Issue 100                                                     Summer 2016




About the FGA

Urgent Notice / Syd’s Snippets

The FGA needs you!

A potted history of the FGA and The Seed Box

AGM Report

Treasurer’s Report 2015

Draft Accounts 2015

Trading Report

Spring Show Report

Calendar of events

Photographic classes


Up Ribbon: 100th Edition Prize Draw




To celebrate this 100th Edition of the FGA Magazine we are offering a free prize draw open to all members. The prize will be a stainless steel spade and fork (either border or digging) of the winner’s choice.


Entering could not be easier: come to The Seed Box during opening hours and show us your 2016 membership card. We will then write your number on the prize draw board (one entry per membership card).


Should you have failed to renew before the AGM we will be waiving the re-joining fee until the draw takes place at the close of trading on 23rd July 2016 - you will even be able to retain your existing membership number!

About the Flitwick Gardeners’ Association


We are an association run by members, for members. Our aim is to promote gardening in Flitwick and the surrounding villages.


We have a members’ shop ‘The Seed Box’ where we try to stock useful items including seeds, tools and chemicals at very competitive prices. There is a library and a small range of loan equipment.


We also run shows, organise an annual quiz and run the occasional trip to visit a garden.


How to find us


The Seed Box is situated behind the old Flitwick Leisure Centre on Steppingley Road, MK45 1TH.


Seed Box Opening Hours



6.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. (Feb to end of May)


7.30 p.m. to 9.00 p.m. (Feb to Nov)


2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. (Feb to Nov)




Outside of these hours you can always leave a message for us on the answering machine on 01525 717289.


Email addresses


General enquiries etc.




Show info and entries



Website / Facebook address






Due to lack of volunteers, we will be unable to open The Seed Box on Saturday June 11th. As usual The Seed Box will also be closed on Saturday August 20th - the date of our Annual Show.

Syd’s Snippets

The numbers attending the AGM on 14 April had almost doubled from last year but the FGA was still only represented by a very small percentage of our membership.


We did manage to recruit two new members to take on some of the roles that needed filling, however we still urgently require a Treasurer and people to manage Trading at The Seed Box. Without these roles being filled the Association will not be able to function in the future. Full training will be available for anyone prepared to consider either of  these roles. Please contact me if you wish to discuss the roles or have any questions about them.


In the meantime, enjoy your gardening and I look forward to seeing you at the Summer Show on 20th August.


Syd Pye – Chairman




NEW FEATURE:  Letters to the Editor



·         Do you have an idea for the newsletter?

·         Would you like to share your volunteering experience?

·         Maybe you’d like to thank a member or swap some top tips…



Whatever you’d like to share or ask send your
letter to the editor to

for the opportunity to feature in the next newsletter.






The FGA needs you!


Volunteering is a great way to make new friends and learn new skills.


There’s a whole host of exciting opportunities involved in the running of the Flitwick Gardeners Association -

 from helping out in The Seed Box to managing the accounts. 

Or maybe you’d like to organise an outing to

Kew Gardens or RHS Wisley, or somewhere of your own choice?


Why not pop along to The Seed Box

on a Saturday afternoon

and speak to any of the volunteers to find out more.


Or you can email us at:


A potted history of the FGA and The Seed Box…


The Flitwick Gardeners’ Association was formed in the 1960s when the village (as it was then) allotments came under threat. However very little was done to progress the Association until the late 70s when trading and shows started.


The first Seed Box opened at the National Society of Allotments and Leisure Gardeners who at that time were based at 22 High Street, Flitwick after the Secretary made an old stable available. This original site is unrecognisable today, as it has long since gone to housing.


To get us up and running a few members took out loans to fund the initial stock, including Growmore compost, among others. Members were quick to buy these various items and restocking was needed almost immediately. Fortunately, thanks to credit facilities on our purchases, this meant that the original loan money was never needed and so it was repaid. And then it wasn’t long before the second stable was needed and we had to store stock outside.


I recall when we first opened the doors that there was a blackboard on the wall and in, perhaps, an excess of zeal, we wrote:

“everything from a flower pot to a greenhouse, just ask!” and we were astonished when almost on that first day a lady came in and actually asked for a greenhouse so we had to supply one!


The decision to stock potatoes caused another problem; where to weigh them up?  The solution was to do it in the basement, carrying full sacks down very worn steps and then carry 3K bags up again for sale.


A couple of years later when Flitwick Town Council(FTC) had some unused land for sale we were able to arrange a new building to be put up in Ivel Way. 


We spent several happy years there but were under regular pressure to find an alternative. 


It was the FTC who once again came up with a solution and the original Steppingley Road site was built with a storage yard on the left side of the main building. This in turn became the extension as we now know it and a new storage yard was built on the right hand side to be shared with the FTC groundsmen and the Library Van.


Over the years The Seed Box and the FGA has prospered thanks to all our volunteers. No one is paid for their work in the association, it is all done by members.


So if you think that the FGA is worthwhile then we would love to have you help in some way. It doesn’t necessarily mean lots of time but any support would be very welcome.

