NOTES FROM THE ALLOTMENT

May 3, 2017

It seems very early in the year to be praying for rain, but April has been such an extremely dry month with only a few spots of rain here and there. However, the soil has remained surprisingly workable and at least it does not entail having to de-clog your boots every few minutes, making digging much harder work.

The early potatoes (a red variety) are now showing dark shoots and it will soon be time to earth them up to promote more growth underneath (and also protect the tops from frost, which we have just had overnight so I hope they are all right!). The remaining second earlies and main crop are now all planted, with a row of beetroot along the remaining edge of that plot.

The one remaining brassica from last year’s not very successful plantings has finally burgeoned into a beautiful cauliflower and, being a winter cauliflower, has not suffered from yellowing caused by too much sun! A delightful surprise, and tasty too, with hardly anything else to harvest.

The fruit cage was constructed, hurriedly, as we could see that the gooseberries were already covered in tiny little flowers. We left the ends of the netting open to allow pollinators easy access, and can now see miniature berries forming. Lots of flowers also on the blackcurrants, redcurrants and the little pear tree, and the transplanted rhubarb is doing well enough to pull a few sticks without over-stressing it, delicious…..

Red and white onion sets have been planted in an area that was covered in black cloth, mercifully weed free. We need to keep an eye on them and replant any that the birds pull up – do they think they are worms? And some climbing peas (a new one on me) have now gone into the ground alongside them. The smell of onion is supposed to deter pests….. Hopefully the runner bean seeds sown in root trainers will start growing soon in the greenhouse, in time for planting out next month.

I’ve given the raised bed a good digging over and refilled it with some fresh compost, after which it was raked to give a fine tilth before sowing with parsnip and carrot seed. I’ve interspersed the parsnip with radish that not only gives a quick crop but also shows where the parsnips are, as it is notoriously patchy in germination.

Don’t forget the Compost Giveaway at Crowmarsh Gifford on May 13th! Angela Hoy (angela.hoy@sky.com)