April Part 1

Where on earth has April gone? The apple orchard is in full bloom, swallows are swooping round the buildings, the cuckoo is shouting from the wood and suddenly I realise I haven’t posted at all this month. So much to catch up on that I’m going for the double, so here’s Part 1. . .

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First of all, to the tunnel. It’s incredible to think that this time last year I was begging the plants to grow, especially those poor miserable little tomatoes which just refused to budge beyond their first true leaves. This year couldn’t be more different, thank goodness! I’ve planted six toms in the tunnel – two each of ‘Marmande’, ‘Moneymaker’ and ‘Bambino’ – with a pair of ‘Dattelwein’ still to go in once we’ve finished eating the land cress.

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The rest, including ‘Roma’, ‘Tamina’, ‘Red Alert’ and an organic beefsteak are destined for a new bed in the flower garden where I’m hoping for a bumper blight-free crop (fingers crossed).

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Aubergines were one of the biggest successes of last year so along with ‘Black Beauty’ I’ve planted ‘Moneymaker’, ‘Long Slim Purple’ and ‘Bonica’. Also in are two sweet pepper varieties ‘Long Red Marconi’ and ‘Nardello’, and a forest of various chilli types. The ‘Habenero Orange’ isn’t looking too great but everything else is going well. Finally, two ‘Hunter’ butternut squashes  which can scramble to their heart’s content – I’m NOT planting indoor cucumbers after last year’s fiasco so the squash should be safe from invasion.

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It’s been warm work in the tunnel but I’ve had company, I’m certainly encouraging this bunch – come on in and munch the slugs (but please ignore the weeds)!

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Isn’t compost one of the greatest miracles of life (and death, I suppose)? We spend months piling up veg peelings, teabags, coffee grounds, garden waste, paper, straw, etc, etc, turn it, cover it and forget about it . . . to be left with a wonderful crumbly pile of gorgeousness to feed the garden with. I’ve been using last year’s Heap 1 in the tunnel and outside, digging carefully around the grass snakes as I go. I’m too lazy to sieve it, there are a fair few crushed eggshells in there but they help deter the slugs so on they go.

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I transplanted the ‘Greyhound’summer cabbage  at the beginning of the month, needless to say the pesky pigeons are carrying out smash and grab raids when my back’s turned but so far the plants are holding up.

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The ‘Ailsa Craig’ and ‘Grenada’ onions grown from seed also went in, to join the ‘Stuttgater Giant’ sets which are zooming up.

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We planted two varieties of potato in the first week of April – ‘Pentland Javelin’ as first earlies and ‘Nicola’ to follow on. We’ve earthed them up several times against frost but there’s no stopping them now.

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No stopping the broad beans either: they’re full of bumble bees and starting to set their first pods. No sign of blackfly (yet) but there are a number of ants hanging around looking suspiciously hopeful which is never a good sign. In my ever-optimistic (or is it lackadaisical?) way I shall just enjoy their sweet perfume for now and worry about the aphids later . . .   🙂

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6 thoughts on “April Part 1

  1. That all looks amazing – you must be over the moon. None of my seedlings are past the initial leaf stage. They are just sitting there doing nothing – I’m trying not to panic. Have agreed to open the garden for two days in June for charity so I have plenty to get ready outside of the veggie plot. Hope your weather is better than ours – rain and cold. Sitting here with the log burner blazing.

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    • After last year’s disaster, I’m just very grateful when anything grows! I only hope I don’t blow it all by planting outside too early, we shouldn’t get a frost now but it would be just my luck… Weather here is warm but we’ve had two days of cracking thunderstorms so dodging the downpours to get anything done outside. Good luck with the open garden days, I’m sure it will all look amazing!

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  2. Hello

    I totally understand your need for 2 posts, I am just about to start my Mammoth April post. Everything is looking fab. So pleased about your tomatoes. You’ve worried me with your mention of ants around the broad beans. Mine have just started coming up but there is an ants nest in that corner of the bed that I noticed yesterday when weeding. Do they cause problems later on?

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    • Looking forward to your Mammoth post! The ants are a pest around broad beans as they ‘farm’ the blackfly for their honeydew and in return protect them from predators. It’s a real pain if you’re trying (like me) to garden organically. I know some people recommend pinching out the growing tips to deter the aphids but we’ve never found this works. Dilute washing up liquid spray is a possibility and I’ve found the idea of a tomato leaf spray on this website http://www.anderra.co.uk/blog/treating-blackfly-without-chemicals/ – might give it a try as I’ve actually got tomato plants WITH leaves this year! 🙂

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  3. Thanks for sharing that useful piece of info. It will definitely force me to keep an eye on the broad beans. I too don’t like using any chemicals and so far haven’t had to on the allotment as the pest and predator balance seems about right, but i did get blackfly on the broad beans right at the end of the season and I had noticed lots of ants crawling up them, so that explains that. Let us know how the tomato leaf spray works. 🙂

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    • I will certainly report back, hopefully the blackfly and ants are in for a nasty surprise! I was really interested with the comment on your post about those Slug Gone pellets, I’m now looking at the effectiveness of using sheep’s wool as an anti-slug barrier. I’ve read some reports online that it works and as I’ve got a huge bag of daggy fleece which really should have gone on the compost heap months ago I’m going to give that a whizz. I’m definitely with you on the ‘no chemicals’ approach! 🙂

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