Category: Allotment Gardening

‘To Do’ In Your Garden or on the Allotment Plot this month


Suggested “To Dos” this month – on your ALLOTMENT or in your GARDEN

This is a tough month for the Allotmenteer! Probably the busiest month of the year.
Deep breath – here we go!

General Chores

Chit and plant out second early potatoes in the first half of the month and maincrop potatoes in the second half. Potatoes can be planted in deep drills or in individual planting holes, with 5cm of soil mounded over the top. Alternatively, plant them through slits in black polythene mulch.

If you live in a very mild area, and got off to an early start with your potatoes last month, they may be ready for earthing up to exclude light and prevent the tubers going green. Start earthing up as the shoots grow, covering them entirely if frosts threaten, and finishing when the earthed up ridge is about 25cm (10in) high. Potatoes grown under black polythene do not need earthing up, as the polythene excludes enough light. If frost threatens, then cover the shoots with horticultural fleece to protect them.


  • beetroot,
  • carrots,
  • Swiss chard,
  • summer cauliflower,
  • kohl rabi,
  •  lettuce,
  •  leeks,
  • radish,
  • turnip,
  • sring and pickling onions,
  • peas and perpetual spinach in well-prepared soil.

Why not try sowing some unusual vegetables such as:

salsify, Hamburg parsley, or scorzonera, both root vegetables favoured by the Victorians, and still eaten a lot on the Continent.


  • shallots, garlic and onion sets.
  • Potatoes
  • Girasole (Jerusalem) artichoke tubers.
  • asparagus crowns. A deep, friable, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter incorporated is ideal.
  • Broad beans can be transplanted into the garden.

In the second half of the month (wait until early May in cold areas) you can sow

  • marrows,
  • courgettes,
  • pumpkins and squash
  • In a heated glasshouse at a germination temperature of 16°C (61°F).
  • Sweet peppers,
  • tomatoes,
  • cucumbers,
  • aubergines,
  • celery,
  • salads
  • In very mild areas you may be able to sow
  • dwarf French beans &
  • sweet corn outside under cloches or fleece, but in cooler areas it is best to wait until May.
  • Sow a seedbed of brassicas to provide transplants of
  • sprouting broccoli,
  • cauliflowers
  • cabbages that will be ready for planting out to their final position in June or July, and for harvesting in autumn/winter.
  • It is rather late for sowing Brussels sprouts, but you can still buy young plants from a nursery assuming you can find one open, where the owner is not under house arrest during these troubled times!
  • globe artichokes can all be sown in a frost-free greenhouse. Artichokes and celery can be transplanted outside later in the spring.
  • Tomatoes germinate best at 22°C (72°F), and can either remain in the greenhouse or go outside from early summer onwards.
  • Peppers, cucumbers and aubergines do best kept under cover throughout their life.
  • Pot up tomato seedlings when they develop true leaves above the more rounded seed leaves. After growing on in small pots, they can be planted into larger pots or growing-bags.

Plant out

Onions sown from seed earlier in the spring. Don’t use ground used for onions in the last three years.
Pea plants should be supported with sticks, twigs, green support mesh, or wire netting from the garden centre.
Thin out rows of seedlings as soon as they are large enough to be handled.
Fleece and polythene can be used to protect early outdoor sowings. Many vegetables can bolt if sown outside too early without protection (beetroot being an example). A greenhouse or conservatory is useful in all but the very mildest areas with the lightest soils, to start seeds off, hardening off and transplanting the young plants into the vegetable garden later in the spring.
Continue to force witloof chicory and sea kale. Dig up selected chicory roots, pot them up, and position them in a dark warm place (10-13°C; 50-55°F), with an upturned pot over them. The tasty chicons will appear in three to six weeks. Seakale is best forced outside at seasonal temperatures, with an upturned pot or cardboard box/tube over the top to exclude the light.

