VPA Closes

The Extraordinary General Meeting of the Village Produce
Association was held on Tuesday 18th January 2022. It was
proposed at this meeting that the current Committee would
resign en-bloc and a new committee be formed by attendees at the
It is with regret that we have to announce that a new committee could not
be formed (no residents attended the meeting) and therefore the VPA has
officially closed. A few formalities require completion upon which a full
report will be available at the end of February. To receive a copy email:
May I take this opportunity to thank all the Committee Members, past and
present, and in particular, Karen Forman (Chair) and Chris Jarvis (Secretary)
both from Blewbury and Maggie Maytham (Treasurer) and Malcolm Wright
(Vice Chairman) both from Upton, for their hard work for so very many
years. I myself, (although not a resident of either village) really enjoyed
the challenge of being Show Secretary and seeing the smiles on the faces of
winners at the summer show.
Unfortunately, over the years, support for the VPA diminished and we, the
Committee, reached the decision that the VPA had reached the end of its
viable life. As the saying goes, all good things come to an end.
On behalf of the ex-Committee – Thank You to everyone in Blewbury and
Upton (and surrounding villages) for your support and as always HAPPY
Eileen Bracken

VPA in Danger of Closing

Following a recent Committee Meeting of the Village Produce Association
this Notice is issued to all the residents of the Blewbury and Upton Villages.
An Extraordinary General Meeting of the Blewbury and Upton
Village Produce Association will be held on TUESDAY 18th
JANUARY 2022 at
Notice is hereby given that the current Committee Members propose
to resign en-block at this meeting, therefore the purpose of the EGM
will be to confirm whether any persons attending the meeting would
be prepared to form a new Committee and continue the VPA.
Please be advised that if a Committee cannot be formed, then the
Village Produce Association will be formally closed at the
Extraordinary General Meeting.

EGM 18 Jan 2022


Your Local Village Gardening Club


Following a recent Committee Meeting of the Village Produce Association this Notice is issued to all the residents of the Blewbury and Upton Villages.

An Extraordinary General Meeting of the Blewbury and Upton Village Produce Association will be held on TUESDAY 18th JANUARY 2022 at                                                                                  7pm in the VALE ROOM, BLEWBURY VILLAGE HALL

Notice is hereby given that the current Committee Members propose to resign en-block at this meeting, therefore the purpose of the EGM will be to confirm whether any persons attending the meeting would be prepared to form a new Committee and continue the VPA.

Please be advised that if a Committee cannot be formed, then the Village Produce Association will be formally closed at the Extraordinary General Meeting.



First of all, unfortunately, the VPA Committee has been unable to meet and we need to have a discussion and then fix the date for the Annual General Meeting. It looks as though it will take place in early December. The date and venue will be announced in the December issue of the Upton News and Blewbury Bulletin, with a notice in Blewbury Post Office.

No sooner have we got into autumn than we’re heading for winter. Winter officially starts on either the 1st December or between the 20th and 23rd December, depending on which season you consider. The reason that there can be two ‘official’ start dates for winter is because the year can be split into meteorological or astronomical seasons. This explanation does help to prevent differences of opinion on the allotment!

It’s amazing to see the gardens still full of colour with an abundance of flowers and how most of the trees are holding onto their leaves. The horse chestnut trees have done well with their conkers. However, I was none too happy the other day when out walking, I was attacked by a falling conker! It was still in its prickly casing which was very spiky! – so you can imagine by landing on my head it was quite painful!!

The allotment is beginning to look quite tidy and I’ve had to make three trips to the recycling centre to get rid of contaminated vegetation etc. We are very lucky that we can go the to tip when it suits us – some of my friends in other areas have to book a slot at their local centre. I find 8.30am during the week is a good time to find it nice and quiet at Drayton. Holly, Shallot and Borlotti are doing fine and enjoying pecking at a small pumpkin which I’ve grown and hung up in their run.

DID YOU KNOW? James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck, a Scottish biographer, diarist and lawyer, born in Edinburgh. (1740-95) wrote: “In an orchard there should be enough to eat, enough to lay up, enough to be stolen and enough to rot on the ground.”

BY THE WAY: Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900) an American essayist, novelist and friend of Mark Twain wrote: “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.”

Happy Gardening – keep well





Time to put the Allotment to Sleep

Well, it looks as though the Indian Summer is over and autumn is well on its way. The date and venue for the VPA Annual General Meeting will be announced in the November issue of the Upton News and Blewbury Bulletin. A notice will also be in the Blewbury Post Office. It doesn’t look as though Covid is going away any time soon – so please keep yourselves well and safe.  We won’t be holding our Christmas Social, given that so many people are still observing social distancing.

Meanwhile, this is the time to start putting the allotments to sleep. It’s been a bit harder this year because I’ve given up trying to compost. The problem is there’s not enough variety and mixture of vegetation to help with the composting and it therefore takes a long long time to decompose. The problem is it also becomes a nesting site for rats (not my favourite rodent). We all know that rats are commonplace on allotment sites but I do try to keep them away from my plots.

