April is upon us already with its usual variation in weather patterns and nearly everyone has made an appearance on Calico Field, making a start at tidying up after the period of winter dormancy, ready for our Open Morning on SATURDAY 14TH MAY 11am – 1pm. (Note the slightly later start time). The theme this year will be the Plotters’ Platinum Party, referring to the Queen’s forthcoming jubilee. Nearer the time, we shall be asking for donations for the tombola (non-perishable items, bottles and cans) and a raffle, as well as for plants and seedlings to sell at the plant sale. (You can help NOW by sowing extra seeds. If you are short of space, place your trays in the polytunnel, clearly labelled, and committee members will be able to water and keep an eye on them. Just let me know if you have placed any there!) There will be activities for children with a teddy bear trail and opportunities for a picnic with our usual delicious cake stall and cafe selling tea and coffee. As you know, we have not been able to host any significant fund raising events over the last 2 years so we need to make sure that this event is a big success. Thank you in advance for your support.
WORKING PARTIES: Thank you to the committee and Reg, Duncan, Peter D, Bill, Brian, Amy and Jane H for sterling work at the last working party. The bark chippings were renewed round the poytunnel, the nature reserve (plot 12) was tidied up, the sheds were swept and the boat was turned into a herb planter, which can be used by plot holders for free, once the herbs have grown. Thanks to Bill and Sue both for the boat and the idea! Big thanks also to Bill for repairing the side of the shed which was badly damaged in storm Eunice.
The next working party will be on Saturday 2nd April (tomorrow) from 9.30am as there are still plenty of jobs to be completed, including fencing off the pond. Refreshments will be provided.
SITE MANAGER’S UPDATE: John (plot 16) has been working very hard at clearing the bonfire area and creating new compost hoppers. He has also started to replace the punctured tyres on the wheelbarrows and repaint the white corner posts. Please make sure that these are clearly visible as they demarcate the boundary of each plot.
As the grass starts to grow, please remember that you are responsible for mowing your side paths.
If you have had manure, please pay £1 for each barrow load. This can be done online at HSBC
Sort code: 404709
Account number: 91768190
Account name: Swallowfield Parish Allotment Association.
SEED SWAP BOX: The seed swap box in the open shed is available to use. You can exchange any of your surplus (in date) seed or simply leave a donation in the Honesty Box.
WHAT TO DO IN APRIL:
April is a tricky month for deciding whether to sow or plant. It’s a good idea to sow in pots or modules, keeping them indoors until the weather warms up. You can always add to your sowings later on.
SEEDS TO SOW INDOORS: aubergines, summer, autumn, winter and red cabbages, cauliflower, celery and celeriac, chicory, chillies and peppers, courgettes and summer squashes, cucumbers, French and runner beans, kale, kohl rabi, sprouting broccoli, pumpkins, sweet corn and tomatoes.
VEGETABLE SEEDS TO SOW OUTDOORS UNDER COVER: beetroot, cucumbers, lettuces and other salad leaves, rocket and turnips.
You can sow leeks directly outside into your seed bed in clumps, ready for transplanting later, or leave to germinate in the polytunnel before transplanting outside.
VEGETABLE SEEDS TO SOW OUTDOORS: broadbeans, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, calabrese, onion sets, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach. spring onions, Swiss chard.
PLANT OUT: asparagus plants, globe and Jerusalem artichokes, second early and maincrop potatoes which have previously been chitted, and sweetcorn.
As ever, keep an eye on the weather forecast for hard frosts. It’s best to wait until the ground has warmed up.
JOBS FOR APRIL:
- Continue preparing seed beds
- Earth up new potatoes
- Put up peasticks and bean canes for climbing beans
- Remove cloches from rhubarb once you’ve harvested the blanched stems
- Pull up brassica stumps and dispose of them.
- Cover strawberries to encourage flowering and feed them with tomato fertiliser. (Remove covers for pollination in the daytime.) Pick flowers off new strawberry plants planted last autumn to avoid cropping in their first year.
- Feed blackcurrants and blackberries with a high nitrogen feed.
- Weed raspberry and blackberry canes whilst the soil is soft.
- Net gooseberries.
- Protect all seedlings planted outside from pigeon attack!
Enjoy your month, whatever you do!