliveries.

Next meeting – to be confirmed

It is proposed to hold an in-person meeting on site in August to review the Site Representative position.

Next scheduled committee meeting 19:00 Tuesday 04 October 2022.

Skip – further news

The skip delivered today – Monday – is now almost full. PPAA Committee have arranged for it to be removed, and for an empty skip to replace it on Wednesday – this is the soonest that the skip company could return.

In the meantime, can everyone please bear with the Committee, and not overfill, or leave rubbish around the skip.

Please can we also remember that no compostable material is to be put in the skip, but that any metal may be added to the pile already established nearby, for its separate, recycling disposal.

Many thanks,
PPAA Committee

Er, update below…

“Well, that went as well as could be expected, Gromit…”