Owning an Allotment

Club member Anne has been really busy during lockdown and worked hard on her allotment.  She recently sent us these fantastic photos of her allotment.

Stansted Parish Council established the Elms Farm allotments in January 2019 and Anne tells us that plot holders spent much of last year clearing ground and experimenting.

"The majority of us were complete novices with fruit and vegetables. It's quite a windy exposed site so everything from sheds to plants needed to be well secured (as some of us found out the painful way!). We have three water troughs on site to supplement our own water butt supplies and these have been a great bonus over the recent warm weather.

There is a great community spirit and folk are all willing to share tips and seedlings. Our allotment is at the top of the site adjacent to grazing land for horses and recently sheep and lambs so it's been an added bonus to have company whilst up there pottering.


We have tried to plan our plot so that we enjoy something home grown for as many months of the year as possible.

This year we have potatoes, beetroot, parsnips, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, garlic, cabbage, cauliflower, broad beans, runner beans, peas, squash, rhubarb and courgette not to mention raspberries, blackcurrants and strawberries! We think that should keep us going!

I'm currently experimenting with melons in the garden at home! "

Thank you Anne, we look forward to seeing the results!

July Club News

Hope you are all keeping well and adjusting to Lockdown Life.

Where has the time flown to this year - can't believe its July already! Suspect you've all been keeping busy in the garden but remember to sit back, relax and enjoy the flowers, birds, butterflies, bees and the scents too - as the saying goes..... All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy ... I think many of us will be having "staycations" this year so our gardens will be a good sanctuary.

 

RHS GARDENS
Good news - The four RHS Gardens have re-opened but you must make contact via the internet and book an arrival time. Some of the Yellow Book Gardens, and private gardens like Beth Chatto's, have opened up too, but once again you must book a day and entry time.

 

CLUB MEMBER GARDENS
I would like to thank the members who forwarded some photos last month to put onto our website - please keep sending them so that we can see your gardens as the summer progresses. Also if you do venture out to visit open gardens these photos will be welcome too (don't forget to give the name of the garden visited).

Please send them to me via email

FUTURE MEETINGS

At the moment there is no news on our meetings reconvening - the social distancing is still very important and the last thing we want, after everyone being so good during the Lockdown, is for this nasty Covid-19 to raise its ugly head again. As soon as we hear anything we will let you know.

IN OTHER NEWS
Unfortunately I have some sad news. I must let you know that Brian Townsend passed away last month. Many of our older members will remember Brian and Janet - they were stalwart members of the club for many years, moving away to the Midlands a few years ago to be near their children and grandchildren. They were amongst the original members when the club was formed. The club's condolences have been sent to Janet and family.

Take care and keep safe everyone, enjoy the warm weather and long days.

Happy Gardening - and don't forget to send those photos!

Maralyn
Chairman

Beautiful Back Garden

Club member Pauline says her daughter and granddaughter have been helping her during the lockdown period.   She has sent us these wonderful photos of her garden.

There are many different areas to the garden, with lots of lovely and unusual plants and she's also encouraging the growing vegetables. She said she'll send some more.

Pauline says she's so excited about this which is wonderful to hear.  we are very jealous as she has no holes in her Hosta leaves, and we love to see recycling which is good!

Well done Pauline!

Send us your garden photos

If you have been working hard in your garden, then please do send us your photos for us to display on our website. We love seeing the hardwork that has been put in by our members and friends, to keep the village looking wonderful.

A chance do those small jobs during Lockdown

Our Club Chair, Maralyn, and her husband Paul, have been very busy over the lockdown period putting new floor in their greenhouse and growing Tomatoes,Peppers and Cucumber.

Another lockdown job completed is the construction of some raised beds - adding some cat prevention measures too!  The yellow flower is Phlomis - the bees love it.

Transition to Summer

We are delighted to have been sent these wonderful photos, from our club member Gilly, showing her garden's transition to roses. As you can see she has been very busy during the Lockdown period.

Send us your garden photos

If you have been working hard in your garden, then please do send us your photos for us to display on our website. We love seeing the hardwork that has been put in by our members and friends, to keep the village looking wonderful.

Don't forget too that Stansted in Bloom is returning 26-28th June!

All information & an entry form is on the Parish Council Website.

https://www.stansted.net/events/stansted-in-bloom/

June Club News Update (Covid-19)

It has been a very strange few months for the world, one which many of us did not expect to see. And I'm sure many of you have been especially affected as you have been told to stay home and stay safe! When I wrote in March no-one had any idea how things would evolve over the months and sadly the number of bereaved families has grown every day.

I suspect for those of you that have stayed home, your gardens are looking very well tended and that some of those jobs on your “When I've Got Time Job List” have finally been ticked off at last. Please send us photos of your gardens/flowers so that we can add them to our website. It is so lovely to get some inspiration from others.

