A brilliant spring day closed the month of March and it really does uplift the soul. Suddenly we are overwhelmed with the urge to plant as many seeds as possible and it’s easy to feel that time is short and there is so much to do. However, its maybe worth remembering the expression ‘steady as she goes’, as now that April has arrived the snow and sleet has put in an appearance and even in North London a slight frost hit my allotment site. It is interesting to see on the fore mentioned site that the old-school boys, who have worked the site for years are holding back. The ground is nicely turned, and everything is neat and ready to go but they know that winter will have one last kick.
Saying that, let’s not feel down by a little blast of cold weather and its certainly not stopping me set about filling my propagators. The allotment is ready to go and I even have my runner bean wig-wams up and ready in anticipation of all the legumes I’m going to grow from the Heritage Seed Library. I will be sticking with a few of my old stalwarts, like ‘Johns Long pod’ (be careful how you say that) a runner bean that has done really well in previous seasons. Also going in will be one I’m growing for the first time, runner bean ‘coal’ which has the most beautiful pods. My tomatoes are going in too and I chose ‘Iraqi heart shaped’ which you have to admit sounds completely exotic and looks it too, with an apple like appearance, I have a nice sunny spot for this, and I’ll see how it does.
Speaking of unusual varieties I travelled to Wales to hook up with Garden Organic trustee and Seed Guardian Adam Alexander. A man that not only knows extensively about heritage varieties but also knows how to grow, cook and save them. He kindly gave me a Burmese pepper, a Syrian cucumber and an American cucumber. They my friends will be going straight in the propagator as soon as I finish writing this.
One of the subjects discussed on the allotment this week is the ability of edible plants to find their own way into the growing space. Keeping good rotation practices in mind I dug over my potato area from last year and I thought I’d done a pretty thorough job of removing all last year’s tubers, so imagine my surprise when a whole row of tatties appeared. You are never completely in command in the game of gardening, but in a sense those potatoes did me a favour and reminded me that this year’s crop should be sited somewhere else.
I am now, after a long drawn out battle with horsetail (well documented), ready to plant out a good size area with soft fruit. I am crazy for blackberries, raspberries and red currents and probably spend a small fortune on them during the course of the year, so it would be great to have some to crop. I did look at erecting a fruit cage but was put off by the price, so I may endeavour to build something. My Irish allotment neighbour has offered to help and I’m sure if nothing else it will be a laugh. The first raspberries I put in were ‘Julia’, also going in will be ‘Gala’ and blackberry ‘Oregon thorn less’ as usual I have also been offered plenty of freebies by my fellow allotmenteers, which as always epitomises the spirit of an allotment site.
Just to finish off this month’s blog I am reminded of something I learnt very early on in the gardening game and that is to always keep your tools and shed in order. I always find that if I open my allotment shed door to a nice organised line of tools, my mind set is so much better for the work ahead. To wash and oil your tools after each use is also excellent practice and in this throwaway society, it will ensure they last many, many years. I am reminded that in my park’s days, if I did not do this after using tools, I would have felt the full wrath of my foreman, but you know, that taught me good habits.
Please remember to check out the new Garden Organic podcast, April’s is full of good tips, top jobs to do and an amazing interview with Garden Organic’s John Noble who has a role that could not be described as run of the mill - I leave that there…
Until the next time, happy gardening people!