you work for the RHS it is very difficult to take holidays in summer,
but this year I am going to take two weeks off after Chelsea flower
show; my first summer holiday for several years.
not only have I got to get my work in order but the allotment will need
to be in state that can be left for two weeks without needing bird
protection, watering, weeding, spraying or gathering. Fortunately the remarkably warm weather means that I can shift much work back into May. This
has the bonus that if it continues dry crops will get their roots out
in May while the nights are longish and dewy and there is still much
moisture deep in the soil.
A last sowing of broad beans was made into a standing crop of lettuce. The
lettuce will be cut in the next two weeks and the bean seeds, inserted
with a trowel, will grow quickly in the moist soil beneath the
thoroughly watered lettuce.
Dwarf French beans were sown deeper (6cm) than usual into drills that had been very well watered. As
the soil had been plastic covered it should be very warm so I feel that
germination should be satisfactory for these notoriously cold sensitive
seeds. As I anticipate conditions will be difficult for later crops, I sowed a double row; sufficient to restock the freezer in July.
dry weather has suppressed slug activity, but a damp night last week
showed that they are only waiting, not gone, and some damage was done. The worst affected spots were pelleted with the new ferrous phosphate pellets that are even less likely to cause harm to non-target species than metaldehyde ones.
Dry weather has also meant very little weed growth and has been ideal for speedy, effective hoeing. Weed 'pressure' is therefore very low. However
a few perennial weeds that resist hoeing recovered and have been
winkled out of the ground with fork or trowel and left to die in the
sun before composting.
and other small crops, such as spinach, sown in March were thinned to
their final stations, top dressed with high nitrogen fertiliser and
watered thoroughly after a hand weeding. This should be all they need to take them to maturity in the next few weeks.
Back in the plant-raising area, sowings of melons, pumpkins and squashes have germinated. Their place in the propagator has been taken by courgettes and lablab beans (an experiment). My
winter storing cabbage sown two weeks ago failed to germinate (I
foolishly used last year's seeds) and the winter cabbage ‘Tundra' was
disappointing. A new packet of ‘Bartolo' was
sown for storage and all the remaining seed of ‘Tundra' was sown in the
hope to getting enough plants from this seed.
This is when the hard work really begins. The
excitement of cultivating and making the first sowings is now followed
by the slow, rather tedious, but very necessary thinning,
transplanting, watering, feeding, netting, staking, tying and pest
control work, all of which cannot be delayed without ruining the crop.
is a saying amongst farmers that the difference between a good farmer
and a bad one is ‘two weeks' - this is even more true of gardeners. But
by late June I will, weather permitting, enjoy the fruits of my labours.