Unity Grove Allotment Association Harrogate

Summer Newsletter 2021

After the wettest coldest springtime in many years, and late frosts well into May, finally summer has arrived in Yorkshire, and we are able to enjoy some lovely warm weather. However, the late arrival of summer has had a knock-on effect, with many of us reporting poor crop growth, or the loss of an entire crop, due to the frosts.  In times like this it’s even more important to share our excess fruit and vegetable plants with others. It’s great to see that some of you have already started to do this by leaving them on the shelves by the shop and advertising them on our facebook page. 

In this newsletter, the committee wanted to throw a spot light on plot inspections, and to use this opportunity to say that we understand that for some plot holders this can be a contentious subject, whilst also acknowledging that it’s not the nicest function of the committee.  However, it is one of the most important, if not stressful and time-consuming tasks, which contributes to safeguarding our Unity Grove Allotments from being moved under the control of Harrogate Borough Council, and possible eventual closure to make way for housing development, in what is in a prime town location.  

Towards the end of the newsletter, for those interested and new to entering a category at the annual Harrogate & District Allotment Federation Allotment Show, or any growing competition, I’ve included information and competition growing tips, which I have stolen from elsewhere, but have given full credit to the source. And if you survive all that gumpth, I mean useful information, because so many plot holders have asked questions about some of the chemical fertilisers we sell in our allotment shop, I have also included a hyperlink to the RHS website and their information about the benefits of using fertilisers to improve plant growth and crop production (thank goodness there are only 3 newsletters a year I hear you say)!

To conclude our Summer Newsletter, I have provided a summary of Unity Grove Allotment competitions and hope we will be judging lots of entries in August and announcing our winners shortly afterwards and at our Annual General Meeting in November.

Waiting Lists

A recent survey undertaken by the Harrogate and District Allotment Federation (HDAF) showed that unsurprisingly demand for allotment plots has increased during lockdown, with waiting lists across all sites in the district being in high demand and waiting lists reflecting this.  In response HDAF wrote to Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) who have acknowledged the increased demand and stated that they are giving consideration to the possibility of additional sites across the district to meet demand.  The waiting list for an allotment at Unity Grove is currently 51, with a waiting time of over 12 months.  

Plot Inspections

Whilst not wanting to detract from the fun and recreational aspect of allotment gardening, as a committee we take seriously our responsibility towards the association as a collective, obligations towards Harrogate Borough Council, as well as those on the waiting list, and so try to balance the ‘fun’ part of being an allotment tenant with the overarching purpose of allotment gardening and the

fact that an allotment plot is a precious and scarce resource.  It is also important to note that one plot holder’s idea of fun is a neighbouring plot holder’s weed infested nightmare.  Therefore, we try to ensure that vacant plots are let as quickly as possible and that they are brought into cultivation, and that all let plots are being fully utilised in accordance with the tenancy agreement.  It’s great to report that 99% of our available plots are let, with big plans for plot 103 in the pipeline, now that the previous tenant has agreed to make this available to us (more about this in a moment).

It is encouraging to see improvement in the use and overall appearance of the site over the past couple of years, and it is always appreciated when longstanding plot holders comment on this; it really does make the hard work worthwhile.  At the same time, we acknowledge our own and the frustration of others when our neighbours aren’t maintaining their plot and although it is never nice to send or receive an advisory letter, plot inspections enable us to identify and respond to concerns as quickly as possible so that these can be resolved. 

As a result of the June plot inspection, it was necessary to write to 8 plot holders from a membership of 175 plots; giving them 30-days to rectify the issues identified. Three of these plot holders recognised that due to a change in their circumstances, they did not have the time required to tend to their plots and decided to give up their tenancy.  These plots have already been re-let.  

We are also starting to identify plot holders who routinely rotovate their plot, thereby keeping it relatively weed free, but who do not go on to grow anything. Thankfully, there are only one or two of these, but nevertheless this prevents people on the waiting list from benefitting from allotment gardening.

Unity Grove Allotments undertake plot inspections three times per year in March, June, and October.  When undertaking inspections, the committee take into consideration the requirements set out in the tenancy agreement, and revised Association Constitution & Rules, the individual plot holders’ length of tenancy, any unforeseen exceptional circumstances that we can all face from time to time, if we are informed of these, and importantly their history of advisory letters and or emails, as well as obviously taking into consideration the weather conditions here in sunny Yorkshire!

By June, as a minimum standard, the committee would expect to see three quarters of all plots cultivated and for plots to be clearly numbered.  We actively encourage all plot holders to have water butts and rainwater harvesting kits to collect rainwater from sheds and greenhouses where possible. Water Sprinklers continue to be banned. It is important that plot holders remember that they and their neighbours are responsible for maintaining the paths around their plots, which is the case even if the plot holder has erected some form of boundary fence around their plot!! This is not just about keeping the site looking good but ensures that it is safe to walk around.  This also means that paths should not be used by plot holders as storage areas and an overspill for their individual plot.

Plot 103

As discussed in previous correspondence and our website, we are committed to making allotment gardening accessible to everyone within our community, including those with physical and hidden disability.  Earlier this year we successfully applied for a grant from North Yorkshire Stronger Communities and were awarded £1000.  The committee intend to use this money towards installing raised growing beds, with wheelchair access on plot 103 and opening this plot up for use as a shared community plot.  We are also extremely grateful that a plot holder has very kindly donated a new shed towards progressing our objective.

Store Hut

The committee is currently seeking to replace the existing store hut next door to the site shop. The current structure is in an extremely poor state, is beyond economic repair, and has outlived its usefulness. We have contacted HBC to request consent to replace this existing structure with a like for like building to use as a meeting hut.

Despite this being consistent with the Council’s own development plan and Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) where it applies to allotments as protected open spaces, they are refusing to give advice or consent unless we pay a fee of £75 for council Officer’s time.  This time would be to establish whether it is necessary to pay additional fees in respect of a full planning application, along with the need to complete numerous other reports more appropriately associated with planning applications for housing developments, such as environmental impact statements, and to pay those associated costs.  In response, we have emailed Tim Myatt, councillor with portfolio for planning, asking him to intervene on our behalf, suggesting that as residents of the borough and Council Tax payers, we believe that we have already paid for the Officer’s time, and have also raised question about the need for a planning application to replace an existing structure, on the existing footprint. 

We are awaiting his response. Hopefully, we will be able to report a positive outcome regarding this by our Autumn Newsletter.

Harrogate & District Allotment Federation

This year HDAF will be celebrating its 60th anniversary Allotment Show to take place on the 15th of August in the Sun Pavilion, Valley Gardens, Harrogate (subject to whatever the then COVID rules might be) and plot holders are encouraged to enter.  To enter the HDAF competition it is £3 per person for any number of entries, which must come via the secretary for Unity Grove (for verification purposes).  A first prize gets you your money back!

The Show Schedule is now on the HDAF website at www.thehdaf.co.uk along with an Entry Form. I have a limited number of hard copy Schedules at the shop for those without access to the internet.  

HDAF will also need helpers on the day to both set up (from 07:00) and take down (from 16:30). All volunteers gratefully welcomed. Please let me know if you can help and I will pass your details on. Unity Grove also run a veg stall at the show and you can volunteer to cover the stall for an hour. All donations of veg are also most welcomed.  

This year, monies raised will go towards supporting the Ripon Museums Trust, to whom HDAF are hoping to be able to make a generous donation.  Raffles tickets to raise money in support of the HDAF nominated charity are on sale at the allotment shop on Saturday mornings, where for 25p per ticket, you could win a 1st, 2nd or 3rd prize of £50 or £25 for the 4th prize.

Exhibiting Show Vegetables – Growing Tips

Growing Show Potatoes

Growing Potatoes for Show, Introduction & Best Varieties

This is part 1 of a 3-part series of articles, growing potatoes for show - introduction & best varieties, on growing prize-winning potatoes for the show bench by John Trim, Fellow of the National Vegetable Society, show judge and horticultural ...

Growing Potatoes for Show, Cultivation of Show Potatoes

This is part 2 of a 3-part series of articles, growing potatoes for show - cultivation of show potatoes, on growing prize-winning potatoes for the show bench by John Trim, Fellow of the National Vegetable Society, show judge and horticultural lecturer. ...

Growing Potatoes for Show Harvest & Showing Potatoes

This is part 3 of a 3-part series of articles, growing potatoes for show - harvesting & showing, on growing prize-winning potatoes for the show bench by John Trim, Fellow of the National Vegetable Society, show judge and horticultural lecturer. ...

Growing Onions for Show

Growing Onions for Show - Selecting & Propagating Onions

Show grower John Trim has won the national championship with his onions. In this article on growing onions for show, he reveals the secrets of selecting and developing the best strain to get you the winner's red card at the show. To grow show...

