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Down on the allotment in June

The last few years have seen June end up as a pretty wet and miserable month for many of us.  Hopefully 2013 will be different! Sunshine and showers at this time of year can result in dramatic growth spurts for veg and weeds alike.

During dry spells the hoe is one of the more useful tools on the allotment. Regular hoeing between rows of veg will ensure young weed seedlings wither and die before they become a problem.  Time spent hoeing is time well spent.

Allotments are the perfect place for water butts. I reckon we should all try and recycle as many natural resources as we can these days. Not least as some allotment sites don’t have a mains water supply. On others it often gets turned off for the winter months by the Council. Saving rainwater is easy. Simply connecting your water butts to the guttering and fall pipe of either your shed or greenhouse or both! You don’t need to be skilled at DIY and it is a very rewarding exercise.

June is the ideal time to transplant leeks into their final positions. Plant them deeply in a trench or individual holes, so that at least half of the foliage will be covered by soil. Space them  at least 10 cms apart for good sized leeks. Give the young plants plenty of water in the first few weeks as this has a big impact on the final size of the leeks. Some gardeners like to trim the foliage when they plant out. I never bother with this, though others swear by it.  After all, allotments are all about trying out new techniques and experimenting. Beginners shouldn’t be afraid to try out new things, to find out what works for them.

The challenge for new starters in summer is to gain some control over your plot. Often spraying overgrown sections with a weed killer such as “Round Up” (active ingredient, glyphosate) which breaks down on contact with the soil is a necessary start.

An alternative is to use a petrol strimmer, to strim and then cover over any grassy or weedy areas, that are not immediately needed, with a weed fabric, ( sometimes called weed suppressant). This excludes the light and gradually kills off all but the more persistent weeds. The fabric can be pegged down and is re-useable for a number of years and is a great timesaver, without using chemicals.

Towards the end of this month, we should be harvesting; our first early potatoes, broad beans and early varieties of strawberries that have all had protection from the cold spring conditions.

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About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and horticultural consultant. 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 two daughters, one who is 8 years old and the other who is 5 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 two books; 'Pennine Way, The Highs and Lows' which is a humorous, personal account of walking this momentous iconic walk. His second book 'Walking in the Aire', features 14 short walks in Yorkshire.

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