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Spud & Slug

SPUD & SLUG - JULY 2021

 

Are you a traditionalist or do you like to try new ideas when planting your plot? I’d always
thought myself as something of a traditionalist, but unusually for me, recently I made a
spontaneous purchase. Along with some autumn fruiting rhubarb, I bought some framberries (a
cross between strawberries and raspberries) which have generated much interest. Several people
have asked what they were, although it’s fair to say the reaction has been mixed. Accurately
described as ‘thuggish strawberries’ (thanks Anne) some folk think them to be a novelty, a passing
fad. Time will tell, but for now I’ll keep them well watered and see how they grow and taste.

NEWS ROUND-UP


Water. The very dry weather in June has obviously led to a significant increase in water usage, but
don’t forget, water is metered on most of our sites. Please try to water sensibly particularly when
using hosepipes. Unattended hoses of any sort are not permitted and anybody using a hosepipe is
required to remain on their plot, to disconnect it from the tap after use and to ensure the the hose is
not inconveniencing other plot holders or just left laid on the track. Shop. The shop has now closed for a summer break after what has been a very successful season
with total sales amounting to £11,000. Thanks are due to all the members who have supported the
shop, and thus directly helped RCAS, as all the shop profits go to society funds. Thanks are also due
to Roger and Malcolm who have put in so much time and effort to ensure the shop has been well
stocked during what has been a particularly difficult trading year. Dogs on Allotment Sites. Dogs and kitchen gardens are rarely good partners so please remember
the Society’s guidance: If you bring a dog when you visit your plot, you must keep it under close
control within your own plot at all times. Nevertheless, if it causes a nuisance to others you will be
asked not to bring it again. Market Stall. In pre-Covid times, once a year, the Society had a stall in the market square, selling
produce from members plots, all proceeds going to the Improvement Fund. This year, all being well
and restrictions permitting, the stall will return on Saturday 14
th August. Further information on
what to donate, how to donate, collection arrangements, etc. will given in the August newsletter. Harrogate Show. Sunday 15th August 2019 11.00am – 4.00pm at the Sun Pavilion, Valley Gardens
This is always a good day out - why not put in an entry in a few of the classes? It would be good to
see some of our members entering. Full details including the show schedule, entry forms and some
handy advice and tips for showing can be found at: https://thehdaf.co.uk/allotment-show/
Good press for allotments. Some members may have seen an article on the BBC website, but if not,
it's good press for allotments Covid: How have allotments helped people during the pandemic?
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-57438179

TOP PLOT RESULTS WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE AUGUST SPUD & SLUG
Waiting List / New Tenants
At the time of writing (26
th
June), the
waiting list stands at a total of 63 names, with a breakdown by site as follows:
Kirkby Road: 37
Fishergreen: 21
Bondgate: 19
Quarry Moor: 15
Riverview: 26
Gallows Hill: 15
Two vacated plots have been reallocated recently
and we are very pleased to welcome the following
new plotholders:
Fishergreen: Robert Harvey
Kirkby Road: Martin Fenlon
Waiting list enquiries should be addressed to Gary Tulip: garytulip@gmail.com
SEED SOWING. Make a final direct sowing of beetroot so it matures in time for autumn, and there should also still
be time for a last direct sowing of fast-maturing carrots. The same applies to French beans and
runner beans (if you have room) this should extend the season well into the autumn - expect to
begin harvesting in late August. Sow straight into the ground or start off in small pots. A final sowing of peas should enable a harvest before the first frosts. Make small direct sowings of
radishes every few weeks to ensure a constant supply (keep well watered in hot weather). Continue to sow spring onions. Keep up regular sowings of herbs such as coriander and parsley, directly into the ground or into
containers. Sow basil in pots for use shortly and then to bring indoors for use over the winter. Continue to direct sow lettuce every three weeks for a continuous supply. Planning ahead, sow Swiss chard which should over-winter to give a bumper crop in the spring, whilst spring cabbages can be sown now for transplanting later. Sow turnips, keep moist and
expect to start harvesting in around 60 days. Plant outdoors: If you have been growing winter vegetables (broccoli, winter cabbages, hardy
cauliflowers, kale, leeks, Brussels sprouts), these can be planted on the plot. DID YOU KNOW - ST SWITHIN’S DAY?
Most of us know the saying that rain on St Swithin's day is said to mean
that the next forty days will also be wet, but apparently there is some
scientific basis to the legend. St Swithin’s day falls on 15
th
July and
around the middle of July, the jet stream settles into a pattern which, in
most years, holds reasonably steady until the end of August. When the jet stream lies north of the UK, then continental high pressure
is able to move in bringing warmer, dryer weather. When it lies across, or south of the UK, then wetter Atlantic weather systems predominate.


