A Nice Place to Be
We all come over to the allotments to enjoy ourselves and to relax – that is, when those weeds will let us! So let’s all treat other plot holders in the way that we would wish to be treated ourselves. For example, we have agreed to keep our dogs on leads or tethered, and also not to allow our children to wander onto anyone else’s plots uninvited. We should also consider our neighbours when siting anything which is likely to cast shade. If anyone should have a concern about the actions of another tenant, then – if they are approachable – they should chat to them about it before taking any formal action under the rules. It’s quite possible that they didn’t think of the impact of what they might have done, and so will be happy to adapt.
Paths and Tracks
We must ensure that the paths on either side of our plots are free from obstruction, so that people can walk between them easily. The paths need to be wide enough to accommodate pushing a wheelbarrow (18” or 45 cm). PPAA Committee have previously undertaken programmes of staking out plots to indicate where those paths are, and many of those reddish posts have survived, though they may, by now have faded. Over time, some of the paths have become obstructed, or may even have effectively disappeared. Although it will take a while for all the paths to be brought back into use, PPAA Committee are very concerned that the situation doesn’t at least get any worse. For those whose plots adjoin a made-up hardcore or tarmac track – that’s most of us – we are asked to ensure that the concrete edgings of these tracks are kept clear and exposed. There are far too many presently covered by encroaching compost heaps, or by weeds – such as nettles, brambles, ivy, comfrey, yarrow etc. – which have spread from plots into accumulations of leaf mould and so on. This request applies even if we or our predecessors to our plot have erected some kind of barrier inside the edgings, which we personally consider to be the limit of our responsibility. The Council cannot reasonably be expected to maintain the made-up roads – shown grey on the site map – as agreed under our LMA, if it is unclear where the track finishes and a plot begins. If everyone did this then there would be no problem with vehicular access and so on.
Marking Our Plots With Their Numbers
Despite campaigns by PPAA Committee – and our being required to do this – many of the plots still aren’t marked. This makes it very difficult for any and for all of us to find each other around the site, and it also often leads to letters from the Council being sent to the wrong tenant. So let us all please number our plots without delay. Anything will do – a post, upturned wheelbarrow, large stone – as long as it is clearly seen from the road or track. Where a plot is split, one dual number sign is fine between two plotholders. Plot A is always by the road, and plot B furthest away. The site plan is here for help, if anyone has forgotten their number!
There is limited car parking on the allotment site. For those who do need to drive, could they please kindly only park by their allotment to drop things off, and then park considerately in the designated areas – that is, by the shop, by plot 82, by the Community Garden, and by the top gate near Western Avenue.
Manure & Woodchip
The Council have, after a hiatus of some months, recently (Oct 2022) moved manure from the Riding School to PPA site. However, we do not know whether this was a one-off to deal with an acute problem for the School, or if it will now happen periodically as a matter of course – as previously. We are still receiving wood chip from the Council. Manure and wood chip are for use by all paid up members of the Association. Let’s be considerate when using these resources, and leave sufficient for our neighbours to share. If we clear down to the hardcore or tarmac as we go, and don’t trample the material down, then it won’t turn into a compacted layer – which will quickly rot and be only any good for mulch – and then simply build up to be a problem. Diligence in so doing is genuinely appreciated!
The Bring ‘n’ Take Station
There is a place where we can leave any surplus produce that we might have, and can perhaps spot something that we fancy grown by someone else and left there. It is one of the brick cubicles near the Western Avenue entrance. It has been fitted with a bench, on which we can leave our excess crops and find those left by others. The door has been fastened permanently open, so that things are easy to see. However, can we all please not leave anything other than grown produce there? Spare sundries etc. quickly accumulate if they are of no use, and they just become yet more fly tipping to be removed by time-strapped volunteers! We should also keep an eye on anything that we do leave, and, if it is not wanted, then take it away to compost – or whatever – on our own plot, or to dispose of it off site!
Bonfires are banned on all allotments in Cardiff. The Council has the power to issue an immediate Notice to Quit if there is evidence of a fire, so we must all take this seriously.
Rubbish and Compost
We are strictly required to take all rubbish off site with us. This includes any weeds, prunings, etc. that we don’t wish to compost on our own plot. It is often rather tempting to offload suchlike onto a nearby plot that looks abandoned, or onto a marginal area, particularly if that place already has tippings such as a weed pile on it. However, please don’t anyone do this. Apart from its breaking our agreement – and being fly tipping – this then has to be cleared by volunteers, and often with the use of Association funds, which could be far better used for other things. If anyone has a particularly challenging plot, then they should get in touch with the PPAA Site Secretary, who will be happy to advise.
Carpets, tyres etc.
Please, let’s not use carpets to mulch our plots. This is expressly not permitted, as they generally permanently contaminate the soil with plastic fibres and nanoparticles. We should use black polythene – or better still the woven cover available from the site shop – if we are planning to cover for up to a year, and that won’t break down and so contaminate the soil. (A similar problem arises with tyres.)
Sheds & Other Structures
All structures – including sheds, polytunnels, fruit cages etc. require written permission from the Council before they are erected. Contact the Site Secretary for the appropriate form – they or a PPAA Committee member will happily supply it.
