Getting crops in the ground and growing is the critical task now. To do well crops need plenty of leaf in June/July when the sun and temperatures are highest, days are long, and in this dry district they need roots deep in the soil extracting moisture. Unless established in April they are in a poor position to take advantage of summer weather.
The red onion sets were planted out through black groundcover membrane to avoid the need to weed. Foolishly I had not noticed that the packs only contained 50 sets this year instead of the usual 75 (same price of course), and I had a shortfall. To fill in the gap some onion ‘Hyton’ seedlings were bought from the Wisley plant centre.
Unfortunately a plague of mice invaded my greenhouse and ate many lettuce seedlings so although there are plenty of plants growing from seed sown outdoors, that crucial May/June crop was severely diminished before the mice were eliminated. A wet Easter Saturday seemed a good opportunity to shop for more plants at a local nursery. Seedling lettuces in plugs at 10p each seemed good value, more so for the big Lobjoits cos than Little Gem of course! Some butterhead ‘Unrivalled’ were also hard to resist.
The nursery had sold out of tomatoes – they must be doing very well out of the grow-your- own boom. However, some excellent sweet corn seedlings looked too good to pass up and some ‘Greyhound’ summer cabbages were also bought. Most of the cabbage tribe on offer were of out-dated open-seeded cultivars that are not worth bothering with.
Whoever supplies Wisley plant centre does a better job of choosing cultivars; I also bought some celeriac ‘Balder’. I have plenty of my own ‘Prinz’ that I think the better cultivar, but the quality of the ‘Balder’ won me over. These were potted on to make big bold plants for June planting.
In the back garden the plant propagation area is filling up as the pots of seedlings are divided up and individual plants of cabbages, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts and outdoor tomatoes put into small pots. Kohl rabi, calabrese, leeks and parsley are sown in module trays and look good. Although no potting is needed they can be tricky to feed and water. They are kept as warm as I dare and force fed with balanced liquid fertiliser to get big leafy transplants to go out under fleece next month.