Despite the strange weather pattern we had this season, the allotment has provided some pretty good produce. Unfortunately, the tomatoes were hit with blight but I had managed to pick some green ones beforehand and made a few jars of tomato chutney. Surprisingly the potatoes were not affected. I have dug up four rows of potatoes this weekend (last weekend of September) and was delighted at the size and quality – if I store them properly I should have enough to see me through the winter. I have three more rows to dig – the ground is so hard because of lack of rain it’s taking longer than usual.

I have a bit of sad news. Pumpkin, my little white hen was taken ill last month. It was all very sudden – she was very quiet on the Sunday and I put it down to it being because it was one of the very hot days. On the Monday morning she didn’t run up to me like she always did and I could see that she was having a problem breathing. I took her to the vet and was given the news that Pumpkin had a respiratory infection and there was nothing they could do for her. She is now in chicken heaven. Fortunately, the other three girls didn’t catch it and are all fighting fit. I think they missed her initially but have now settled down as a threesome.

On a happier note, I picked 6lbs of plums off my tree yesterday and will be making some jam when I finish writing this newsletter. They’re not Victoria plums and I need to find the label to see what variety they are – the tree is only three years old and this is the best crop I’ve had.

I’m hoping the weather holds so I can put the plots to bed before it gets really wet – the soil is clay so you can probably imagine what it’s like!

DID YOU KNOW?  Blackurrants contain more than four times as much vitamin C as oranges and Dried Figs contain about 60 percent sugar, making them an excellent energy snack.

Happy Gardening – Keep Safe



VPA Update

It’s a while since I last put pen to paper on behalf of the VPA. As you are all aware, because of Covid-19 the VPA has been unable to hold its summer show for the past two years and very little else besides. We did have a Christmas craft competition last December and a spring bonnet competition this year. However, neither of these events were particularly well supported. The Committee will be meeting soon to decide the future of the VPA and the decision will be announced at the Annual General Meeting which will be held in November.
Although I haven’t been busy with the VPA, the allotment and hens have had to be tended daily. The veggies have struggled with the strange weather we’ve had through 2021. It hasn’t stopped the weeds growing in abundance!! However, the peas were great and broad beans were successful after battling with blackfly – they didn’t like being dosed with washing up liquid!! and a good supply has gone into the freezer. Courgettes and marrows (the real thing) were coming out of my ears and it’s amazing how difficult it is to give them away. Onions have done well and are currently completing their drying in the greenhouse. Blackcurrants and gooseberries were good and most of them are now sitting in the cupboard as jam – I love toast and jam – although not too good for the waistline! Potatoes and leeks are doing OK and the sweetcorn is coming along nicely. For some reason French beans, carrots, beetroot and tomatoes are not so good this year. Still, one has to be grateful for what has grown well.
The hens are doing well, but they are affected by the variants in the weather and they certainly don’t like it when it’s windy. Pumpkin, (I recently discovered she’s called a dominant amber), is in the process of moulting and there’s white feathers all over the run. Holly who is nearly eight years old is still the boss and keeps the other three in order. They are great fun and are pets more than egg producers.
DID YOU KNOW? Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) wrote: “I plant rosemary all over the garden, so pleasant is it to know that at every few steps one may draw the kindly branchlets through one’s hand and have the enjoyment of their incomparable incense”.
Happy Gardening – Keep Safe

V.P.A. – Not much has Changed.

I’ve been having awful problems with my technology to the extent I’ve had to invest in a new laptop and while waiting for it to be set up I’m using my very, very old HP machine. I was browsing through my Word folders and found the VPA news folder for June 2020. This is what I had written then. “Well, has much changed since the last newsletter? Not a lot! A slight improvement on the lockdown, but I do find it strange why only one family member can make a visit?! Let’s hope everyone is still keeping well and safe and staying alert!” Given that in June 2021 the Govt has delayed the full unlock until the end of July, it’s fortunate that the VPA Committee decided to cancel the Summer Show. It would have been such a shame if everyone had worked hard to provide exhibits and then not been able to show them. Hopefully the unlock in July will be successful.
However, the weather wasn’t quite the same. In June 2020 I wrote “The weather wasn’t very kind in May, with a couple of nights with minus-2 degrees of frost in Didcot. We complained about the wet winter and now we’re complaining about the lack of rain. It will be nice to see some rain as it really does make the plants grow better…”.
So, hot and dry in May 2020 but wet and cold in May 2021. My friend in London who usually helps at the Summer Show told me (when I was Skypeing her) that in May they had 15 consecutive days with rain!
So, 12 months on and not a lot has changed – Covid-19, with the added Delta Variant, is still with us and the weather is still as unpredictable as ever. Fortunately we have had a bit of summer in June 2021.
DID YOU KNOW? Grasses and cereals are wind-pollinated plants so they don’t have the colourful flowers or distinctive scents that other plants need in order to attract insects. Grasses and cereals produce an enormous amount of pollen, which explains why pollen allergy has come to be known as HAY FEVER.
Happy Gardening – Keep Safe

