By Richard Chivers

The weather has just been glorious over the last few weeks. I can’t remember the last time I’ve worn shorts as often!

The allotment is now bursting with life now. During May there was an incredible transformation as the plants soaked up the sun-drenched days. Unfortunately, so have the weeds!

In 2017 I became a no-dig allotment gardener and one of the benefits is the number of weeds appearing in the beds has significantly reduced. The paths and uncultivated sections are another story. As well as the annual weeds, my plot suffers the consequences of Horsetail (or Mare’s tail as most of us commonly and incorrectly call it).

When I discovered the allotment had Horsetail, I panicked as most gardeners do when they see this incredibly prolific and indestructible perennial weed poking above the soil.

Two years in, I’ve made my peace with it.


As gardeners, we should be in awe of its ability to grow incredibly well and to have existed for such a significant period of time. It’s a frustrating plant to deal with because the roots go down a number of feet and there is nothing that can be done.

I’m an organic grower, which means weed killers on the garden are not something I will even consider. Even if I wasn’t, there isn’t a weed killer that will – in a practical sense – get rid of horsetail.

The only thing to do with Horsetail is to keep pulling it out of the ground. Some gardeners have eradicated it from their plots by doing this for a period of time.

I weed at every visit I make to the allotment. Keeping to this routine gets my least favourite job out of the way and because the lighter evenings mean I can visit the plot regularly after work during the week – it takes less time at each call.

Away from the weeds, there are plants on the allotment that are putting a smile on my face.

Radishes have been a welcome crunch in salads over the last few weeks. It’s fantastic fast food. These Giant Butter radishes were ready four weeks after sowing the seed.

If I was only allowed to grow one vegetable in the garden, it would be tough to deny the position to peas. Growing your own peas is a truly rewarding experience.

They provide a succession of delights, from beautiful, delicate plants, colourful flowers and a finale of tasty young pods and mature peas. I’m excited to see the Spring Blush peas climb as we move into June.

I’ve finally finished building the Polytunnel on the allotment garden. It’s now home to the tomatoes and chilli plants I’ve been nurturing at home. Having a polytunnel is such a great resource and I’m looking forward to increasing the crops I can grow on the plot and also extend the season with some over wintering salads too.

I hope your allotment and garden is blooming in the wonderful weather. Here’s to summer!

Richard Chivers

Richard Chivers is passionate about growing fruit and vegetables on his family allotment garden. His blog, Sharpen your Spades aims to inspire anyone to pull on their wellies and join in the movement to grow their own. You can also follow Richard on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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