Oxford NHS Foundation report that their Minor Injury Units have seen a significant increase in patients with bites from the Blandford fly – a bloodsucking black fly, 2 to 3mm in size, which gives a particularly nasty and painful bite. The Blandford Fly (Simulium posticatum) is usually found near slow-flowing rivers and lakes – meaning both our sites are likely to have them this summer.
One of our members recently sent in this report:
On Tuesday evening, I was doing some watering and had just filled a couple of cans when I felt an insect bite my arm. I looked down and saw a small [about 2mm long] insect. In my shed, I keep a bottle of Dettol™ and I swabbed the bite area. We left for home shortly after and I took another look at the bite. I could see something black inside. I swabbed it again with Dettol™ and investigated with my jeweler’s eyepiece and a needle. I managed to fish out what I presume was the part of the insect which was after my blood. It was about 1mm long. Again, a Dettol™ swab was used. Before going to bed, I applied some hydrocortisone cream and covered it with a plaster.
I had a suspicion I had been bitten by a Blandford Fly and a Google search seemed to indicate this possibility. If so, the results can be mild or quite serious but there appears to be no bad reaction today.
If it was indeed the Blandford Fly that bit me, then I would not be the first one on the allotment to be attacked. My advice is do not take chances and swab the bite as soon as possible with Dettol™ or similar. See if there is something to fish out and use a magnifier and needle, carefully. As these beasts like water, be careful near the water troughs.
Your Secretary has also been the unfortunate recipient of one of these bites and can confirm they are really quite painful. NHS advice on how to treat these bites can be found here.
Despite heavy rainfall for some this month and widespread winter flooding, the UK may be on course for a drought this summer.
Find out more in the latest Hydrological Summary and Hydrological Outlook from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.
- The UK received less than 50% of the average rainfall for May 2020
- For England and Wales, it was the driest May since records began (in 1910) with just 17% of the average rainfall, with some regions below 10% (Thames – 7%, Wessex 9%)
- By the end of May, UK soils were notably or exceptionally dry – the driest on record for May (from 1961) and already at similar soil moisture levels to those observed in late July 2018
- Rivers flows across the UK have been steadily dropping since mid-March, with some recording their lowest flows for this time of year since records began, 50 years ago.
Anyone who watched Gardeners World last week will have seen Monty Don dealing with his garlic, and removing the ‘scapes’ (the developing flower buds).
He mentioned that garlic often starts to flower following periods of dry weather and when I looked at my garlic at the weekend I found that all the plants of one variety had started to develop scapes.
Looking around the internet I found this recipe for using them in a soup – which we just made – and it is delicious. Much better than tossing them on the compost heap!
Oxford Hub are offering free volunteer support for people who are not able to maintain their allotments during lockdown due to vulnerability to Covid-19.
If you are aware of anybody who may benefit from this support, please ask them to fill out the form (or fill it out on their behalf, with permission).
Oxford Hub will then contact individuals and match them to a local volunteer for support. Please feel free to distribute to anyone who might be interested. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oxford Together is Oxford Hub’s campaign to provide support to those in need. Their volunteers are assisting people with shopping, collecting prescriptions, phone check-ins, and more.
The Association Committee discussed this offer of support at our recent Committee meeting and are happy for members to access this service should they wish. If you do, please let the Secretary have the details of the volunteer(s) who will be accessing the site.
Hi Folks. In case you didn’t receive an email with this news, we have received the following from the Council via ODFAA
The Council is concerned about bonfires during the lockdown period when many people with pre-existing respiratory problems are stuck at home.
They are asking allotment sites to refrain from bonfires during the lockdown period. This coincided with a halt to their garden waste (brown bin) collection scheme while OCC staff are redirected to priority areas. (The ban has since been lifted and collections resumed)
Twenty Pound Meadow already has a site-wide ban on bonfires but this OCC request means that we cannot burn waste on the burn area to the north of the site. Please do not take waste for burning to that area as it will rapidly mount up and become unmanageable – please store it on your plot until such time as bonfires are allowed again.
For Botley Meadow, please do not have any bonfires until the restrictions are lifted – please store the waste on your plots as above.
Sorry for this inconvenience and I hope that it will only be a short time until we can proceed as before.
