Spring is arriving, slowly. Will this north east wind dominate our summer? If so, it may be like 2013, when the soil stayed cold and growth slow until May. Then the north east wind gets really warm and we have a great time.
Whatever the weather, we have to sow as usual. My tomatoes and salads sown at the beginning of February are a good size already. The tomatoes will be fine, because they will be transplanted into the greenhouse in late April. We hope to have our first Sungold f1 ripen in June. