Roehampton Garden Society

Store news January 2022

The Store re-opens after its Christmas Break on Sunday 9 January

We will have plenty of Country Natural available and seed composts are being delivered next week.

The Omicron variant is very much with us and thus it is important that visitors to the Store follow COVID procedures. This may mean queuing outside the store, especially when the potatoes and onions arrive.
Hand Gel and masks available in store.

Potatoes and Onions will be available from the Main Store from Sunday 16 January.
We will have 5 varieties of potatoes and 2 of onion sets as follows:

Potatoes are sold by the kilo and you can pick and mix.

king edward

FIRST EARLIES for planting late March/early April and Harvesting in June/July:

Swift: produces lots of small, round potatoes with short plants ideal for growing in containers.

SECOND EARLIES for planting early-mid April for harvesting in July/August:

Charlotte: a salad potato with slightly waxy yellow-cream flesh.

Estima: ideal for boiling and mashing if harvested early. If left in the ground it makes a good baking potato. Large oval tubers with a smooth skin and pale yellow flesh

MAIN CROP for planting in mid-late April and lifted in August for immediate use or in September/October for storing:

Desiree: oval red skinned tubers with pale yellow flesh. Heavy croppers that are tolerant of drought and show a good resistance to disease.

King Edward: has good keeping properties and above average disease resistance. Flesh is creamy-white.

ONION SETS: plant in February to April and lift when they mature in August.

Red Baron

Red Baron: produces flattish-round bulbs of dark red.

Sturon: produces straw-coloured bulbs.

The onion sets come in 200g bags.

Gill Tamsett
Trading Secretary

Allotments are having a field day..

Two press articles recently report on a two year pilot study which suggests that allotments could be as productive as conventional farms. Volunteer urban growers in Brighton and Hove were able to harvest 1kg of insect-pollinated fruit and vegetables per sq metre in a season! (wishful thinking on my allotment…. – ed)

Read the full article from the Guardian here

The Times reports that the average allotment owner harvested 74kg over a season, which would have been sold for about £380 in the shops. The most productive gathered in food worth more £2,000, with raspberries and gooseberries among the most expensive crops… Link for subscribers only

The Guradian report says ” The project, which analysed the yields of 34citizen scientists” growing fruit and vegetables on their allotments, gardens and balconies, found that despite limited pesticide use they were each able to grow an average of £550 worth of produce between March and October.

Of the total figure, £380 of it was from insect-pollinated produce – such as squash, courgettes, blackberries, tomatoes, apples and beans – weighing an average of 70kg.

Berries were the most attractive crop to pollinators, the study found.

Across the two-year period, volunteers recorded more than 2,000 pollinating insects among their crops. The most common were bees, which accounted for 43% of all flower visits.

AND – the growers used less pesticides than conventional farming techniques – they were used in under 10% of pest cases – and that the most common pests were slugs, snails and aphids. The worst-affected produce was soft fruit and beans.

“The UK imports approximately £8bn of fruit and vegetables each year, but our results show that green spaces in cities, such as allotments and community gardens, could play an important role in meeting that demand at a local scale.”

The Guardian Dec 2021

Why Allotments are good for you..

It’s official: allotments are good for you – and for your mental health. The Scientists have been at work again – but at least they confirm what most of us already know…..“Tending your own patch boosts wellbeing and connects you with others”.

Leeds Allotments
Gardener’s World Allotments

A study by academics at the University of Sheffield, published last November, outlines the wellbeing benefits of allotment gardening. The 163 volunteers recorded “high levels of social and community activities, including the sharing of surplus food produce, knowledge exchange, awareness and interaction with wildlife, emotional connection to their allotment, appreciation of time spent outside and aesthetic delight in the natural world”.

Read the full article here

Getting to know the chickens…

One Monday afternoon in December, when a small group of Granard school children were visiting the Site 2 allotments, Barry was kind enough to introduce them to his chickens. As you can see they were able to hold them and Barry gave the school a dozen fresh eggs which were cooked the following morning. After they had visited the chickens Barry gave a few of the children a ride in a wheelbarrow, ably helped by one of their teachers, Natalya, who is also a plot holder.

The Roehampton Garden Society is 100 years old!

Doverhouse plan – showing the initial 3 allotment sites

Growing and cultivating never go out of style…..

Throughout 2022 we will be looking at ways to celebrate our centenary. Our allotments were part of the original design for the Doverhouse Estate. You will note that there were 3 areas marked as allotments in the plan. Unfortunately the northernmost and largest site, to the north of Huntingfield Road, was later used for development.