Dave Empson, Member since 1971

Seed Box Update

A temporary fence has been erected to secure the site of the old leisure centre in Flitwick, and the entrance gate has been fitted with a padlock that works with an allotment key.


When The Seed Box is open for trading a committee member will be present to open the gate for you, thus preventing trespassers from gaining entry.


This, hopefully, is a temporary measure until Central Beds decide on a permanent solution to fully secure the site until it is sold.


In the meantime we will endeavour to keep you updated on the situation as soon as we hear of any proposals.


Syd Pye – Chairman

Annual General Meeting – 14th April 2016


This year 25 members gathered for the AGM at the Rufus Centre and were welcomed by the Chairman.


The reports of the Trading, Membership and Show Secretaries appeared in the Spring issue of the magazine and were taken as read. The Treasurer’s Report and unaudited accounts 2015, which appear on pages 9, 10 and 11  were also presented to the meeting.  If you wish to query any aspect of these reports, please speak to a member of the Executive Committee either at The Seed Box or by email.


In his Chairman's report, Syd thanked all those people that had helped in the running of the Association over the last 12 months. He also expressed his disappointment with the lack of members attending the AGM (equating to just 6% of the membership) and shortage of help with the running of the association.


Of the current officers the Chairman and Secretary were willing to seek re-election but the Trading secretary and the Treasurer wanted to pursue different roles on the Committee. After discussions within the meeting it was decided that there ought to be a trading co-ordinator and small team to support the trading secretary and a deputy treasurer. In order for the FGA to continue current executive members will support these roles for a limited period but we really need more members to support the running of the FGA or it won’t be possible to continue. The Executive and Show committees were elected unopposed.


Finally, whilst the new Leisure Centre has opened the previous leisure centre site has not yet been sold and therefore there is no indication as to whether The Seed Box will be moving, and if it does where it would be situated.  Discussions with Central Bedfordshire and Flitwick Town councils have stalled due to previous contacts at Central Bedfordshire being made redundant.


Colin Stennett


Committee Members as agreed at AGM

Executive Committee


Syd Pye

Chairman and Rota Coordinator

Colin Stennett

Secretary and Show Secretary

Dave Pateman

Acting Treasurer

Jim Godden

Acting Trading Secretary

J-P. R. Carter

Deputy Chairman and Show Committee

Laurie Arnold

Seeds and Deputy Trading Secretary

Cliff White

Show Committee

Kath Stennett

Membership Secretary and Show Committee

Ian Holman

Deputy Secretary and Show Committee

Justine Cullen

Magazine Editor and Assistant Trading Secretary

Ann Lutley

Publicity Officer

Anne Corbett


Show Committee (in addition to above)

Dave Empson





Honorary Life Members

Dave Empson, Linda Pitts, Dougie Rees, Cliff White, Syd Pye *


* At the 2016 AGM, current Chairman, Syd Pye was awarded Honorary Life Membership for his consistent dedication to the FGA since 1971.



Treasurers Report 2015


The trading turnover was slightly down on last year, the bulk of the drop was in the area of plants and has meant a drop in our surplus to £351 after all expenses.


This business of fluctuating plant sales is causing us some concern because bedding plants not sold have to be written off immediately and a number of the more hardy  plants are also written off because we cannot look after them very well in the winter months.


Our stock levels are still high and this is a situation that Jim Godden (Trading Secretary) and I have been trying to address. Unfortunately, our one off purchase from the wholesalers does leave us exposed to poor seasons, drops in membership and one off deals by local garden centres and increasingly Tesco.


Our expenses have kept pretty stable this year, the only big item purchase was a replacement pallet truck, as the old was not repairable, Jim Godden negotiated a deal on refurbished one to keep costs down. General expenses have increased because we ordered a new supply of membership cards these will keep us going for the next few years.


Members are getting better at remembering that there is difference between debit and credit cards when it comes to charges levied to FGA by the Banks. Basically, up to £30 a Credit Card is the cheapest for us and after that figure it is the Debit Cards. The Banks charge us 70p for every debit card transaction but credit cards are charged at a standard percentage rate of 2.25% on the amount of the transaction.  Although I do not wish to discourage the use of plastic please try and use cash for small transactions and certainly for amounts under £10.


The issue of my resignation as Treasurer is still ongoing, so I am reluctantly continuing in the role until a replacement or assistant can be found.


David Pateman





balance sheet.jpg




By the time you read this you may know that in the absence of a volunteer to take over as Trading Secretary at the AGM I have, very reluctantly, agreed to do one more year. I only agreed to this when Justine Cullen agreed to be my assistant with a view to possibly taking over the role, thanks to Justine for saving the day. The AGM also made several suggestions (mostly polite) that the committee will consider to try and ensure that one individual is not as heavily loaded as I feel I have been. Sorry you will have to put up with me for another year, however I will be trying to work in a few more weekends away than recently so don’t expect me to be at The Seed Box as often as I have been.

May I also take this opportunity to thank the large number of members who have thanked me for the work I have put in over more than 10 years as Trading Secretary it is great to be so appreciated. I do hope to continue being actively involved in the FGA in whatever role fate, or the 2017 AGM, hands to me.

