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 preparing courgette, squash, pumpkin, sweetcorn and sunflower plants for the allotment.

I normally grow just a couple of courgette plants, but as no one knows how long this lockdown will continue I thought I’d grow more than usual to supply friends. The courgette I’ve grown this year is ‘Endurance’, which is an early compact variety that produces good yields of dark-green fruits.

Courgette 'Endurance'

Courgette ‘Endurance’.

I normally grow ‘Defender’, but thought I’d try a different variety this year – particularly as it’s supposed to be a ‘compact’ plant.


I have six butternut squash plants – and I’ve grown more than usual, again, to supply friends. The variety is ‘Hunter’ and last year I had so many squashes I didn’t know what to do with them! This year I’m sure I’ll find homes for them with friends and neighbours.

'Hunter' butternut squash plants.

‘Hunter’ butternut squash plants.

I love squash roasted with parsnips, onions and potatoes.


I sowed three pumpkin seeds, but only one germinated. I wasn’t too worried, though, because I only grow pumpkins for Halloween. I prefer the taste of squashes to pumpkins, so I don’t plan to eat it.


The one pumpkin – but is an ‘Atlantic Giant’ or ‘Mammoth’? I’ll never know…

I can’t remember the variety – it could be ‘Mammoth’ or it could be ‘Atlantic Giant’. I wrote ‘Mammoth’ on the label but I can only find a packet of ‘Atlantic Giant’. Never mind…

If I grow just one pumpkin, and concentrate all its energy into one fruit, I hope to have the biggest pumpkin on the allotment!



'Swift' sweetcorn

‘Swift’ sweetcorn.

The sweetcorn will be ready to plant out within the next few weeks. It’s called ‘Swift’ and I have nine plants that I plan to plant in a block, as sweetcorn is pollinated by the wind.



sunflower seedlings

The four sunflower plants are almost ready to prick out into individual pots.

No allotment should be without sunflowers. Not only do sunflowers attract bees and butterflies, but they also leave seedheads for the birds during winter. I’ve grown an unknown variety that I found in my seed tin and so far four have germinated. I hope they’re giants!


Beware of frosts!
As there might still be a few night frosts, I don’t plan to plant my sweetcorn, courgettes, squashes or pumpkin outside just yet. I’ll wait until the beginning of May when there’s more chance of the nights being frost-free.


No seeds?
If you don’t have any seeds, buy a courgette, squash or pumpkin from the supermarket or veg market and use those seeds. They may not come ‘true’ (they may not look like the courgette, squash or pumpkin you bought), but they’ll be of the same family and edible. I’ve done this with squash and grew some great butternuts! Give it a go.


We are here for you

Although many people are coping well with self-isolation, others are really struggling and feeling completely forgotten and alone.

Here at AG we are doing our best to keep connected to our readers though the magazine, this website and also through social media.

Our gardening ‘agony uncle’ John Negus is also still working hard. Send him your problems and questions, with pictures if you can, and he will get back to you with an answer withing 24 hours, as he has been doing for decades. Contact him using the AG email address at: amateurgardening@ti-media.com


We already have thriving Facebook page but are also on Twitter and Instagram. These sites are a brilliant way of chatting to people, sharing news, information, pictures and just saying hello – we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Best of all, as gardeners are generally lovely folk, more interested in plants, hedgehogs, tea and cake than political shenanigans and point-scoring, so the chat is friendly and welcoming.

So please drop by, follow us, ‘like’ our posts and say hello – the Instagram feed is in it’s really early days so the quicker we can get that going with your help and support, the better!

You can find us at:

Facebook: Facebook.com/AmateurGardeningMagazine

Twitter: Twitter.com/TheAGTeam

Instagram: instagram.com/amgardening_mag