Cow Catcher

Allotment Garden Newsletter September 2020

Allotment Garden Newsletter

From John Harrison


Dear Friend

Here in Wales it's not been a blistering hot August to put it mildly but we live in hope as September is often a good month in the west.Who knows though? The weather this year has been all over the place.

It's a month of change as harvests come in thick and fast and we start to think about preparing for the coming winter.

Already Val's busy in the kitchen developing new preserve recipes and variations on old. My kitchen jobs are less creative; mainly blanching for the freezer and washing up!

Don't Waste Those Surplus Fruits & Vegetables!


Storing Your Crops

It’s great growing your own and eating freshly picked fruit and vegetables, but what do you do with the inevitable gluts? We’ve faced that problem over the 40 years we’ve been growing our own and this book passes on our answers.

How to Store Your Home Grown Produce

Our store cupboard is filling up with jams and chutneys. One of our aims when we wrote Easy Jams, Chutneys and Preserves was to provide a guide so people could create their own recipes, alter things to suit their tastes and needs. Not just a recipe collection, we even explain what to do when things go wrong like the jam won't set

Judging by the emails we get from readers, I think we've done what we set out to.

Easy Jams, Chutneys and Preserves

And many thanks to Suttons Seeds for their support – we're still able to offer free seeds with our books worth £6.00 or more along with free delivery in the UK. We're hoping to re-start offering delivery outside the UK soon. I'll let you know.

You can find all our books listed here. Our Books

Go to Our Books Page

Potato Blight

We're in the prime month for potato blight to strike. It's still warm but it's also humid. There's not a lot you can do if blight strikes since nearly all the sprays available to the home grower have been de-listed.

Once you notice the brown patches on the leaves, you need to act quickly to save what crop there may be under the surface. Cut all the haulm, as they call potato foliage, off as near to the ground as possible. The haulm can be composted so long as you are sure of the compost heating to 60ºC as it does in my Hotbin composter. Otherwise burn it or bin it.

Leave the tubers where they are for two or three weeks to allow the skins to harden before lifting. With luck the blight won't have gone into them and any surface spores will have died so they won't get infected as they would if immediately lifted.

There's a full article on Potato Blight here


Growing Guides

Don't forget there's a lot of help on the site with growing guides on most vegetables including 20 articles on tomatoes alone!

What to do if Tomato Blight Hits!


Tomato Blight

The same mould that causes potato blight affects tomatoes as well. Tomatoes and potatoes are quite closely related so it makes sense.

Just like potatoes, the first symptom is brown patches on the leaves which spread really quickly followed by the whole plant dying. This can happen in just a couple of days so if you spot blight on your tomato plants you need to act immediately.

Harvest all the fruits of a reasonable size, both green and ripe. Use the fruits up quickly as they may be infected. Leaving the green fruits to ripen is not a good idea as the chances are they'll be rotting in a week with the blight.

Here are some 17 suggestions from our recipes and food section to use up those ripe and green tomatoes quickly that I posted back in 2017

Vacant Space on the Plot


Green Manures

As space comes free we're left with a problem. It may be possible to grab a quick crop from the space, especially early in the month, but it's really too early for digging over. So, what to do?

It may be a good idea to sow a green manure which can be dug in later or even to sow dwarf French beans. The seeds can be very cheap and even if you don't get a crop before the frosts arrive, they're a nitrogen fixer and can be treated as a green manure.

Many of the green manures crops are actually a lot of work to dig in but I find mustard and red clover are ideal. The mustard is my favourite but it's a member of the brassica family and it's a bad idea to use it on plots where there may be club root as it provides a reservoir for the infection. Clover isn't as vigorous, but it does fix nitrogen and is safe on club root infected plots.

With the clover, just dig it in with the normal winter digging. Mustard, growing taller, is best roughly cut off with shears or a scythe and the foliage popped onto the compost heap with the rest of the plant being dug in.

There's a full article on Green Manures here

Supply Situation

With the upsurge in home growing and the difficulties of operating, our favourite suppliers found themselves swamped when the corona virus hit. The good news is that they're still very busy but coping now.

Sadly they're not able to give us any voucher codes or special offers at the moment – but they continue to support the site. If we can support them in turn, I think we'll have offers back for next year.

Harrod Horticultural

TwoWests & Elliott

Suttons Seeds

New on the Site

Some articles you might have missed


Home Grown Project – Can You Help?

An interesting research project that you can help with run by researchers from the University of Sheffield. How self-sufficient are we? What contribution could own-growing make to our food supply?

Home Grown Project – Can You Help?


A video on new varieties coming soon

I came across this video from Burpee Europe the other day that I found interesting so wanted to share. A peek at what’s new and what’s coming down the line for next year. Burpee carry out plant breeding research and development of new varieties of vegetables and flowers for use by home gardeners around the world. They supply seed merchants like Suttons rather than direct to the public.

A video on new varieties coming soon


The Hedgerow Harvest

Whilst researching and collecting source materials for my Dig for Victory book, which I'm hoping to have ready to ship by October, I acquired a 1942 leaflet issued by the Ministry of Food called How to Make Use of the Hedgerow Harvest. It may be 78 years old but the recipes look really good!

So some thoughts on the food available around us that I have spent zero effort on growing.

The Hedgerow Harvest


Fruit & Vegetable Growing Guide for September

For more hints and tips along with a full jobs guide, check the September Jobs pages

The next newsletter will be early October. Don't forget I'm always happy to hear back from you. Suggestions for the newsletter and website especially welcome.

Good Growing



Allotment Garden

Fron Dirion, Clogwyn Melyn,
LL54 6PT


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