1 May 2021 Newsletter
Here we are in May and, finally, we have had some very welcome rain! Pea and broad bean seedlings, given a head start in the polytunnel, have been planted out and flowers are starting to appear on the strawberry plants.
Did you know that the allotments were officially opened on 2nd April 2011, a full 10 years ago now? There is a lovely anniversary photo on our website of some of the founding members. Calico Field has done us proud and continues to provide us all with a haven to escape to, keeping us physically, as well as mentally, in good health!
Although we cannot hold our usual public Open Morning, our thoughts are turning towards a plant sale for members instead, so, like last year, may I encourage you to grow a few extra seedlings and plants which could be sold to help us raise funds. Towards the end of May, I will let you know when you can place plants for sale in the polytunnel. Payments can be made either through the Honesty box or by direct transfer in the usual way. In addition, if you have a request for specific plants, please let a member of the committee know and we shall see if we can grow what you need! (within reason!) You can make a plant request for the attention of Lisa at email@example.com
Thank you for your support!
REMINDER: Any plants left on the polytunnel flooring should be placed on a tray or saucer to avoid root damage of the membrane.
Our AGM will be coming up in July, (date to be announced). In advance of this meeting, I should like to thank Robert (Plot 11) for his duties as Treasurer; he will be stepping down from his role and so we shall be looking for a replacement to join the committee. A job description can be found on our website; it is not too onerous, so please consider if you could take over this post! In addition, we shall also be recruiting ordinary committee members and you can again find details on our website at www.swallowfieldallotment.org. Committee meetings have been online throughout the pandemic and are usually held every month or six weeks in the summer months, less frequently in winter. We need people with ideas, as well as those endowed with practical skills, so the brief is wide and tailored to what you can offer!
We welcome Peter Day onto Plot 11 and hope he enjoys his time at Calico Field.
MAY is a month of contrasts, so don’t risk planting seedlings out too early! We could still get late frosts in early June! Seeds will not germinate if the ground is too cold but there are still plenty of seeds you could be sowing in anticipation of warmer weather.
WHAT TO SOW IN MAY:
VEGETABLE SEEDS OUTDOORS UNDER COVER: beetroot, cucumbers, French and Runner beans and sweetcorn.
VEGETABLE SEEDS OUTDOORS if the soil has warmed up: beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cabbages (summer, autumn, winter and red), calabrese, cauliflowers, Florence fennel, kale, kohl rabi, lettuces, peas, radishes, rocket, spinach, spring onions, swedes, Swiss chard, turnips. Sow sweetcorn in blocks rather than rows for successful pollination. Protect seedlings and cobs from slugs and mice using upturned plastic bottles.
VEGETABLE SEEDS INDOORS: chillies, peppers, courgettes and summer squashes, French and runner beans, gherkins, kale, marrows and pumpkins, and sprouting broccoli.
PLANT OUT your seedling squashes, marrows and courgettes towards the end of the month when frosts have passed. If the weather is warm, you can also plant out aubergines, chillies and peppers grown indoors but harden them off first and keep an eye on the weather forecast for cold nights! Start dibbing in your leek seedlings and plant out lettuce seedlings when frosts have passed.
Continue planting out new strawberry plants, cape gooseberries and cranberries.
HARVEST your first stems of rhubarb by pulling from the bottom and twisting gently. Remove any emerging flowers. Cut asparagus spears with a sharp knife, just below the surface, when they are 5-7 inches long.
JOBS FOR MAY:
- harden off and plant out seedlings
- water plentifully!
- weed regularly
- protect plants against frosts
- support broad beans with strong string between canes
- earth up potatoes
- reduce the number of raspberry canes in your rows. Prune out the least vigorous shoots,
- thin out seedlings ruthlessly, especially carrots, parsnips and beetroot.
- feed and mulch globe artichokes
- weed and mulch fruit bushes
- net strawberries, picking off any flowers with black centres as these have been frosted and will not fruit.
- net all vulnerable seedlings against bird damage.
Enjoy your month!