Trap Grounds Allotment Association

Growing tips


  • To avoid an accident with a plant stake or pole, place an empty Activia/Benecol pot over the end. You're less likely to poke an eye out.
  • Put bonfire ash on soft fruit, onions and leeks
  • Don't rotavate your plot if there any perennial weeds such as couch grass and bindweed
  • Don't sow seeds too early; later sown seeds tend to catch up
  • You're less likely to get pests and diseases on the allotment if you keep it tidy; things left lying around, such as old boxes and carpets, will act as breeding grounds for slugs, etc
  • You can buy potato sacks from Boswells kitchen department (basement). Otherwise, you can store potatoes in layers between newspaper in a large box in a cool, dry place
  • For really good crops, you need to dig in lots of manure/compost for three or four years in a row
  • Do not compost perennial weeds and try not to let weeds go to seed
  • Most old seed (but not parsnip) is viable much longer than the date shown on the packet
  • If compost/manure is limited - though both are now available from Trap Trading - restrict use to peas, beans, sweetcorn, courgettes and cucumbers


  • Prune summer-fruiting raspberries when they've finished fruiting but autumn-fruiting varieties in February
  • When you start picking gooseberries, take them from all over the bush rather than from one or two branches as this encourages the remaining fruit to grow
  • Although you can plant raspberry canes throughout the winter, November is generally regarded as the best month to do so
  • Rhubarb plants should be divided every five years to keep them productive


  • Pea and bean seedlings are prone to eating by rabbits, so grow them in pots first in a cold frame and plant out when at least six inches high
  • To prevent carrot fly, sow rows of spring onion and chives between carrot rows
  • Pull up mature onions, shallots and garlic when it's very hot and sunny, so they'll dry out quickly on the soil
  • You can plant carrots in rows only two inches apart, even if it says a foot apart on the packet
  • You don't need to make a hole for each leek plant; just use a trowel and plant them as any seedling
  • If short of seed potatoes, you can cut them in half as long as each piece has one or more shoots
  • When planting potatoes, you don't need to dig out a trench; using a trowel, just plant each potato six inches deep
  • Plant sweetcorn among other crops or in a block by themselves
  • Sow sweetcorn seeds in toilet roll tubes - one per roll
  • Applying a mulch to the shoulders of parsnips will prevent them shrinking and cracking, and will cut the chances of canker infecting them
  • Rather than pull out broad bean plants once they've cropped, cut them back to a small shoot near the base; you may get a small second crop
  • Bury carrot thinnings and tops deep in the compost heap; leaving them on the ground will attract carrot fly
  • You can get a second crop from a cabbage stalk; when you cut off the head, leave the stalk in the ground and cut a shallow cross about a quarter inch deep on the buds will appear as long as there is plenty of moisture
  • Sow spinach close to taller crops that shade it, thereby reducing the amount of summer watering required
  • Lift runner bean roots in the autumn and store them in a cool dry place over the winter; plant out once the soil has warmed up and you may get some early runners
  • Apart from a lot in the early stages, you don't need to keep watering vegetables once they have established themselves
  • You can store potatoes in hessian or brown paper bags, but also in plastic bags with compost in a cool cellar
  • If your sweetcorn are getting eaten, be prepared to erect strong defences or give up; it's probably the small colony of roe deer and muntjak which love them.


  • Before planting Dhalias, soak the tubers in water for half a day and, when planting them, don't do so too deep; a thin covering of soil is enough
Picture from allotment library
By Sue Ledwith