I hope that there is a report elsewhere on the future of The Seed Box, I would not mind having £1 for every time we’ve been asked what is happening. From my own view I want to start working though our stock, the 'get rid of items' which have been around for years and no longer sell in significant quantities. The AGM actually suggested that complete areas, e.g. bedding plants could be dropped. As always we would welcome comments from everyone with ideas of areas you think we could do better or should not do. I’ve also always tried to follow up suggestions from members on new products they come across so please keep those coming as well.

It is timely to remind folks that Carrot Fly ruins many a good looking row of carrots, there are only barrier methods for reducing this and we now have a second, cheaper, mesh product as an alternative to Environmesh. This new mesh is called Tendamesh and is £1.50 per metre for 2.1 metre wide from the role like Environmesh it is designed to be spread over the carrots and held down by pegs (we have some at 8p each). Rush along and buy this new product as when it is gone we have no more. I’d be interested in any feedback on your experience of it especially if you can compare it to Environmesh.

I’ve been gratified by the number of people noting my previous article and trying the lawn feed I recommended. I’ve already made one application on my lawn this year and will be repeating it in about 4 weeks. Do note that like all granular fertilisers it needs watering in, however this has not been a problem so far this year.

Possibly the most common question I’m asked is what compost would I recommend? I’ll offer a few observations:

Also I’d like to remind you that our own packs are exceptional value for money, often 3kg for the price of 1kg at garden centres. Often these have formulations very similar to named items, for instance:

I hope you get this at a time when you are still planting bedding and vegetable plants. If you are we will be selling our usual range at the same price as last year. However to keep our prices down we really must minimise our wastage which costs us the same as those we sell. Once I know what is available I will be producing an order form and promise that if you want something we do not have in stock we will get it for you for the following Friday or Saturday if it is available from our supplier. Plants have been available since our Open Days on 7/8th May so come along and see what we have or can get.

Whilst on plants we will be running a trip to the Horticultural Auctions at Wisbech as usual. The wonderful Web indicates that one of the Auction houses has decided to stop their regular auctions so it will be interesting to see what effect this has on availability and prices. Interestingly their reason was that the National Living Wage increases would make it uneconomic! Oh how I dream that would be a wage increase of £7.20 an hour for FGA volunteers.

This winter I purchased a tonne of rockdust which claims to re-mineralise the soil with potentially dramatic results. Four members had some of it and I will be monitoring the results as this potential new own pack product. Unfortunately I did put nearly half the load on my three plots and need dramatic results if it is to pay for itself in one year. Watch the magazine for feedback later in the year.

Did you know that we do a small range of Hanging Baskets and liners at ridiculous prices?

My last contribution this month is a short word ‘Hoe’. Repeated use of this tool combats most forms of weed and weakens the most persistent perennial weeds. Personally I like to use a Dutch hoe or a Wolf multichange bi-directional hoe they tend to self sharpen with use and the sharper they get the easier they are to use as they cut the weeds tops from the roots, but beware a hoe does not know a weed from you valuable plants. Hoeing is best done earlier in the day as the weeds then get baked by the wonderful sun, which should have arrived by the time you are reading this, which kills them (dead). I’m often asked when should I hoe, sorry but my answer is always just before the weeds are big enough to see (or just before you think you need to), failing that try every couple of weeks that seems to work well. My experience is that once weeds get bigger they are more difficult to see, tend to hide your crops which makes it more likely that you damage them and it takes a lot longer. I also find that if you leave weeds round some crops it stunts them and stops them ripening. So when putting together your Christmas list think Hoe! Hoe! Hoe! (that's one Dutch hoe (my favourite for seeds), one draw hoe (for drawing out a trench and earthing up potatoes) and one onion hoe (for working close to your valuable plants)) SORRY I just could not restrain myself.

Happy Gardening

Jim Godden

FGA Trading Secretary



Spring Show 2016 Report

Despite Storm Katie blowing through the week before the show someone said to me "We may have fewer entries this year but the quality of the exhibits is very high". The hall was a blaze of colour from the tulips, hyacinths and daffodils - and there were even some daffodils to eat on top of one of the refreshment cakes.


There were also some delicious looking entries in the cookery classes and the children's pots of daffodils even had some flowers left for the show.  To all those people that exhibited in the show thanks for taking the time to take part and making it worthwhile putting on the event and to all those that took time to look around the show.


Once again I am eternally grateful to everyone  that helped at the show - the judges, and the people that baked the cakes for us to sell, served refreshments, sold raffle tickets and help set up and clear down the hall.


Now to get down to the allotment and get it ready to grow things that are hopefully good enough to exhibit at our Annual and Autumn shows.


Colin Stennett

Show Secretary




Flitwick Gardeners’ Association
Calendar 2016







25 / 26 June


Church Flower Festival – theme is celebration

23 July


FGA Prize Draw, The Seed Box

20 August


Annual Show

8 October


Autumn Show

24 Nov


FGA Quiz (note date!!!)









Annual Show Photography Classes 2016


The photography classes for this year’s Annual Show are:



For the children's photography class the subject is: