Roehampton Garden Society


A climate emergency centre for Wandsworth – initial event – 5th May 6.30-8.30pm

Wandsworth’s first Climate Hub in a space in Southside Shopping centre will inform people about the climate and ecological emergency, why the timing is critical and what can be done about it.
People may have some idea what the climate emergency is, but very little idea how serious it is, or what to do about it personally or collectively or the many ways there are to act.

Aa a result of a 12,500 strong petition, Wandsworth Council declared a climate emergency in 2019. The council is currently working on reducing its own emissions by 2030. The council’s emissions are estimated to be about 10% of the overall borough-wide emissions, leaving 90% for businesses and residents needing to tackle and support in order to migrate to a zero-carbon economy.

The Climate Hub intends:

  • to encourage people to walk and cycle more, become involved in tree planting, growers groups and ask for green walls in their buildings to improve air quality and so raise awareness and take action through greening and active travel.
  • to offer essential advice on energy fuel switching, debt alleviation, energy saving tips and home surveys.
  • to plan further positive community projects.
  • to demonstrate how people can be empowered to take choices on practical and helpful climate solutions.
  • to offer advice and support on transitioning to a low carbon diet, minimising food waste and cutting down on single-use plastic.

Initially it is planned to offer:

  • weekly energy advice sessions to help those struggling with their energy bills.
  • advice on renewables and energy efficiency data.
  • home carbon audit and later a heat pump offering.
  • host eco-action games days for families to provide an opportunity to learn more about climate action whilst playing games.

To find out more call in at the Southside Centre.

Are you part of an organisation that would like to link with the Climate Hub? Please email wandsworth.cec@gmail.com to find out more.

Come to the Climate Hub Initial event – bring your ideas with you! Book here


Jubilee Room Centenary Event

RGS members at the House of Commons

At our AGM last November when Fleur Anderson heard this year would be the RGS’s centenary year, she invited us to have an event at the House of Commons Jubilee Room as part of our centenary celebrations. Numbers had to be very restricted, so only members who have made a contribution to the running of RGS activities were invited. All costs were covered by those who attended the event.

It was a very special evening to remember in such an auspicious place. Fleur made it clear in her speech that she is very committed to preserving and supporting allotments and that environmental issues in general are very important to her. We are very fortunate to have Fleur as our President and MP who is so passionate about these important issues that are so in line with the values of RGS.

Fleur and her team made the evening run very smoothly and were very supportive in organising the event at our end too. The event was very enjoyable as a result – many thanks to Fleur and her team.

Helen Finch


What happened at the Plant Sale…

Notes from the Easter Sunday Plant Sale

On Site 2, Easter Sunday 17 April, we held a very successful Plant Sale in aid of Glass Door, a charity that partners with churches and community centres to give shelter and support for homeless people. Our local church, St Margaret’s actively supports this charity.

It was a lovely sunny day and the sale tables, filled with produce, looked very inviting under gazebos and bunting. Virtually everything was sold on the day, with the few remaining plants being sold on the following Sunday. We made just over £200, all of which goes to Glass Door.

Thanks go to Sue Hodgson, Carol Martinez, Gill Tamsett and Sylvie Willcox who helped on the Sunday, and to all those who donated plants without which the sale would not have been possible.

Vivien Fowler


The RGS and Local Schools

In order to make our lovely allotments accessible to children in our area who do not have families with plots or have a garden at home, we often welcome small groups from local schools to visit. Only one school, Paddock, rents a plot but there are visiting groups from other schools. Not only do the children learn about the seasons, the plants and the bugs but sometimes they get a real treat with a difference! Courtney,a pupil at Granard School, wrote:

On Mondays, we go to the allotments to see all the plants. This week we saw two dogs called Barley and Hugo and a cool cat called Simba. The dogs were cute and friendly to everyone. 

When Hugo saw us, he got very excited and started to jump and run around like a raccoon.  
Simba the cat is three years old.​​ When Simba saw Barley, he wanted to hunt, but instead he jumped up in the tree.  Simba loves going on trips by himself. When he was young, he would squeeze under the gate to reach the allotments. However, now he can’t go under the gate because he is too big. Simba loves going in the trees to look out for food. If you offer him some delicious treats, he will sit down and give you his paw. I like the way he looks. 

with thanks to Jackie Savage


Blooming Marvellous – the Putney Society starts a new campaign…

Putney is a great place to live but it would be even better if we could stem the wave of concrete burying our front gardens. If we all do our bit to turn our gardens green, together we can encourage wildlife, improve air quality, help to prevent flooding (by letting water drain into the earth and not down the drain) and enhance our health and wellbeing…..say the Putney Society

Click to read more – is your street included?

Launching a Garden Award scheme in Central Putney, over two weekends at the beginning of May, they will be offering plants and garden advice to residents of central Putney. Come along to plant stalls at the corner of Burstock Road and Montserrat Road on 7 May and at the corner of Chelverton Road and Charlwood Road on 14 May (10am to 2pm) to see find plants suitable for containers or small front gardens as well as growing advice.


Short Organic Food Growing Course – starting 23rd April

EcoLocal, a Carshalton based charity are running their successful short course to help you to grow your own healthy, organic food without harming the environment.
For further information and to book, visit http://www.ecolocal.org.uk/highlight/organic-food-growing-course/

Comments from past students….

It’s a great mix of practical and theory so the information goes in twice and ensures you’re more likely to remember!” 
Very knowledgeable tutor”.
I had only just got an allotment so the 6 lessons were exactly in line with what I needed.”

The course teaches eco-friendly gardening; no-dig methods, crop rotation, organic pest control, making natural fertilisers and more. It’s suitable for beginner and intermediate growers. teaching is a mixture of theory and practice, allowing students to try out the skills they learn, understanding how to plan, so they can make the most of their veg patch or allotment.

