Frequently asked questions
How is the site run?
Since 2013, all sites in Barnet are Self Managing, this means that sites are leased from Barnet Council, and the Council no longer has any responsibility for the maintenance and management of sites. We now all have responsibility for our management. Our Committee meets regularly, and Minutes from the meetings are available on this site to all plot holders.
Committee members have responsibilities including Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Lettings Officer, Shop manager, and organisation of events. The main roles are voted in each year at the AGM in March. Every plot holder is encouraged to come to the AGM, become a Committee member and get involved.
Annual events include the annual Produce Show and Barbecue. These all require volunteers. The shop is also run by volunteers, and there are Volunteer Work Parties arranged by the Work Party Coordinator.
We are all involved in Self- Management.
Paying for your allotment
When is my rent money due?
Rent is due in October of each year. Many hours of volunteer time are dedicated to ensuring the rents are collected when due, so please do your bit to make it go smoothly.
All Members must come to the Trading Hut to pay in person. If you are not able to pay on any of the Saturdays or Sundays (9:30-12:00) during October (dates for which will be publicised by email and on notices on site), you need to contact the Lettings Officer.
I definitely can’t pay in October, what shall I do?
It is your responsibility to let the Lettings Officer know so that an alternative time can be agreed.
Why can’t I pay by BACS?
We are run by volunteers and we do not have the time that organisations with paid staff have to check accounts against records. It is more efficient for us to collect the rent by the current system.
How is rent money used?
We aim to have enough rent income in savings to cover any potential threats to our site (e.g. problems with boundaries, water, trees, roadway), while improving it for as little investment as possible (e.g. by voluntary activity).
Using your allotment
What do I have to do on my plot and where do I start?
If the idea of digging over the whole plot straightaway seems daunting, then start with at least the patch you’d like to cultivate first. Even with a well looked after plot, you will probably need to dig in or mulch with organic matter such as manure, leaf mould, compost, or soil improver. It is essential to be able to identify different weeds so that you can treat them appropriately (see below).
Plots must be kept free from weeds, rubbish and debris, and be generally well-maintained. A good rule of thumb is to aim to have at least two-thirds of the plot cultivated.
Newcomers will be given reasonable time to achieve this if they take on a plot which has previously failed to meet these requirements. The rest of the plot, which can be pathways, non-permanent structures such as a greenhouse or shed should be neatly maintained, not overgrown, and in the case of buildings, not be allowed to fall into disrepair.
What does ‘cultivation’ mean?
Cultivation means improving the soil, planting and growing. When the site is inspected, there must be evidence of current planting and growing.
Please note that you will not achieve the minimum standard of cultivation if you do not work regularly on your plot.
Tools, rotavators, strimmers and mowers are available for you to use from the Trading Hut.
What should I do about weeds?
Make sure to regularly weed your own plot, ideally by hand pulling, forking or hoeing. You are able to use weedkillers but please do so responsibly.
Most weeds are easily managed by regular weeding. There are only a few which are pernicious. These include: bindweed, ground elder, bramble, couch grass and mare’s Tail.
We strongly advise that you DO NOT rotavate your plot until dug and cleared of the above weeds. Rotavation will multiply pernicious weeds by chopping the roots. We also strongly discourage the use of carpet to suppress weeds. Carpets leach harmful chemicals into the soil, and are extremely difficult to remove once embedded in the ground.
There are better alternatives, such as:
Mulching your plot will help to suppress weeds. Ask a Committee member about how to order your own manure deliveries to the site or use the manure and Council compost deliveries which are available to all several times a year. You need to put a layer of at least 6mm to suppress weeds.
Weed control fabric is sold in the Shop. If you cover grassed/weed covered areas for a season, the vegetation will break down and the ground should be much easier to dig.
Raised beds are a good idea on some plots.
Can I use a hose pipe?
Yes, unless there is a hosepipe ban and you have paid the appropriate fee. The hose must be hand held at all times and have an attached spray nozzle. Sprinklers are not allowed.
Where can I get help if I am new to allotmenteering?
We want you to succeed, so we try to help if we can.
Look out for the tips in our newsletter. Watch what your neighbours do, and ask them, or ask any member of the Committee.
Walk around the site and identify how others manage their plots. Most plot holders are happy to talk about their plots. Find out what they do particularly those adjoining your plot.
See also our Links page.
Above all, keep coming and working regularly if you want to get results.
What happens if I don’t achieve the expected standards?
If you or a near relative is suffering from prolonged ill health, making caring for your plot difficult, you should contact the Letting Officer to explain the situation.
The site is inspected twice a year. If you haven’t achieved the required standard we will write to you. You will be given guidance on how to improve your plot and a time limit of usually one month in which to make improvements.
If you still haven’t achieved the required standard when your plot is next inspected then you will be given one further opportunity to do so.
What can I grow on my plot?
Vegetables, herbs, fruit bushes and dwarf stock fruiting trees (these grow 2-4m and high,they are easier to harvest and won’t overshadow either your or your neighbour’s plot).
Fruit trees and bushes must be planted at least three feet from any shared path. Fruit trees must be sited so that the majority of the plot is still available for vegetables and other crops to be grown
You can also grow flowers, dig a small pond, and have an area for seating, but your plot must retain its purpose as a place to grow crops.
What can’t I grow?
DO NOT plant any trees except dwarf stock fruiting trees. Ornamental trees, shrubs or hedging are not permitted.
Can I cut down trees on my plot?
We have a number of native, non -fruiting trees on site and while some are mature trees of many years standing, others are saplings which have been allowed to grow. You should cut down and remove any small non fruiting trees you find growing on your plot.
Please check with a committee member before you cut down any tree which is taller than 12ft/4m.
Can I keep bees?
Only if you have experience. You must be a member of Barnet Federation of Bee Keepers who have 2 apiaries on our site. You will need to make arrangements directly with them.
Can I keep chickens?
No, we cannot keep any livestock (chickens, rabbits, pigs, goats, cows etc).
Can I bring my dog?
Yes, but it must be on the leash for the entire time they are on site and on your plot.
Are children welcome on site?
We want to encourage the next generation of gardeners so children are extremely welcome on site. They must, however, be properly supervised by a responsible adult. They will need to adhere to basic rules: to keep to their own plots or communal areas. Please ensure children are aware of the possible hazards on an allotment, such as water tanks, the pond, sharp objects etc.
My neighbour has overhanging trees or plants?
Ask if it is possible for them to cut down or prune back overhanging trees and plants. If they can’t do it, offer to do it for the benefit of both of you.
If they will not or are not happy with your suggestions, talk to the Committee.
What about my neighbour’s weeds?
If your neighbour is not cultivating their plot, ask the Lettings Officer and another member of the Committee to inspect it, and if there are concerns they will contact them.
What about nuisance from my neighbours?
Ask them to stop. Allotmenteering should be a relaxing, peaceful activity. If they don’t stop, please talk to the Committee about the problem.
Can I put up fences?
No. Allotments are not private property.
Improving your plot
Can I build a shed,poly-tunnel or greenhouse?
Yes. Permission must be obtained from the Committee for any structure.
You can build or erect a shed of no larger than 2.5m in height. Greenhouses and poly-tunnels are also allowed (same height restriction). Structures including sheds, poly-tunnels and greenhouses must not cover more than 10% of the area of your plot.
Try to site your shed and green house or poly tunnel in a position that is not likely to cause shade on either your own or your neighbours’ plots.
There is rubbish on my plot.
We arrange rubbish removal skip collections during the year. Please help your neighbours if they are unable to bring rubbish to the collection points in the car parks.
Ask a committee member where you can put scrap metal from your plot.
You must not dump rubbish anywhere on site, including the boundaries of plots, un-let plots, parking areas, or the roadway.
Can I bring potentially useful stuff to my plot and store it there until I find a use for it?
Piles of stuff can be hazardous to you and other plot holders. To avoid accidents, please try not to bring things to your plot which could be a fire hazard, provide shelter for pests such as rats, and will later have to be removed.
Rubbish removal is a considerable expense, especially when new people take on plots and have to remove piles of stuff, so you will be asked to remove it if it is a potential problem.
What can I do about organic waste, such as weeds and prunings?
You can compost most organic material including most weeds – just put them in the compost heap before they set seed and the heat of your pile will destroy any problems. Compost is a free resource that will improve your soil texture and fertility, and a compost heap is a good sign of a well- managed plot. We actively encourage you make a compost heap one of your first priorities.
You can burn pernicious weeds such as bind weed roots and bramble. Alternatively you can take them to the local dump, where the heat of a very large heap will destroy them.
