Sunday 8 December 2013

A perfect late autumn day on the allotment

Sunset over Birchen Grove allotments (St Andrew's Church and the Stadium Arch on the horizon)
It was a perfect late autumn day down at Birchen Grove allotments today and I made the most of it.  It was pretty amazing to be entering the second week of December and still able to harvest the last aubergine and chillies as well as the more seasonal parsnips and broccoli.

Even the couch grass was cooperative, slipping easily out of the soil with just a slight jerk of the garden fork. Often the London clay is much harder to work at this time of the year and it was satisfying to get a lot done before it adopts its usual heavy, gloopy, saturated, winter state.

However, allotment holders should know that Brent Council is expecting plots to be dug over between now and March. The regulations on non-cultivation have been changed and the Council now expects 75% of each allotment to be dug over or have crops on by March 2014. In fact they will inspecting allotments before March to see if progress towards the 75% target has been made with the possibility of issuing Non-Cultivation Orders, and the potential ending of the tenancy, if progress has not been made. Anyone who cannot comply because of personal circumstances should contact the Council.

The change reflects both the large number of people on the allotment waiting list and the difficulty some people have in finding time to cultivate their allotment in these times of long working hours or several part-time jobs.

Increasing number of allotment holders are sowing over-wintering 'green manure' which is dug in just before the plant flowers and I assume council officers will count that as cultivation - digging in may well take place after March depending on which green manure is used.

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