JOBS ON THE PLOT. There are always plenty of jobs to do on the plot over the summer months
and here are some suggestions /reminders to keep you busy for the next few weeks: • Ensure onions do not go short of water, especially in warm weather. • Remove side shoots on tomatoes and stop the plants when 4-5 trusses have been produced. Feed regularly with a high potash liquid fertiliser. Do not allow them to dry out to avoid
blossom end rot. • Enjoy first early potatoes before the skins set. Second earlies should be ready this month. • Harvest beetroot and other summer maturing crops while they are young and tender. • Autumn planted garlic should have been ready to lift in June, make sure any left is harvested
now and left to dry in a dark dry place. • Keep on top of the weeds, it really is so much better to hoe them when they are small
seedlings, rather than removing grown plants. Even if few weeds are readily apparent, hoeing
will help kill tiny seedlings. • Pick runner and French beans (as well as courgettes) regularly to encourage further cropping. • Make sure brassicas are netted to prevent butterflies laying their eggs leading to a caterpillar
infestation and to stop pigeons devouring your crops. • Also remember to net fruit bushes to keep birds off. • Remove any suckers appearing around the base of fruit trees. • Prune gooseberries and red / white currants immediately after they have fruited, pruning all
lateral side shoots produced this year to half their length. Pull off any suckers produced from
the stem or roots whilst they are still soft. • Trim strawberries, cutting off old leaves once they have finished fruiting. This will expose the
crown of the plant to light, helping new leaves to grow. Remove any unwanted runners. • Cut out old summer fruiting raspberry canes after fruiting and tie in the new canes. • Thin overcrowded apples, pears and plums. This should mean the remaining fruit is larger, healthier and of a generally higher quality. • Sweet peas should be picked regularly. • Deadhead any dahlias that were not needed for cutting. • Water crops in the evening during warm weather (and don’t forget anything in pots). Use
your water butt if you have one and wherever possible mulch around plants to help retain
moisture around the roots. • If you have a greenhouse remember to keep it well ventilated on hot days. Also keep
greenhouse plants well watered.


TAKING THE MICKEY??
If you have carefully netted your brassicas and strawberries and are still
seeing the plants eaten and ripening fruits damaged or disappearing, then
the culprits are likely to mice or voles. They can also do plenty of damage
in a greenhouse and will sniff out and devour a row of peas within a
couple of nights of them being sown. So what can you do? Basically, it is down to rodenticides and trapping. Rodentcides for amateur use are available, but really should be used with
caution and strictly in accordance to the instructions. There are two types
of traps you can use. The snap trap type which is cheap and dispatches
the vermin for you, or the more expensive live catch trap which is more
humane but requires you to find a new and distant home for the wee
beasties. Both will require baiting. But, it’s best to avoid the problem altogether - ensure you are not
providing the pests with a comfortable home. The chances are it is in your
compost bin but if you manage it properly by turning it on a regular basis
they will soon seek a quieter spot to raise their broods. Finally, never add
cooked kitchen waste to your compost; that’s asking for rodent trouble.

RECIPE OF THE MONTH - Originating in Sicily, Granita is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various
flavourings. Commonly, these include lemon juice, mandarin oranges, jasmine, coffee, almonds, mint, and when in season, strawberries or black mulberries. Strawberries and raspberries grown
on many plots would make ideal ingredients, or why not experiment with other flavourings?
Ingredients:
100g golden caster sugar
450g strawberries, hulled and halved (or raspberries)
Zest and juice from a lime (optional)
8 mint leaves, plus extra sprigs to serve
Method: • Put 100ml water in a medium saucepan, add the sugar (plus lime zest and juice if using) and
heat gently, stirring occasionally until all the sugar has dissolved. Do not let the syrup boil. • In a food processor, blend the strawberries to a purée. Pour this into the sugar syrup, add the
mint leaves and turn up the heat. Boil for no more than 3 minutes, until the mixture thickens
slightly. Once thickened, strain through a fine sieve to get rid of any seeds, pips and leaves. Pour into a shallow plastic container and allow to cool. • Freeze for 2 hours, or until the mixture is frozen around the edges. • With a fork, draw ice from the edges towards the centre. Return to the freezer, and then
repeat every hour for the next 4 hours until the mix becomes a crystallised slush. Serve
immediately in glasses with a sprig of mint on top. Andrew Turnbull / ajturnbull@live.co.uk

SPUD & SLUG - JUNE 2021

As we approach the end of May, at last the weather seems to be improving and we’re now well on
our way into summer. The summer solstice falls on 21st June, and the June full moon (falling on
the 24th ) is known as the Strawberry Moon, named after the traditional timing of the strawberry
harvest. In some cultures it is called the Hot Moon, indicating the start of the summer heat (but
maybe not this year!).
Another sign that summer is here and a welcome return to some normality, a date has earmarked
for our annual Top Plot competition - see below.
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NEWS ROUND-UP


Grass Tracks. Now the grass is growing again, please remember that we all have a responsibility
to maintain the grass tracks near our own plots. There are a few plotholders who kindly do more
more than their fair share, but that doesn't provide an excuse for everybody else to do nothing. If
all plotholders made even a small effort to maintain the area adjacent to their plots, the benefits
would be readily apparent.


