I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Association.

I hope you will find working on your plot enjoyable, as even when your plot is in good order, nobody will deny that it is still hard work!

The Association offers a number of facilities that will make your life easier: good advice, even if you know nothing about growing vegetables, there are always folk around who do and you just have to ask.

We have a site Shop that will sell you everything you need, from seeds to compost and netting to slug deterrent, mostly at discount prices.

There is a Social side as well with sessions such as Art Groups and Digital Photograph and we have quiz-nights and other such events - usually in our clubhouse on Eddington Lane. We also arrange outings every year, a popular one being a visit to RHS Wisley.

The theme is about growing “stuff” but it’s also about the camaraderie and goodwill that exists in the Association.

Dennis Jennens

Welcome Pack Contents

This pack contains some basic information to help you start out on your plot. It also contains the current versions of some reference material such as our Constitution.

Our website (details elsewhere in this pack) contains a complete set of the latest versions of issued information. When changes are made to these documents, we will let you know through our newsletters.

This pack contains –

HBAGA Introduction – who we are

A quick summary of things you should know

Newsletters – how we keep in touch with you

Our Website

Social Activities

Our Shop

Some Basic Information

Getting Started on your Plot

Crop Rotation

Our Constitution – how we are managed, Committee, AGM and so on.

Plot-Holder Rules - how you should look after your plot

HBAGA Introduction – who we are

The Herne Bay Allotments and Gardens Association (HBAGA) is a self-governing body which manages several allotment sites in Herne Bay under a lease agreement with Canterbury City Council. Our sites are designated as statutory allotments under the Allotments Act.

We are responsible for everything involved in the management of our sites – water bills, maintaining fencing, electricity bills and anything else that arises.

We have trustees and a management committee as described in our Constitution.

We have around 250 plots (half or full size) spread around our sites. The main site which houses our Club House and our Shop is on our Eddington site. Our Jessops site is next door to Eddington and the Cross Street site is nearby. Near Herne Bay railway station is our Station Road site. Plots vary in size and shape but a full plot is about 200 square metres on average.

New plot-holders start with a half-plot but may extend to a full plot later if circumstances permit.

Local residents who do not have plots can become Associate Members for a small annual fee. They can make use of our Shop and take part in various Association activities. So if you have any neighbours or friends who might be interested then please encourage them to come along to the Shop to sign up.

A summary of things you should know

Our Constitution and Rules with the supporting documents and other parts of this pack describe how we do things in some detail. This is a quick summary.

• Do not go onto other plots without invitation.

• Do not park on main pathways – use the car park areas.

• All sites have wheelbarrows which you may borrow. Look after and return them.

• Sites often have heaps of bark/wood chips which you can use for paths etc.

• All sites have a toilet. Please help to keep them in a good state.

• If you want a shed/greenhouse etc - get agreement of your site manager beforehand.

• Don’t use your plot as a storage area – take any rubbish off-site.

• Don’t bring glass onto the site.

• Don’t leave valuable tools on site – we cannot guarantee security.

• Look after your key. Losing it will cost you for a replacement and reduce our security.

• Keep site gates locked when not in use.

• Treat other members and their property with respect.

• Look out for notices of forthcoming events.

• There are limits on the use of bonfires. Check if you are unsure.

• The water tanks are for dip-filling watering cans. Don’t pollute them. No hoses.

• Don’t remove established trees without consulting your site manager.

• Keep your plot free from potential risks such as abandoned glass, wire, canes.

• There is an emergency number displayed on each site.

• There is no restriction on the times you can visit your plot.

Newsletters – how we keep in touch with you

We issue fairly regular newsletters to keep members in touch with what’s going on in the Association. They might include the latest on what is in stock in our Shop, proposed coach trips, forthcoming quizzes, AGM details and so on.

The newsletters are issued to all members who have provided us with an email address. You can opt out of receiving general information if you wish. If we don’t have email contact for you then you can find the same information on our website and on notice boards.

