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Page: Apr 2015 wk 1


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Wednesday & Thursday 01/02 April 2015

Moving Home

After a wet and windy start on Wednesday, Thursday turned out to be a lovely early April day with plenty of sunshine and a gentle breeze replacing the gale force winds of the last few days. The temperature managed 13.3°C (55.9°F) in the afternoon.

Cabbages, calabrese and cauliflowers received from Marshalls a few weeks ago are now turning into decent looking plants and they were moved from the greenhouse to cold-frame. Some onions and shallots made the same journey to make room in the greenhouse for our sweet peas to be sown.

Our cold-frames are filling up nicely. Next week I’m hoping that the weather will be good enough for us to transplant our brassicas into the plot and if we’re really productive we might get some of our onions and shallots planted out too.

All that movement made space for our sweet peas to be sown. There are 3 seeds in each module and should they all germinate all 3 seedlings will be grown on and transplanted out later in the season. Our sweet pea varieties this year are Black Diamond, Blue Velvet, Candy King, Claire Elizabeth, Diamond Wedding, Gwendoline, Linda C, Magenta Rose and Noel Sutton

Friday 03 April 2015

My Tomato Experiment

Thursday’s lovely spring weather didn’t last into Friday which was dull and wet.

This probably isn’t much of an experiment to most of you out there but for me one of the main problems of sowing my tomato seeds early is how do I grow them on. Getting them to germinate under our indoor growlight doesn’t normally pose any problems. It’s once these seedlings are ready to transplant that my problems start. I consider it far too cold for these plants to go out into our unheated greenhouse when the temperature in April can drop down to or even below 0°C or 32°F. Not very conducive for growing young tomato plants.

So I leave my sowing a little later with the hope that by the time the seedlings are ready to transplant temperatures in the greenhouse will be a little bit warmer. This means I have to see lots of tomatoes ready for picking on social media whilst mine are still green. I thought I might try to grow a couple of early plants with a main crop to follow.

As an experiment I sowed 4 seeds of Cherry Fountain and Baby Boomer on 15 March and these were left under our indoor growlight to germinate. Even under the growlight the seedlings had grown a little bit leggy. I didn’t consider this too much of a problem as they were transplanted to the depth of their seed leaves when I potted them on.

My eight seedlings were all potted on on Tuesday 31 March. I hadn’t room for all 8 pots of seedlings in my home made solar reflecting propagator so the experiment was amended a little bit to see how 4 seedlings grown indoors would compare with 4 seedlings left to do their best in the cold greenhouse. I’ll keep a close watch on the coldest greenhouse temperatures to see how these 4 plants do.

I’ve been as kind as I can to them and given them the added protection of a propagator lid. If the forecast was for an extremely cold night with a severe frost I might take pity on them and bring them into the porch.

They didn’t look that impressed after they’d just been transplanted but I’m hoping they’ll recover after a couple of days. Will they provide us with a few early tomatoes or will my later sown seeds catch them up? Time will tell.

Saturday 04 April 2015

Main Crop Tomatoes and Another Experiment

Saturday was mostly cloudy but in the afternoon we had a few brief sunny spells and it felt pleasantly mild.

After transplanting our early experimental tomato plants I thought it was about time I got our main crop of tomato seeds sown. These were all sown in small seed trays and placed under our indoor growlight to germinate.

I don’t want that many seedlings of each variety so each small seed tray was divided into two and around 10 seeds sown in each half of the tray. Some packets didn’t contain that many seeds so all the seeds were sown so I’ve got no second chances if my seeds don’t germinate.

I was adding the list of tomato seeds sown into my spreadsheet when I noticed that I’d ordered the variety Gardener’s Delight but that I hadn’t sown any. A search through my seed box found the packet hidden between other packets of seeds so I’ll have a few more seeds to sow.

We’ve also two packets of trial tomatoes from Marshalls, Fenda and Corazon which I’m sure Sue will be blogging about once she manages to get her new computer sorted out.

It’s a busy month sowing and planting in the garden and allotment and I’ll be trying to keep an updated list of all our April sowings and planting here.

