Pumpkin Event Update

The Pumpkin Event on Sunday was a great success! The weather was brilliant, we had the largest number of pumpkins/squashes so far in over 25 different varieties. The stall was visited by a steady flow of generous customers. Plus a photographer from the Maidenhead  Advertiser came and took a series of photos of the magnificent display.

The “Guess the Weight of the Pumpkin” competition was popular. The guesses ranged from 64kg to 8kg, the actual  weight was 16.4 kg. A large proportion of the produce was snapped up for a donation and a total amount of £160 was taken by the end of the day.

Many thanks to all those who participated, by manning the stall, promoting the event, donating the produce and helping generally

TATA BBQ and Pizza Get Together – 21 September 2019

Plot 20A on the Hurst Road site hosted this years’ TATA BBQ and Pizza Get Together. For a whole week beforehand a bonfire smouldered continuously getting rid of overgrown vegetation, couch grass and the most unwelcome bindweed. Apple trees were pruned, lumps and bumps raked over, and a pathway laid. On Friday evening the event shelter was erected and anchored. Garden chairs and tables materialized from around the site and were hosed down.

Paul B manned the pizza oven and baked very tasty garlic bread and pizzas adding a chilli here and there for little more zing. Charlie was in charge of the BBQ cooking meat, fish and the odd veggie burger – dedication considering he had just flown back from Kenya that morning! A whole range of goodies came from the ‘bring and share’ including beetroot jelly, homemade coleslaws, apple cake (Malcolm – did you know someone had ‘scrumped’ your apples ), home-baked cookies and Pimms – a true taste of summer served with lemonade, strawberries, cucumber and orange.

Approximately 50 people joined in this social event from all walks of working/retired life, from food photographers to statisticians, builders to teachers, and civil servants to IT experts.

Many thanks to all those who made this event so successful. It was lovely to welcome newcomers and catch up with seasoned plot holders, all with one common bond – the allotments.

A very special thanks to Wendy for keeping it all on track and keeping an eye on the weather (as well as the budget!).

Looking forward to 2020!

TRHA Autumn Show

TRHA put on a spectacular Autumn Show this year. Well done to all TATA members who entered!

There were some fantastic award winning entries in a number of categories including heaviest pumpkin (affectionately known as ‘Big Bertha’ – Malcolm – hope your back recovers …), first in class parsnips (a lot of patience required to dig these up!), melt in the mouth boiled fruit cake, scrumptious chutney and divine plum jam. A TATA family member even won 1st prize for ‘arrangement of weeds in a jam jar’.

The TRHA hosts 3 shows a year: Spring, Summer and Autumn. There are a variety of categories including flowers, fruit and vegetables, domestic, art and floral art and a childrens category. The upcoming winter months are a great time to think and plan for the 2020 shows. Have a go – it really is good fun taking part (although some may need to re-think their idea of ‘fun’ – clambering up plum trees at 7 in the morning on the day of the show – at least it wasn’t raining!).

Twyford Village Fete

Dear TATA members,
What a terrific turnout at the village fete yesterday! The TATA stall boasted a wide variety of allotment produce, flowers, plants, jams and chutneys and homemade cakes. In addition to the edibles, we ran a ‘guess the weight of the marrow’ competition and a raffle with prizes including a box of fruit and vegetables, a sultana cake, free-range eggs and jams/chutneys and a bottle of wine.

A huge thank you to all who made this event successful from produce donation, preparation, setting up, volunteering on the stall and clearing away at the end of the day. 
Sunflowers attracted a lot of interest – we only had 1 small stem left at the end of the day. Fasted selling goodies included rhubarb, beetroot, runner beans and jams/chutneys. Before the official opening of the fete, we had to replenish rhubarb, beetroot and runner beans from the allotment!
Overall we sold out of pretty much everything and in total raised a whopping £300 [which is £95 more than in 2018].

Please see attached photo – do look out for other pictures of the colourful TATA stall in the next copy of the Maidenhead Advertiser!
Thanks!

Duke of Edinburgh & TATA

Hello, my name is Louise Povey. I am a guide in Loddon District and I have been working towards my bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE).

