It’s hotting up on the allotment

Friday, 27 April 2007

I’m sorry I missed posting last week but I was up to my eyes in seeds and planting and simply forgot.

Now we have come to the end of April, had a thorough drenching and the thermometer is rising again I know that all hell is breaking out. Stuff just grows like the clappers. My tasks are to provide support for my peas, keep up successional sowing of salad crops like lettuce, rocket, radish, mizzuna and spinach and make second sowings now of main-crop carrots and beetroot.

It’s also not too late to sow courgette and squash, to start parlsy outside in open ground and of course get those sweet corn going.

I will be transplanting tomatoes into the greenhouse borders now. the plants are about 8 inches high with six true leaves and the first embryo flowers showing. I transplant them deep, (Up to the calyx or first embryo leaf, or even slightly deeper as the plant will make new feeder roots from the stem below ground. I plant in a zigzag form at 18 inch stations. There are lots of way to stake tomatoes. i like to put a thin bamboo can in the ground alongside the plant which is then tied at the top to a wire that stretches along the greenhouse eave. This makes the cane rigid and I can tie the plant loosely to the stake as it grows.

The peppers are much slower growing so will get potted up on my return from China next weekend probably.

Because I grow tall, old varieties of pea they need careful support. I use 6 foot pea netting stretched across a bamboo frame, running the net either side of the row of seedlings. In this way they can scramble up without flopping over. But the cane frame has to be rigid so a little engineering is required wit cross-bracing! I support the shorter varieties with wire netting. of course hazel twigs are the traditional means of support and very effective and green too.

Broad beans will also been it from tying in. This I do by putting short canes about four foot long in the ground around the double rows about 3 foot apart and running three or four lines of string around the canes to stop the plants flopping over. The winter beans, Aquadulce look awful and ragged but beans are already setting. The early potatoes are now pushing at the poly cloche, but I wil leave them covered for another week or so just in case we get a late frost. All my runner and French beans have germinated. I will leave them under their cloches for another week or so until they have four true leave. then I will stake the climbers. (Details later!).

I am picking the first of my winter lettuce and will even sell some to raise money for the almshouses at the farmers market this weekend. Also, the asparagus is coming thick and fast, although I am not happy with the state of the plants which are getting spindlier. to that end the seed I sowed for a new bed are now germinating in the greenhouse and I’ll transplant them in the summer into a new asparagus bed, yet to be prepared.

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