Allotment Problems

We hope that your alltoment is trouble free, but accept there may be problems. The following information is for guidance only. Perhaps these suggestions will help.

The field stewards and committee work hard to reduce any waiting lists and keep our fields fully let and fully worked. In 2008 we obtained a new piece of land from Kettering Borough Council to extend the Silver Acre (Scott Road) field. This added 20 more plots and cleared our waiting list. It was very hard work applying for grants to clear the land, getting it ploughed and measured out and organising rotovating of the soil.

One way we have kept waiting lists short is by dividing plots in half for new members. This has been very successful, as many new members found a full 10-pole plot too much. Creating two 5-pole plots gets two people off the waiting list when a plot becomes available.

At other times, the only way to reduce the waiting list is to remove an existing tenant. This is done with due process, following our  rules. Occasionally a member/tenant informs us when he/she can longer continue, but often it is the field stewards who notice that a plot has become neglected. Enquiries have to be made (sometimes the tenant is ill, or another genuine reason) and opportunities are given for the tenant to clear the plot of weeds and cultivate the land according to the rules. This usually takes a few weeks or months.

Most crops are trouble-free, but inevitably some do get attacked. The range of pests  and diseases are too many to to cover here, but you may be able to find out more about them using internet search engines, such as Google, or subscribe free to kitchen gardens email list. You can then send an email to the list and ask fellow gardeners about the pest or disease your crops have. For blight on potato and tomatoes, try

With a new allotment that has been previously overgrown, weeds can be the worst problem. Strimming or using a petrol mower on overgrown areas often helps. A very overgrown plot may take months to clear, and the weeds will quickly re-establish if you leave the ground untended for a few weeks. In the Spring and Summer, visit your plot regularly, at least twice a week, and hoe as often as possible. If your plot was previously overgrown or very weedy, space your crops out more widely to give you room to hoe or mulch very thoroughly. Try the kitchen gardens email list for specific problems. Sometimes you can smother the weeds with black plastic or similar mulch. If there is space around your crops you can place whole newspapers on the ground and cover with straw, grass clippings or similar mulch.  Other techniques include digging and hoeing the weeds or using herbicides such as glyphosate. Always follow the instructions carefully if you use any horticultural chemicals.

Security is never perfect on a field. Always report any such incidents to the Police. Telephone 03000 111 222 or use their website  Obtain a crime number. This helps the Police monitor and hopefully prevent further crimes. Avoid leaving valuable tools in sheds. Sometimes a shed is best left unlocked, as a vandal or thief may do a lot damage breaking in and find nothing valuable to steal.
The typical British summer is usually wet enough for vegetables. Dry spells can cause anxiety in gardeners, who may wish to water their crops. Before you rush out with your watering can remember these points:-
  1. A bucket full of mulch does more good than 10 buckets of water. Use whatever you can around the crops. Newspaper and grass clippings are ideal, or straw, wood shavings, composted weeds etc etc, In time all of these will also rot down to improve the soil and encourage worms, so don't water - mulch.
  2. Water is the greatest expense of our society, so the more water that is used the higher the rent will be. Using a hosepipe to irrigate an allotment is banned in our society rules. (see rules No 12) 
  3. Collect rainwater from your shed roof in barrels or tubs if you can. We have negotiated a supply of free water buts, ask the secretary for details.
  4. If you must water, get the water down at the roots. You will do more harm than good sprinkling the leaves. Use a funnel or pipe buried into the soil to direct the water straight to the roots. This can made from a plastic bottle with the bottom cut off.
If you have other problems or issues, the management committee meets regularly. You can write to the secretary and raise your issue. We particularly welcome suggestions and ideas.

If you ever have any problems, concerns or complaints this is the correct procedure.

1.    In the first instance approach your field steward.
2.    If you are not satisfied with the response from the field steward, please write or email the secretary of the management committee (who is elected by the membership of the association at the AGM).
3.    If the secretary’s response is unsatisfactory to you, please ask that the problem be put to the management committee formally at its next meeting. The item will appear on the agenda and be minuted.
4.    If the committee’s consideration of the problem does not resolve the problem to your satisfaction, you may request to meet the committee in person at its next meeting. You will then be invited to attend the meeting and put your case in person. Under such circumstances it may be reasonable that you bring one other person of your choosing to be your witness.

All of the above are intended to follow the principles of reasonableness and reflect the democratic nature of our society and its relationship with KBC. Of course, if the nature of your complaint is really serious, such as an allegation of a crime, you should report it directly to the Police. Our procedures are intended for minor violations of our rules and reasonable conduct, not criminal offences.

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