Full steam ahead!Posted By: rocket veg Category: Growing Veg, Plant Care
April is a one of the busiest times of the year on the allotment or veg patch and the following are a few suggestions as to what you might be doing on your precious piece of land. It’s not an exhaustive list – just a few helpful suggestions and pointers.
Vegetables to sow and plant now
All that hard work which you put in last autumn – digging, adding compost and manure, covering your precious soil and encouraging the worms to do their bit – should be ready to pay you back with a patch of ground just waiting for seeds to be sown and crops planted. Early April marks the start of full-on sowing, so take every opportunity to get things underway and ensure an early harvest. That said, don’t be in too much of a hurry as a spell of cold, wet weather – as indicated by the forecast for the second week this month – will knock things back. Don’t we love the British weather!
I have a list of seeds which I’ll be sowing over the coming days. Two rows of Parsnips (‘Tender and True’) are already in the ground, as are carrots (‘Flakee’ and ‘Royal Chantenay’). Salad crops are next on the list: lettuce, oriental leaves, rocket, spring onions for starters. Chard and beetroot seedlings ready to go… broad beans doing well in the ground, but if you have started yours in pots, now is the time to plant them out. Why not have a go at growing unusual vegetables, such as kohl rabi, salsify or scorzonera.
I’ve made a small seed bed, in a different spot from previous years to ensure successful germination, and sowed leek and five types of brassica seed - red cabbage, curly kale, cauli, ‘January King’ cabbage, ‘Cavolo Nero’, and PSB (any ideas?!) – the aim being to produce small, healthy plants ready to go into the ground in June.
If you haven’t already planted shallots, onion sets and garlic there’s still a bit of time and if you like Jerusalem artichokes, get on with planting the curious, knobbly tubers.
It’s time to sow courgettes, pumpkins and squash, sweet peppers, cucumbers, aubergines, as well as tomatoes if you haven’t already done so. All these need warmth to germinate, so dig out your heated propagator, or cover the pots with a plastic bag and place on a shelf in the airing cupboard.
To avoid your tomato seedlings becoming leggy and weak, pot them up as soon as they develop true leaves (the ones with serrated edges), but if like me you have already transferred the young tomato plants to your greenhouse, watch for colder nights and cover with horticultural fleece or a sheet of newspaper to avoid the plants being chilled.
Fruit - trees, bushes and plants
If you fancy having a fruit tree on your allotment, now is the ideal time to plant. Choose a variety which is grafted onto root stock which will produce a small tree (‘dwarf’ size) as Bristol City Council, as well as local allotment associations stipulate a maximum height for fruit trees. It’s not too late to plant soft fruit bushes – the old favourites – Gooseberry, Blackcurrant, Redcurrant, Whitecurrant (getting a bit late to plant Raspberry canes), or perhaps something different, such as Jostaberry. And finally…if you haven’t already got one, create a small Strawberry bed – a few plants tucked into rich compost with a good helping of well-rotted manure and you should be rewarded with fruit in June or July.