Who’d have thought that the end of March would see us relegated to our homes?! However, it’s a great boon to be able to get out in the fresh air by escaping to Calico Field to do a bit of work, now that we’ve had a dry spell of weather. It was great to see some of you last week (albeit from a distance!) Please could I remind you to sanitise your hands before opening and closing the gate and handling the padlock. There is soap in the shed, so you could bring along a flask of warm water to wash your hands in the bowls provided. I do hope that you and your families are all keeping well in these trying times. If anyone needs any assistance shopping or collecting prescriptions, please let me know.
I have some news about one of our founder members: Terry Edmond sadly passed away earlier in the year and his funeral was last week. Terry was a talented artist, having attended Slade School of Art and Chelsea College of Arts, and spent much of his working life as a lecturer in Fine Arts at Reading University. Terry was a founder member of SPAA in 2010 and, as a resident of Swallowfield, helped form the original committee tasked with finding the site, obtaining relevant permissions, fund raising and liaising with all relevant parties. He served as a very active committee member for several years until his health declined. Terry and his wife, Tina, supported SPAA events throughout many years. His good humour, dedication and experience helped the committee overcome many of the initial challenges of setting up the Allotments. We are grateful for his input, hard work and support, which has enabled us all to enjoy the site and facilities that we have today. He will be greatly missed.
Please note that the working parties for April and May have been CANCELLED. May I remind you that no soil should be put on the bonfire; please shake weeds thoroughly before disposal. Thank you.
At the moment, our Open Morning may also be in jeopardy but I will keep you informed when we know more.
I should also like to let you know that Terry Trinder will be giving up his role as Treasurer at the next AGM so we will be looking for someone to take over. Terry has done a marvellous job since the allotments were opened and we owe him a great debt of gratitude for his unlimited support for the Association. If you know of anyone who could take over, or you would like to put yourself forward, please let me know in good time. The task is not onerous and you would have a fantastic handover from Terry!
WHAT TO DO IN APRIL:
April is rather an unpredictable month for deciding whether to sow or not. As the weather could still be very cold, seeds sown now may not germinate. You could always try sowing a few and then topping up with further sowings later in the month.
SEEDS TO SOW INDOORS could include: aubergines, cabbages, cauliflower, celeriac and celery, chicory, chillies and peppers, courgettes, french and runner beans, kale, pumpkins, sprouting broccoli, sweet corn, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. By sowing beans indoors, you could get ahead for planting outdoors later. Keep them in a heated greenhouse or on a windowsill. Sow melon seeds, cover them with a plastic bag and put them in an airing cupboard, removing them into the light when seedlings appear.
Most root crops can be sown OUTDOORS if the soil is not too cold and wet, and you can sow salad, spinach and Swiss chard outdoors but be prepared to cover them if the weather is inclement. You can plant new strawberries, and second early and maincrop seed potatoes after chitting. April is also your last chance for planting onion sets.
JOBS FOR APRIL:
- Continue preparing your seed beds, raking over the soil to get a fine tilth and continue weeding and digging.
- Earth up new potatoes, put up peasticks and supports for climbing beans.
- Remove rhubarb cloches this month and pull up old brassica stalks.
- Propagate globe artichokes by cutting off the sideshoots or suckers from the main plant and replant and water well.
- Feed your strawberries, blackberries and blackcurrants and weed round your blackberry and raspberry canes.
Let’s hope that we can continue to visit our plots in the coming weeks and months. It’s certainly a good way to keep active and cheerful!