NOTES FROM THE ALLOTMENT

I think we can safely say that Spring has sprung, and Blewbury is looking delightful with a riot of colour from the masses of daffodils, primroses and very shortly bluebells in bloom. Enthusiasm has also risen after the dark days of winter, and patches of allotments are newly dug and planted.

On my allotment we have planted the first early potatoes, a little too soon but their sprouts were already three inches long so they couldn’t wait; but just in case of a late frost we have re-covered the area with black cloth which should keep them toasty warm while they get their roots down. In our haste, we forgot to fertilise the area but that will be remedied in the next day or so and watered in. There are second earlies and main crop potatoes still chitting in the cold greenhouse which we will get round to planting in the next month or so.

The black cloth is going to be used on any uncultivated patches until ready to be put into use; it works wonderfully well at keeping weeds down and makes the earth much easier to dig. I’m all for that!

We’ve ordered a fruit cage, which hopefully will be delivered and erected before the gooseberries are plundered. It should also cover the raspberries. Before it does arrive, however, I have a job to do which involves digging up the (already sprouting) raspberries so that I can remove the infestation of couch grass from between the plants.

The little transplanted pear tree has survived the winter and has large buds forming all over it, hurrah!

At home I have tomato seedlings doing well on the kitchen windowsill, and am about to sow some nasturtiums and French marigolds as companion plants, to outwit the aphids. I saw a warning recently about commercially supplied bulbs being treated with neonicotinoids which can harm our bees; to avoid this possibility, you could buy summer bulbs from Garden Organic (previously the Henry Doubleday Institute) which guarantee their bulbs are not contaminated with this nasty pesticide, just go to their website.

I am informed there will be another free Compost Giveaway on May 13th at Crowmarsh Gifford car park, courtesy of Agrivert, so do take your sacks and bins along and fill up with some good stuff for your garden or allotment. More details next month.  Angela Hoy (angela.hoy@sky.com)