After a fabulous February we had a mixed March, and historically April usually brings showers but who knows? But at St Marys the last few days have been exceptionally hot, so much so that iv seen several people plant tomatoes in their greenhouses. Little to say most of them have been frosted and look the worst for wear, will they survive, maybe, but if any do, it will check their growth and take them a while to recover. One of the secrets of a successful vegetable gardener is to plant seeds and plants at the right time, if you miss that window of opportunity your veg will be smaller and fewer, than they would be if you planted them at the right time. It’s also important that you feed your plants, and the soil, to get the best possible results, it really does make a difference.
- Asparagus: Sow seeds now and you will be picking spears in 3 years, seems like a long wait but well worth it.
- Beetroot: Sow in modules and plant them out later, you can then space them out in the ground evenly and you don’t have to spend time thinning them out! Bolthardy is a tried and tested variety.
- Broad beans: Direct into soil or into pots. For sale at the allotment shop.
- Cabbage: Summer cabbages can still be sown, plus start sowing winter cabbages at the end of the month. Better to sow into modules or trays rather than direct into the ground where the slugs will eat them. Golden Acre or Candissa for summer cabbages, Tundra for winter cabbages.
- Carrots: Can be sown direct into soil or into tubs. If you sow them into tubs and raise them at least 3 feet from the ground you should avoid carrot fly damage. Try yellow, red and purple varieties that are hard to find in the supermarkets.
- Chard: Into modules or direct into the soil.
- Courgettes: Sow into pots. These cannot be planted out until June so best sown late April / early May. Parthenon is a good variety because its self-pollinating. Defender is a good disease resistant variety.
- French Beans: In pots at the end of the month.
- Leeks: Musselburgh seeds are on sale at the allotment shop. Try sowing at different times, this will help alleviate Allium leaf minor damage. If you do get damage, leave them in and they will recover, if the base has started to rot just peel off the outer layer. Earthing up helps alleviate the damage and gives you a better blanch too so it’s a win/win.
- Parsnips: Direct into the soil or in tubs of sieved compost mixed with sand. It’s a nightmare trying to clean parsnips that have forked, so with the tub method they come out straight and clean. Tender and True, Hollow Crown and Gladiator are good varieties that work. This year I have actually seen one of the more experienced gardeners sow their seeds in modules! And yet when he showed the Parsnips he still had growing they were fantastically straight, so don’t believe everything you read.
- Peas: Sow direct into the soil or into pots. You may need to net these as the pigeons may snack on them. For sale at allotment shop.
- Radishes: Sow direct or in pots.
- Runner Beans: In pots (slugs, deer or pheasants usually eat the tops off seeds sown direct into soil) or direct at the end of the month. These shouldn’t be planted out before June unless you are using a cloche to start them off. White Lady is a good variety. Also try Firestorm, Moonlight, which are a runner bean/French bean hybrid and self-pollinating.
- Spinach: You have to sow spinach very early (feb) or around the middle of summer as they tend to bolt around may/June, so now is not a good time to sow.
- Spring Onions: Direct into the soil, or in cells, try sowing 3 or 4 seeds per cell as they do better for some reason competing against each other. White Lisbon is a tried and trusted variety.
- Sweetcorn: In pots at the end of the month. Swift is a fantastic variety and works really well at St Marys.
- Tomatoes: Sow into trays or modules. Try Golden sunrise, Rosella, Bombonera, indigo berries, yellow pear for something different. I find Red Alert is brilliant for in or outdoors along with Mountain Magic which is blight resistant and lasted until late October last year and was only killed by the heavy frosts. Other gardeners tell me Ocado is good in and outdoors.
- Turnips: Direct into ground.
- Winter Brassicas: Brussel sprouts, kale, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflowers and purple sprouting can be sown direct or in pots at the end of the month for an early crop. I’m trying something new this year called tenderstems which I’ve heard a lot about and widely available in supermarkets, it supposed to taste like asparagus.
Finally, a quote I read today written by Abraham Lincoln
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses”
Your garden week by week – AGL Hellyer
Dig for victory – Mr Middleton
Allotment month by month – Alan Buckingham
Allotment and garden guide – Twigs way
Sarah Ravens website