Top Plot - Wednesday 23rd June. All being well, and assuming no last minute changes to Covid
regulations, judging for the Top Plot competition is scheduled to take place on 23rd June.
Don’t forget that although the judges are on the look-out for the best plots, the judging party
(which includes RCAS Trustees) will also be noting plots that are clearly not being cultivated and
thus deserving yellow cards.


Shop. Please note that at the end of June, the regular opening of the shop each Saturday morning
will cease, (not permanently, just until next season!), so make sure you’re topped up with all your
gardening needs. Roger has been providing regular email updates as the Covid rules have been
relaxed and the compost / compost shortage situation changes. The emails have also included a
price list showing details of the stock on offer.


Plant Stall. Don’t forget that the plant stall outside the Kirkby Road shop generates useful income
for the Society’s improvement fund as well as giving plotholders the opportunity to get hold of a
variety of plants. This can be particularly useful if you have any issues with seed germination or
are a few plants short of a row (on your plot, not you personally!). Alternatively, rather than
composting any surplus plants you may have, why not drop them off to be sold on? It’s preferable
that any donated plants are clearly labelled.


Site Security / Neighbourhood Watch Week. 5th - 11th June is Neighbourhood Watch Week.
Whilst we are lucky that site security is not a major issue, a few incidents from time to time do
remind us that nobody is immune. It makes sense for us all to keep an eye out for any suspicious
behaviour and to follow some basic security rules, in particular, please keep all gates closed, and
where applicable, locked.2


Waiting List / New Tenants
At the time of writing (26th May), the
waiting list stands at a total of 66 names,
with a breakdown by site as follows:
Kirkby Road: 38
Fishergreen: 22
Bondgate: 21
Quarry Moor: 17
Riverview: 27
Gallows Hill: 16
The site reps have been busy in recent weeks and
we are very pleased to welcome the following new
plotholders who will hopefully be harvesting plenty
of fresh fruit and veg by the end of summer:
Fishergreen: Margaret Wilson; Denise Willis; Robyn
Clarke; Jane Horton; Ayla Hughes.
Bondgate Green: Rebecca Crallan
Gallows Hill: Martyn Chenery
Any waiting list enquiries should be addressed to Gary Tulip: garytulip@gmail.com


AWARD WINNING GOOSEBERRIES
Egton Bridge in North Yorkshire has been home to a Gooseberry
Show for at least 200 years, and the 2019 show was another
record breaking event. Defending champion Graeme Watson
produced a truly amazing berry which has regained the world
record. The gooseberry weighed in at a whopping 64.83g; this
being accepted for the record by Guinness World Records.
Apparently, the secret of producing large gooseberries is to feed
them with a barrelful of sheep droppings, matured then diluted
to the colour of weak tea!


DID YOU KNOW - TOMATOES?
It is estimated that worldwide, there may be as many as 10,000
different varieties of tomatoes. Over 60 million tons of tomatoes are
produced each year, making it the world’s most popular fruit. The
second most popular fruit is the banana.
The status of the humble tomato assumed great legal importance in
1897 after the US imposed a duty on vegetables, but not on fruits.
The US Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes were to be considered
vegetables, based on the popular definition that classifies vegetables
by use, where they are usually served with dinner and not as a
dessert. However, the courts were unable to reclassify the tomato
botanically,thus it is still a fruit.3


JUNE JOBS AND
SEED SOWING
JOBS ON THE PLOT. By now the last of the frosts should be behind us and most planting will have
been finished, but there is still plenty to do on the plot. Here a few suggestions:
x Keep tomatoes well-watered as irregular watering will result in the dreaded blossom end
rot. Feed every 10-14 days with a balanced liquid fertiliser once the first fruits start to set. A
proprietary liquid tomato feed such as Maxicrop is ideal (available in the Society Shop).
Don’t forget to pinch out side-shoots and keep the main stem well supported.
x Continue using a hoe between crop rows to keep annual weeds at bay. This also helps to
control any weeds present in the potato patch. Once the leaves of crops are touching across
the rows it becomes very difficult to hoe. Clear any debris from harvested crops and add to
the compost heap. Not only does it look neater, but it also removes a haven for slugs.
x Depending on when they were planted, early potatoes could be ready for lifting round the
middle of the month. Unlike main-crop potatoes, don’t lift them all at once, rather take up a
root as and when you need some.
x Once early crops such as broad beans, spinach and shallots have been cleared, be sure the
space is re-used for winter crops such as leeks, sprouting broccoli and winter cauliflowers.
x If you haven’t already netted strawberries, gooseberries, currants, etc., don’t delay as the
birds can decimate your crop. Some plot-holders also find they need to net raspberries.
x During the growing season, give strawberry plants a liquid potash feed – such as a tomato
feed – every 7 to 14 days. Stop feeding once the first fruits start to turn red. Remove
runners, if not required, as they sap energy from the plant and the crop may be reduced.
x Pull off any suckers appearing from the base of gooseberry, red and white currants. Prune
off any suckers appearing from below the graft on fruit trees.
x Thin fruit on heavily bearing fruit trees such as plums, in order to improve the size and
quality of the remaining fruit.
x Stop picking asparagus spears from around the third week of June. Allow plants to produce
foliage which dies back in autumn, putting goodness into the crowns for next year’s crop.
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SEED SOWING. Although plots will now be pretty full with rapidly growing vegetables, its not too
late to continue seed sowing and here are few suggestions, but as always, take note of any
instructions on the seed packets.
Sow direct on the plot: there’s still time to sow beetroot, radish, spinach, Swiss chard, swede,
turnip, spring onions, and carrots (don’t forget to protect with enviromesh to prevent carrot fly).
Also, there is still time to grow runner beans and French beans - sow directly in the ground.
Sow direct in pots, trays, or grow-bags: courgette and squash. Also, salad leaves are one of the
fastest and most productive crops you can grow - sow in module trays under glass for
transplanting later, or sow direct outside and thin out the seedlings. Sow every three or four
weeks for a continuous supply. Sow peas directly into the ground or start off in modules if mice
are a problem. Sow fast-growing herbs such as coriander, dill and parsley every couple of weeks,
and keep sowing a few salad crops such as lettuce, rocket, etc., for regular supplies.4


