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June Top Allotment Tips

May turned out to be a very good growing month with progress for the most part rapid. Most of my half-hardy veg are now planted out in the ground, the likes of; courgette, pumpkin, sweet corn and squashes, though they are far from fully established yet. Keeping the young plants moist and free of attacks from slugs are the immediate priorities until the plants get stronger. There is still time to plant yours out if you’ve not yet got around to it.

The generosity and togetherness of allotment holders showed its hand at the beginning of May when I had a sudden Brussels sprouts crisis! I lost a few young plants prior to planting them out. However, completely by chance as I was frantically sowing more, a kind plot holder on the site had co-incidentally offered several trays of spares. As luck would have it, there were sprouts and cabbages to anyone passing his plot on a first come first served basis. Thank you Alan, I didn’t take them all! Allotmenteers by nature are generous with their time, advice to beginners and indeed donating plants. This highlights what a real positive it is to grow our vegetables in an environment shared with like-minded gardeners.

Later in the month, I’ll plant out leeks. The F1 variety “Below Zero” has good resistance to rust and as the name suggests is tolerant of winter conditions. Leeks are harvested over a long period, from November –March. So knowing they will stay in the ground undamaged like this variety is a big positive. If you forgot to plant any seeds, this leek is also available as a plug plant.

If you are planting out winter cabbage or any brassicas don’t forget to protect the young plants from cabbage root fly attack with a cabbage collar. Female flies lay eggs close to the stem and it is the resultant larvae that are destructive to the plant roots. Some years ago I suffered a bad attack from the larvae. Early signs were the plants taking on the appearance of being permanently wilting and stunted. When I investigated further, there was very little root left.

I’ve been sowing French bean “Compass” and “Masterpiece” directly over the past few days to supplement some that I started off in the greenhouse in May. Slugs can be a problem in wet ground with French beans and it is important to take preventative action before they come up.
Over the course of the month I intend to earth up my maincrop potatoes and excitingly I will be harvesting some of my early potato crop by the end of June. Havesting our earlies is one of the highlights of the allotment calendar if like me you are a big fan of the humble spud.

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Lee Senior

About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and part time horticultural manager. He has also had an allotment for over 25 years.

After, initially spurning horticulture as a career option, to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a train driver, Lee soon realised he couldn’t resist getting his hands dirty to make a living.

Horticultural College training led, to getting an allotment at the tender age of 18 (in the days when you could actually get a plot quickly). My gardening hero, is Geoff Hamilton” says Lee. “It was Geoff who convinced me that you didn’t have to spray everything that moved in the garden. Watching him on Gardeners’ World in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was a revelation. I was lucky enough to meet Geoff and I’ve also more recently had the pleasure of meeting Joe Swift.

Now over two decades of practical experience has taught me to work with mother-nature, not to fight against her and don’t try to tame her, as so many gardeners seem to be on a mission to do.

Small scale food growing is my passion and I can’t wait for my my two daughters, one who is 5 years old and the other who is 3 to hopefully pick up the baton in the future. Nothing beats the flavour and satisfaction of growing your own food. You simply cannot buy the same quality and freshness. Everyone can have a go at growing something says Lee, no matter where they live.

Lee has also written his first book entitled “Walking on the Aire”.The book is based on another of his keen interests which is walking. The book features 14 short family style, walks in Airedale, Yorkshire.

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