Hedge cutting at Puxley Road site

A huge thank you to Ray and Paul for cutting all the perimeter hedges at Puxley Road site.

As a result of the roadside hedge being cut, traffic visibility has been much improved on exiting the site – a major benefit to road safety.

The site entrance is looking much tidier and the bus shelter has benefited from the canopy of brambles being removed.  The bus shelter has also been spring cleaned!

Trimming the internal facing sides of the perimeter hedges improves access for hedge- side plots and tracks and reduces the likelihood of plot holders getting badly scratched by brambles as they walk or work close to the hedges.

Would anyone wishing to help Ray and Paul with the internal-facing hedges please contact Paul on 07835 616034.


Plots available

We currently have a few spare full and half plots available at our sites.

Could you please let friends and neighbours know that it is not too late to start allotment gardening for the 2019 growing season.  Just send an email to deanshangerallotments@gmail.com to arrange a viewing so that we can show them what’s available here in Deanshanger.


Water butts on site

Water butts have now been cleaned out and refilled with fresh clean water for you to water in your seeds and plants.  This is an arduous and unpleasant task for volunteers, particularly when the water is very dirty and there is a large amount of solid matter at the bottom of the tank.  The availability of fresh clean water for watering plants is every plot holder’s right and the cost of this provision forms a component of everyone’s yearly plot rental.

Please note that we are looking into the viability of installing foot-operated taps for washing.  In the meantime, PLEASE NOTE THAT WATER BUTTS ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR WASHING.

Please let us know if you notice anyone using a water butt for washing as once the water is dirty it is spoiled for everyone.  Where possible, notices have been posted on the notice boards next to each water butt as a reminder. If we are all vigilant and think of our fellow gardeners, then we can all continue to enjoy fresh clean water throughout the year.

THE CODE OF CONDUCT that we have all signed up to states:

Do not wash hands, vegetables or tools in the water butt as this makes the water dirty for everyone else, and can spread disease.

Please bring a bucket or washing up bowl to remove water for washing, and dispose of the dirty water on your own plot or in the hedgerow.

Some buckets/watering cans/water fillers have been provided next to the water butts to remove water for washing.  Please bring a bowl of your own for washing purposes.

Further research on Wild Parsnip

The following information is pasted from a website called ‘The Poison Garden’:


People who grow parsnips often leave them in the ground and harvest them as required. This may mean that, in the spring, unharvested plants run to seed and are of no use. A visitor to this site reported two occasions when after clearing his allotment of some mature plants on a sunny day, he suffered blistering to his arms and a change in pigmentation which lasted six months. The first year he did not realise what has caused the burns but when it happened a second time he realised that he had been handling the mature Pastinaca sativa previously.

Two children were helping their father remove some run to seed parsnips from the allotment. 48 hours later they came up in blisters described as ‘the size of marbles’. It is to be hoped their experience doesn’t put them off gardening completely.

Incidents in the literature seem to refer to wild parsnips more often that the cultivated varieties. Some work has suggested that fungal infection of the root results in a significant increase in the furocoumarin content. The work was done using harvested parsnips stored under different conditions but it may explain why the problem occurs only with older plants.

It may be, however, that bright sunlight is required to cause the burning to occur and thus parsnips harvested through the winter do not give rise to problems.

In August 2010, the UK’s Daily Mail reported the case of a woman who removed her shirt on a hot, sunny day whilst working with her parsnips and, having brushed the leaves across her stomach, as she worked, found, two days later that her skin suffered burns and blisters. She was advised to attend hospital.

The woman concerned, Mrs Jo Miles, has been kind enough to give permission for some pictures of the burns she suffered to appear here.

parsnip burns            parsnip burns

parsnip burns parsnip burns

Mrs Miles is willing for these pictures to be used because she wants as many people as possible to realise the potential for harm arising from exposing the skin to this plant on a sunny day.

The fact that, it seems, not all parsnip plants produce these effects makes the danger greater because people who have suffered no harm for years may find themselves exposed to a crop which is high in the fourocoumarins that produce the sensitisation of the skin.

Folklore and facts

Pastinaca sativa (parsnip) is an interesting example of the fact that vegetables which people eat without any concern can be harmful in the wrong circumstances. The potential for Solanum tuberosum, potato, to become toxic if exposed to the sun is well-known, as is the poisonous nature of Lycopersicon esculentum, tomato plant foliage and the need to cook Solanum melongena, aubergine, to destroy the toxins.

It seems odd that Pastinaca sativa are not included in the Horticultural Trades Association classification of potentially harmful plants. Parsnip, which can result in moderate burning, is unclassified and, by implication, harmless. This, on the face of it, looks like an example of the horticultural industry’s fear that buyers could be deterred by being given information about a plant’s ability to cause problems. 

In some Celtic cultures, all fires were extinguished on 31st October before being relit from a flame source provided by a priest. The fire was transferred from the priest to the various fires in the home by carrying lighted coals in a hollowed out parsnip or carrot. It is believed that this is the source of the American tradition of hollowing out a pumpkin and placing a lantern in it. The pumpkin was not known in Europe and it is thought that settlers in America found that it provided a better vessel for distributing the Halloween flame than the parsnip. 

Warning: Wild (Poisonous) Parsnip is dangerous and invasive

As a result of plot clearance activities last Saturday (when it was very hot), a dangerous and invasive plant has been found growing in two plots at Puxley Road.  Two plot holders have been affected.

Biennial (monocarpic perennial) – 3 to 5 feet tall. Erect, stout, hollow stems with alternate compound leaves. Yellow flowers in a distinctive terminal umbel. Compounds in plant can cause severe skin burns. Reproduces by seed.

If you find this plant growing on or near your allotment please alert site management or send an email to deanshangerallotments@gmail.com as these plants require very careful removal in protective clothing to prevent severe skin burns and blistering – as the following pictures of one of our plot holders demonstrate:


Similar blisters have developed on the legs and upper arms since Monday.

The plant’s sap contains a substance called psoralen that when touched and then exposed to sunlight causes a reaction known as “phytophotodermatitis” – reddening of the skin, a rash, and blisters, burning and scalding pain.

The eruption usually begins approximately 24 hours after exposure and peaks at 48-72 hours.  The phototoxic result may be intensified by wet skin, sweating, and heat.

Dark red or brownish skin discoloration appears where the burn or blisters first formed, and can last for several months.  There is no cure.

Once poisonous parsnip is established in an area, there’s a seed bank in the soil, so new plants will likely continue to emerge for up to five years.

DAA AGM 26th April 2018

DAA members spent a most enjoyable evening at the DAA AGM this year.  Following on from some useful discussions, our guest speaker Karen Kenny entertained us with a most informative talk on ‘The answer lies in the soil’ – providing lots of new facts and information and some new gardening tips and advice to follow.

We would like to say a very big thank you to Karen for taking time from her busy schedule to drive all the way from her home in Ipswich to be with us (and having to drive back after the event).  Karen is the recently-retired President of the National Association of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners and is an experienced speaker and broadcaster for local radio gardening programmes such as the Saturday Gardening Programme on BBC Radio Suffolk.  She is also involved with many environmental partnerships and is currently the Chair of the Suffolk Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners.





She has also authored a book on herb gardening