April Updates

Hello again and welcome to a busy month at the allotments. April brings with it the promise of warmer weather and the gardeners desire to get going with seeds and plants is strong. Everything is growing (weeds especially) at a pace only late spring can provide. This month we have lettuce seedlings, shallots and garlic to plant out, maincrop potatoes ready to go, tomato plant news, broad beans and peas plus lots more. Onward…Brunswick cabbage were slow to germinate but they finally came good (one seed failed to pop). I still expect a good yield here – one cabbage will be grown on in isolation ànd given all the TLC I can muster in the hope of a very heavy specimen.

The broad beans are from seed I saved from last years crop. Usually seed saving is limited to tomatoes and French beans with me but broad beans now make that short list. A food crop in late June will do nicely.

As you can see the staging is rather full so the garlic and shallots are moving outside to harden off for a week. Room for courgettes and pumpkins! The early ‘Swift’ potatoes in pots are coming along well. Frequent watering is best for yields here. Come mid May I’ll tip out one pot and check the results

On the plot proper it was time to prepare the ground and to do that needed mechanical means. All the plots on this site are clay based soils. I usually apply three tonnes cow manure every two years: if you know clay soil you know why I do this. Manure (and only well rotted stuff) is brilliant for breaking up heavy ground. Scatter it evenly over the surface in November then get it dug in the following spring. Borrowing a rotavator, I get to work.

Wrestling the thing for a few moments I begin to get the hang of it and after a hour of sweat and swearing the 5hp tyrant has done this

Ignore the dandelions bottom left cos they’re gone now 🙂 Clearly, the surface needs raking over a few times to gather up rubbish and to level it off. When that happens it will be time plant… Oooooh.

Cherry tree in blossom

The reluctant Pear tree (no Partridge)

Back home the tomato plants are thriving under the grow-lights. The one variety that has been a disappointment germination wise is Gigantomo: a packet of ten seeds (I sowed five) has given a mere single healthy plant. Poor. Very poor. I will be closely watching the one specimen this season. All the others are doing fine, so my aim of a 2lb tom is still on.

Still at home I have a few amaryllises (hippeastrum) that brighten up the window sill. The variety ‘Red Lion’ comes good about now but the flower stems get top heavy, potentially spoiling the show: 

For the first time this bulb has produced two flowering stems. Delighted! No sign of the other bulbs waking up yet but there’s plenty of time. Houseplants are a mini hobby of mine that I tend to forget about during the summer and autumn. Luckily my plants are all forgiving of such neglect.

Back at the plot the shallots and garlic were planted out on the 18th. Three rows each. Continuing the allium theme, I sow cells of salad onions to transplant next month. My new phone has a rather poor camera: colours washed out leaving a green hue on all photos. Back to the previous one (5mp)

That’s shallot!

Anyway, apart from water colours my experiment this year is with the cultivation of melons. For several years I have grown Charentais, Ogen and Watermelon. All very tasty yet lacking one thing: SIZE. Nothing above average. What variety to try? A look at local nurseries will decide that one. When I do make the decision the plant will have a cosy new home in which to grow…

You like? One raised bed on another really. A heavy polythene cover with regular watering will give the all important humidity melons require. If there is one crop I really want returns on, it is this. Right next to the ‘melon house’ is a new pathway. My allotment neighbours have kindly replaced the uneven, dangerous track with this…

Wheelbarrows rejoice! My plot is to the left, BTW.

See you again next month.


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