As promised I am keeping you updated on Club Meetings and news.

Club Meetings

It will no doubt come as no surprise that the June, July, August and September Club Meetings have been cancelled. Our AGM will take place before the next meeting whenever that is held. Like every other village organization we must look out for the health and well-being of our members and friends and we will follow the advice given regarding group meetings and social distancing etc.

The Link

The editors of The Link Magazine have asked me to let you know that until further notice the magazine will be available online only.

Stansted in Bloom 2020

I have also been contacted by Penny Reeves, (she spoke to us at our last meeting), who passed on the good news that Stansted in Bloom 2020 is going ahead. The date of this being 26-28th June!

All information & an entry form is on the Parish Council Website.
Why not Have A Go!!

Other News
As well as Gardening, Sheila (our Treasurer) has been busy sewing for the NHS and is now currently making face coverings. She says she cannot call them masks as not PPE but okay to wear to give some protection. So if you or you know of anyone that would wear one and would like one or more, please get in touch with Sheila (01279-814973).

She is asking for a £3 minimum donation which will go to The Friends of Stansted Surgery Group who funded the scrubs she's been making.  Please do pass this information to other members/friends who may be interested.

Finally, please take care everyone, keep safe, and enjoy pottering around in your gardens and ticking off more of those jobs you have put off!

Kind regards
Maralyn Harris
Chairman - Mountfitchet Garden Club

Summer Sizzlers – A Visual Feast of Hot Colours

Our March meeting involved a kaleidoscopic slide show accompanying Nick Dobson's talk on “Summer Sizzlers”.

Using photos from in his own garden Members were shown the wide variety of flowers from all over the world that can be grown in flower borders, in pots, in window boxes and in hanging baskets to give a visual feast of hot colours that will brighten up the summer months. As well as flowers, shrubs and fruit can add colour too.

“Wow Factor” bulbs and plants should be planted in pots and placed in flowerbeds - once past their best, these pots can be replaced with other plants thus extending the season of colour. After flowering potted bulbs can then be dried out and stored ready for the next season.

Tips were given on propagation, feeding plants and colour combinations.

 

Sea front gardens, Clacton-on-Sea

The talk ended with slides of places to visit around the country where colourful flower beds can be seen – two were local; the Cliff Gardens in Southend and the seafront gardens in Clacton on Sea.

Club Christmas

Club Christmas Party

Our December meeting was a fun evening, followed by our annual bring and share Christmas supper.

Back by popular demand was the beetle game. A sedate start, whilst newcomers learnt the rules, quickly changed to frantic throwing of dice followed by cheers as a six was finally thrown.

The groans grew louder as beetle was called, sometimes before another player had even started!

A good evening was had by all.

St Marys Christmas Festival

Images of the abstract angel made out of gardening bits and pieces for the st Marys Christmas festival.

Houseplants

This was the subject of our November meeting.

Did you know? It was the Thomas Rochfords Nursery who coined the phrase 'houseplants'.


Our speaker Chris Day did his apprenticeship with them in 1974. They were a major grower of houseplants supplying millions of plants to major retailers.

Nowadays most houseplants come from abroad, especially Holland. Comparing the 1970s to now, he recalled the most popular houseplants were African violets, shrimp plants, money plants and spider plants.

When Chris started his career, an orchid would have cost £100! With the advent of tissue culture, orchids are much cheaper and easily available. There is a resurgence for houseplants, driven by millennials, who do not tend to move so much, live in flats with no garden who want greenery in their homes.

He told us that the key to growing successful houseplants is neglect as most failures are due to over-watering

Fruit Tree Pruning

The speaker for our October meeting was Michael Abel, a former commercial fruit grower and lecturer at Writtle College.

The size of a fruit tree depends on the rootstock on which it is grafted; fruit trees on their own roots will grow too large for most gardens. Dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstock will produce trees varying from a height of 2m up to 6m. Family trees, where different varieties are grafted onto the rootstock, are becoming popular as patio container plants.

Pruning reduces tree size and promotes vigour for fruit production. Vigorous vertical growth and downward growth should be pruned out as horizontal growth is the most productive. Use winter pruning to promote vigour, and prune in summer to reduce it.

Pruning also controls diseases by cutting out dead wood and fungal infections. It lets in air and light which reduces scab and promotes bud formation and good fruit colour. It is essential to understand the difference between fruit buds which are fat, and vegetative buds which are more pointed.

Fruit size can be improved by generous thinning of fruit in the early stages of growth. Pest control using grease bands, barrier glue, and pheromone traps was discussed and the promotion of beneficial insects such as ladybirds, earwigs, hoverflies and lacewings was recommended. Birds devour vast numbers of caterpillars and should be encouraged.

A lively discussion followed.