We seem to have missed out on global warming this year. Spring weather often starts erratically in March, but this year we have had to wait till April. My sowing and planting schedule drawn up a couple of months ago is based on past experiences, but is now running two to three weeks late. The ground is only now beginning to warm up.
Easter day was a gift. The sun shone all day and although snow was forecast
to arrive the next day (it duly arrived on time) this was an opportunity not to
be missed, so it was up to the allotment for me and Anna for a wee bit of graft
in the sunshine. I had hoped to have a more relaxed day in the sun enjoying a
chocolate Easter egg, but I never got one. It must be an age thing!!!
|John trims the swede and parsnip|
However weeds got removed, clover green manures got dug in and two rows of first early potato Casablanca got planted. The soil worked beautifully as it was moist but not wet, so deep furrows were taken out and well rotted compost placed along the bottom onto which my spuds were placed. Rows were then filled in but leaving a slight ridge to mark the row. My second early potato Charlotte got planted early April. Main crop potatoes continue to get planted, including Maris Piper and new to me Setanta.
Now we are in the middle of April and the ground is warming up we can get on with more vegetable sowing and planting plans.
This year I have reverted back to onion sets, rather than seed after last year’s disaster with a sweet Spanish onion variety that got wiped out with white rot. I am trying Centurion and Stuttgarter Giant. These will go together
|Freshly picked beetroot|
with my carrots which will get hidden in the middle out of sight of the carrot fly. I’ve never had much success with carrots. A few years’ back I tried surrounding the rows with two foot tall barriers, but our local carrot flies appear to be very athletic and just jumped over them. Next year I tried fleece, but the local allotment black cat used it over night as a hammock then as a scratching pole in the morning. Carrot leaves poked out all over the place. This year I am trying Nantes 5 amongst the onions and hoping for some degree of success.
Turnips can now get sown. Turnip Golden Ball is a well tried and tested reliable variety that with a couple of sowing several weeks apart should keep me supplied till autumn when Swede Best of All takes over, though this wont get sown till early May.
Parsnip Albion and Student can now be sown. Always make sure you get fresh seed as germination falls away with older seed. I sow fairly thick along the row just in case germination is erratic. If they all come up then it is easy enough to thin out to four to six inches apart. Parsnips are now high up the table of healthy foods as they are packed with a wide range of minerals and vitamins.
Beetroot gets a special place in my rotation as although it goes with other root crops, I also sow some seeds early in cellular trays in the greenhouse then transplant them outdoors under low polythene tunnels to give an early picking. Beetroot, as well
other root crops like rich soil that has been manured for a previous crop. This
helps to prevent root splitting. It has also become one of the especially
healthy crops to eat along with rhubarb, saskatoons and aronias.
|Purple Top Milan Turnips|
The leaves and stems are rich in calcium, iron and the vitamins A and C. The juice of beetroot root and leaves is used as a health drink. Roots can be pickled, make a brilliant soup, a risotto, chutney and a beetroot dip, as well as spiced beetroot, beetroot cake and roasted beetroot. My favourite has to be beetroot soup where the leaves and stems are included
Sowings continue outdoors in April, June and late July to give a succession of beetroots over as long a period as possible.
Wee jobs to do this week
|John digs in the clover green manure|