Nick Jackson (on behalf of the Committee)
Sorry – there was a technical glitch that prevented you from replying to a post (either an offer or a request). This is now fixed. Remember that if you are exchanging contact details, these will be visible to all members logged in so you might want to think about limiting it to“I’m on Twenty Pound Meadow, plot XX, I’ll there on Saturday morning and so on …”
Thanks for all the emails we have received expressing interest in a virtual seed and seedling exchange this year – during what are uncommon circumstances.
After an initial hiccup to do with website security we are now ready to launch the discussion board. So please can anyone who has expressed interest in their emails to us please post offers/requests on the discussion board …
How this works:
- Head over to the website and click on Log In under the Topics tab on the top menu bar
- The first time you do this you will need to complete a short registration form and the Website will send you an email (from email@example.com) with a link to activate your account.
Once you’ve successfully registered you can find the Seed Swap discussion under Topics (the only Topic so far). So – If you’ve been caught short by the Lock-down (or can’t find a firm that will deliver in time) and need seeds or seedlings please post a request, listing:
- Your name
- Your plot number (and which site you’re on)
- What it is you’re looking for (tomato plants, beans etc.)
Then wait to see if somebody can match your request with surplus of their own.
Similarly, if you have more seed than you think you’ll need this year, or if you’re likely to have extra seedlings that others could use, please post a comment with the same details as above and wait for an answer. Once you’ve exchanged your surplus it is worth adding a post to say that they’re all gone to avoid any more people asking!
After that it is up to you. The secretary will moderate this list but can’t and won’t take an active role in matching up requests and offers.
As we stated, this is a discussion board thread for members to communicate for the purposes of swapping seeds and plants. Please don’t use it for any other purpose. If you want a discussion thread for another topic please contact the site secretary to discuss.
And Finally! – We trust that members will abide by Government recommended ‘social distancing’ when exchanging seeds and plants!
One of our Committee members, Cathy, has created a WhatsApp group for members on our Twenty Pound Meadow site:
There is a WhatsApp group for speedy exchange of information, this is the best way to communicate issues to everybody particularly with regard to guidelines for COVID-19.
Download WhatsApp to your phone and send a text to Cathy Feenan 07769 346066 with your name and plot number to be added
If members are interested we can look at a similar WhatsApp group for members on Botley Meadow
Read some of Ally’s latest blog dealing with Community & Gratitude for Wild Greens:
What extraordinary, challenging and creative times we live in! Over the last few weeks life as we knew it has been turned upside down as the Coronavirus swept from country to country, town to town, community to community.
It is a time to be taking great care of our health and well-being and for supporting others in ways that are possible. Amongst the deep challenges and loss that many have already experienced, we are also seeing that, ‘we are all in this together’.
Communities are springing up where there weren’t any, and where they already exist much kindness, compassion and gratitude is flowing between people. These times of challenge and creativity are reminding us of the interwoven nature of all life, (yes that includes us too).
Read the whole article here
Following the latest COVID-19 guidelines and lack of stock, we are closing the Association Shop until further notice.
We will put a notice up on the shop door and TPM gates and add it to the Osney & St Thomas WhatsApp group.
Our delivery this week was only 20 bags of farmyard manure and 10 grow bags which we will keep.
The Committee will wait until the situation improves and then review procedures.
Problems finding seeds this Spring – Thoughts of a Virtual Seed Swap
We have heard from several members that they have had difficulty in obtaining vegetable seeds this season – with many firms quoting long lead times for delivery or even suspending trading (e.g. our own link with Kings Seeds).
I wondered whether those of us with more seeds than we need could find a way to share with those who missed out? Would members be interested in this if we were to set up a blog on our website where people could offer or request? Obviously we can’t organise a traditional seed swap due to social distancing, but two individuals could negotiate a swap or exchange and find a way of safely handing the seeds over …
Would this be useful to members? Please let us know what you think using the Secretary’s email.
As a Committee we thought we would like to thank all of our members for their cooperation under these difficult circumstances. Reports suggest that Twenty Pound Meadow is quietly busy with folks all keeping carefully apart. Children are staying close to parents. It has been a glorious week, weather-wise, and people are quietly keeping track of each other. It’s starting to look really good.
Botley Meadow was looking wonderful yesterday with many members on site – all studiously observing the two-metre rule but engaging nonetheless.
