The start of summer madness

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

here at least we are getting some much-needed rain and this means it’s pretty manic on the allotment. With everything now growing flat out the art of successful successional growing is to be practised. Crops like rocket and spinach are notoriously prone to bolting as the days lengthen and the ground dries out. I am now into a three-week sowing programme. just a 3 foot row of each, but already my first sowing of rocket from March is about to bolt as has the spinach. I am sowing radish fortnightly, again, just 3 foot rows which provide enough for two of us. Lettuce are on a monthly cycle now as I have a number of different varieties growing which mature at different times. Also, transplanting retards growth by a week or two which helps successional planning. So, sow a little and often.

I have sown last weekend my main crop pea Robertson – (I still have a few seed of this off-list and completely delicious tall pea if anyone wants some BTW). Because of the unseasonably warm weather all my climbing beans are now groin up their poles with the cloches off. But, I have yet to transplant my courgettes and squashes or my sweetcorn, which, weather permitting I will do this weekend. as the wind is now in the SW I am banking on no more cold nights in May. My fennel seedlings, celery and celeriac will all get transplanted in a couple of weeks time as they need to be hardened off in a frame starting this week. Ditto outside cucumbers and tomatoes. They don’t like cool nights and will sulk for weeks if put out too early. I like to put a cloche over these plants when they first go out anyway to help them establish.

If you haven’t sown brassicas like sprouts and autumn/winter cabbage varieties by now it’s probably too late. Other crops to start now in short rows are fennel, endive and spring cauliflower, Romanesco, etc. Also it’s a good time to start a bed of main-crop carrots and beetroot for harvesting through late summer and autumn. the later hardier varieties can wait to be sown later next month as ground from other harvested crops becomes free.

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