News, Tips and Offers for Growers & Gardeners

Allotment Garden Newsletter

From John Harrison

Allotment Garden Newsletter April Extra 2022


I hope you managed a break over Easter, a chance to catch up on the plot. At this time of year with so much to do, grab any time you can on the plot. If I had a pound for each time I’ve planned to do something and the weather has turned against me, I’d be writing this from a Caribbean beach.

Having said that, as you come to the end of a day, stop a few minutes earlier and take the time to make sure your tools are put away clean and in the right place. It will save time the next day and get you off to a good start next time rather than trying to find where you bunged things in a hurry covered in mud.

Three Sisters

Around this time of year the three sisters method of growing seems to come up in the garden press and TV. The idea is that you grow sweetcorn with squash growing under and climbing beans using the corn stems as support. Hence ‘three sisters’.

Originally developed by Hopi Indians in the south western desert areas of the USA it maximised the value of precious water and manure. The corn was planted in a lump of manure with the beans later fixing nitrogen for the corn that shaded and therefore reduced water loss from the leafy squashes.

I can only speak for myself here, I'm sure it made a lot of sense for the Hopi Indians but it doesn't do well north of Watford. I've tried it three times in summers that varied from quite good to awful. The squashes were poor and getting to the beans inside the block of corn nigh-on impossible.

Now I know the south-east of Britain is dry, but it's hardly the deserts of Arizona. Still, try it for yourself and prove me wrong by all means.

How to Grow Sweetcorn

Carrot Facts

Carrots are low in fats and protein but contain potassium, calcium and iron along with vitamins B, C, K. They are very high in beta-carotene which is an antioxidant that your body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps the immune system work, helps vision in dim light and promotes healthy skin. Carrots contain a substance called falcarinol which helps in promoting colon health and may reduce the risk of cancers.

In WW2 the government seized on the fact that vitamin A helps you see in dim light and spread rumours that this was the secret of British night-fighter's success against the Luftwaffe. This had two benefits: it diverted the Germans from the fact the success was down to improved radar systems and got the public keen on eating more carrots, of which there were plenty of in rationed Britain.

Carrots don't just come in orange, there are white, red, purple, yellow and black cultivars available. It's said that the orange colour we take as normal today was actually bred in Holland to celebrate the House of Orange but that might be a myth.

Carrots contain pectin and have been used in some jams to help setting.

The sweetness of carrots comes from them containing sucrose, fructose and glucose. Hence their use in carrot cake.

Show growers often produce carrots over 2 metres in length. The longest carrot grown was 5.839 metres by Joe Atherton in 2007. The heaviest was over 9Kg grown by Peter Glazbrook in 1998

How to Grow Carrots

Offers & Voucher Codes

All our exclusive voucher codes and offers for April including a discount seed potatoes voucher are listed on one page here:

April Voucher Codes & Offers

Changeable Weather

As gardeners we just have to cope with changeable weather. Life would be a lot simpler for us all if Mother Nature followed the rules and we got the weather we expect each month, but life is rarely that convenient. Don't miss the chance to get out on the plot if the weather is up to it.

One way to handle our variable weather is successional sowing. Many seeds are really cheap, so wasting a few isn't a big deal. Sowing some seeds into pots or modules undercover, whether in a greenhouse or coldframe every 2 weeks will ensure some are ready to plant out when the weather is right.

With crops that you have to sow directly like carrots, horticultural fleece will help if the weather turns cold. On my raised beds I use netting above some crops to protect against birds. The netting has a side effect of reducing wind speed and this improves the micro-climate, reducing wind-chill and improving results.

With potatoes you're better planting in mid-April or even early May if the weather dictates rather than a month earlier. You'll still get a crop and a better one than you would by planting in freezing conditions at the 'correct' time.


If there's a topic you'd like to see covered on the web site or in the newsletter, do let me know. I'm always happy to hear back from you but I get a lot of emails and regret I just can't answer everyone individually.

Don't forget there are a lot of good growers on our forums who are happy to 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 interesting. The next newsletter will be early May. Until then -

Good Growing and above all, Keep Safe


Allotment Garden

Fron Dirion, Clogwyn Melyn,
LL54 6PT