VPA Cancel Summer Show

The VPA Committee has been required to give serious thought as to whether the Summer Show should go ahead in July, the main concern being the current status of Covid-19. Will it ever come to an end? Things start to look up and then another Variant appears on the horizon. A big worry now is the Indian Variant which is proving more virulent than any other so far. The Government continues discussions on lockdowns, easing, and more recently, suggestions of ending social distancing and no more masks, etc. Many decisions and arrangements will not be confirmed by the Government until the end of June.
Careful consideration has been given by the VPA Committee to various problems. These include the limited time left for the Committee to organise the event, the entrants having only five weeks to prepare their exhibits by the 10th July and most importantly, the currently unknown safety aspects required relating to Covid-19.
It is therefore the decision of the Committee to cancel the 2021 Annual Show.
We will keep everyone updated over the coming months with regard to the future of the Village Produce Association.
A couple of Did You Know? to cheer you up: 1. Dried nasturtium seeds were ground into a powder during the Second World War as a replacement for pepper. 2. Claude Monet (1840-1926) said “I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”

VPA Notice of Summer Show

Whilst writing this article, it’s great that partial lockdown has taken place and we can meet up outdoors in restricted numbers and go shopping again. Let’s hope everyone observes social distancing and we don’t have any spikes of this horrible pandemic again.

Our Spring Bonnet Competition took place in April and it was rather disappointing that, although we had been advised there would be a few entrants – only ONE turned up on the day!! Thank you to Myra, from Chilton, who entered the beautiful bonnet with all the flowers coming from her garden.

We are hoping that the VPA will be able to hold the Summer Show this year. The date is booked in the Village Hall diary for Saturday 10th July. To remind long standing residents and inform newcomers, here are a few details about the event. The VPA  Summer Show takes place annually and allows all residents from Blewbury, Upton and surrounding villages to take part in a competition and exhibit their home grown fruit, vegetables and flowers and/or show their cookery, handicraft and photography skills. The details of the various sections are listed in the Show Schedule which will be available next month from the post office or from Margaret Maytham in Upton or on-line via the VPA email  address vpa.in.bl.up@gmail.com. Entry into the Show is open to all residents and there is also a Children’s Section. There are lots of trophies to be won in all the different sections of the Show. However, to make a success of the Show we do need your support. Your fruit, vegetables or flowers could prove to be perfect winners! Have a chat with Karen in the Post Office and I can assure you she will tell you that it’s great fun to take part in the Show that has been running for years and years. I’ll include a few more details about the Show next month. As you will appreciate it will have to be organised in accordance with whatever Covid-19 restrictions are still in place in July.

As we couldn’t hold the Show in 2020 because of the pandemic, for this year we will be using the Show Schedule from 2020 which had already been printed.

DID YOU KNOWIn 1813 Thomas Jefferson said: “The soil is the gift of God to the living.” and, Vita Sackville-West (1892 – 1962) said: “The more one gardens, the more one learns; and the more one learns, the more one realises how little one knows.  I suppose the whole of life is like that.”

Happy Gardening



Digging with VPA.

There is still time to Create a Flowered Bonnet, Hat, Crown or Tiara and enter the VPA Spring Competition on Saturday 10th April. For details Contact Blewbury Post Office or Maggie Maytham in Upton (850126) or email   vpa.in.bl.up@gmail.com  or call Eileen on 0777 518 5322

I’m sure everyone has been getting to grips with the weeds, cutting the grass and planning what is going into the veggie plot this year. Here’s some food for thought on how to go about preparing your vegetable plot.

Five reasons not to dig – 1 Digging encourages soil-living creatures like worms to do the spadework for you. 2 It reduces the loss of moisture.  3 It protects the soil structure. 4 It prevents weed seeds being brought to the surface. 5 It’s easier on the back.

Five Reasons to dig – 1 Digging breaks up heavily compacted soil, allowing it to breathe. 2 It kills surface weeds. 3  It exposes pests to predators and the cold. 4 If you don’t, you’ll need a lot more mulch to grow potatoes as you will not be ‘earthing up’. 5 It’s good exercise for those who want it.

I’ve actually tried a semi-no-dig method this year. I’ve hoed the plots and have gone down about four inches.  This has loosened the soil and weeded it at the same time I can then go a bit deeper when I start planting, I hope this works –watch this space!

We are hoping that the VPA will be able to hold the Summer Show this year on the 10th JULY – it will depend on what Covid restrictions are still in place.   We will keep you informed through the Bulletin.

DID YOU KNOW –Peppers contain up to five times as much vitamin C as oranges. The highest levels are found when the peppers are in the early green stage of ripening.