Running over 6 Saturday mornings, beginning 23rd April 2022.

The course is face to face outdoors for the practical skills teaching elements, taught on the Carshalton Community Allotments, just a 5 minute walk from Carshalton station. The theory is taught live via Zoom on alternate weeks. More travel information


Protecting the Bees – our president speaks in parliament

“We may be an urban constituency, but we have beehives in Putney and we know how essential bees are for pollination. I am very concerned about the decision to use bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. I firmly believe they should be banned.”

Fleur Anderson

With all that’s happening you may not have noticed that the Government has agreed to allow the use of neocotinid pesticides this year – rolling back the EU legislation from 2018 banning these substances. Having just passed the Environment Bill, they then choose to set it aside.

A seed treatment to help sugar beet farmers sounds innocuous – until you understand that these extremely dangerous chemicals pass into every part of the plant -roots, stem, leaves, flowers -and persist in the soil afterwards, harming bees and pollinators for many years to come. They spread rapidly through water run-off contaminating wide areas. The science is devastatingly clear.

Research shows that neocotinoids also harm birds. Just two treated seeds (equivalent) eaten by a songbird makes them lose weight and delays migration, decreasing their chances of survival. (Science 2019)

Our President, Fleur Anderson, spoke in a parliamentary debate about this regrettable decision. See a clip of her speech here.

The Hansard record makes fascinating reading for those interested in this topic. Read the whole debate here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/

The virus disease problems experienced by our sugar beet farmers are real enough. The Government themselves have said that they expect the sugar beet industry to no longer rely on bee-killing neonicotinoids by 2023—next year—through the development of pest-resistant varieties and greater use of integrated pest management. Many farmers are working hard on alternative strategies. Sufficient support for the farmers to use alternative pest management could make this year’s devastation unnecessary.

Please be careful what you use on your plot. Our allotments should be a haven for our pollinators. This is a complex topic, but it has been shown that well diluted ionic surfactants (eco washing up liquid) are mostly harmless. Glyphosate is not. Try not to use it – it’s persistent in the soil. If it’s essential to use a tiny amount make sure the bees can’t get to it. ( Non-insecticide pesticide impacts on bees: A review of methods and reported outcomes/ Agriculture, ecosystems & Environment, 2021)

Read Fleur’s newsletter about this and other local issues here


Trying out Green Manures

You may have read about using Green Manures to improve your plot. Timing can be difficult, however, and the variety of options confusing.

Green manures, often sown in late summer or autumn, take up nutrients, preventing them being washed away by winter rain. When dug in the following spring, they release these nutrients back into the soil. It’s a nutritional feast for your soil.

Different varieties can be used throughout the year – some good for getting a bad patch back into cultivation, and others good for productively filling a patch after a crop has finished. Sown from seed in any patch you want to improve, they should grow within 6 weeks and have the extra advantage of keeping down the weeds while they do so!


Here’s a mixed crop of winter tares and rye, planted last November, flourishing on Site 3 in January.
Digging up was straightforward – the roots weren’t too long! Cut off the roots before digging in, and leave for 2 weeks before planting…

Here’s some good green manure advice from the RHS – for instance in an area with club root, don’t use mustard green manure. Read more from the RHS..

So – if you can see a time gap between crops or just want to plan ahead to improve your soil, take a look at the selection of different green manures in the Store. There will be one to fit your plans…


If you’re thinking of digging your plot….

The RGS Allotments are, in general, set on London Clay. This heavy soil has some challenges for cultivation. Success revolves around good nutrients and, importantly, good drainage.

In general you don’t dig a clay soil in January – the autumn is better, when the soil is relatively dry. If wet in Winter it’s best not to walk on the soil until it dries out a little, usually in mid-Spring.

You may find it easier to use a Digging Fork – not a spade…. Read why here

Getting the best out of a clay soil…. Quick facts from the RHS

Clay soils contain more than 30 percent fine clay particles
Clays swell and shrink as they wet and dry, effectively cultivating themselves
Clay soils take longer to warm up in spring
Wet clay soils are easily damaged when dug or walked on
Drought is much less damaging on clay soils than others soil types

Five steps to improving clay soils:

The links in this list lead to further advice from the RHS.

  • Make raised beds to assist drainage and to reduce trampling of the soil
  • Consider adopting a ‘no-dig’ regime, especially in raised beds, as these suit clay soils well
  • Some, but not all, clay soils respond to extra calcium, which causes the soil particles to clump together. Where the soil is acid, lime can be applied, but elsewhere it is better to add gypsum. Gypsum is the active ingredient of many commercial ‘clay improvers’. Test on a small area in the first instance to ensure it is effective on your type of clay
  • Dig in plenty of bulky organic matter such as manure or, ideally, composted bark, as this can make a noticeable improvement to the working properties of clay
  • Apply organic mulches around trees, shrubs and other permanent plants in Spring as these will reduce summer cracking and help conserve moisture


How to clean your Greenhouse

It isn’t a glamorous job – but, before the weather warms up, take the opportunity to have the ultimate spring clean..

Removing algae, moss and grime lets in more light and helps reduce pests and diseases – says the RHS.

SO – here’s a quick checklist – but the full advice is worth reading.

  1. Remove the plants outside (cover with fleece if cold)
  2. Brush or vacuum to remove dust and dirt
  3. Clean structure with disinfectant or detergent – check the RHS link for details and good advice.
  4. Ease out dirt – often trapped in glass overlap
  5. Replace broken parts
  6. Extend cleaning to propogation area and equipment

Find the full advice from the RHS HERE


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