One Man & his organic plot - Part Two
Our Head of Organic Horticulture, Chris Collins takes us on his allotment journey...
The growing season is now well and truly underway and it's a fact that gardening is a series of challenges and this season is proving no different. Firstly, we all need to resist the temptation to go early with all those tender crops that we have raised carefully under glass or in my case, in my home.
This week a pretty heavy frost hit North London forcing residents into scraping ice of their car windscreen. It was a timely reminder that early to mid-May might give the impression that summer has arrived but the cold weather can still give you a problem. I will, despite sharing a corridor with an army of runner beans, be waiting until I’m sure that no cold weather will be checking their progress.
Be mostly aware of ‘radiation’ frosts, these usually occur after warm sunny days. Heat rises and it can escape quickly and cause a frost in the ground air that will set crops like tomato, courgette and other tender plants back. A good measure is to keep an eye on the hawthorns in the hedgerows, when these plants finish flowering I will see that as an indication that the cold has finally left us. Even then it’s good for all gardeners to have one eye on the weather forecast.
The other challenge which has come along is how dry the month of April seems to have become, I’d be interested if this has been the same in the North of our country as it seems to be common in the South.
I am coming and going with much frequency to the allotment, not to take part in the joyous past time of planting all my baby heritage plants but to lug the watering can about. My rows of lettuce, radish and pak-choi as well as my potatoes have all been in need of irrigation and I’m thankful that I have put down a good mulch after digging over the site as otherwise I’m sure my toing & froing would probably be greater.
Still this is all part of the game and as always there is an upside, and in my case it's the new acceptance I have acquired from all the old boys on the allotment site. They regarded me with suspicion when I first arrived. Is this just another pretender to the cause, I could see them thinking. Well, all my hard graft has earned their respect and I know they’re minds of information when it comes to the site itself and on what works and doesn’t work. I look forward to absorbing some of that knowledge. Gardening the never ending journey of discovery.
I finish this month’s blog with the resolution that a new greenhouse for the allotment is going to be my priority in the next few months, somewhere to grow all those plants from seed is really the greatest gift to a gardener and it’s time for me to treat myself.
Happy Gardening, Chris Collins