Cool Weather, Salad Bed, Snails, Fertiliser, Timber!

June has started with dryer weather than May but, even when it’s sunny, it’s cool. Daytime temperatures here running in the low teens with night times dropping to single figures. This unseasonably cool weather brings its own problems. The runner beans outside have barely moved since being planted out and don’t look well at all. In the Eden greenhouse I’ve sweetcorn pushing the pots that really needs planting out but it’s too cold. That’s going to come down to the least worse option.

Sweetcorn in Pots

Sweetcorn in Pots in Eden Greenhouse Ready to Plant Out

In the Eden I’ve a gherkin – Partner, sweet pepper – Mavras and two Crimson Plum tomatoes in the Quadgrow. I’m setting up three Crimson Crush in the grow bag on the Hozelock watering base. Be interesting to see how they compare with the Quadgrow grown tomatoes.

Vitavia Greenhouse

Back over in the Vitavia the first tomatoes are swelling on the Crimson Crush in the Quadgrows. I stupidly allowed them to nearly run out of water and the plants had just started wilting when I noticed. Hopefully I got them re-hydrated in time or I’ll have some blossom end rot affected tomatoes.

The tomatoes in the border were running wild, sideshoots galore which I snapped off as I clipped them to the strings. The Sungold which normally do very well for me are looking sickly. Not sure what’s up with them, fingers crossed they’ll recover.

I’ve not just got tomatoes in the border, a few Little Gem lettuce which are looking good along with some White Icicle and French Breakfast radish. The purple top turnips and spring onions I sowed have failed to materialise. Old seed, never mind.

What is growing well in the greenhouse and in the polytunnel is chickweed. I don’t know why I’m so plagued by the weed but I am. Another job to keep me busy.


Since the tomatoes are setting fruit, time to start feeding. The Quadgrows are getting S-Chelate 12-Star but the tomatoes in the soil border are being fed with Envii’s Maximato organic fertiliser. It will be interesting to see if there is any discernable difference in flavour. It’s often said that organically fed tomatoes have better flavour but I wonder if that’s wishful thinking.

Slugs and Snails

After the mild winter and wet spring we’ve a plague of snails. Even in the greenhouse they’re causing problems. I had some calabrese seedlings in rootrainers which I moved into the greenhouse from the propagator to grow on. Eaten over night. In the border they’ve nibbled at one lettuce and some of the radishes.

Outside I’d planted some lettuce and parsley under the bay tree. Scattered slug pellets around them. Two days later both pellets and plants were gone. They just keep on coming.

Salad Bed

Salad Wicking Bed

Salad Wicking Bed on Patio Table

We’ve an old plastic table on the patio onto which I’ve put the self-watering planter. It’s exactly the same size as a Vitopod but the growing medium section is about 15cm deep and connected to a reservoir underneath via wicks made of capillary matting.

The constant moisture in dry weather promotes growth and when the compost growing medium uses up its nutrients, fertiliser can be added to the water reservoir in the same way as the Quadgrow.

Setting the planter onto the table at waist height makes cultivation easy for me – no bending down – and the big advantage is slug control. Scattering pellets onto the table around the planter should, fingers crossed, keep the plants safe.

Lettuce, radishes, spring onions, salad turnips and some salad carrots can all go in with a little bit of thought to growth speed and spacing.


Cut Conifers Leylandii

Felling Leylandii leaving the trees at around 1.5m to grow back for winter.

I’d planted some Leylandii as a windbreak to the vegetables in the field plot. The plan was to keep them around 2m high which would act as a windbreak but not put shade onto the growing beds. Unfortunately they’d grown way beyond the height I wanted and so Gary is attacking them with the chainsaw.

Happily, he’s not dressing in women’s clothing and eating buttered scones for tea!

The plan is to use the larger branches and sections of trunk as firewood. I know the wood will spit a lot but in a sealed wood burning stove that is not a problem. The brash will be shredded. Because of the volume, we’ll hire a big shredder for a few days.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
10 comments on “Cool Weather, Salad Bed, Snails, Fertiliser, Timber!
  1. Cara Phillip says:

    Thanks for doing the newsletter I always look forward to reading it. Can you tell me the name of the self watering planter that you have on the table?

    • John Harrison says:

      Hi Cara – unfortunately I don’t think they’re made any more. I’m toying with the idea of making one. Maybe getting a deep tray and a shallow box to support it and act as a reservoir. I need to experiment a bit with capillary matting to see if my rough plan works. Hozelock make a version (a variant on their grow bag waterer) but it is about half the size.

  2. Jo-anne Yates says:

    Hi John, apparently slugs and snails love porridge oats. They gorge on them in preference to our plants and then become dehydrated. This means they remain on the surface of the soil in the daytime instead of hiding away, ready for us, or natural predators to pick them up. Going to try this, but it sounds good.

  3. Richard Newton says:

    Have other gardeners noticed that wood pigeons now eat blue slug pellets. If I scatter slug pellets in the daylight they are gone before dark. I have to turn out in the dusk to pellet the larger parts of my garden. Where plants are under bird netting – such as my swedes and turnip – the pellets are not taken, so I’m pretty sure wood pigeons are the culprits.

    • John Harrison says:

      I think you are mistaken – the blue is a bittering compound. The slugs are eating the pellets and where the pellets are left it is because there are no slugs.

    • Thomas says:

      Hi we have pheasants on our allotments and they will eat the new slug pellets we have seen them doing it and don’t seem to come to any harm . Possibly the pigeons as well .
      We love our wood burner and burn all sort of wood as long as it is seasoned properly.
      Better than having a big bonfire.

  4. Colin Haworth says:

    I felled a Leyandii last year but was told that it needed weathering before burning in the wood burning long would you recommend?
    Slugs and snails were attacking my asparagus row in spite of slug pellets but I put some carpet alongside last year as weed control and found they were hiding there. Now I remove them daily into a bucket of salty water and the asparagus are now doing a lot better.

  5. Ken Watkins says:

    Woodburners can cause/exacerbate many health issues for people in the surrounding area. This is made even worse if the wood being burnt is not properly seasoned. What to do with Leylandii prunings then? – maybe a good opportunity to try hugelkultur.

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