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Allotment Garden Newsletter October 2020

Allotment Garden Newsletter

From John Harrison

Dear Friend

I hope this first newsletter of autumn finds you well in these strange times. Just when things look like they’re getting back to normal, it’s Britain panic buying again. Unlike toilet rolls, petrol doesn’t last forever. As petrol ages it produces gummy deposits that clog up the carburettor – a problem I’ve had in the past with my Mantis cultivator.

I’ve a feeling a lot of mechanics are looking forward to making a killing in a few months as engines start playing up due to stale fuel.

This month I’ve got some smashing offers for you as well as some tips I hope will help your growing. First I’ve got us a voucher code from Harrod Horticultural again and second we’ve put together a very special book offer to celebrate it being a year since my Dig for Victory was published.

Autumn is here

By both the calendar and weather, the season has turned and autumn is here. The autumn equinox on the 22nd September marked the point where the nights become longer than the days and Michaelmas on the 29th September is traditionally the last day of the harvest season

The clocks go back at the end of this month so we can look forward to it getting light an hour earlier. Not so good for those who like to get a bit of gardening done after work, though. Or, those like me, who aren’t morning persons. Still, the workload in the garden is easing off now.

As we move into autumn, I’m comforted to say our stores are full. There’s hardly a spare inch in the freezer, the preserves cupboard is full and the potato store is groaning under the weight. Whatever happens, we won’t starve!

Half Price Book Offer

It’s a year since I published Dig for Victory so to mark the anniversary I’m offering any one of my other books at half price when you buy a copy of Dig for Victory.

No catch – the postage remains free, the Wartime Seed Collection remains free and you still get 3 packets of Suttons seeds for free with the second book. Just choose what you will and pop the voucher code dfv50 in at the checkout to claim.

See our books here

Click for Our Books


I thought I’d pass on my experience with this fruit (or is it a vegetable?). Most allotments have a rhubarb patch and the majority are past their best. It’s quite easy to revive them though.

When winter strikes and the leaves die back, dig up the roots and then chop them in half with your spade. Cut top to bottom so both pieces have the top leaf end. If the roots are huge, quarter them. You want to have good double handfuls, if that makes sense.

Now just leave these on the surface through the winter until early spring so the frost gets to them. This chilling process is more or less what the professional rhubarb forcers do in the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ before moving the roots into the forcing sheds.

In the spring, prepare a new permanent bed by digging over and removing any perennial weed roots. Add a goodly amount of manure or failing that some fish, blood & bone with an extra couple of ounces per plant of bonemeal. Mix well into the soil and plant the roots so the growing tips are just above ground.

Image: Rhubarb crowns lifted October, planted March – growth by following April

I also like to liquid feed when the leaves start to grow with sulphate of ammonia at half an ounce per plant in a gallon of water. Organic growers can use dried blood sprinkled around and watered in.

I guarantee you’ll have really good, strong and productive plants that will last at least another 6 years and you can force one plant each year. Forcing just means you grow in the dark which produces pale, sweet stems.

Pop a black plastic dustbin over the plant before the leaves start growing. The black absorbs the sunlight and will warm up the plant. Forcing takes a lot out of the plant so only do one per year and let it rest for two years before repeating.

Exclusive Offer for Us

Harrod Horticultural are giving us an exclusive voucher discount code. Get 10% off at the checkout using Voucher Code JHTEN during October

This voucher code enables the purchase of anything from their range of raised beds and planters.

The range includes award winning wooden and stylish steel raised bed planters along with strong liners, netting and mesh protection covers.Full details (the legal stuff) here.

This Harrod Horticultural Voucher Code JHTEN is for October 2021 Only and will expire, so take advantage now.

Raised Beds & Planters – Click Here

Storing Potatoes

If you’ve got potatoes in store, it’s a good idea to empty them out and check them over. If any have blight or other rot starting, dispose of them before they infect the rest of the crop.

An old tip for storing potatoes that I came across in a 1942 government wartime leaflet on the subject..

Where there is no shed suitable for storing, the tubers may be placed in bags or cardboard boxes and kept in a larder. Quicklime or lime and flowers of sulphur lightly sprinkled among the tubers will help to keep down disease. During late autumn, they should, if possible, be looked over fortnightly and diseased tubers removed.

Both lime and flowers of sulphur are easily available although this is probably against some modern legislation!

There’s information on the site about how to harvest your potatoes and how to store them:

Harvesting Potatoes Guide

Storing Potatoes Guide

And we cover the subject in our book How to Store Your Home Grown Produce

Planting Garlic

Autumn planted garlic can be more productive that spring planted but they can rot in wet ground. I like to use an old spade handle to dib a hole and then add some gritty sand at the bottom of the hole. This drains away excess water and allows the plants to get a good start.

Please don’t buy some from the supermarket and try to grow it on, the chances are it’s a Spanish or even a Chinese variety and you’ll be disappointed with the results to say the least in our colder climate.

More information on Growing Garlic

Fruit & Vegetable Growing Guide for October

October is really the last of the hectic months on the vegetable plot. There’s little to sow and plant but still a fair amount to harvest and store away to eat through winter. We may be into Autumn but there are still lots of jobs to keep you out of mischief!

Fruit & Vegetable Growing Guide for October

And finally..

I’m always happy to hear how you grow – but do tell me where in the world you are. Pictures are always great!

I’m afraid I just don’t have time to answer every gardening question – often the answer is already on the site and our forums have some top notch gardeners who can help you. I do read every email though.

That’s it for now, I hope you’ve found this newsletter useful. The next newsletter will be in a couple of weeks time.

Good Growing


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