WATER / HOSEPIPES
The Society does not charge members separately for water, although supplies to most sites are
metered. The more water is used, the greater the cost to the Society. Recognising that water is a
precious commodity, it is vital that we all use it to best effect. Remember, a watering can puts
water exactly where it is needed and thus does the most good.
We all have an obligation to use hosepipes responsibly. There have been reports of hosepipes
being left unattended on tracks and across other plotholder’s gateways. This makes it difficult at
times for those who try to maintain tracks and cut the grass and also presents a trip hazard -
anybody using a hosepipe must ensure that it is not a danger to other plotholders.
Please remember, unattended hoses of any sort are not permitted and anybody using a
hosepipe is required to remain on the allotment, to disconnect it from the tap after usage and to
ensure the the hose is not inconveniencing other plot holders or just left laid on the track.
The Royal Horticultural Society provide some excellent advice on the subject which is well worth
reading and following. If you do so, it will prevent the waste of water, your time, and the Society’s
funds. The RHS advise can be found at: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=706


RECIPE OF THE MONTH - CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY BROWNIES
The idea of the monthly recipe is to focus very much on seasonal produce, generally available on
the average allotment at that particular time of year. As a result it tends to lean more towards
healthier vegetable based recipes, but this month its a bit of a treat……
Ingredients
200g dark chocolate broken into chunks
100g milk chocolate broken into chunks
250g pack salted butter
400g soft light brown sugar
4 large eggs
140g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
200g raspberries
Method:
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line a 20 x 30cm baking tray tin with baking parchment.
Put the chocolate, butter and sugar in a pan and gently melt, stirring occasionally with a wooden
spoon. Remove from the heat.
Stir the eggs, one by one, into the melted chocolate mixture. Sieve the flour and cocoa, and stir in.
Stir in half the raspberries, scrape into the tray, then scatter over the remaining raspberries. Bake
on the middle shelf for 30 minutes or, if you prefer a firmer texture, for 5 mins more.
Cool before slicing into squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Andrew Turnbull / ajturnbull@live.co.uk

