­Productive allotments in Hall Green

For some years Hilary and John Powell have cultivated two rented plots on an idyllic tree-ringed council-owned site in Scribers Lane, Hall Green.   

John does the heavy work on the allotments and Hilary, who is in poor health, plants and picks the fruit and vegetables. 

This year, they will be cultivating runner beans: enorma, climbing French beans, cobra and a yellow variety, lettuce mixed salad crop, parsley: Italian and moss curled, coriander, French tarragon, sage, garlic, garlic chives, oregano, thyme, peppermint, mint (mint sauce type) lemon balm, chives, fennel, pak choi, potatoes: King Edwards, International Kidney, Desiree, Charlotte, Cavillero de Nero, sprouts: red rubine, Romanesque, all year round cauliflowers, calabrese: purple sprouting early and late, white sprouting early and late, purple cauliflowers, green sprouting broccoli – summer, sweetcorn, carrots, Turks turban squash, courgette- defender,

gooseberries, blackcurrants, red currants, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, Bramley, Queen Cox, Jonagold,  plums: Victoria, greengage, damson, asparagus, peas, mange tout, swede, parsnips, dill, borage, phaecelia- green manure, celery, rainbow chard, gladoli, sweet peas, michaelmas daisies, sweet williams, delphiniums, stocks, marigolds and aquilegia. 

Hilary is now growing tomatoes, aubergines and peppers at home in a greenhouse. 

Preventive barrier measures 

Certain crops are grown in net cages, protected from pigeons:  sprouts, sprouting broccolis, cabbage, kales, cauliflowers, calabrese, peas, raspberries, currants, strawberries and blueberries.

Onions and leeks were affected by onion/leek moth last year, so this year they will be grown under  Agralan’s Enviromesh, a strong durable mesh netting crop cover which prevents damage by insects, caterpillars, birds, rabbits, wind & hail.  

Strawberries are reared in growbags off the ground on a long table arrangement.

No pesticides 

Home made applications include: 

  • boiled up rhubarb leaves as a spray  – helps to get rid of insects pests;
  • comfrey leaves and nettle leaves soaked in water make a wonderful liquid feed (needs a lid on as it stinks and mosquitoes like to lay eggs in it)
  • soot mixed in the soil and when planting nematodes (parasite worms) are used to combat the slugs. 

Other insects/pests/ eggs are picked off – or ignored. 

An inviting picnic area at the top of one of the allotments has been cleared and grassed by John for any members who would like to relax there.    

A store near the entrance stores gardening goods, chemicals, compost and other goods which members can buy at cost price every Sunday. 

There is now a waiting list at the allotments due to the increased interest in growing food plants. In 2010 there were 23 in the queue for two years and this year 12 people are waiting. Plots have to be kept clean, tidy and cultivated – a strict rule.  

We hope that Minister Eric ­Pickles will listen to  reservations  expressed about his review of council ­services.

It is feared that the reassessment of the 1908 ­Allotments and Small Holdings Act, which ensures town halls provide plots where needed, could end legal ­protection for the sites, threatening the future of allotments.

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