Tuesday, 24 March 2020


                                                           A VERY BUSY SPRING

I have always tried to work to a plan for sowing and planting on my allotment, with timing based on previous year’s experience. Last year we had a mild winter followed by an early warm spring so plans were brought forward by two weeks with potato planting starting at the end of February.
Planting early potato Casa Blanca
This year we still got a mild winter but ending with continual rains keeping us off the wet ground so gardening has been put back by a few weeks. Potato planting started in mid March with my first early Casa Blanca though the ground is still very slow to warm up. To give the spuds a good start I take out a furrow, add good garden compost along the bottom then plant my sprouted tubers a foot apart along the row. After covering over the row I add some potato fertiliser. Second early and maincrop potatoes will go in towards the end of March.
Pick a few dry sunny days and start with some outdoor seed sowing. End of March is a good time to sow a row of Leek Musselburgh. Sow thinly so the small plants have room to grow and make a sturdy plant for transplanting in a couple of months time. Late March is also a good time to sow some annual flower seeds such as poppies, godetia, candytuft, cornflowers and Livingston daisies. Annuals are great for adding some colour and interest where ever you find a bare patch of ground.
Polyanthus ready to plant out
Land set aside for courgettes, pumpkins and sweet corn will lie bare till the beginning of June as these crops are all very sensitive to cold weather and frosts, so take this chance to increase the soil fertility by sowing down a green manure crop of clover, ryegrass, vetches or field beans, or even mustard if you do not have a clubroot disease problem. These grow fast so are ready to trample down and dig in about three weeks ahead of planting.
Outdoor tasks are now getting underway with the first cut for lawns now the grass is putting on a fair bit of growth. Raise the blades for the first couple of cuts and check for weeds and moss if you want the perfect lawn. However ignore the weeds if the young kids are still around and prefer a lawn with daisies, buttercups, dandelions and other interesting weeds, sorry, flowers!!!
Windowsill propagation
Harvesting last years cabbages, sprouts, kale, leeks, swedes and parsnips is now scaling back as crops become depleted, but now young rhubarb clumps are in full growth and soon pulling a few sticks for dessert is very welcome. Give the clumps a feed of fertiliser and a mulch of well rotted garden compost to retain moisture.
Early strawberry Christine can be encouraged to flower and fruit two to three weeks ahead of
normal by erecting a low polythene tunnel over the row, but make sure all the weeds are removed first as well as any old straw left over from the previous year.
Check over outdoor spring flowering pots and tubs and replace any failures with fresh spring
Field beans green manure
bedding plants such as pansies and polyanthus.
Now is the time to sow crops for this year’s vegetable patch and greenhouse. These need warm
conditions so windowsills facing south are very handy. Cabbage Kilaton, cauliflower Clapton and sprouts Crispen (all clubroot resistant for my soil), kale, lettuce, spring onion, can all be sown in shallow seed trays
then pricked out later into cellular trays. Beetroot has to go in
Putting polythene tunnel over early strawberries
cellular trays as you cannot prick them out without damaging the roots. Tomato Sungold and Sweet 100 were sown in cellular trays with seeds (only five per packet) left over from last year. Very pleased to see all ten seedlings came through. Tomato Alicante have plenty seeds so no problem with numbers. Tuberous begonias dried off last autumn have now all been boxed up to bring them back into growth.

Greenfly on roses
Wee jobs to do this week

Greenfly have come through the mild winter in top form and now we are seeing some warm dry days they could not wait to get started. Roses have also made an early start with plenty new young soft shoots emerging. Greenfly spotted these and quickly build up to plague proportions. At this early stage it is easy to rub off small infestations, but if they become a real nuisance then it is out with the sprayer and some rose insecticide.


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