SPUD & SLUG - MAY 2021
For many years, I worked with a proud Welshman who liked to refer to a collection of old Welsh
folklore sayings. He was a keen gardener and reckoned many of them held true. One such saying
was ‘he who shears his sheep before St Servatius’s Day loves his wool more than his sheep’. The
moral for us as gardeners is that the weather at this time of year can be fickle and we do get some
cold spells before St Servatius’s Day (13th May). It’s a useful reminder that patience can be needed,
or otherwise keep plenty of fleece handy.
In fact, early provisional figures just released by the Met Office indicate that April 2021 had the
lowest average minimum temperatures for April in the UK since 1922, as air frost and clear
conditions combined for a frost-laden, chilly month, despite long hours of sunshine. April also had
the third lowest average UK minimum temperature for the month since records began in 1884.
The month saw its highest level of air frost in 60 years, an average of 13 days of air frost (the
previous record was 11 days in 1970). For gardeners there were also a record high number of
ground frosts with 22 days this month compared to an average of 12 days.
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NEWS ROUND-UP
Important: Fishergreen Car Parking and Speeding
A reminder for the Fishergreen plotholders: can you please ensure that you park in one of the
three designated areas, with your vehicle fully off the road so as not to obstruct lorries going in
and out of the sewage works. Also, please observe the 10mph speed limit along the lane. We
know there have been issues with some of the contractors using the lane and Yorkshire Water
have been made aware of these. All we ask of Fishergreen plotholders is that you ensure you are
parked off the road and don't exceed the speed limit. Thank you!
Top Plot Competition. If the Covid rules continue to be relaxed as expected over the next few
weeks, we are making plans for judging of the Top Plot competition to take place in the week
commencing the 21st June. More information will be included in the June issue, together with
confirmation of the date of judging. Already this year we are seeing plenty of well gardened plots
on all the sites, so it could be a close call picking the winners.
Ripon Horticultural Show. The date for the show is still to be confirmed. As most of you will
know our usual venue (the Wakeman Bar at the Racecourse) is being used for Covid vaccinations
and it’s obvious which is the more important, vaccinations or the horticultural show.
Water. The unseasonably hot weather at the end of March led to a number of requests from
plotholders for the water to be turned on earlier than usual. Supplies were restored at the start of
April, but some very sharp frosts over a number of nights in the first half of the month led to
several issues with leaks. These have all been fixed, costing RCAS both time and money, again
underlining the need for patience. If you really do want water in the early part of the year and you
have a shed or greenhouse on your plot, then there’s no better way than to install a water butt for
your own personal supply.
Security. With recent reports of a suspicious character at one of the Harrogate sites, its worth
remembering the need for vigilance and underlining the need to ensure that on all sites, all gates
are shut (and locked where necessary).2
New Tenants. It has been a bumper time for new lettings and the site reps have been busy in
recent weeks. As a result, we are very pleased to welcome the following new plotholders:
Fishergreen: Benjamin O'Malley, Lisa Hall, Graham Knowles, Chris Taylor, Daniel Hudson,
Alison Miller, Jason Crossman, Stuart Mackenzie, Emily Grainger.
Bondgate Green: John Milner.
Kirkby Road: Paul Haddington.
Waiting List. At the time of writing (27th April), the waiting list stands at a total of 71 names, with
a breakdown by site as follows:
Kirkby Road 37 Fishergreen 26 Bondgate Green 21
Quarry Moor 15 Gallows Hill 16 Riverview 29
Waiting list enquiries should addressed to Gary Tulip: garytulip@gmail.com
Harrogate & District Allotment Federation Show. The 2021 Show will mark the HDAF Diamond
Jubilee and will be held on Sunday 15th August at the usual venue, The Sun Pavilion, The Valley
Gardens, Harrogate. There will be a post with full details on the Harrogate Library Facebook page
(https://www.facebook.com/HarrogateLibrary) on Sunday 2nd May about the Show. It provides
an opportunity for plot holders and associate members from across the Harrogate District to
exhibit their prize crops, flowers, baking, etc.
MEMBERS SHOP - THE YEAR SO FAR
As many of you will have gathered, so far this year the members shop has not opened in the usual
way. However, Roger and Malcolm have managed to keep supplying plotholders via the Load&Go
arrangements and the number of supportive comments have shown how much members have
appreciated being able to obtain their gardening supplies throughout the latest lockdown.
As a result, sales have been very good and most members have used bank transfers to pay for
their orders. Total shop sales since the start of the year are more than double that achieved in the
corresponding period in 2019. Despite the increase in space the new building has provided, the
strong sales have meant four deliveries have been required.
Landscape and composted bark have proved to be very popular introductions this year. We have
also received a number of enquiries about peat free compost and are now stocking Melcourt multi
purpose. Demand for Clover multi-purpose compost has been incredible; nothing unusual there,
but, as mentioned in last month’s Spud & Slug, obtaining supplies has not been without difficulty.
Malcolm has set up dispensers for bulk rolls of both Anti Bird Netting and the smaller meshed Anti
Butterfly and Bird Netting. Buying by the metre from the roll is much more economical than the
pre-packs and is proving very popular. We have sold fleece this way for many years.
Thanks are due to Roger and Malcolm for their considerable efforts in keeping so many members
well supplied.3
COMPANION PLANTING
Last month covered the concept of companion planting and now it’s time to look at some
specific combinations. Fact or folklore, you decide, but if nothing else, it should make your
plot more colourful and interesting. Here are a few suggestions:
Vegetable Companion Plant Notes
Cabbage / cauliflower / kale Mint Mint can help deter flea beetles
Cabbage / cauliflower / kale Nasturtium
Nasturtiums can be planted as a sacrificial
plant. Cabbage white butterflies will lay their
eggs on the nasturtiums, thus keeping caterpillars
away from your Brassicas
Carrot Leek The smell of leeks can deter carrot root fly, whilst
the smell of carrots can help deter leek moth
Carrot Mint
Strongly scented mint leaves help confuse carrot
root fly, who find their host through scent
French or runner beans Nasturtium
Another sacrificial crop to attract aphids away
from the beans
Runner beans Sweet pea
Sweet peas can attract pollinating insects and
thus hopefully aid pollination of the beans