Easter Sunday 05 April 2015

Turned Out Smashing

Easter Sunday got of to a dull and cloudy start but by lunchtime the sun broke through the clouds and we had a lovely afternoon with clear blue skies. Some parts of the UK had their warmest day of the year but we didn’t manage that so 07 March remains our warmest day of the year with 17.8°C (64.0°F).

Bank Holiday Monday has started off with every intention of breaking that record.

We couldn’t resist the fine weather to make a proper start down on the plot. The first early potatoes - Foremost and Casablanca - were planted and a start was made readying other beds on the plot for this season’s produce.

Some beds are pretty soggy and hopefully the fine dry weather forecast for this week will dry them out ready to be cultivated. The plots had 43.0mm (1.7”) of rain in the last week and a bit, so I suppose I should expect our soil to be a bit on the claggy side.

I couldn’t help but notice as we were sitting having a well earned cup of coffee that our trees still look to be in winter mode and I couldn’t resist a comparison with last spring.

05 April 2015 still look to be in winter mode

08 April 2014 in blossom and starting to leaf up

Looking a bit more closely at the plum trees buds are there but aren’t opening out just yet.

With the fine weather set to last all week it might well be a busy week in the garden and down on the plot.

Easter Monday 06 April 2015

A Stunner

Easter Monday’s weather was brilliant with unbroken sunshine all day. My weather station recorded 9.2 hours of sunshine which is the best since 04 August 2014 with 9.3 hours. It was also our warmest day of the year with the thermometer hitting 19.8°C (67.6°F).

We made the most of the excellent weather with another afternoon visit to the plot. Sue started planting up our new strawberry bed and I set to clearing away the last of our overwintered carrots and parsnips.

Just over half of our new strawberry bed is planted up. We still have some late varieties to plant. We’ll have a few plants left over so it might well be that another bed is taken over with our excess strawberry plants. I might be able to cope with that.

I wanted to clear away the carrot and parsnip debris so that the bed could be left to dry out for a few days in the dry weather. Hopefully it will then be in a fit state to cultivate.

One or two parsnips were growing strongly. These roots had been missed for winter harvesting, hidden rather too well under their protective bed of straw. A couple of rather ugly looking carrots remained too. These were all cleared away to the compost heap.

It’s a bit tricky moving the weed control fabric that the carrots and parsnips are grown through. It has so many slits cut into it that it won’t easily fold up to be moved or stored for a few days until this year’s carrot bed is cultivated. I had a couple of wooden stakes so I decided to see if the fabric would roll up on these.

It worked pretty well the only drawback is that the fabric and debris all rolled up are an awkward shape and a bit heavy to lift.  

The bed’s now cleared and can have a few days drying out. It doesn’t look too bad in the photo above but I did try turning a few spade fulls over and it is very wet and claggy under the surface.

Tuesday 07 April 2015

How Long Will It Last?

Easter Monday’s weather has set the benchmark high for good weather and whilst Tuesday didn’t quite live up to Monday it was still a lovely April day. There was a little more cloud about, a bit more of a breeze and it was a little cooler.

Work carried on at the plot preparing beds ready for cultivating when the soil is a little drier. I might take the cultivator down this afternoon and test out a couple of beds to see how they dig.

This bed is cleared of weeds and ready for digging over. The rhubarb will have to be lifted and the grass removed from the roots. We’re thinking about revamping this bed to contain more fruit especially as we have some strawberry plants left over from planting up our new strawberry bed next to this one. I think I over did the quantities of plants required for our new bed but the plants certainly won’t be going to waste.

At coffee time we decided to have our cameras on standby ready to capture any of the blackbirds, dunnocks, robins, blue tits or great tits who continually sing during our allotment visits. They very quickly explore where any digging or clearing has been taking place in the search of bugs. Of course with cameras at the ready the birds stayed away apart from this robin who was happily singing away in the apple trees.




As for the good weather it’s forecast to last through to the weekend at least. The weekend looks cooler with some spells of rain around so I’m hoping that I can get some cultivating done before we have any more rain.