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Allotment Garden Newsletter May 2021

Allotment Garden Newsletter

From John Harrison

Dear Friend

I mentioned last month that I’d officially become a pensioner. Just to be clear, I’m still writing the newsletters and for the website. I’ve a few more books I’d like to write as well. But my daughter, Cara, has taken on our business affairs as well as the Poultry Pages.

Incidentally, I had some emails last month from people concerned that I was ill or something as Cara emailed out with a special offer on our books she’d put together. I was very touched – online friends I didn’t know I had worried about me. More on book offers later.

And talking of offers – for the first time in ages I’ve managed to get some great special offers from suppliers for us. Things aren’t back to normal yet, but it’s fantastic to see we are on the way in the UK.

I just hope the rest of the world follows quickly and we in the wealthy countries help our less fortunate neighbours through this.


April was a strange month here. We’ve enjoyed lovely sunshine from blue skies but it’s been really cold, one of the slowest springs we’ve ever had. I’m not too bothered by that, nature has a way of catching up and adapting to things.

It’s also been bone dry, hardly an April shower, so we had to water to keep things going. Not something you would expect in Wales – it took me ages to just find the sprinkler under a bench.

Apart from seedlings, please don’t fall into the trap of giving a light sprinkling every day to a parched plot. The water stays on the surface and the plants develop shallow and vulnerable rooting systems. Far better to give a good soaking when needed so the water goes down and the plants develop a good root system. There’s a short video about watering on the site here: Watering the Plot Efficiently for Better Plants

10% Off from Harrod Horticultural

I’m really happy to have an exclusive offer from Harrod Horticultural again for you. For May only, they are offering us 10% off most products in their range. Delivery is still extended on quite a few products but generally they’re coping now which is why they’ve reinstated their offer to us for May. Just pop the code JHTEN in at the checkout.

Poultry / Fruit Cages

My daughter is raising a little flock of hens at home. Currently the chicks are under heat in her spare bedroom but soon enough they’ll be outside. To keep them secure she’s bought a steel poultry cage from Harrod Horticultural. These are basically the same as their steel fruit cages.

Well the quality is superb. Construction was easy enough and with the additional corner braces no worries about the frame twisting or bending in the strong winds we ‘enjoy’ here. You can read her review here.

You’ll find the fruit cages on the Harrod site here where you can select the exact size you need for your garden.

Book Offer

Cara has worked out that we can keep our voucher offer running for an extra week.

So, until 7th May we are offering 10% off any purchase of 2 or more books from the Allotment Garden Bookshop PLUS an extra packet of seeds with each order.

That’s in addition to the 3 packets of seeds with each book (5 packs with the Dig For Victory wartime collection) and free UK delivery.

10% OFF Code – enter 10OFF at the checkout

Our Books


I’ve only just started chitting the first batch of sweetcorn that will go into the polytunnel and mid-month I’ll be starting the second batch destined for the outside.

When I first grew sweetcorn it was a tricky crop anywhere north of London but we have much better varieties adapted for our climate now. There’s more on growing sweetcorn here.

Natural Slug & Snail Control

Research conducted by the RHS into common natural slug control methods revealed many of the most popular just don’t work. They tested copper rings, wool pellets, egg shells, pine bark mulch and horticultural grit which all failed.

Envii, who produce a range of environmentally friendly garden products, repeated the experiment and filmed it, showing how easily slugs and snails overcome these barriers. They also showed that their Feed & Fortify does stop slugs and snails from getting to the crops. Seeing is believing! You can see the video and read more about it in my blog.

Save 20% on Feed & Fortify

Feed & Fortify is an organic slug control method that uses diatomaceous earth to naturally protect plants from slugs, snails and other small pests. It also contains iron silicates to improve soil fertility and maximise plant growth.

Envii are offering us 20% off Feed & Fortify during May – just pop the code FORTIFY20 in at the checkout to take advantage. (Cannot be used with any other offer code)

Envii Feed & Fortify


I’ve always suggested sowing parsnips in March or April when the soil is warming rather than February. Well an Irish reader told me they never sow parsnips until May and had good results.

Since our weather in north-west Wales is similar to Ireland and this spring has been cold, I’m sowing mine now. We’ll see how that goes in six months!

More on growing parsnips

Planting Brassica Tips

Cabbages, cauliflowers and especially Brussels sprouts like to be planted firmly as they are susceptible to wind-rock. This is where the wind rocks the plant (as the name suggests) which causes the fine root hairs on the roots to break. These are the part of the root that take in nutrients and without them the plant starves – even in a rich soil.

The other important factor for success with the cabbage tribe is the acidity of the soil. They thrive in soils that are neutral or slightly alkaline. Adding lime to the soil the winter before planting is very helpful but even adding lime at planting time will help with acid soils.


I’ve often talked about the importance of micro-nutrients. They’re like vitamins for plants, critical for good crops. If you’re getting poor results and can’t work out why, adding micro-nutrients is often the answer.

The reasons are a bit complicated but the availability of all nutrients depends on the pH (acidity) of the growing medium.

Just throwing more fertiliser on an acid soil can be counter-productive as it makes the soil more acid. This further reduces the availability of the nutrients.

Micro-nutrients can be made available across a wide range of conditions using a process called chelation.

I put an article about this here and would like to thank Barry Langdon of S-Chelate for his help in writing it.

S-Chelate Offer

If you’d like to try S-Chelate micro-nutrients for yourself, we have a voucher offer saving

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

New Plot? – Don’t Rotavate!

At this time of year I get emails from new plotholders. Many councils send out the bills in April and that’s the point where people admit they’ve given up and don’t want the plot anymore. So we have new starters who have precious little time to get the plot in order and start growing.

One lady had an offer to rotavate her new plot and wondered if she should accept it. I answered that the best way is the hard way – double dig, adding manure and removing the weeds as you go.

If your plot has weeds like dandelion, dock, bindweed (perennial weeds) don’t run a rotavator over it – you’ll do nothing but make trouble for the future as they’ll come back up tenfold from bits of root.

More help – see You Have a New Allotment

Fruit & Vegetable Growing Guide for May

Hints & Tips in the jobs guide for growing in

Fruit & Vegetable Growing Guide for May

Well that’s all for now – sorry, I do seem to have gone on a bit. I’ll be sending out another newsletter in a couple of weeks. I hope you’ve found the information helpful and the offers useful.

Keep safe and well,

Good growing


Allotment Garden

Fron Dirion, Clogwyn Melyn,
LL54 6PT


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