The view of a southern council

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS NOT OUR LOCAL COUNCIL SO DON’T ALL SHOUT AT ONCE! But it’ll give you all something to think about.

Following a recent risk assessment carried out on all allotment sites, the council have been advised that they should display the health and safety guidelines below on all allotment sites. We representatives have been asked to be placed on each entrance gate, notice boards, site huts, trading huts etc.

  • Do not drink the water from the tanks or standpipes.
  • Wear gloves whenever handling soil, compost, fertiliser or pesticides. Thin latex (or latex-free for allergy sufferers) gloves can be worn for delicate work.
  • Do not open bags of compost or potting media with your head right over it.
  • Fold over the top of compost bags when not in use.
  • Avoid potting-up in confined spaces.
  • Moisten dry potting media before use.
  • Also dampen down dry compost heaps before turning or use.
  • Consider wearing a dust mask when turning compost heaps and handling potting media or other dusty materials.
  • Avoiding storing potting media in greenhouses as these will heat up and may encourage Legionella.
  • Empty the water out of garden hoses after use and do not leave full hoses in the sun after use.
  • Avoid splashing water around when watering pots.
  • Wear gloves and keep arms covered when pruning plants that can cause irritations; e.g. ivy (Hedera), Fremontodendron, Euphorbia or rue (Ruta).
  • Only shred woody prunings in an open, well-ventilated area.
  • Ensure tetanus jabs are up to date. Otherwise, see your local GP for a tetanus vaccination if you have cut yourself on a plant or got soil or manure in an open wound.
  • Discourage rats by securing rubbish in bins and not putting cooked food on the compost heap.
  • Rat-proof compost bins with wire mesh if necessary. To reduce the risks from salmonella avoid using rat-infested compost on edible crops, especially those not cooked before consumption.
  • Protect from water-borne diseases such as Weil’s disease by wearing waterproof gloves, clothing and boots when clearing out ponds.
  • Always wash your hands after gardening and especially before eating.
  • Keep a hand sterilising gel down in the potting shed if clean water is not available.
  • Children should always be accompanied by an adult and supervised on site.

It was observed by one of the site representatives that the rules regarding bonfires were not incorporated and that fires are only allowed when the water supply is turned off.

Concern was also expressed on the lack of any risk assessments regarding the use of hosepipes as no mention is made of trip hazards, proper assembling of hose pipes nor proper storing.

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Prudhoe Town Show Report 2015

Giant Teddy with no nameOnce more the Annual Prudhoe Town Show organised by the Prudhoe Gardeners’ Association has lived up to expectations in providing a wonderful opportunity for exhibitors, of all ages, to show-case their skills. The displays of flowers, fruit and vegetables, baking and handicrafts were excellent and given very good coverage in the Hexham Courant the following Friday.

We would like to congratulate all the prize, trophy and medal winners in what was a keenly fought competitive but friendly environment. This year’s raffle also surpassed itself in the number of prizes available – alongside the giant Teddy in search of a name.

Uncollected raffle prizes and prize money can be collected from the Hut on Saturday mornings.

The Prudhoe Town Show, though, would not continue to be as successful without the many sponsors, volunteers and supporters who step up to the mark each year. Our grateful thanks, once again, go to them all. As you can imagine, the small Prudhoe Gardeners’ Association Show Committee are indebted to their support and hopefully we have been able to thank them all.

Evaluation of the event and planning for 2016 will start soon – with a number of new ideas for classes for consideration.

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Views of Prudhoe Town Show 2015

Prudhoe Town show 2015Judging In Progress 2015 The Stawberry MiceA scary MonsterGarlicBloomsbeetrootcabbagedahliaMr OwlTour of Britain CakeRose button hole

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Being an allotment holder requires effort!

allotmentsWalking past a well-tended allotment garden often raises feelings of respect for work done and pleasure in the achievements of the gardener working on the plot.

Sometimes it plants the idea of having a plot of your own.

But before rushing down to the Prudhoe Gardeners’ Association Hut to apply for one, make certain that you are not just attracted to the IDEA of having a well-tended allotment garden. Be realistic, look at your motives and consider what is involved.

An allotment garden is, as the name suggests, a place where you ‘garden’. It is not a place to store unwanted junk. It is not a wild life reserve. It is not a reforestation area. It is a garden that needs regular cultivating, where the soil needs caring for, where crops need planting and tending, where weeds need to be removed. Pests and diseases need to be controlled.

All of this takes knowledge, physical effort, time and some expense. It isn’t something you can do when you have a spare moment from an otherwise busy life. Success is not instant – even the simple radish needs watering and time to grow.

Your crops won’t come clean and washed like out of the supermarket. You will have to plan your crops to match what your family likes to eat and understand that things are seasonal – you won’t have strawberries and raspberries off your allotment for Christmas or courgettes in February. In other words, you need your family to be on your side and to be willing to give a hand on the allotment sometimes even.

It’s harder than just mowing the lawn at home.

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An Allotment70:30 – that’s the basic rule expected of our Prudhoe town allotment holders.

70% cultivated for crops and 30% for utilities.

Let’s cover that area of 30% for utilities then. That would be your shed, your water butts, your compost daleks, your wheelbarrow and hosepipe parking space, your chicken runs and your pigeon crees. And yes the rule is 10 chickens only, no cockerels and no appeal.

What’s included in the 70%? Growing spaces include greenhouses and poly tunnels. Of course if you are not using either of them to produce crops of one sort or another then you can be falling below the magic 70%. If you are using them as storage space for all sorts of things that shouldn’t be found on an allotment then you will be in breach of the health and safety rules. And you will be required to cease and desist in short order please.

Of course there is some give and take for those who have just moved onto an allotment. If there’s a lot of clearing work to be done then of course allowance will be made. So long as the inspection teams from the committee can see that you are working hard to bring your plot under cultivation and growing as you go then there will be no problem. Should there be no signs of effort then questions will be asked.

If you are a long term plot holder and things are going downhill with less and less being cultivated then certainly questions will be asked.

Crops? Well if you grow show dahlias or sweet peas or other flowers those are crops. Fruit bushes are crops. All those things that you can grow in greenhouses and poly tunnels such as peppers, chillis, tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers, even melons and sweet potatoes are crops.

If you grow a border of flowers to encourage pollinators that’s fine. If you are pleading docks, dandelions, nettles and other weeds as a wild area that will not be accepted. There are plenty of these elsewhere locally. Neither will allowing your hedges to develop into something that requires forestry skills to manage be accepted as a wild life area.We have wooded areas around the town to cover that.

An allotment is a garden and you sign up to rules which say that you must cultivate it as such when you take on your tenancy. 70:30 seems a very reasonable requirement and gives you the chance to cover the cost of your rent and membership subs in produce to eat and enjoy.

Edit: it’s only 10 chickens, no cockerels and no appeal.

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