April has been as I expect April to be – full of rain, frosts and the occasional bout of brilliant sunshine that lets you know Summer is on the way. I have enjoyed the lengthening days which has meant I can pop down the allotment in the evening after tea to do a couple of quick jobs and generally check on my newly planted brassicas.
On plot 1, I have been busy preparing the ground for planting. I have added a bag of compost to each bed and the plots that will be getting the squash plants this year have had a bag of well-rotted farmyard manure too. Cabbages and calabrese have been planted in their beds with home-made cloches sitting over most of them until they are a little stronger. Slug pellets have been liberally applied, having lost half of my red cabbages to one greedy snail already!
Parsnip seeds have been sown along with small carrots (Paris Market 5 and Royal Chantenay) in the seed bed.
Lettuces were sown in their designated bed along with spinach but soon after we had a heavy ran which let a hard pan on the soil and the seedlings have yet to emerge. I am not sure if the seeds were washed away or the hard pan prevented the seedlings from breaking through. A few spinach seedlings made it through but the germination rate has been poor. To remedy this I have sown more seeds in my seed bed and will plant out the seedlings when they are ready to be transplanted, however, so far I haven’t seen these seedlings raise there head either so might have to buy some new seeds! Plot 1 also had a bit of a tidy up with the large growhouse, mini growhouses and fruit cage all being put up/out.
The rhubarb is situated on the plot 1 and we are in full swing having already harvested 6 kilos of rhubarb. I have shared this out with some ladies at Slimming World as well as making some Rhubarb and Orange jam, the recipe which I have posted previously.
On plot 2, our focus has been trying to get the bean bed dug over and the potatoes planted. The second earlies went in on the 10th April and the maincrop potatoes went in on the 23 rd April thanks to some help from my friends; Adam and Jenny!
The last of my onions have also been planted out which has filled the last gap in the onion bed. I have noticed, however, some large gaps between the rows which are quickly filling with weeds. I have been regularly hoeing off but have decided to combat this with some companion planting; I will be planting lettuces, mini cabbages and broccoli ‘raab’ between the rows of garlic and onions. The bean bed has been dug over, a walkway put through it to separate it into two plots and nearly all the support structures have been erected.
The asparagus bed that was there last year is no more as it was covered in nettles and we had to dig down deep to remove them, possibly removing and/or damaging the crowns at the same time. So far, no asparagus has reared its head which is disappointing but I shall probably attempting to establish another asparagus bed next year.
The pond has also come on leaps and bounds since March. The frog spawn hatched and the pond was filled with hundreds of tadpoles, more plants have been added to the borders and the water has really started to clear up since adding all the oxygenating plants. We have also added a bench and an archway so we can sit by the pond and enjoy our lunch!
One thing that has been on my to-do list for a while is to tidy up the compost area as it was always a mess and surrounded by weeds so we covered the area in front of the bins with carpet and laid bark chip on top, as well as round the small polytunnel. It is a much neater area now and hopefully, the carpet will kill off the the many weeds and couch grass underneath. We may re-seed the area in a few years time with grass but for now it is a tidy space with enough room for us to also set up a BBQ when the weather is nice enough like last weekend!
My Mum came down to give a helping hand this last weekend so we managed to make a start on plot 3. The shed is nice and tidy and the first bean bed has been weeded!
A new cover has been put on the polytunnel and peppers, aubergines and cucumbers were been planted inside. Unfortunately, I arrived at the plot on Sunday to find that all the tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers and some peppers had succumbed to the frost. The courgettes which had been stored in there died too! I have re-sown the courgettes but will need to buy aubergines and maybe some tomatoes at the garden centre. I have spare Alicante and Moneymaker plants but have lost some of my more specialty ones!
But on to happier things, the most important news of all is that we have now bought a little camping gas stove and kettle! Now I can enjoy a nice steaming hot cup of tea whilst looking out on the hard work I/we have done! Now my allotment life is (almost) complete!