Thursday, 25 April 2019

A DAY ON THE ALLOTMENT


A DAY ON THE ALLOTMENT


At long last we got a few days of rain which the garden really needed and now we are in a period of dry warm days with cold nights threatening frost so first early potatoes Casablanca, which had pushed through the ground, had to get earthed up for protection. Second early Charlotte was also showing young growth so they got earthed up as well. This is perfect gardening weather which is just as well as the essential seasonal jobs are piling up.
Potting up tomato seedlings
Broad beans and sweet peas got hardened off in mid March and were ready for planting by the end of March. Cabbage, kale, sprouts and cauliflower are now all outdoors in pots getting hardened off for planting in April. These will all need nets to keep pigeons out, collars to prevent attacks of cabbage root fly maggots, and slug pellets as the mild winter has allowed them to survive in great numbers.
Freshly planted broad beans
Club root is kept at bay by using resistant bred varieties, but now I need to experiment with sowing dates to give cropping over a long period with just one variety of each. It is just a pity that these resistant varieties come with no more than twenty seeds per packet and supervision in the pack room must be tight as no-one ever slips in an extra seed. Sowing continued with lettuce, rocket, spring onions, radish, turnips, carrots, beetroot and leeks. The ground was all prepared in winter and left rough so it easily broke down into a fine tilth for good germination. Ground allocated to pumpkins, courgettes and sweet corn which don’t get planted till June has all been sown down with a green manure crop of clover and ryegrass to increase soil fertility. There is plenty time for them to grow, and then a fortnight
Transplanting aconites
before planting they will get trodden down and dug in.
The plot still has a few end of season produce such as overwintered lettuce, chard, leeks, parsnips and Swedes, and in store the Bramley apples, onions and pumpkins are all needing used up. Pumpkins got roasted, made a brilliant soup and added to many other dishes. Stored potatoes suffered too many sprouted shoots due to the mild winter, so many had to get chopped up and composted. Beetroot was also at the end of its season so Anna lifted the last of the roots for a very tasty and healthy beetroot soup. I had left all the beetroot outdoors as I took the chance of getting another mild winter which happily came along so no damage was done.
Weeds have started to grow, but as the soil is quite soft they are easy to hoe, and any big ones pulled out and added to the compost heap.
Sweet corn potted up
Dry weather is becoming the norm so once our allotment site went into April, and the water got turned on, it was just in time to start watering rows of newly planted strawberries plus those under tunnels and the March planted broad beans, spring onions and sweet peas. When the strawberries under tunnels begin to flower lift the polythene to give some ventilation and allow bees access to pollinate the flowers. This also makes it easier for watering.
However the flower borders were still quite moist so clumps of aconites were lifted in the green for transplanting to new locations. Chrysanthemum cuttings were rooted under glass in February due the very mild winter, and
The last of 2018 fruit and vegetables
growth was prolific so there was no shortage of fresh cuttings. They root very easily so after hardening off they were ready for planting out in mid April.
In the greenhouse the tomato seedlings and sweet corn had all germinated and needed potting up.
If we are back into another dry year it is wise to add a mulch of well rotted compost to raspberries, black and redcurrants, gooseberries and rhubarb to preserve moisture.

Wee jobs to do this week

Grafting pears
One large pear tree in the garden was really misbehaving. It decided to push numerous vigorous shoots straight upwards over twenty feet tall and not a flower bud to be seen. So it was a job up the ladder with a saw and loppers. All long shoots devoid of flower buds got the chop and a few large limbs got grafted with other varieties. This pear tree was a Conference and Comice variety that I had added Beurre Hardy and the Christie grafts a few years back, and now I added Concord and Beth. It should make an interesting tree if nothing else.
END

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