Finish harvesting

  • Girasole (Jerusalem) artichokes,
  • leeks,
  • winter salads,
  • chicory,
  • kale and
  • sprouting broccoli.
  • Start to harvest
  • spring onions,
  • radishes,
  • spring cauliflowers,
  • spring cabbages and
  • un-forced rhubarb.

Control weeds by hoeing between rows during dry weather.
You could prepare your runner bean supports and trenches for sowing (in May) or planting out (in June). This will save you time later.

Pest & disease watch

Pick yellowing leaves off brassicas promptly, to prevent spread of grey mould and brassica downy mildew. Do not compost such material, but put it in the rubbish, burn it, or bury it deeper than 60cm (24in) depth.

Damping off of seedlings can be a problem with sowings both outside and in modules or containers. Clean equipment and, where necessary, use of fungicides (e.g. Bio Cheshunt Compound) can help to control this problem.

Flea beetle on brassicas can be a problem this month, and you may need to control them with an insecticide or exclude them with horticultural fleece.

Slugs pose a threat, and slug controls are necessary now, as always.

Place mice controls near stored vegetables and ensure that crops remaining in the ground, and new sowings under cloches, are protected from mice.

Pigeons are serious pests of brassicas and other vegetables. Cloches, frames of netting or fleece, and metal cages will help to keep them away from vulnerable crops.

Clear out and clean your vegetable store, to reduce rots and moulds before the influx of new crops.

Attracting wildlife to your garden can help to control pest problems for the coming year.

Insects start to emerge as temperatures increase. A mild spring can see pest problems developing earlier than usual.



  • basil,
  • parsley,
  • chives,
  • lemon balm,
  • marjoram,
  • sorrel,
  • coriander and
  • dill in the greenhouse or on the windowsill.

It is easier to buy in young plants of mint, tarragon, thyme or rosemary. These are harder to grow from seed, some being prone to damping off, others unreliably producing ripe seed, and others being more quickly and practically propagated by division or cuttings.

Thyme can be propagated by layering, either into adjacent soil, or into little pots buried under the soil surface (for an instant potted plant).

Trim sage plants to keep them neat and to encourage fresh shoots.

Check that clumps of invasive herbs such as mint, lemon balm and even chives, haven’t grown too big for their allotted space. Use a spade to dig out unwanted shoots and runners, or divide them, giving away or transplanting any excess divisions.

Control weeds by hoeing between garden plants and by hand-weeding containers. Weed infested clumps may need lifting to disentangle weeds from the plant roots.

PHEW! Good Luck! A LITTLE bit easier next month.



You Believed Them When They Told You It Was Harmless?

My Personal Views on the Environment Issue

Lest the reader should think that I’m an anti ‘green’, climate change ‘denier’ or someone who does not care about our clean air, water and food environment, I should declare that I’ve been a passionate ‘environmentalist’ for virtually all of my adult life. An organic vegetables grower for more decades than I care to remember, tending to my first organic allotment plot in 1975 – when organic issues were not as popular as they are today. I’m the chair of an Allotments Trust and constructed a website for that organisation, and others like it. Click HERE. I believe my credentials are in order!

I wrote an article on Glyphosate back in 2013 (click HERE), reflecting concerns about this dangerous, and cancerogenic product that has by now permeated into our water sources, soil and everyday environment – including the food we eat daily. Food like cereals that have been treated with Glysophate whilst growing. The ever increasing evidence indicates that this Monsanto product is not only making many of us ill, from a variety of source contact – IT IS ACTUALLY KILLING US!

There is ample evidence by now to show that diseases like Parkinson’s, Senile Dementia and Autism in children between 6 & 21 years is linked to the contamination in the environment from Glysophate.