Onion Mint Strongly scented mint leaves can help to confuse
onion fly
Radish Mint
Strongly scented mint leaves can help deter flea
beetles
Tomatoes Mint
Strongly scented mint leaves can deter aphids
and other pests
Tomatoes French Marigold The pungent smell of French marigolds can deter
whitefly.
SEED SOWING IN MAY - A FEW SUGGESTIONS
In the greenhouse / indoors. Start off sweetcorn in modules ready for planting out once all risk of
frost has passed. Sow basil in pots and sow courgette, marrow, squash, and pumpkin seeds under
cover. Sow lettuce in module trays under glass for transplanting to the plot later - sow every three
or four weeks for continuous harvesting. Sow cucumber seeds in individual pots or modules.
Sow runner beans and French beans under cover, sowing individually into module trays or roottrainers for planting out after the risk of frost has passed.
Direct sow outdoors. Sow beetroot thinly, directly into the ground. Sow cabbages and Brussels
sprouts, and carrots. Sow peas directly into the ground, or start off in modules if mice are a
problem. Sow radish directly into the soil for a quick and easy salad and sow other salad leaves
directly into the ground or in containers.
Sow spinach seeds and also sow spring onion seeds in drills outdoors for a quick crop to flavour
salads and stir fries. Try Swiss chard for a bit of colour and finally, sow swede and turnip seeds
outdoors in a rich, fertile soil for autumn and winter crops.4
JOBS FOR MAY
Here are some suggested jobs to be getting on with, but do remember, as with all our regular
monthly tips, these are just for guidance and much will depend on the weather conditions. It’s
been unseasonable cold recently and even in May, we can still get some cold, frosty nights.
x Look out for blackfly on broad beans. To reduce the risk of a blackfly infestation, pinch out
the growing tips as soon as the beans start to develop at the base of the plant.
x Earth up potatoes as the haulm begins to emerge. This will control the weeds, help to
prevent the tubers turning green (potentially harmful if eaten) and also ward off frost
damage. So it really is an important task.
x Cover brassicas with nets as soon as they are planted otherwise pigeons will devour the lot.
You really don’t want to be planting pigeon food, they’re fat enough as it is.
x Fortunately pigeons don’t seem to like carrots, but alas, the carrot fly does, and on
allotments this can be a real nuisance. If you want to grow decent carrots, using Enviromesh
as a physical barrier to prevent the fly from laying its eggs is the best solution, making sure
the edges are pushed well into the ground all round the crop.
x When tomatoes in the greenhouse start flowering, begin feeding on a weekly basis with one
of the many products that are widely available. Also stick to a regular watering regime
otherwise the plants will be afflicted by blossom-end rot.
x Before sowing or planting out runner and climbing French beans, erect wigwams or similar
structures. Consider adding a few sweat-pea plants round a runner bean wigwam. This will
look colourful and will also attract pollinators.
x Look out for gooseberry sawfly caterpillars and remove as soon as spotted. If left to their
own devices they will very quickly strip all of the leaves from a plant.
x Hang pheromone traps in apple and pear trees to monitor codling moth numbers.
x Dahlias can be planted at the end of the month although as with the tender vegetables, they
may need to be covered with fleece if late frosts are forecast.
x Protect fruits grown in greenhouses from sun scorch by putting up shading nets or applying a
shade paint to the outside of your greenhouse. Open vents and windows on warm days.
x Start feeding strawberry plants regularly from the time they begin to flower until the fruits
begin to ripen. Towards the end of May, after strawberry plants have flowered and fruit
formation has started, use a fertiliser that is high in potash,. Place straw (preferably barley
straw - its softer and more pliable) around the plants and under the fruit trusses to help
keep the fruits clean and dry and to deter slugs. Cover with netting to protect from birds.
x Remove any raspberry suckers that come up too far away from the main row.
• Whether you grow in beds or rows you will need to keep the annual weeds from smothering
your crops by regularly hoeing between the rows and hand weeding along the rows to
remove any weeds the hoe wasn’t able to account for.5
DID YOU KNOW?
Why do runner beans climb anticlockwise? Most members of the climbing bean family grow
anticlockwise up their poles when viewed from below, but runner beans are different, twisting in a
clockwise direction. Some gardeners believe they are following the sun and that they climb in the
opposite direction in the Southern hemisphere.
However, apparently, that is not true and does not explain why plants such as field bindweed form
a right-hand helix, while others, such as black bindweed, form a left-hand helix. According to
scientists, it is determined by their genetic make-up and each species will grow in its own way
whether it is planted north or south of the Equator.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
Radishes. Radishes are easy to grow, they are fast-growing and are usually ready to harvest
around four to six weeks from sowing. Although traditionally used in crunchy summer salads, they
can also make tasty side dishes and here are a couple of suggestions:
Herb braised radishes. Serves 4 and should take only around 15 minutes in total.
50g butter
350g mixed seasonal radishes
1 crushed garlic clove
100ml dry white wine
Large handful of mixed chopped fresh dill, parsley and mint
Instructions: After heating the butter in a large deep pan over a medium-high heat, add the
radishes, halved or quartered depending on size. Turn down the heat to medium and cook for 1
minute. Add the garlic and white wine. Turn up the heat and bubble for another 5 minutes until
most of the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste, then stir in a large handful of mixed chopped
fresh dill, parsley and mint. Serve warm.
Garlic Roasted Radishes. This different method of cooking radishes should bring out a sweetness
otherwise masked by the peppery kick that radishes are known for. Preparation time is around 10
minutes and cooking time about 15 minutes. Serves 4.
350g radishes, trimmed and halved
50g melted butter
1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper (both adjusted to taste)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 tsp dried parsley, dried chives or dried dill
Instructions: Preheat oven to 400f / 200c / Gas 6. In a bowl, combine the radishes, melted butter,
salt and pepper and toss until radishes are evenly coated (don’t add the garlic at this stage).
Spread the radishes out in a large baking dish, but don’t over crowd. Bake for 20-25 minutes,
tossing roughly every 10 minutes . Finally, add the minced garlic and dried parsley and bake for
another 5 minutes or until radishes are golden brown and cooked through.
Andrew Turnbull / ajturnbull@live.co.uk

SPUD & SLUG - APRIL 2021

The clocks have gone forward, and spring is here, by whichever definition is used; astronomical spring began on 20th March whilst meteorological spring started earlier, back on 1st March. It’s a busy time on the plot with plenty to keep us occupied and this issue of the Spud & Slug contains the usual mix of news and suggestions. By the way, Happy International Carrot Day for the 4th April!

NEWS ROUND-UP IMPORTANT REMINDER - FISHERGREEN SECURITY

Please could we remind Fishergreen plotholders of the need to lock up. Not for the first time, there have been reports of gates at the site being left open and unlocked. Please ensure that the chains are put into the locks and also make sure that the combination has been scrambled. There have been problems in the past and it really does take just a few moments to lock up properly. Doing so will benefit all plotholders at the site. Grass Tracks. We may be heading into April and we’ve had some better weather, but the ground really has had a soaking in recent months, so please do exercise some caution and common sense and avoid driving on grass tracks when the conditions are just not suitable. Water. The start of April is when the site reps will turn on the water supplies. Our water supply is metered and the winter break helps us monitor the meter readings to check for leaks. With plenty of pipework across the various sites, we really have to do all we can to prevent burst pipes, and bitter experience has shown that we can still get some keen frosts at this time of year. Also, don’t forget, the water bill is the Society’s biggest expense. With many plots having sheds or greenhouses, there is plenty of scope for water butts. Water harvested that way keeps costs down and gives plotholders the ability to water seedlings at times when the water supply is turned off.

SHOP - SEED POTATOES - GRAB A BARGAIN!

Although all onion sets and shallots have gone, there are still some seed potatoes left, varieties being: Arran Pilot, Foremost, Home Guard, Estima, Nadine, Desiree, Harmony, Maris Piper and Cara. Priced at £1.50 / 2kg, these are a bargain and it’s still not too late to get them started! The on-going restrictions mean the shop continues to operate on the ‘Load and Go’ system; please refer to Roger’s emails for up to date details of available stock and timing of pre-booked slots. Manure. In response to a number of enquiries about manure, here are the contact details for a couple of local supplies: ? Richard Taylor (01765 658480) will deliver. ? Martin & Vikki Barton have lots of well rotted horse manure, free for anybody to collect. Ring Martin on 07825 604046 or email vikkibarton@hotmail.com for more details.

NEW TENANTS.

We are pleased to welcome the following new tenants: George Cormack who now has plot KR13B and Sara Burgess on KR27A. Waiting List. At the time of writing (26th March), the waiting list stands at a total of 80 names, with a breakdown by site as follows: Kirkby Road 45 Fishergreen 38 Bondgate Green 30 Quarry Moor 24 Gallows Hill 23 Riverview 37 As mentioned before, there is a significant element of double counting, with the sum of numbers for each site far exceeding the total waiting list number. Many applicants indicated no preference, being happy to take a plot at any site and are thus recorded several times, on the list for each of the sites they indicated they would like. Waiting list enquiries should addressed to Gary Tulip: garytulip@gmail.com

COMPANION PLANTING

Although there is limited scientific research to support the idea of companion gardening, there are many references to the concept in books and magazines. Clearly, the idea is not for everybody, but fact or folklore, many gardeners claim that it works well. Companion planting is the planting of two or more crop species together, in order to achieve benefits such as higher yields and pest control. It can offer an organic way to protect your crops from pests without resorting to pesticides, or it might help improve pollination of fruit and vegetable crops. Next month will look at specific planting combination, but for now, here are a few basic principles of combination planting. Avoid monocultures. Monoculture is the same type of plant grown en-masse or in rows, but it makes it easier for pests and diseases to find their favourite plants and then spread quickly. Use tall plants such as peas or sweet corn to create partially shaded conditions for crops prone to bolting, such as coriander, lettuce and spinach. Plant herbs around the plot, as many have strongly scented leaves which help repel insects. Inter-cropping. This is the idea of growing fast-growing crops (e.g. lettuce or radishes) between widely spaced rows of slower-growing crops (e.g. Brussels sprouts or parsnips). It utilises spare space and helps reduce weed growth. Insect-friendly or bird-friendly plants. Planting some of these amongst, or close to crops should help attract natural predators such as birds which eat slugs, hoverflies which eat aphids and bees which pollinate crops. Be cautious with some companion plants such as mint. Mint is a fast-growing plant and can quickly smother other crops. Always grow mint in containers to keep it under control.

APRIL ACTION JOBS ON THE PLOT.

