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Allotment Garden Extra May 2021

Allotment Garden Newsletter

From John Harrison

Dear Friend

It’s been a very slow start here with the weather more like April than May but things are finally moving now. My experience is that it is better to be a little late in sowing and planting than too early.

As you may have read in my blog, my back is being problematic again which is really restricting me. Happily my son-in-law is popping over to help out so we’re basically coping but it is very frustrating. I know I’d be foolish to over-do it but I enjoy being hands-on with things. At least I’m seeing my osteopath again and she is helping.


Where you live makes a big difference to when you can do things in the garden. Down in the south they rarely see a frost in May but up in the north they often see frosts into June. We’re near the coast which tends to keep the frost away, but that’s no guarantee. You can find detailed maps online showing average last frost dates but wherever you live, the weather can surprise you. There’s more on timing in the preface to the monthly guides here.

Runner beans, French beans, sweetcorn are all very vulnerable to a sudden frost and a hard frost can really set your potatoes back by killing off the haulm (foliage). Keep an eye on the weather forecasts and be prepared to take action at short notice.

Horticultural fleece is marvellous stuff, fairly cheap to buy and it lasts for years if you look after it. Just laying it over plants is usually enough to save the day when a frost hits.

When it’s put away in the summer, make sure it’s dry and fold it neatly (a friend is useful here). Keep in black bin-bags in the shed and it will be fine for next year. Don’t leave it where sunlight gets on it as ultraviolet makes it break down over time.

Last Call!

Don’t forget our 10% Off code JHTEN for Harrod Horticultural expires at the end of the month. It applies to most products in their range.

Just pop the code JHTEN in at the checkout to claim your discount

Climbing Beans

We’ve a wind problem here with beans. No, I don’t mean that as it sounds!

Put up a normal bean frame or a wigwam support and along comes a storm to knock it over. We’ve had storms with 100 mph wind gusts and 60 mph gusts are not that unusual.

Some years I’ve taken to growing climbing beans in the polytunnel rather than outside but space is always at a premium in the tunnel.

One of the most wind-resistant support frames is the dogleg frame which I think may survive. That frame and other supports are covered on the site here: Supporting Climbing Beans


So long as you don’t use persistent weedkillers like weed and feed on your lawn, the grass clippings are a great resource.

To quote from Dig for Victory “Both peas and beans specially need moisture to produce a good crop. In very dry weather, instead of watering, spread grass mowings, decayed leaves or compost to a depth of 1 in. along each side of the rows.”

Mulching as described also has the benefit of inhibiting weed growth, making life a little easier. I would advise watering well before mulching, the mulch will keep the moisture in the ground. Any rain will soak into the mulch and then the soil rather than running off if the soil surface has baked dry.

Do be aware that mulches can encourage slugs. If you’ve a slug problem on your plot you will need to use protection such as pelletsnematodes or traps to avoid unacceptable levels of damage.

S-Chelate Fertilisers

S-Chelate 12 Star is the feed for better plants, flowers and crops. It contains everything your plants need. Not just the main nutrients – NPK – found in ordinary fertilisers but also chelated bio-available micronutrients. Supercharged minerals for plants! Developed and scientifically proven for commercial growers, it’s available in garden packs now.

S-Chelate is powerful, just one tub makes 225 litres of top-quality liquid feed.

Save £2.00 per pack by using the code ALLOTMENT at the checkout Full information including product trials results can be found on their website here

S-Chelate Fertilisers


We know the terrible damage plastic is causing our wildlife. Images of beautiful sea creatures choking on the stuff are heartbreaking. The simple fact is we use far too much of the stuff because it’s so cheap and useful.

A visit to the garden centre for bedding plants and you’re left with the pots. I’ve always saved these to use myself but there’s a limit to how many you need. Some garden centres let you take them back and they’re free to take if you need some – a great idea I think they should all adopt. There’s no reason why allotment sites shouldn’t do the same as well – a sort of site freecycle.

Another help to reducing your plastic use is to buy better plastic. I’ll explain what I mean. When I needed some seed trays I could have picked up the cheap thin ones for just 30p each. With care they may last a couple of years. I actually bought top quality Garland trays at 85p. They will last me forever.

I’m not going to solve the problem but if we all do what we can, it helps.


As our seedling parsnips and carrots appear, don’t neglect to thin them out. It almost seems wrong after they finally pop up to start killing some off, but if we don’t give them enough space we end up with a tiny inedible crop, which is not what we want. Be hard and ruthless, force yourself!

With your carrots, thin in the evening as there are less of the dreaded carrot flies about to be attracted to the scent of the bruised foliage. If carrot fly is a particular problem to you, horticultural fleece makes a good barrier and you can grow resistant varieties like “Flyaway”.

Resistance lies in them having low levels of chlorogenic acid, a chemical that the larvae of the carrot fly need for survival. This means that they appear to be unattractive to the fly and even if your crop is attacked to some degree the larvae will soon die after doing relatively little damage.

And finally

I’m always happy to hear back from you but I get a lot of emails and regret I just can’t answer everyone.

Don’t forget there are a lot of good growers on our forums who can help with your questions. It’s often useful to get more than one person’s input to a problem.

I hope you’ve found this newsletter extra useful. The next newsletter will be June. Until then –

Good Growing and above all, Keep Safe


Allotment Garden

Fron Dirion, Clogwyn Melyn,
LL54 6PT


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