My Duke of Edinburgh is broken down into 4 sections, Expedition, Physical, Volunteering and Skills.

For the skills aspect of my DofE course, I decided to do gardening, in particular, growing vegetables and fruits. To achieve this, I have been using one of TATA’s (Twyford Allotment Tenants Association) starter plots on the Hurst Road Allotments in Twyford. After an initial few hours clearing and preparing the 3m by 1.5m plot, I started planting. I decided to plant carrots, potatoes, sweetcorn, peas, broccoli, artichokes, pak choi, beetroot, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and courgette. I did this over several days and thanks to the TATA plots being shared, I was able to utilise some space inside the greenhouse.

After watering every day, I finally saw my plants starting to grow and they are all now growing fast and some are almost ready to pick. Some challenges have been snails and birds but this was easily rectified with netting and broken up eggshells.

I have also, with some help, installed some guttering to the greenhouse leading into the water butt for myself and other TATA members to use.

I have learnt several new skills throughout this process that I have found useful in other areas of my DofE and although I have finished the required hours for this section, I hope to be able to still use the allotment to grow more veg and eventually pick and taste what I’ve been working towards.

Hurst Road Allotments – Then and Now

Veg Table

There can’t be many Twyfordians practising the same skills that their great-grandparents used, but you’ll find dozens of them down at the Hurst Road Allotments. Tucked in a corner between the train station and the Twyford Brook, church records show that the land was first rented for allotment use in 1887. The landowners were from the Palmers of Sonning, and in 1913, after one particular Wade-Palmer escalated the rents, Twyford Parish Council stepped in to purchase the land and keep it as allotments for the good of the community.

A century ago allotmenters tended to invest a great deal of time tending comparatively large plots. Nowadays we can choose almost any size, and lots of beginners start with plots just a few yards square. Some even put down weed-matting instead of having to weed, and use copper tape to keep the slugs away – innovations our great-grandparents would surely have loved!

Lots of staple vegetables are grown in exactly the same way as back then – however, in many cases we now grow much tastier varieties than they ever knew, or that our supermarkets have yet discovered – and if you fancy creamy European pumpkins, say, or the oystery root of salsify, or the lemony zing of Peruvian oca, they’re trivial to grow, but impossible to buy in the shops.

And as for some of the things you CAN buy in the shops – how do they cost that much? If you’ve ever grown a few courgette plants, you know they tend to grow like wildfire, sprouting endless courgettes for months, till you’re giving them away by the bagful. The joy of almost-free veg, growing almost by itself, is hard to describe. Five-year-old plum trees may provide hundreds of plums a year; you may need a bigger freezer.

And then you may notice, a few plots down, the 50-year-old tree that provides thousands of plums a year; one day yours will, too.

Because occasionally history cycles round on the allotments: for example, in the corner furthest from the train station is a “rod bed” of coppiced Hazel trees, laid out to provide poles for allotmenters’ use in fencing and plant support, which has recently begun returning to popularity.

Hurst Road is a 130-year-old Twyford community that links the old to the new, and the people to each other. And it needs the Twyford community to survive: with its location, others may wish to reuse the land for financial gain, given the modern tendency to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

But we might at least know the price of courgettes, and the value of growing them.

My Walnut Tree

I had a little nut tree
Nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg
And a golden pear.

The King of Spain’s daughter
Came to visit me
All for the sake
Of my little nut tree.

This nursery rhyme is said to commemorate the visit of Katherine of Aragon to King Henry VII’s court in 1506.

Walnut Tree

My walnut tree does not have such an illustrious provenance, it started life as a walnut that I found on the lawn of a pub called the Walnut Tree, which as its name suggests had an ancient walnut tree growing in its garden, in Weston-super-Mare in the autumn of 2000. When I asked the land lord what he did with all the nuts on the ground he said, “Oh the squirrels take them, help yourself to as many as you like”. I brought some home to Twyford, ate some, and planted several in a large flower pot. The following spring only one germinated which I kept in the pot until I retired in 2002 and took over a very overgrown allotment where I planted it. It did not produce any nuts until it was six years old and about ten feet high when I had a crop of six nuts, since then, as it has grown, it has produced more and more each year, last year was a relatively poor year due to the wet weather in the spring, even so there was a crop of over a hundred. The tree is now sixteen years old being about 20 feet tall although I have reduced its height by pruning the leading shoots each year. The new nuts are not like those in the shops,