Although I’m a committed environmentalist I am nevertheless totally opposed to:

  • The climate change hoax – climate change has been with us, in both directions since earth’s time began. Man’s influence on the climate is hugely over exaggerated, and is basically the hyped up fear-mongering whipped up by the establishment, and as usual advertised and promoted by the mainstream (propaganda) media. This is mostly a scam to raise ‘green taxes, and to allow big companies to make big bucks pretending to save the planet, by erecting totally inefficient wind farms, and extracting mouth watering grants and subsidies from the tax paying public. If you have the time and inclination you can find out the true facts about ‘man-made’ climate change by clicking HERE. Or listen to a lecture by one the ‘real’ scientists on the subject by clicking HERE.
  • The views of so-called ‘green’ organisations, including the twisted views of political parties, like the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and others et al. They have a twisted and illogical understanding of the issues, and fall foul of the machinations of today’s ‘establishment’ (financed, controlled, and directed for their own interests, by the ‘Elitists’ and ‘Globalists’) who seem to be taking a page from the handbook of Hitler’s propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, who famously said:

  If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

  • Plaid Cymru especially have been obsessed with irrelevant niche issues (like global climate changes) that play no part in the advancement of independence for our country. ‘Ishoos’ like LBGT and feminist rights, Brexit (which they have absolutely no influence over) and things like candle-lit vigils for world peace, which, although noble causes in Plaid’s liberal, progressive socialists eyes – are hardly life or death issues here at home. Popular niche issues do not progress us any nearer to our goal of making Wales a free sovereign nation. This is the case after nearly 100 years of their existence – giving the impression that they can change things. Sadly whilst they have their feet firmly planted in the establishment’s dinosaur minded political system, they will not move us an inch forward, or protect us from colonial rule for the next 100 years either!
  • Rewilding projects like the Summit to Sea – Rewilding Britain (conveniently, their first project is targetted at Mid Wales) by misguided hippy ethos supporting organisations and certain politicians like Lesley Griffiths and Co. Which is nothing but a land grab – a Highland Clearance on a smaller scale to disengage Welsh farmers from their land – if that isn’t colonial asset grabbing what is? What has Plaid said about this? Not a lot, because they have both now, and in the past made an art form of snuggling up to the Greens and the London based Labour party, blindly copying or supporting their policies on these issues.

And So – On To Facts About Glyphosate

  The amount of glyphosate in tap water in South Wales has increased tenfold recently

Dr. Rosemary Mason, has had a long standing interest in conservation, and was former Chair of the West Area, Glamorgan Wildlife Trust. She had worked for the National Health Service for 35 years as Consultant Anaesthetist to West Glamorgan Health Authority.

Environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has just written to the Editor-in-Chief of the British Medical Journal and the British Medical Association Council Chairman, Chaand Nagpaul.

Her purpose is to not only draw attention to the impact of biocides, not least that of Glyphosate, on health and the environment but also to bring attention to the corruption that allows this to continue.

Along with her letter, she enclosed a 13-page document. Readers can access the fully referenced document here: European Chemicals Agency classifies glyphosate as a substance that causes serious eye damage. It is worth reading in full to appreciate the conflicts of interest and the corruption that has led to the rise in certain illnesses and the destruction of the natural environment.

By way of a brief summary, the key points raised by Dr Mason and her claims include the following:

  • The European Chemicals Agency classifies Glyphosate as a substance that causes serious eye damage. There has been a massive increase in the use of Glyphosate in recent years. An increase in cataracts has been verified by epidemiological studies in England and by a 2016 WHO report.
  • There are shockingly high levels of weed killer in UK breakfast cereals. After testing these cereals at the Health Research Institute in Iowa, Dr Fagan, director of the centre, said: “These results are consistently concerning. The levels consumed in a single daily helping of any one of these cereals, even the one with the lowest level of contamination, is sufficient to put the person’s Glyphosate levels above the levels that cause fatty liver disease in rats (and likely in people).”
  • The amount of glyphosate in tap water in South Wales has increased tenfold in a very short period.
  • Glyphosate is largely responsible for the destruction of biodiversity and an increase in the prevalence of many serious health conditions.
  • There are massive conflicts of interest throughout various agencies in the EU that ensure harmful agrochemicals like glyphosate come to market and remain there.
  • In fact, a global industry has emerged to give ‘advice’ on biocides regulation. This results in regulatory bodies effectively working to further the commercial interests of the pesticide industry.
  • The European Food Safety Authority sanctioned increased maximum pesticide residue levels (MRL) at the request of industry (Monsanto in this case, to 100 times the previously authorised MRL).
  • The Washington-based International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is used by corporate backers to counter public health policies. Its members have occupied key positions on EU and UN regulatory panels. It is, however, an industry lobby group that masquerades as a scientific health charity. The ILSI describes its mission as “pursuing objectivity, clarity and reproducibility” to “benefit the public good”. But researchers from the University of Cambridge, Bocconi University in Milan, and the US Right to Know campaign assessed over 17,000 pages of documents under US freedom of information laws to present evidence of influence peddling.
  • ILSI Vice-President, Prof Alan Boobis, is currently the Chairman of the UK Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (CoT) (2015-2021). He was directly responsible for authorising chemicals such as Glyphosate, Chlorothalonil, Clothianidin and Chlorpyrifos that are destroying human health and creating a crisis in biodiversity. His group and others have authorised Glyphosate repeatedly. He and David Coggon, the previous Chairman of CoT (2008-2015), were appointed as experts on Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA), a group allied with the agrochemical industry and is fighting for higher pesticide exposure.
  • Jean-Claude Juncker the President of the European Commission who, against a petition from more than 1.5 million European citizens, re-authorised glyphosate in December 2017 for a further five years. He set up the Science Advisory Mechanism, aiming to put industry-friendly personnel on various committees.

There are many more claims presented by Rosemary Mason in her report. But the take-home point is that the reality of the agrochemical industry is masked by well-funded public relations machinery (which includes bodies like the UK’s Science Media Centre). The industry also subverts official agencies and regulatory bodies and supports prolific lobby organisations and (‘public scientists’) which masquerade as objective institutions.

When such organisations or figures are exposed, they frequently cry foul and attempt to portray any exposure of their lack of integrity as constituting an attack on science itself; no doubt many readers will be familiar with the ‘anti-science’ epithet.

The industry resorts to such measures as it knows its products are harmful and cannot stand up to proper public scrutiny. And under a system of sustainable agroecology that can produce plentiful, nutritious food, it also knows its markets would disappear.

Motivated by fraud and fear of the truth emerging, it therefore tries to persuade politicians and the public that the world would starve without it and its products. It co-opts agencies and officials by various means and embeds itself within the policy agenda, both nationally and internationally.

And now, with increasingly saturated markets in the West, from Africa to India the industry seeks to colonise new regions and countries where it attempts to roll out its business model. Whether, say, through trade agreements, the WTO or strings-attached loans, this again involves capturing the policy ground and then trapping farmers on a financially lucrative chemical (-GMO)-treadmill, regardless of the consequences for farmers’ livelihoods, food, public health and the environment.

Other Effects On Our Environment

There are reams of information that can be presented as evidence to support the deadly effects of Glysophate use. Not least the evidence that shows the use of this deadly systemic poison, along with the use of Neonicotinoids that has had a devastating effect on our honey bee population.

Readers of my articles may have noticed my frequent use of quotes by Albert Einstein. Here is a sobering one about the extinction of honey bees:

A sobering and chilling statement



How can Having an Allotment Plot Mean a Healthier Way of Life?

Nothing is more important than your health.

Having a productive allotment plot will help toward . . 

A Healthy Diet

You only get dietary fibre from foods that grow from the ground. The peas, beans, vegetables and fruit that can be grown on an allotment will form an essential part of a healthy diet. Many fruits and vegetables are also very good sources of vitamins. Food starts to deteriorate as soon as it’s harvested, so obviously food that gets from the ground to your plate in a truly fresh state is of added benefit.


