News, Tips and Help for Growers & Gardeners

Allotment Garden Newsletter

From John Harrison

Allotment Garden Newsletter July 2020 Extra

Dear Giles

Normally I just send one email newsletter a month, so I hope you don't mind this extra. I've a few tips that might help you get more from your growing and I thought to share them with you.

New to Growing Your Own?

A lot of people have used their enforced time at home to take up growing their own and I've a lot of new subscribers to this newsletter because of this. If that's you, I've a few bits of advice below that should help.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

There's all sorts of ways to grow and thanks to the internet they all look marvellous and promise great results for little or no effort.

Sadly in the real world it's different. You need to put some work in to get food for your table. Get to grips with the basic, proven gardening methods first and then you can decide what is the best method for you in your garden.

That's what I covered in my Vegetable Growing Month by Month (Shameless Plug!!)


One area new growers often go wrong with is spacing. I've seen people plant cauliflowers close together because they look so lost and lonely when they're small. However, they need space to grow to full size.

Take a look at this article to see what's happening below the surface with a cauliflower and you'll better understand why cramming plants together is often such a bad idea.

You Don't Always Win

Most importantly, you won't always succeed. Don't be disheartened by failure but think why things haven't gone as you hoped or expected. Next year you won't make the same mistake. Much of joy of growing is learning and even after 40 plus years, I'm still discovering new things on the plot

Why you should grow your own

One of the effects of this pandemic that is sweeping the world is to disrupt our food production and distribution systems. I'm concerned about our food security due to this. Now might be the time to think about how you can grow more for your table. It's certainly not the time to ease off.

I've written a little more about this and the steps we're taking here. Coping with Pandemic Effects on Food Supply

Weeds.. Hoe them Away!

If the weeds are winning, get the hoe going. I've tried various types but still find my 30 year old Dutch hoe the best. I give it a few strokes with a file to keep an edge on the blade before starting and every so often whilst using it. A sharp hoe is far more effective and easier to use.

There's one of my little video clips showing how to use a Dutch hoe you may find helpful.

Slugs & Snails

It's turning into a bad year for slugs and snails. We had a mild winter, so more survived and after the wonderful sunny spring the summer is proving to be damp. Slugs love damp weather.

The other night I popped outside after dark to check the shed in case the cat was trapped. She was asleep in a corner but the point is there were 17 snails on the patio! The grass was like a horror film, a monstrous mollusc army heading for crops.

Now there's all sorts of ways suggested to control slugs. Some just don't work that well like copper tape, crushed eggshells, grits etc. Some are very time consuming not to say unpleasant, like beer traps and manually hunting them. Metaldehyde pellets are effective but due to environmental concerns they're on their way out. So, my suggestions below.


For my money the most effective method for most people is to use biological warfare – Nemaslug nematodes. Simple to apply, impossible to overdose and totally safe to use around children, pets and wildlife, Nemaslug Slug Killer is ideal for organic gardening. The only negatives are that it may not be as effective on heavy clay soils and it's not cheap.


I use Ferrous Phosphate pellets which I think are more effective than metaldehyde pellets. Unlike the old metaldehyde pellets these are organic, pet and wildlife friendly as well as OK for the environment. The uneaten pellets are eventually returned to the soil after being broken down by micro organisms into iron and phosphate. Growing Success Advanced Slug Killer

Potato Blight

I'm afraid the weather isn't only good for slugs, it's ideal for potato blight. The old remedy was to make up some Bordeaux or Burgundy mixture and spray the plants before the blight took hold. Fairly effective, dirt cheap and so safe it was allowed under organic standards for many years. Now banned of course.

There were other remedies, like Dithane, but they're no longer licensed and legal to use for potato blight. In fact there are no legally available fungicides available to the gardener although the farmers have a range of powerful chemicals available.

You can read more on potato blight here.

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.

Good Growing but above all, keep well


Allotment Garden

Fron Dirion, Clogwyn Melyn,
LL54 6PT


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