Our Website

We can be found at www.hernebayallotments.com.

The website contains a mix of current news and reference material such as our Constitution

and this is where you will find the latest versions. Have at least a quick look so you know what information is available. This pack contains copies of the current versions of the most important documents but there are others of which you should be aware.

You will find the latest information about what is available in the Shop and news of proposed social events and trips. If you wish to order items or reserve a place at a quiz then the website will tell you how.

You can use the website to advertise gardening items.

If you have any comments about the website including ideas for new topics then please let us know.

Social Activities

We are very fortunate that we have a Club House; well fortunate is not the word as it was obtained by a lot of hard work by a group of dedicated members plus lottery aid.

We use the building for events such as quiz nights, barbecues and other social gatherings.

Association meetings are also held here.

We usually have one or two outings in a year to a garden such as RHS Wisley or to something not necessarily gardening related like a show.

Other activities include sessions such as an Art Group and a Photographic Group. These are open to all Members and Associate Members as well as their family and friends.

The Social Secretary is always open to suggestions for new events.

Our Shop

The Association has a small shop which aims to provide you with basic items that you might need at reasonable prices. We stock compost, soil improvers, fertilisers, insecticides, weedkillers, netting, fleece, stakes and canes and much more. We keep a range of seeds in stock and (at the appropriate time of the year) we have seed potatoes and onion sets available. We also provide a facility for ordering a wider range of such items often at a large discount. A small range of wild bird food and fish food is also stocked.

We do not aim to compete with local traders – for example we do not stock any tools or specialist products.

The idea is to provide a range of common horticultural supplies at a reasonable price for our members

 – and it is only open to plot-holders and Associate Members.

Wherever we can we buy in bulk and then make up smaller units. Not only does this provide our members with good value but itmeans we can supply any quantities required. If someone wants two onion sets to make up a row then we are happy to oblige!

The Shop is located on the Eddington Lane site and is open every Saturday and Sunday from 9.00 am till noon (except for a couple of weeks around Christmas and the New Year). PLEASE NOTE - Shop opening may be affected by circumstances such as COVID so check for the latest news on our Website.

We welcome plot-holders from other Allotment Associations and we are happy to collaborate with them in arranging bulk purchases.

Car-parking is available near the Shop – it makes the loading of heavy goods quite easy.

Note that outside Shop opening hours the site gates are locked and access is permitted only to Eddington and Jessops key-holders.

When the Shop is open you may also be able to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee in the nearby Club House and talk over your latest successes with your crops or seek advice on any problems you might have.

Don’t forget to look at the notice boards when you visit, as they often have small ads from other plot holders wishing to sell or dispose of redundant garden items. It’s a good opportunity to ask if you have a gardening problem. We will always do our best to help.

If you have time available on Saturday or Sunday mornings then please let us know - we can always do with extra help.

Some Basic Information

When you take on a plot, you will need to pay a deposit in exchange for a gate key which will allow you to visit your plot whenever you wish. Don’t lose the key – it will cost you another deposit for a replacement. All keys are numbered so if a lost key is handed in, we will know the identity of the plot-holder. There are notes in the Rules about your responsibility for your key.

We have had incidents where plot-holders were locked in or out as their keys would not operate. It’s very inconvenient, of course, and it is expensive to get locks fixed. We are told that damage is often caused by misuse. Please follow the simple rules. Do not pull your key from a lock when the lock is open and ensure that the lock is fully closed before removing your key. Do not apply oil to a lock. If there is a problem with a lock then report it to your site manager.

Always lock the gates behind you unless there is an obvious reason why not or another member is following immediately.

All sites have some wheelbarrows available for you to use. Please look after them.

Don’t use them if there is a flat tyre. Return them after use.

Sites usually have a heap of chippings from local tree surgeons. You can use as much as you wish –

for example to lay on paths on your plot. If the quality is very good, then the delivery will disappear like magic!