Visiting and working on the allotment will provide valuable forms of exercise that is not too strenuous and has the added value of being out in the fresh air. The following benefits to your health can be achieved with regular allotment gardening:

  • Heart pumps more efficiently, circulation improves
  • Fitness muscle tone and stamina improves
  • Digestion and sleep may improve through increased relaxation
  • Weight control is easier
  • Emotional Health improves, you feel better, happier and more contented

Dutch researchers have found that allotment keepers in their 60s tend to be significantly healthier than their more sedentary neighbours.

While plenty of anecdotal evidence exists to suggest growing one’s own fruit and vegetables protects against ill-health, no one had carried out such a direct comparison before.

Agnes van den Berg, from Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands, said:
Taken together, our findings provide the first direct empirical evidence for health benefits of allotment gardens. Having an allotment garden may promote an active life-style and contribute to healthy ageing.

She and her fellow researchers polled 121 gardeners in the Netherlands, plus 63 neighbours who did not keep allotments as the control group.Allotment gardening can be good for your well-being, a new study revealed.

Experts from the United Kingdom found that allotment gardening actually helps increase a person’s self-esteem, ease depression, and calm anger. In a collaborative effort, researchers from Essex and Westminster universities interviewed 269 people, in which half of them were gardeners. The respondents who were familiar with gardening were asked about how they feel before and after working in an allotment.The study, published in Oxford’s the Journal of Public Health, found that respondents who spent as little as 30 minutes a week on an allotment plot experienced significant boost in their mental well-being.

Compared to those who didn’t practice allotment gardening, allotment gardeners were found to have fewer problems regarding weight as their body mass index (BMI) were significantly lower. These gardeners also had lower levels of tension, depression, fatigue and anger, researchers noted.

The Origins of Allotments

In Wales (Cymru) the origin of allotments (rhandiroedd ) goes back to Romano-Celtic and possibly pre Roman times. When a person who did not possess land would ask a landowner for a small amount of land to grow food and would usually be given a talar – the strip of land at the edge of a field that was not cultivated. In return the landowner would expect the cultivators of this land to help bring in his harvest and vegetable crops – like potatoes – when the time arrived (although at that very early time the potatoes were still in south America!). This tradition is still exercised in some hill farm areas to this day. It was a widespread custom up until the end of the 1950s. A variation was the tradition of helping with the potato planting in return for a row of potatoes for the worker who would lift his/ her row when the crop was harvested.

It’s possible to trace the origins of allotments in England back over 200 hundred years – they derive from the enclosure legislation of the 18th and 19th centuries – and the word ‘allotment’ originates from land being ‘allotted’ to an individual under an enclosure award (Enclosures were used by richer land-owners to stop the poor grazing their animals on common land).

The most important of the Enclosure Acts was the General Enclosure Act 1845 which required that provision should be made for the landless poor in the form of ‘field gardens’ limited to a quarter of an acre. At this time, allotments were largely confined to rural areas.

The modern notion of an allotment came into being during the Nineteenth Century. A lot of people from the country went to work and live in towns; there was a lot of poverty.

The First World War prompted a huge growth in the number of allotments – from 600,000 to 1,500,000. After the War, many of the temporary allotment sites were returned to their original use.

World War 2 again increased the role for allotments as a major provider of food; there was a blockade from the U-boats, and many farm-workers went to the war. Allotments became a common feature in towns and cities, Dig for Victory posters were everywhere, and food production from allotments rose to 1,300,000 tonnes per year from around 1,400,000 plots – that’s nearly a tonne per plot!

Today, allotments are (thankfully) again enjoying a resurgence; partly because people are becoming more aware of the benefits to their health and the environment and sadly because we are fast approaching a critical period in our economic system the World over and more especially in the aftermath of the hyped up Covid-19 virus outbreak. Often the problem however, is where to find land to cultivate.

Isn’t it strange how a crises drives people back to a simpler and healthier connection with the soil?

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