PPAA Committee would like to bring the brick sheds back into use across the allotment site. If anyone could help, particularly if they have building experience/skills, then could they please let PPAA Committee know.
Fencing – with the exception of wire mesh or the like rabbit fencing – is not allowed by the Council on Cardiff allotment sites. They say that rabbit fencing is acceptable, provided that it is less than one metre in height. It must not be hazardous to other users, and must be within the boundaries of our plots. Pathways must not be obstructed. Hedges are also classed as a form of fencing, and so are not allowed either.
The Council is able to remove safely any such loose material. If anyone should have any of it on, or near their plot, then could they please let the Site Secretary know, and PPAA Committee will notify the Council.
The allotment site has been targeted by thieves on a number of occasions. In particular by people looking for metal items that have a scrap value, or for other things that they can sell. We hope that the increase in tenants on site and the clearly announced – by notices near the main Western Avenue gate – threat of CCTV cameras will help to deter them. Furthermore, recently, a key has been given to the allocated Community Police Officers, and PPAA understand that they are now including the site in their patrols at varied and unannounced times. However, plotholders can also help themselves in the following ways:
- By using a plastic wheelbarrow.
- By thinking about not locking their shed, so that no damage is caused by thieves.
- By not leaving any items that they are not prepared to lose.
- By not leaving any metal lying around on their plot – people have lost the metal from greenhouses before they had a chance to build it on site.
- By being vigilant. If someone is wandering around whom we don’t recognise – then we could ask who they are, but always with the proviso of due caution.
- By making sure that we always lock the gate behind us straight away after entering or leaving site.
We must not take things from ‘abandoned’ plots. The site is always meant to be fully tenanted. If anyone thinks that a plot is empty, and they want to take something from that plot, then they should ask the Site Secretary.
PPAA Committee would like to build up a database of the skills that already exist among plotholders. They can gratefully use a wide range of them, from building, welding, plumbing, roofing, and so on, to computing, etc. If anyone would be willing to help out, then they are invited to contact the Committee, telling them what they can do, and the sort of time that they would be willing to commit.
Common Areas (Including Pond)
By the Community Garden (plot 152) there is a fenced off pond area. This is currently maintained by the Community Garden – for which we give many thanks – but is open to all plotholders to enjoy every day of the week. The Community Garden is open on Wednesdays and on Fridays, and plotholders are welcome to go along there, whether just for a cup of tea and biscuits, or for advice. As with the rest of the site, the plotholder is responsible for their own safety and for that of their children. Our dogs must stay on a lead.
There is a shed by plot 90 – maintained by the Community Garden – which contains a composting toilet. Plotholders are welcome to use it at any time.
There are many beautiful trees surrounding the site, and a little bit of shade can be a very good thing. However, neglected trees can cast too much shade, and dead or dying trees can be dangerous. Anyone concerned about any issues relating to trees should notify the Committee and, where appropriate, they will notify the Council.
We can plant fruit and/or nut trees on our plots provided that they don’t exceed four metres in height. We are required only to plant half standard or dwarf rooting stocks, and keeping a more vigorous tree reduced in height will be harmful for the tree as well as hard work in any case. No conifer, broadleaved, or willow trees are allowed on plots by the Council.
If anyone thinks that they may have it on or near their plot, then they must not touch it, but contact a Committee member straight away.
Biodiversity / Wildlife
The allotment site is – in places – a haven for biodiversity and wildlife. PPAA Committee intend – where practicable – to manage the hedgerow and other marginal areas to maximise their potential in this regard. When we’re thinking about our plot, we can consider managing a small patch – that is, only a very small fraction of it – to add to this biodiversity. For instance, we can leave some sticks to rot, put in a small pond, or plant some wildflowers for the bees.
We must not, however, allow weeds to grow instead. Some – particularly creeping buttercup, couch grass, bindweed etc. – spread like wildfire, and our neighbours won’t be happy if these spread onto their plot, and they may well act accordingly!
When and how the Council may terminate our tenancy of our plot
This is an important topic with formally-prescribed procedure – particularly regarding neglect or non-cultivation – and so it now has its own page.
No-one wants to see allotment plots become overgrown. As well as being a waste of the plotholders’ hard work in keeping the plot managed, it creates work for neighbouring plotholders, who will have to battle the invasive weeds. If anyone is struggling, then they shouldn’t suffer in silence – it is in no-one’s interests for them to fail, nor only to be galvanised into action when the Council send a letter. They should Contact any member of the Committee to discuss options. Crucially, they should remember that if we give up our plot voluntarily, then we can always reapply for one again when, say, we have more time to run one. However, if the Council end our tenancy, then we will be barred from any list in Cardiff.
Reducing / Increasing your Growing Space
Does everyone use their whole plot? If not, then PPAA Committee would be happy to talk to them about splitting their plot in half. As well as allowing them to manage more effectively the space that they have, it allows another person from the waiting list to get on site and to start growing. If anyone only has half a plot, and they feel that they are outgrowing the space that they have (or that they will do within the next year or so) then they are free to put their name back on the waiting list. When their name gets to the top, PPAA Committee will try their best to get them another half a plot as close as possible to their existing one.
A final word…
We wish everyone many happy, productive years of gardening on the PPA site!
PPA Website Team