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Allotment Garden Newsletter July 2020

Allotment Garden Newsletter

From John Harrison


Dear Friend

As I write this I’m very aware that you may be reading this anywhere in the world. Please remember, I’m based in Wales which is part of the UK and just officially into summer. Not that you’d guess it was summer if you looked through my window at the rain!

Unlike our neighbour, England, we’re still in a fairly strict lockdown in Wales because of the COVID pandemic. Some countries have seen the first wave pass others are in the middle of the epidemic. I’d like to start by saying I really hope you and your family are keeping well. Do continue being careful even if your lockdown is easing.

An Apology

If you’ve emailed me with a question but not had an answer, I’m very sorry. When the backlog got over a hundred I just gave up trying to answer everyone. Some take just ten minutes but others can take an hour or more to write a detailed answer.

Often the answer is already on the web site – do check out the articles and advice section. Otherwise, register on our help forum and post your question on there. We’ve some very experienced growers who will be happy to help you.


Greenhouse Growing

It might not be hot in the greenhouse in the rain but try to ensure good ventilation or mildew problems will set in. It is easy to forget that your greenhouse plants still need watering frequently even when it is pouring with rain, but they do.

Whilst in the greenhouse, your tomatoes and cucumbers should be developing fruits now so don’t forget to feed them. Do check this article on feeding cucumbers for best results

Suppliers Report

These suppliers have supported the web site and our members for years – if you can support them, thank you.

Things are easing now but both Harrod Horticultural and Two Wests & Elliott are still very busy. Deliveries are better than they were in recent weeks but they’re still taking longer than normal. Neither are offering vouchers at present.

Suttons & Dobies are dispatching seed orders received by noon on the same day but the mail is a bit slow. No delays on the web sites but some seeds are out of stock and other products taking up to 21 days.


Our Books

Orders are being processed as quickly as possible but inevitably there are considerable delays so our current delivery estimate is 10 days.

We’re sorry but no orders for outside of the UK can be accepted at the moment.

We’re still able to offer free seeds with a value of £6.50 with each book.

All of our books are individually signed by the author on the title page.

All Our Books

Butterfly Blues

Butterflies are beautiful creatures, fluttering flashes of colour in the garden, but don’t forget their purpose is to find somewhere to lay their eggs and start the next generation.

When I see the cabbage whites flying about, I begin to worry. Once their eggs hatch into caterpillars they’ll munch away and reduce the leaves to mere skeletons seemingly overnight

Prevention is the best defence and that means netting. If the butterflies can’t get onto the plant they can’t lay their eggs. Don’t just lay netting over the plants, you’ll find the butterflies will lay through the net so not effective. Support the netting off the plants.

One quick and cheap method is to pop bamboo canes in around and among the plants and then upended milk containers or soft drink bottles over the canes. Drape the netting over and keep it taught by pinning it down around the edges.

Incidentally, site supporter Harrod Horticultural sell effective soft 7mm butterfly netting which is UV stabilised – so it can be re-used season after season. Their netting saver packs offer great value too.

Harrod Horticultural Butterfly Netting


It’s Jamming Time!

The strawberries have been coming in thick and fast, the raspberries too and the currants are colouring up now so they’ll be harvested shortly.

If you’re turning some of your berries or currants into jam and don’t fancy standing over a hot stove on a hot day; just prepare the fruit as normal, pop into a plastic bag and drop into the freezer. It’s not ideal for long-term storage but will hold them for a couple of months or so in good condition for jam making.

Then, when we’ve got time and it’s not too hot a day, they can be turned into jam. Strawberry jam is delicious but if you’re willing to spend a bit more effort, try making the Strawberry Conserve we cover in our book. It’s like strawberry jam but the flavour is more intensely strawberry. Honestly, it’s delicious.

Easy Jams, Chutneys and Preserves


Storing the Harvest

The harvest is starting. Peas and beans, sweet cabbage and cauliflowers on the table and we’ve been eating our early potatoes for well over a month. Already we’ve enjoyed the first tomatoes and cucumbers and pretty soon we’ll have loads, with a little luck.

The question is what to do with it all when the season really gets going. We cover freezing, bottling and even salting in our book How to Store Your Home Grown Produce. It’s the ideal companion to our Vegetable Growing Month by Month

How to Store Your Home Grown Produce


Got a New Plot?

This time of year people often take on a new allotment plot. Sadly some people just give up their allotment but can’t be bothered to formally tell the site manager. So it’s not until the annual bill hasn’t been paid and reminders ignored that a new tenant is given their plot. All of which takes a few months and we’re deep into the season by which time the plot is looking more like a jungle.

The question I’m often asked is what to do in this situation. I’m tempted to reply “Buy my book!, The Essential Allotment Guide” but there are some really helpful articles on the web site in the Allotment Articles section – notably my own Clearing a New Allotment and the hysterically funny You Have an Allotment that forum member Muntjac wrote for us. It’s a hoot!


Dig for Victory

I’m really happy to tell you the Dig for Victory book will be officially out on the 15th August. It’s been a long haul but I think worth it. It’s not too late to register for the early bird offer and get a pre-release copy as soon as it arrives.

These famous guides showed people fighting on ‘The Home Front’ exactly what to do each month to put wholesome food on the family’s table from their gardens and allotments.

I’ve reproduced twelve monthly growing guides from the time together with my commentary written as a gardener rather than a historian, I clearly explain what’s changed and why in modern gardening practice, which is less than you might expect in 80 years.

I also provides context for readers as to the background of each guide based in part on research but most importantly the experiences and accounts of those who were there.


Lessons from the War

I think there’s a lot we could learn from that war-time period, reading those old books proudly printed “War Economy Standard” and thin newspapers you realise their attitude was that nothing should be wasted.

Waste paper was recycled, throwing it away could get you a fine equal to £4,000 in today’s money!

Food waste was almost unthinkable then and the inedible (to us) would go to feed the hens or the pig. Feeding waste to farm animals is now illegal (with some carefully controlled exceptions). A different world.

One problem we share with our forebears is the allotment thief stealing the produce. In the war they decided that stealing from vegetable plots was the same as from a warehouse, a breach of the national security defence regulations, and a huge fine or long prison sentence was in order which reduced the problem. Maybe something else we could learn from those days…


Fruit & Vegetable Growing Guide for July

Don’t forget there are things that can still be sown or planted even this far into the season. Beetroot, spring cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, kohlrabi, lettuce, rocket, peas (use an early variety so they’ll mature before the season ends), dwarf French beans, spring onions and radish. Check out your July Jobs.

Fruit & Vegetable Growing Guide for July


It’s always nice to hear back from readers but please understand we’ve a lot going on that I’m trying to keep up with. I really can’t reply to everyone but I do read all the emails that I’m sent.

If you need personal advice, why not ask on our help forums where there are lots of experienced gardeners who can assist you.

That’s it for now, I hope you’ve found this newsletter useful. The next newsletter is due early August but I sometimes send out an extra mid-month. I’ve had a lot of people say they find them useful, especially at the moment.

Good Growing but above all, keep well



Allotment Garden

Fron Dirion, Clogwyn Melyn,
LL54 6PT


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