You must not dump organic waste anywhere on site, nor put it out to be removed in the green rubbish bins unless of pernicious weeds / blighted crops which you have been unable to burn.
Security and Safety
Can I have a bonfire whenever I want?
No, at certain times of the year there is a risk that local residents may complain.
1st October to 30th April – any time
1st May to 30th September – complete ban except for the first Wednesday of each month.
Please be considerate to neighbouring properties and bear in mind the following :
Don’t burn any plastic material, or anything other than green or woody waste.
Don’t light your bonfire on a windy day.
Never leave your fire unattended.
Make sure the fire is properly extinguished before you leave the site.
Can I have a barbecue?
Yes, but if it is during a time when we are not allowed bonfires, make sure that it does not look like a bonfire to residents in the area, who may complain if they see smoke.
Please let your neighbours know the time of your barbecue and if you are having guests, please do not allow them to wander around the site without you, as unknown people may be a worry for plot holders.
What should I do if I see someone I don’t know on site?
Don’t be afraid to ask people what they are doing. They may just be plot holders you don’t know.If, however, you feel unable to challenge them please go to any Committee member on site or contact them when you are able to report your suspicion.
What do I do if I notice a leaking tap or pipe?
Call any Committee member immediately. Their phone numbers are posted at the Trading Hut.
Do I have to lock the gate?
Please lock the gate every time you arrive and leave, and also lock the gate if you find it open when you arrive or leave. An open gate ‘invites’ people to wander in.
What do I do if I have an accident?
You should keep a First Aid box in your shed or car. There is also one outside the Trading Hut.
Call an ambulance if needed.
You will need to give the allotment address: Cat Hill ,East Barnet, EN4 8HP
Keep your plot and surrounding paths tidy and level, to reduce the risk of accidents.
Contact the Committee if you have First Aid Certificate or are medically trained, it would be useful to have as many experienced persons on site who can offer assistance when needed.
Report it to a Committee member to be put in the Incident Book.
When is the Shop open?
It is usually open on Saturday and Sunday mornings, from 9.30am – 12:30pm during Spring and Summer and occasionally during the Winter.
The shop is run by volunteers, and Saturday / Sundays are the most convenient day for most people.
Please look out for requests for help when deliveries come in, and consider volunteering in the Shop.
What does the Shop stock?
Each year the Committee reviews what has sold well and what people have requested.
We aim to provide good value for money and offer an opportunity to come and talk to a member of the committee while also raising a little money for the association so you can give support by making a few purchases.
Whose job is it to keep the communal paths and areas mown and tidy?
It’s everybody’s job! You must maintain the path between you and your neighbour, so that it is safe to walk on.
Please do what you can to maintain our site. You may like to join a Work Party or offer to be responsible for the maintenance of a particular common area of the Site
Why is the water turned off in the winter?
If we don’t turn the water off in the winter, the pipes will freeze, burst, and cost us a lot of money to repair.
Giving up my plot
If I move out of area do I need to give up my plot?
We are obliged to give preference to Barnet residents in letting plots.
If you are moving out of the area you may be able to keep your plot, if it is well managed, but please consider whether it will be possible for you to keep coming regularly.
I’m giving up my plot. What do I need to do?
Please let the Lettings Officer know as soon as possible. Please arrange a time to meet and return your gate key, and to check that your plot is free of rubbish.
You should remove all your belongings within an agreed time, after you have let the Lettings Officer know that you plan to leave.
You must return your key to get your deposit back.
Can I sell my shed/tools etc. to the new plot holder?
You may make private arrangements with the incoming plot holder and sell any tools or equipment/structures that you have placed on the plot yourself, but he/she is not obliged to buy them. In that case you will have to arrange and pay for their removal yourself.
I’ve been asked to give up my plot, can I appeal?
You will have gone through a process of discussion about your neglect of your plot, lack of cultivation or possibly infringement of our rules. If appropriate, you will have been made an offer to move to a more manageable plot, or reduce your plot(s), to give you a chance to succeed. The Committee will also consider all of the positive actions you may have taken, including work to your plot, voluntary work on site, etc, and any health or personal issues. All of this is weighed up before a decision is made by the Committee or the independent adjudicator. If you feel that the decision was not fair, please write to the Committee Secretary, stating your reasons. You may be asked to attend a Committee meeting to discuss this further.
We would refer you to our published procedures.