Here Comes the Sun...............
By the time May comes along visiting the allotment is starting to become a pleasure. Members are coming out of hibernation and the plots are all coming on a treat with less of the hard work of digging and a bit more of the delicate work of planting out if the weather conditions are kind to us. The sight of growing crops hopefully is now starting to replace the dull brown soil of winter and early spring, blossoms in the air and bees and butterflies in the air.
Perhaps you remember back to schooldays the words of William Henry Davies-
“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep and cows...”
Well, it’s time to do just that. Enjoy the sights and sounds of your allotment or garden—but don’t let those weeds grow under your feet. If you have grass paths around your plot keep them neat and tidy to stop them overgrowing with weeds. It makes your plot look more cultivated and prevents invasion of your neighbour’s plot with unwanted vegetation.
May is also a good time to have a good long think about what you have sown or planted. Now’s the time if you have forgotten a favourite or have some space left to fill. Check your patio pots and greenhouse for any plants that need to be potted on in larger containers or if you’re not ready to transplant them outside into the ground.
Once germination begins seedlings will emerge rapidly. The root comes first followed by the seed leaves. Energy for all this growth comes from the seed but the development of true leaves relies on the seedling making its own food by using light to form sugars. It’s important to separate seedlings at this stage to give them room to grow. Gently lift out each seedling, teasing the roots from the compost with a dibber or the end of a pencil. Make a pencil width hole in a pot or tray of fresh compost. Use the end of the dibber or pencil to lightly firm the compost round about the roots leaving the stalks of the seed leaves level with the surface of the compost, and water well.
As the month progresses we start to get a bit twitchy about whether it’s time to plant out early grown seedlings or if it’s still a bit on the chilly side. Be cautious, have some fleece ready to provide quick cold comfort if needed.
Intersowing is a method of growing two different crops in the same row or bed- one fast-growing and the other slower. Although both may be planted at the same time and grown together, the faster of the two will be harvested and out of the ground before the slower is ready to fill the space. Some suggestions are radishes and parsnips, or lettuces and leeks. Tall crops such as sweetcorn also leave adequate space for lettuce to grow beneath.
Continue to earth up your potatoes drawing soil up around the developing plants to prevent the tubers breaking through the surface. If they are exposed to light they will turn green and can become poisonous. Looking forward to your first new potatoes of the year is always great excitement. First earlies should be ready around 100-110 days after planting –depending of course on our weather and other growing factors (especially keeping your fingers crossed!!)