Bee walks and nest boxes

Oxford Plan Bee are offering plotholders the chance to attend one of their free upcoming Bee Walks, in either Wytham Woods or Oxford City (with a possible bonus visit to the Botanic Gardens). Walkers will visit some of their solitary bee next boxes, learning as they go about the differences between honey, bumble and solitary bees, including their appearances and nesting habits. Groups will be armed with nets and identification guides and will have a go at catching and identifying any bees seen along the way. There are several walks a month from now until September, and there is a flyer/poster with the details here.

Bee nest boxes are part of their citizen science project, which we can get involved with by hosting boxes on your plot(s), then sending photos and information over to them.

Plan Bee will be talking about how to photograph the boxes to tell if they’re occupied and survey surrounding flowers on the walks, and the info is also available on their website.

If you would like to get involved please contact them at this address. An information sheet about the project for anyone interested is available here.


Allotment AGM 2019

The 2019 AGM will take place at West Oxford Community Centre (next to Twenty Pound Meadow) in the evening of Thursday 25th April.

7:00 for 7:15pm – refreshments and an interactive session with four topics:

  • Twenty Pound Meadow Water Harvesting Project
  • Suggestions for Association Website improvements
  • Suggestions for Association Shop improvements
  • Gardening Sensibly, Sensitively and Sustainably

7:45pm move to the Main Hall for AGM business starting by 8:00pm


TPM Water Harvesting Project update

Pete Feenan and his team have been doing a sterling job on the Water Harvesting Project at Twenty Pound Meadow allotments. There is a PDF report here which describes their progress

As part of the project we plan to extend the rainfall collecting area of the allotment shop roof and need volunteers, preferably with building or good DIY experience, to take on this subproject.

(Volunteers with other skills are always welcome!)

If you are interested please contact Peter Feenan or Nick Jackson

City bees: allotments and gardens can help arrest decline

A recent article in the Guardian reports that allotments, weedy corners and fancy gardens are all urban havens for bees and other pollinators, a study has found.

Allotments are particularly good places for pollinators because they provide a mix of fruit and vegetable flowers, plus weedy corners full of native plants. “Allotments are incredibly important at a city level, despite their small area,” said Katherine Baldock at the University of Bristol, who led the research. “They are a good place for pollinators to hang out and provide a win-win situation, as they are also good for food growing and for people’s health.”

The research, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, found allotments often had 10 times more bees than parks, cemeteries and urban nature reserves.

Read the full article here.

West Oxford Grow Your Own & Potato Fair

Following the success of our Potato Fair earlier this year, ODFAA have organised a repeat in January 2019.

This is an excellent opportunity to try out different potato varieties as they can be bought by the tuber.  This summer Botley Meadow conducted a trial of several varieties purchased at the potato fair – to see which ones grew best in the local soil.

The Fair will be held on Sunday 6th January in the large hall at WOCA from 10.30 am to 1.30pm.

UPDATE: Check out the results from the Botley Meadow Potato Trial using tubers bought at the 2018 Potato Fair.

Botley Meadow Polytunnel – places going fast

  • Want to grow tender seedlings or heat-loving crops but don’t have a greenhouse? No problem!
  • Why not rent one of the spaces in our new communal polytunnel?
  • All proceeds go towards polytunnel maintenance, other Botley Meadow projects and site maintenance
  • Priority renting to Botley Meadow plot holders
  • Very reasonable rates!

UPDATE: As of the beginning of March we only have a couple of places left in the polytunnel

Speak to Nick (49), Pól (50), Phil (21a) or Glenn (59) – all on Botley Meadow – for further details.

UK heatwaves lasting twice as long as 50 years ago – Met Office

The Met Office annual UK Climate Report has been updated and shows some interesting statistics that may be of interest to allotmenteers:

  • Warm spells are becoming much more prolonged. From 1961 to 1990, the average longest warm spell each year was 5.3 days. From 2008 to 2017 this more than doubled to 13.2 days. This year, which is not included in these statistics, was even longer at 17 days. Notably, the south-east has seen an especially striking increase over the same period, up from an average of 6.1 days to 18.3 days.
  • While the temperature on the hottest day of the year has risen roughly in line with the average annual rate of warming since 1961, the coldest day has warmed at twice that rate. In the 30 years until 1990, the bitterest winter night in the UK averaged -8.5C. From 2008 to 2017 it was -6.8C.
  • The metric of “icing days”, which shows the average number of days each year with freezing temperatures, has fallen from 4.8 to 3.2. In the south-east last year there was not a single day averaging below 0C.