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What do to do on the allotment as summer weather arrives

Posted by Guy Barter on 21 May 2010 at 12:22 PM

The soil is no losing water faster than rain can replenish it.  On the other hand night time temperatures are high enough for good growth.  The trick now is to get the ground covered in leaves to use the soil moisture and the increasingly abundant sunshine to make useful produce.


• Seedlings of salad crops are languishing and the reason appears to be that the manure used was on the strawy side and has used up soil nitrogen as it has decomposed, despite a heavy addition of chicken manure pellets against this very possibility.  They will all get sulphate of ammonia at 30g per square metre and watered in.


• Follow-on sowings of salads now need to be made.  This sandy soil is so dry that water is dribbled down the drill (groove in the soil) before sowing.


• Potatoes are emerging from their emergency covering of soil, largely unfrosted, and where weeds are growing, further earthing up will be done to kill the weeds, by drawing a little soil up around the plant  to smother weeds in the rows.


• Finally the spring cabbages and sprouting broccoli are giving out and are being uprooted and consigned to the bonfire.  They need to be gone before cabbage family planting begins in earnest.


• Brussels sprout plants cannot wait however and have been planted out and covered with fleece to limit invasion of pests that have over wintered on the old cabbage crops.


• Autumn and winter cabbages and savoys are in need of planting out now, and are being lavishly feed and watered to make good strong plants.


• Transplants of tender crops are now standing out in the back garden under fleece to gradually acclimatise them to outdoor life, a process called hardening.  They will be planted out in early June.


• Aphids will shortly begin the very troublesome.  A sprayer is kept permanently filled with SB Plant Invigorator, a fertiliser that has a physical effect on pests, literally gluing them down.  It is allowed on all crops, leaves no residues and as well as killing insects feeds the plants to a limited extent. Aphids treated as soon as seen should be relatively easy to control – it is large established colonies that are damaging and persistent.


• Pigeon netting is now being erected to cover peas and beans – mange tout form over-wintered Oregon Sugar pod are cropping lightly and the first broad bean pods will be ready in about 10 days.


• Follow-on crops of peas and beans are beginning to flower and are lavishly watered twice, once at start of flowering and again 10 days later.


• Wigwams for climbing beans are being put up – these will be sown in the soil in early June.  In the meantime module raised dwarf French beans are being ‘brought on’ in the back garden with generous watering and feeding to go out under fleece next week and soil is being warmed under clear polythene to sow under fleece next week.


• Bean seed fly is extremely damaging in this district and all sowings of large seeds, beans, courgettes, sweet corn, are always protected with fleece.  Generous manuring encourages this pest that eats seeds and shoots and I have been very lavish with manure this winter.


• Recent rain has led to the beginnings of weed growth and carrots in particular now need weeding and thinning.  The risk of carrot fly will decrease in June, so a quick hoeing now will be given followed by a more thorough going over when carrot fly are less abundant.  It is best not to leave the insect proof mesh off the crop for too long.


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