Thank you all for your understanding. As ever, if you have any questions please direct them to the secretary at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Having just read through the Government advice on the lockdown criteria we believe that both our sites can remain open to provide members with the opportunity for exercise. However, the following would seem to be the conditions under which we will operate:
- No congregations greater than two people (from the same household)
- Do not get any closer to anyone else than 2 metres (6 feet) under any circumstances
- Coffee mornings are off for the moment – classed as a communal activity and therefore not permitted
- The shop may be allowed to continue opening on Sunday mornings but we will need to give more thought to queue control, access to stock and payment methods
Please observe these conditions. The most recent news posts confirm that the Police will be checking to make sure that the public are observing them and if they suspect that they are not then we could be compelled to close the sites – just when all of us are gearing up for the growing season!
Be considerate – the introduced measures are there not just to protect you but also those you hold dearest; friends and family.
Emails: we propose not to deluge you with email updates (it takes the Secretary seven separate emails to get a message out) but will instead be using this website as a primary way of communicating with members. Please – if you haven’t already done it, can you bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates. Do also let other members know the website exists (but from 2 metres distance!)
Best wishes & stay safe
Nick (Association Secretary)
Your Committee have considered the Government advice concerning the evolving situation with the COVID 19 coronavirus outbreak and have reluctantly agreed that we need to postpone the AGM for this year.
We were due to hold it on Thursday 30th April at the West Oxford Community Centre but as current projections for ‘social distancing’ measures are being framed in terms of weeks or even months we cannot see how holding the AGM would be feasible or advisable. We will review the situation over the summer with a view to holding the AGM later in the year.
The current Committee will remain the same, with the exception of Treasurer – Sheila was already intending to step down in April and Phil Sampson from Botley Meadow was prepared to stand to replace her.
The Committee going forward will therefore comprise Nick Jackson as Association Secretary, Phil Sampson as Treasurer (to be ratified at the AGM, when held), and the following Committee members:
Anne James (TPM & Committee Chair), Jude Carroll (TPM), Cathy Feenan (TPM), Sue Spencer-Longhurst (TPM), Verity Wilson (TPM), Paul Robinson (TPM) and Pól Ó Ceallaigh (BM)
As of today (Friday 20th March) we do not believe that the Government intends to restrict members of the public from accessing outside spaces – including allotments. We encourage all of our members to respect the ‘social distancing’ advice from the Chief Medical Officer – i.e. to keep your distance from others (two metres) where practical and treat any publicly accessible surfaces as potential sources of infection.
A few members have asked about the possibility of the COVID 19 virus being transmitted via the padlocks on the TPM gates. Estimates vary regarding how long the virus can survive outside of the human body but it is likely to be in the order of hours. The padlocks and gates should be treated with the same degree of caution as any other public surface (e.g. the adjacent pedestrian crossing button). Members may want to consider using gloves when handling the padlock (opening it using a clear plastic bag as a glove also works).
Cllr Colin Cooke has donated some hand sanitising gel for use by the Twenty Pound Meadow gates. The Committee is also looking into how feasible it would be to provide soap and water adjacent to the gate for hand-sanitising purposes. If they do, we suggest members bring their own small hand towel for their individual use.
We are reviewing arrangements regarding if and how the shop may operate for the duration of the outbreak.
These may include: opening for shorter hours, limiting the numbers being served and asking people to distance themselves inside the shop, conducting transactions outside, and/or take orders and prepare goods for people to collect. We may need to limit transactions to contactless if advice develops that cash/notes are an increasing route of infection.
Regardless of the above, the shop is looking for volunteers to help out – having lost both Maura and Janet recently. Please contact Felicity at email@example.com if you feel you can volunteer.
Allotment Coffee Mornings
The Twenty Pound Meadow group is still considering whether to start holding these again, now that the weather is improving. Please keep checking back here to see if and when these may start up again.
Previously, Allotment coffee mornings were held on the last Sunday of the month, 10:30am – 12:00pm from April to September. If you haven’t been before we have lovely homemade cakes, biscuits and buns plus good ground coffee and juice for children.
If you fancy showing off your Bake-Off skills by providing the occasional cake please contact Elizabeth Newbery on 07816 268145 firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you able to help out on just one coffee morning (all milk, coffee and juice supplied) we would be very, very grateful.
The profit from the sales go towards boosting the allotment funds.