It’s getting busier on the plot as we move through spring and here are some suggested jobs to be getting on with:
x When soil conditions are suitable, work winter dug soil, breaking up the clods and removing any weeds. Add a general purpose fertiliser of your choice and rake level.
x In the greenhouse, keep an eye on young tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers plants and when the roots are filling the pots move on into larger pots using a good quality compost.
x Space in the greenhouse at this time of year is always at a premium so make sure any rubbish which accumulated over winter is removed. Before planting the summer’s greenhouse crops in their final positions, use a warm dry day to wash the greenhouse glass.
x Sweet pea seeds can be sown now for a late summer flush. Plants from seeds sown in the autumn or earlier in the year should, if not already done, be hardened off and planted in their final positions. Ensure suitable support is provided.
x Tradition has it that seed potatoes are planted on Good Friday, but in truth, the date isn’t as important as the soil conditions which can vary year on year depending on the weather. The second half of April is fine for main crop varieties. The RHS notes that in northerly districts and during adverse weather, planting can be delayed up to mid-May. Potatoes need quite a lot of room - the rows should be 30” apart and the seed potatoes placed about one foot apart down the rows. If growing more than one variety make sure you label the rows.
x Prune shrubby herbs such as thyme and sage to make sure they stay compact.
x Fleece small fruit trees if frost is forecast.
x Rhubarb should now be ready to start harvesting, but do remember sticks should not be
pulled in the year of planting.

SEED SOWING.

Here are some more suggestions for what can be sown in the next few weeks. But remember, a bright sunny day at this time of year can lead to frosty nights, so as always, patience is required. Sow seed outdoors (provided the weather remains reasonable): beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, carrots, Swiss chard, summer cauliflower, lettuce, leeks, radish, turnip, spring and pickling onions, parsnips, peas (or start them off in modules if mice are a problem), spinach, and swede. Always sow in well-prepared soil. Sow seed indoors: marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and squash. Also sweet peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, celery, celeriac, and globe artichokes. In the greenhouse/indoors. Prick out seedlings into pots or modules for growing on as soon as they have their first true leaves. Pot up tomato seedlings when they develop true leaves above the more rounded seed leaves, or alternatively, start to sow tomato seeds indoors, ready to plant out after all risk of frost has passed.

COMPOST / MULCH / BARK CHIPPINGS

Below is an abridged message recently received from one of our suppliers. The good news for RCAS members is the shop has been re-stocked ready for Easter and other than problems with Clover multi-purpose compost (75L bags) and Clover Composted Bark, we seem well supplied. We have all experienced a difficult past 12 months and continue to operate under challenging conditions. The situation has continued to deteriorate recently, and we are now seeing many of our suppliers struggle with raw material availability, lower production rates, Brexit implications on imported goods and transport issues. These implications are now putting an added strain on ourselves as our stock levels reduce as demand increases. This means that continued supply to all our customers will become more difficult due to lack of product availability. The main areas affected are compost and growing media, bagged fertilisers, plastic pots, agro-textiles and seeds. We are continuing to work with our suppliers to minimise the shortages of products, but we cannot guarantee that all stock ordered will be able to be supplied. Many manufacturers are now quoting lead times on products of up to six weeks which has a knock?on effect of getting stock to our customers within a reasonable timeframe of ordering. Please be assured we are doing everything we can to get your order to you as quickly as possible, but the current circumstances mean we can no longer guarantee orders being delivered within a six-week timeframe. Fortunately, at the moment these issues are not causing any increases in product prices but as the year progresses there may be price increases to be passed on as raw material and manufacturing costs look set to rise. Other Shortages. There have also been stories in the press referring to shortages of compost. The Garden Centre Association notes there has been a shortage of mulch and bark chippings due to supply and demand issues across the compost sector. Where garden centres are able to source supplies, they are often finding it is selling out very quickly after delivery. On the other hand, although some garden centres have blips in their supply chains and are experiencing high demand, in general, it’s reported that there are adequate supplies of multi?purpose compost, especially peat-free. Peat Free Compost. However, if you want peat-based compost, you may run into difficulties because of the intensifying shortage of peat both in the UK and in Ireland (the latter produces 40% of UK peat-based growing material). Furthermore, with climate change to the fore, and environmental concerns over the use of peat, the Government is looking to speed up the phasing out of peat use in horticulture through the introduction of legislation. In November 2020, Monty Don joined The National Trust, Friends of the Earth, the RSPB, the RHS, and many other organisations by signing a letter to the Environment Secretary calling for a total ban on the use of peat by 2025. Get filling those compost bins - there has never been a better time to make your own compost!

DID YOU KNOW? RADISHES

First cultivated in China, radishes, along with onions and garlic, were paid as ‘wages’ to labourers who built the Ancient Egyptian Pyramids. Radishes are members of the Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage) family and are related to kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and horseradish, among others. They are also related to wasabi, a type of horseradish, which in paste form is a staple condiment of Japanese cuisine. Radishes are a very good source of vitamin C (plus various other healthy nutrients), which can help fight disease and increase immunity of the body. It is estimat