Tom Murphy 1942-2021

Tom Murphy 1942-2021

Just before Christmas we heard of the sudden death of one of our long standing members. Tom Murphy was a well loved character and a friend to many neighbours on site 3. He had been an allotmenteer for over 35 years and would always share advice on growing things. He still used very traditional methods to grow his produce – usually potatoes (double dug and deep trenched) and wonderful cabbages. He cut the grass on the common paths on both allotment sites for many years, fetching petrol for the mower on the bus and walking the mower between sites!

We will miss him.

Bill Young writes this memoir:

We will all remember Tom with some affection. Tom always had a ready smile and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Even gardening, he was always smartly suited and booted. Several people who were Tom’s immediate neighbours on the allotment, all have their own versions of the following story:

One hot summers day in 2014 – Tom appeared on his allotment dressed as was usual, in a suit, collar and tie.   From his shed he produced a coat hanger, then proceed to hang his jacket on that.  As the sun was glaring down on him in his shirtsleeves, he started a rummage within his shed, finally he produced a sun-hat.  The Australians have a wide brimmed bush hat, complete with dangling corks all along the brim – to ward off the flies.  Tom had his own, the Murphy version!  Emblazoned on the crown it said GUINNESS,  on the brim, numerous small plastic Guinness bottles dangled – to ward off flies.  To cap it all, in a fine tenor voice whilst hoeing – he serenaded everyone with the following :- “Old Man River”, “Mississippi Queen” . Capping it off with Johnny Cash’s “I walk the Line” “Folsom Prison Blues” and finally “Ring of Fire”

Post nubila Phoebus

Bill Young 24/12/21

Thrive is looking for Gardening Volunteers

The gardening-for-health charity Thrive is looking for local volunteers.

Thrive’s London hub is based in Battersea Park and throughout the pandemic has continued to help locals – either virtually or in-person, when restrictions have allowed – use gardening for health and well-being. Their plants are often found on sale in their outdoor garden centre.

They are looking for Garden Support Volunteers to “assist the client gardeners and horticultural therapists”. You will need to commit to one day a week, from 9.45am-3.15pm, for at least six months. Volunteers need to be patient and understanding, whilst respecting professional boundaries, and be prepared to work outdoors in all weathers.

If you could consider taking on this worthwhile opportunity, read more here

Something completely different?

A new exhibition at the design Museum comes highly recomended by one of our members.

Lively and colourful, the exhibition hopes to promote living without waste and tries to imagine a more resourceful world for generations to come…

Waste-Age – what can design do?

is at the Design museum until February 22nd, 2022.

Read about it here

With thanks to Jeannette Sweetland

Now is the time for Root Cuttings

Root cuttings can be used to propagate a range of herbaceous perennials in late autumn or early winter when the plants are dormant. It is a particularly successful method for increasing stocks of oriental poppies and Verbascum.

Also suitable for Herbaceous plants, such as Acanthus, and Phlox

Why it’s a good idea to try:

  • Root cuttings require no special aftercare
  • Large numbers of new plants can be generated from each parent plant
  • The plants derived from root cuttings are relatively large and vigorous, especially when new growth is produced.
  • Root cuttings are taken in the quiet season in winter when gardeners’ hands are not as full as in summer
  • Plants from root cuttings are free of foliar pests and pathogens that might affect their parents, such as stem and leaf nematodes.

And here’s exactly how to do it- from the RHS… Read More

Planet Friendly Gardening

The RHS have launched a Sustainability Policy to help gardeners make a contribution to tackling our climate crisis.

What we all do on a small scale can make a difference. The RHS say….

We all have a responsibility to help mitigate the climate and biodiversity crisis. As gardeners, we’re perfectly placed to support our environment through sustainable growing. Many of us are already planet-friendly gardeners, but there’s always more we can do or help to spread the word across our communities.
To coincide with our new Sustainability Strategy, we’ve put together ten easy tasks that all gardeners can complete to support their local environment. From watering the way nature intended, to making your own compost or growing your own flowers for bouquets – each and every one of us can make a difference in the climate crisis.

RHS Communities

Many of these suggestions are already in evidence on our allotments, but here’s one you may be interested in and could encourage others to do…

Here’s an inspiring set of ideas for Front Gardens….Read Now

And here are all the 10 suggestions ….Read Now