In the spring, before the leaves fully appear the walnut tree produces catkins, about the size of an adult’s index finger and very small insignificant flowers. The flowers are wind pollinated, the catkins releasing clouds of pollen when they are mature. What’s required for a good crop are several days of warm dry sunny weather with a gentle breeze, wet weather, like last year, prevents the pollen spreading and a poor crop results. Release of the pollen can be helped by gently tapping the branches with a cane, perhaps giving rise to the not very PC west country proverb “a women, a dog and a walnut tree the more you beat them the better they be”. The nuts grow in a case very similar to the more familiar horse chestnut conker, when the nut is mature the case splits and the nut falls to the ground to be harvested or to be eagerly collected by squirrels if one is slow off the mark. The nuts need to be air dried, preferably in the sun, to ensure that they do not go mouldy before storing ready for Christmas.

Mike Y

My Allotment

I thought I could tell you a little bit about why I got my allotment…

I was in a stressful job and we were trying to start a family. After my first IVF treatment I needed to do an activity completely separate from work, I needed to be outdoors and forget about what we were going through so I got my allotment plot. In October 2009, after 6 IVF treatments I was 8 months pregnant at my allotment and crying that I couldn’t lift my potato crop because my bump was in the way!

A further child on, the love of my allotment led to a complete career change and going to college to get my RHS level 2 qualification. My allotment is a mess and unruly but it is central to my family and is enjoyed by us all now.

Clair M

THE HISTORY SOCIETY HERITAGE OSIER BED

In April 2016 an allotment plot was planted with osiers (willow) to recreate a bed to allow first-hand experience to be gained of a once thriving village industry. The three species triandra, viminalis and hybrid red will provide willow suitable for such applications as basketwork and willow sculptures.

Osier Pitting in Twyford
Osier Pitting in Twyford

Read more here

A Story from Allotmenteer 65+

I’m on my third allotment, here at Hurst Road; and it’s turned out to be the friendliest.

I’ve been on plot 18 for over 6 years. As is usual, I took over a plot which had lacked enthusiastic attention for some time. That’s not to say that it is now perfect. Far from it, but, I am making a difference. I’ve ripped up the buddleia, nettles and brambles which were in the way, knocked down the rotting shed made of pallets, stripped the turf and double dug the plot, and erected and repaired a shed. I created a raised bed from paving slabs for asparagus, planted 20 plus fruit bushes and a cherry tree, made two compost bins, and the turf I removed formed two compost heaps. And I weeded, and weeded and weeded. I made a fence at the rear of the plot and following the advice in a book I was reading at the time, made it rabbit proof by burying it lower than 12”; not being aware that the rabbits had all departed with the onset of myxomatosis. And that’s just plot 18A. In a wild moment I took on 18B. There was more weeding, but, also the challenge of apple and plum trees.

Some challenges we aspire to and others are forced upon us. Like the deer who provide us with our latest challenge. I became aware of the deer eating my crops in

Deer
Deer on the plots

2015 and it’s only got worse this year. I decided that netting or caging crops on each bed was effective but inefficient. So I set about fencing the plot. At the front I now have a one metre high fence with mesh infill and a decent gate; and have continued it, at intervals, between the fruit cages along one side of the plot. They take the form of a wooden frame with wire mesh infill allowing the panels to be moved. I thought I was protecting my plot from Muntjacs until someone put a hand on my shoulder and whispered in my ear the news that they were in fact Roe deer, and could easily jump two metres. I decided that it didn’t matter and that I enjoyed building fences. Still they cannot get at my gooseberries and don’t seem to like rhubarb. There is always a silver lining if you care to look.

We now have TATA to support us on the allotment. With their help we hope to persuade Twyford Parish Council to help us exclude the deer and others from the plot. Suggestions include growing thorny bushes and brambles to cordon off the plot behind the Hazel copse and along the road embankment, and at the front of the plot. Like growing our crops this will not be a short term project.

Allotmenteer 65+