Aah, April – time when we really want to get things growing in our allotments. We’ve already waited a month longer than so many seed packets suggest but, having had an allotment for 9 years now we’ve learned to be patient. Here are a few tips:
1. If you really can’t wait just sow a few seeds, not the whole packet.If you’re lucky and the seeds survive you can always sow another lot to achieve some succession harvests. We’ve just sowed our 3rd batch of broad beans. The newly germinated beans didn’t appreciate the two blasts of freezing weather.
2. Peas can be sown now but the mice are hungry at this time of year so make sure you protect your precious seedlings when they first sprout and are at their most delicious.
3. Salad leaf can also be sown inside or under cover. If you sow lettuce seeds, eat the thinnings and you can transplant some of the larger seedlings to produce a full lettuce head in just a few weeks.
4. Warm the soil. We’ve had such a cold March that the ground is still cold and germination will be slowed down as a result. Lay plastic or fleece over freshly dug seed beds to warm the soil before sowing seeds.
5. Control the weeds Traditionally April provides perfect weather for growing with sunshine and showers. Unfortunately weeds are usually the first to respond to this. Make sure your beds are weed-free before they get a chance to grow and spread their seeds. Don’t leave pulled weeds in a pile near your freshly dug plots – flowering weeds (e.g. dandelions, groundsel, etc.) can have a final flourish before dying and allow the wind to disperse their seeds.
6. Potato timing We won’t be planting our potatoes for a few weeks yet – otherwise the likelihood of frost means we’ll be earthing up earlier than we really want to. We’ll leave them chitting for a while yet.
7. Fertilising If, like us, you didn’t clear your plots/gardens in the Autumn now is the time to be weeding/clearing/digging. It’s better to put manure on your plots over Winter but it can also be done in Spring. Just make sure to dig it in as new plantings won’t appreciate the acidity.
Most of all, DON’T PANIC there’s still plenty of time…!
And do take advantage of our Plant Sale on Saturday 9 June