All sites have a toilet provision. These are sometimes locked should the cess tank be at risk of over-flowing. Also, apart from the toilets next to the Eddington ClubHouse, the facilities will be locked in very cold weather to avoid freezing pipes.

One site has a set of purpose-built sheds provided when the site was created. On the others it is up to the plot-holder

to provide a shed if they so wish – and with the prior agreement of the site-manager. It is unfortunately the case

that, however much we seek to improve site security, we suffer the occasional break-in and theft. Very little is

usually taken since we recommend to all our members that they avoid keeping anything of value on site.

The damage to the sheds, though, is extremely annoying. Other structures such as a greenhouse or fruit cage are also possible – with the prior agreement of the site manager.

We are in a London clay area, so the soil has a tendency to be very heavy and sticky in the wet and like concrete in the dry. However, it does provide a good base for growing if well cultivated and we are fortunate that there are local supplies of manure which can sometimes be delivered to the sites. Regular addition of mulches will gradually improve clay soils.

Being very near the coast we benefit from the maritime influence and so escape the worst effects of frost. However, the ‘sea breezes’ can be rather bracing! Herne Bay has always been known for its sunny climate – very good for the holiday-makers – but we do seem to miss out on much of the rain in the area. So, it’s fortunate that water supplies are laid on for all our sites with, on average, one water trough for every six plots. We do not allow hose-pipes.

If you need tools, you may find some left by a previous plot-holder or you could ask at the Shop in case there are second-hand ones available. It’s difficult to do without a fork, a spade and a trowel to start with.

If tyres or other material which should be disposed have been left on your plot, then the Association (with the agreement of the site manager) will pay some or all of any cost imposed when taking items to the municipal dump.

Bonfires are allowed but there are restrictions – see the Plot Rules and the times listed on the website.

Getting Started on your Plot

It’s a good idea, before doing anything else, to remove any weed seed-heads. Then have a look a what is on the site – fruit trees and bushes and other perennial plants such as rhubarb. Decide whether or not you wish to keep them. If you wish to remove trees you must get the prior approval of your site manager – we don’t want mature trees discarded without careful thought – they are not quickly replaced.

Then think about what you would like as the overall layout of the plot. If there is no existing bed structure then is that something to introduce? These days there is much interest in the no-dig approach with beds laid out such that you can reach all planting areas without treading on the soil. Apart from relieving you of possible back strain there is plenty of evidence that no-dig is better for the soil and thus the crops. Decide if you wish to add structures such as a shed or greenhouse – if so then agree this with your site manager beforehand.

The chances are that you will be taking over a plot which has not been cultivated for some time and could have a

substantial population of weeds. Depending on the extent, there are various approaches you can take from

 hand-weeding to using a herbicide. Whatever method you use it really is important to cover any resultant

bare soil before the weeds regrow. If you aren’t going to cultivate soon you can use mulches such as manure or

temporary sheets of polythene.

If you are tempted to use a rotavator then it is essential to remove pernicious weeds first (couch grass and bindweed for example) otherwise you will make the problem much worse.

The Association does not usually hire out equipment but check with your site manager to see what help may be available.

You can use weed-killers and insecticides but these must be used appropriately and safely and must not be allowed to drift outside your plot. Do not allow them to pollute our water supplies. Only use chemicals which are currently approved for the amateur gardener.

Crop Rotation

It is beneficial to avoid planting vegetables in the same area each year. The soil will gradually lose the goodness which the crop requires and there may well be a build-up of pests and diseases. There is a well-established system of rotation which can be followed if your selection of crops allows. It’s not essential and you will often see (for example) runner beans being repeatedly grown up a permanent structure. However - any movement will be beneficial and if you do repeat groups in the same areas be sure to keep an eye open for a build-up of pests or diseases.

The usual rotation sequence is potato, peas/beans, onions/cabbages, carrots/parsnips.

Document Raised 06/03/2022

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