Welcome to Lesley Upton’s allotment blog, where she will look at life on her Berkshire allotment, from the veg she is growing to how people are living with the threat of coronavirus. Here she looks at the dangers of late-spring frosts and making comfrey tea.

In my last blog of 10 May I mentioned that I was worried about late-spring frosts on the allotment, so I tried to cover as many of my tender plants as possible.

This courgette plant was covered with fleece and survived the frost.

Using fleece

I used fleece to cover the strawberries, sweetcorn, squash, courgettes and peas, and grass cuttings to earth-up the potatoes. The brassicas, parsnips, beetroot and sweet peas had to take their chances.



The tops of a few potatoes were blackened by frost.

Well, the good news is that the strawberries, squash and peas were fine. The potatoes had a little frost damage, where the tops were blackened, but nothing too serious.

These potatoes were hit quite badly by frost.

However, I did notice that one someone else’s potatoes on the allotment were quite badly hit by the frost. The plants should recover, but it may delay the crop.



A few of the sweetcorn leaves were damaged by frost.

The frost did do a little damage to the sweetcorn leaves. I tried to keep the fleece above the plants, but there was a strong wind when I was covering them and I obviously didn’t manage to do it properly. I don’t think it will affect the plants too much, though.


The not-so-lucky courgette plant killed by the frost.

I had planted out three courgettes and covered two with fleece, but I forgot about the third. You can see the result in the picture above – it’s not good. The courgette plants that I covered in fleece were fine. I have certainly learned my lesson about planting out veg too early. With all the warm weather we had last weekend I thought the danger of frost had passed. I must learn to curb my enthusiasm and wait.



Comfrey on allotment

Comfrey growing on the allotment.

About five years ago a neighbour gave me a comfrey plant and it has been growing happily on my allotment every since. I’m not sure what variety it is, but it could be ‘Bocking 14’ as it hasn’t seeded itself around the allotment.

‘Bocking 14’ is a sterile variety that doesn’t produce seeds. It grows in most soils and is rich in nutrients, particularly potassium.

Comfrey tea

Comfrey tea.

I make comfrey ‘tea’, which I use as a liquid feed for many plants, by soaking the comfrey leaves in water for a few weeks. I then dilute it about ten parts comfrey tea to one part water and use it on most of my plants. Comfrey leaves can also be used as a mulch around potatoes or added to the compost heap. Beware, though, because it stinks!


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John Negus, questions, answers

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