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May Allotment tips

Peas growing strongly on an allotment

Peas growing strongly on an allotment


A thriving Allotment in May demands much of our time. For the keen veg gardeners, there is nowhere else we would rather be! Regular visits to the allotment are now the order of the day, preferably at least twice per week, ideally more than that if we can, for the next few summer months.

The good news is late evenings now offer the ideal time to visit your Allotment plot for an hour or so, this being ideal for any watering required, or for using the hoe to tackle annual weeds or to simply check on our young charges.

Sometimes we need to be able to call to the plot at short notice depending on the weather. We can’t relax just yet with regards to the threat of a damaging late frost in particular.

There is still the risk for potatoes and other half -hardy crops such as sweet corn, courgettes and runner beans of a sudden unexpected frost. Keep a roll of fleece handy in your shed just in case you need to cover something up at short notice.

Leeks should be transplanted out into their final growing position as the month goes on. Some allotment holders cut the length of the stem by half as they transplant deeply into the planting hole and they swear by this method.

I plant them deeply instead in the normal way and I have always had good results. However part of the fun of having an allotment is not being afraid to try different things and see what works for you. Leeks need plenty of water when they have been transplanted, for the next few weeks afterwards.

Maincrop peas should be growing strongly now. When you get a spare moment, check they have sufficient support to twine their tendrils around to encourage climbing. Pea and bean netting works well as do pea sticks simply pushed into the ground.

If the leaf edges of your peas and beans have been nibbled this is likely to be the pea and bean weevil, which unfailingly strikes my peas and broad beans every year. The good news is, this is not a serious pest. Strong, healthy plants may suffer a slight check to growth, but will usually continue to grow well and produce a good crop.

Turnip can be sown now through until August and is a really easy crop- perfect for filling up a corner or small space just about anywhere on your plot.

Beetroot is another generally trouble free and rewarding crop, ideal for beginners. Beetroot can be sown anytime from May through to late July. The variety “Moneta” is my favourite and the best variety I’ve ever grown. This variety produces only one seedling per seed cluster instead of the sometimes three or four that beetroot can produce. The need for fiddly thinning out is therefore eliminated, making the crop far easier to handle. It is delicious when picked at golf ball size and pickled at home.

Runner Beans, courgettes, sweet corn, squash and pumpkin and celery should all be hardened off this month, before we plant them out in their final growing positions towards the end of the month.

Fruit trees are setting fruit nicely now, let’s keep our fingers crossed that pollination by the bees has been good! While checking them over recently, I noticed on one of my pear trees the rootstock starting to grow independently from the main tree. It is worth checking around the base of fruit trees for this, as sometimes the rootstock can grow away separately which is undesirable. Rootstock growth has a clearly different appearance from the tree itself and should be removed.

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Lee Senior

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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