Just a month ago, on the morning of 30 March, the plot was completely bare. By the end of April there were welcome signs of growth and greenery. Onions, shallots, garlic, potatoes, leeks and parsnips are all adding their bit of colour, particularly since the long awaited rains that came in the last week of April. Soil conditions are good and hoeing has produced a fine surface tilth.
The main crops in section A are leeks (Musselburgh), parsnips (Countess), beetroot (Boltardy) and courgettes (Defender). There is also a "catch-crop" of the earliest of the first early potatoes. They'll be lifted in July and replaced with the leeks. Beetroot and courgettes are started in the greenhouse. They are both well on the way to being ready to plant out in May.
Section B is still bare. It has just had its second application of ground limestone and this has been hoed in. The March sowings of summer cabbage (Minicole), sprouts (Maximus), cauliflower (Candid Charm) and calabrese (Chevalier) are thriving in their Rootrainers. Right now they are being hardened off ready to be planted out at the beginning of May. A second greenhouse sowing of courgettes (Defender), sprouts (Maximus), calabrese (Chevalier) and beetroot (Boltardy) are now ready to be moved from their thimble sized modules into Rootrainers. I'm expecting them to be ready to plant out by the end of May. Finally, early in May there will be a third sowing of cauliflower (White Rock), winter cabbage (Celtic) and swedes (Angela) and this will complete the brassica section. As soon as the brassicas are planted out they will be protected from the pigeons with wire mesh "cloches"; pigeons can strip a whole planting of young brassicas down to bare stalks overnight,
Most of the potatoes in section C are now through the ground and earthing up will start soon. This will be repeated two or three times as the plants grow.
Half of section D is fully planted with onions sets (Setton and Red Baron), shallots (Golden Gourmet and Red Sun) and garlic (White). A sowing of peas (Hurst Green Shaft) on 5 April is almost ready for planting out and a second sowing will follow soon. And finally, the carrots will be sown early in May.
There are only three crops where I sow the seeds direct in the ground; leeks, parsnips and carrots. Raising plants in the greenhouse helps to keep down the problems which can affect direct sowings. This works for peas (mice) and brassicas (flea beetle and club root). It also allows seeds to be sown earlier, particularly for courgettes which don't like the cold. Tap root vegetables like carrots and parsnips don't transplant successfully which is why I sow them direct.
B. A. Plotter.