April at Plot 4

March has been a bit of a mixed bag at the allotment. We’ve had barmy, sunny, spring days; but also frost nipping at the young shoots of growth. I’ve started sowing then had to wrap things up as it became colder and colder. Its been a stop start spring. All this has meant that I’ve not really got myself sorted in terms of planning where I will plant everything, and even now I’m a bit behind the digging. On the plus side, after 9 years of having the allotment I have finally finished creating a fence around it all. The wonderful and free resource that is pallets has been my supporter in this task, and I’ve even used pallets to create a vertical salad planter.

The plot is still producing, though only a few of the vegetables from last year are ready for harvest at the moment. There is still Swiss chard of course, and we’ve used the last of the root vegetable supply recently to make some super delicious Homemade Root Vegetable Crisps. Perhaps the star of the show has been the increasingly frequent emergence of the ‘Allotment Salad’ on our plates. Its been a delight to sit down at lunch (once or twice outside even) to a vibrant salad of fresh leaves from the allotment. Teamed with a mustard dressing, they have really given this month a lift and convinced us it really is spring.

As I mentioned above I’ve been sowing with earnest and the tomatoes in particular are really developing well; they’ve been pricked out to one plant per module and I’m looking forward to potting them on during the month ahead.  I’ve already sown a few peas, but the majority of them have been snaffled by some small rodent visitors to the greenhouse. I decided to grow them in the greenhouse in order to avoid mice digging them up outside, but it seems I’ve been thwarted and they have followed the seeds into the glazed warmth. Not to be deterred, I’ll re-sow this month; and will do so in raised lengths of guttering to add a further obstacle into the path of my rodent friends. Whilst at the fabulous Weald Allotment shop I picked up some new 6ft tall climbing peas (a heritage variety called Telephone) to give a go. It will be interesting to see if we get many of the harvest peas home this year, they’re usually grabbed and devoured at the plot by the family before they get a chance to be put in the pot. April is also the time to start to sow winter squashes. They’re hungry crops, so need a good amount of manure and other organic matter to be put on the bed before they’re planted out later in the year. We’re going to sow Crown Prince again this year; but also a couple of Italian varieties, Pumpkin Marina di Chioggia and Pumpkin Padana. This selection should keep us going into the winter months. What winter squashes do you grow?

One of the big jobs last month was to finish the fence around the plot, but it does leave me with the task of painting it and also tying in the blackberry so that it is easily managed when the fruits form in the months to come. One of the last construction jobs to do is to create another cover to prevent birds eating the brassicas. I’ve got some old blue piping and I’m going to be constructing a hooped design to hang netting on. Hopefully the birds will then not compete with the mice for the amount of crops they can eat! As the soil warms up, so do the weeds and so one of the big jobs over the next few weeks is to give the plot a good weed and try to keep on top of those perennials which I don’t really want reappearing. The potatoes will go in to, although I think I’ll wait until the end of April for the majority of them, planting them in 15cm deep trenches about 5-6cm apart.

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This post is contributing to The Garden Share Collective; an international group of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window sills.



14 thoughts on “April at Plot 4

  1. I’ve not grown squash but last year I found ways of using pumpkin in a palatable form so this year these are on the agenda big time 🙂

    Your plot is looking good – inspiration for me at the start of my journey!

  2. Isn’t it great to be able to start picking salad leaves and herbs again? The vertical salad planter looks good. There’s a cafe near us that has a similar planter by the door – I keep pointing it out to my husband in the hope he’ll make one for me… maybe I need to be more direct and just ask him to do it, or make one myself!

  3. Telephone peas have been known to grow as tall as a power pole which can range from 3 – 5 meters high. Not sure that they will be the same over there but just in case I thought I had better warn you. I grew them once and they kept going and going. Glad to hear you finally finished your fence – well done :-). Sounds like you will have plenty of seedlings to plant out over the coming month. enjoy

  4. I’ve seen so many DIY tutorials on how to build your own vertical planter, but I haven’t seen this style before. Are they easy to build and maintain?

    • Pretty easy to build, the lengths of gutter fit snugly into the gap between sections of the pallet. I’ve painted it with shed paint, so it’s a bit protected from the weather and the wood shouldn’t rot. Thanks for the comment.

  5. The new season’s veg are just so much nicer than the bits and pieces left over from the previous year. We ate some over-wintered Radicchio yesterday, and it was tough and leathery. I can’t wait to get some lettuce seedlings into the ground! The giant peas sound interesting, but it seems as if you may need a step-ladder to harvest them.

  6. Pingback: The Garden Share Collective : April 2014

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