Growing Onions for Show - 250-gram Exhibition Onions

Show grower John Trim has won the national championship with his onions. In this article on growing onions for show, he reveals the secrets of growing 250-gram exhibition onions to get you the winner’s red card at the show. This class of onion i...

Growing Onions for Show - Starting Large Onions from Seed

Show grower John Trim has won the national championship with his onions. In this first of two articles on growing large onions for show, he reveals the secrets of starting large exhibition onions to get you the winner’s red card at the show. This i...

Growing Onions for Show - Cultivating Exhibition Onions

Show grower John Trim has won the national championship with his onions. In this first of two articles on growing large onions for show, he reveals the secrets of cultivating and staging large exhibition onions to get you the winner’s red card at...

Growing Carrots for Show

Growing Long Carrots for Show - Long Rooted Carrots

Show grower John Trim has won the national championship with his carrots. In this article on growing long rooted carrots for show, he reveals the secrets of cultivating and staging long rooted carrots for exhibition to get you the winner’s red ca...

Growing Stump Rooted Carrots for Show - Preparation

Show grower John Trim has won the national championship with his carrots. In this article on growing stump rooted carrots (normal size!) for show, he reveals the secrets of what variety, where to grow and compost mixes for stump rooted carrots for ...

Growing Stump Rooted Carrots for Show - Cultivation to Showing

Show grower John Trim has won the national championship with his carrots. In this second article on growing stump rooted carrots (normal size!) for show, he reveals the secrets of sowing, cultivation, harvest, preparation and staging for stump rooted ...

Growing Runner Beans for Show

Exhibition Runner Beans for Horticultural Show

Runner beans are a favourite crop for the allotment or the kitchen garden. In fact, they are probably the most cost-effective vegetable you can grow. Champion Show grower John Trim runs us through the details of growing runner beans for the show bench....

Cultivation of Exhibition Runner Beans for Horticultural Show

Champion show grower John Trim runs us through the details of cultivation of exhibition runner beans for the show bench in this second article of three on show growing runner beans. This is Part Two of Three Parts on Exhibition Runner Beans: Planting...

Staging of Exhibition Runner Beans for Horticultural Show

Champion show grower John Trim runs us through the details of pick and staging of exhibition runner beans for the show bench in this third article of three on show growing runner beans. This is Part Two of Three Parts on Exhibition Runner Beans: ...

Growing Celery for Show

Growing Trench Celery for Horticultural Show - Trench Celery

Champion show grower John Trim reveals the secrets of growing trench celery in this first part of a two-part article - all to get you the winner’s red card at the show. There are two main types of celery, self-blanching and trench. The latter gr...

Growing Trench Celery for Show - Cultivating to Staging

Champion show grower John Trim reveals the secrets of growing trench celery in this second part of a two-part article – the first part of Growing Trench Celery covered varieties to grow, sowing and initial cultivation. Planting out and soil pr...

Other Show Growing Articles

Growing Long Parsnips for Show - Long Rooted Parsnips

Champion show grower John Trim reveals the secrets of cultivating and staging long parsnips to get you the winner’s red card at the show. There is a wide range of parsnips to choose from when it comes to show varieties. ‘Gladiator’ is still ...

Vegetative Propagation of Blanch Leeks

Champion show grower John Trim explains the process of vegetative propagation of blanch leeks which is a fairly advanced technique, but this step-by-step guide makes it easy to understand. Visitors to the top shows are often amazed at the quality...

Growing Peas for Show - Exhibition Peas

Champion show grower John Trim reveals the secrets of growing top quality exhibition peas to get you the winner’s red card at the show. The humble pea is probably our most popular vegetable after potatoes and most home growers will have a row o...

(Credit Given: Taken from: Allotment & Gardens Grow Your Own – Allotment – Gardening Help).


Information About Fertilisers

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=304

Unity Grove Competitions

Our competitions this year are:

Chairman’s Best Plot 2021 - The winner prize includes holding the cup for 12 months and their annual rent for 2022 paid by the chairman.

Most helpful Plot Holder – A special reward for 2021 for the plot holder who consistently goes above and beyond to help others and is always there to lend a hand to benefit the association. The prize winner will receive their annual rent for 2022 paid by the Secretary.

Best Newcomer 2021 – The winner will be presented with the best newcomer cup for 12 months.

Sunflower Competition – This year we will be judging two categories including the tallest sunflower and introducing a prize for the widest Sunflower Head. The prize will be a £10 gift voucher for each category.

Best Scarecrow Competition – We’ve already beginning to see some fantastic scarecrows around the site! The winners of this competition will each receive a £10 gift voucher.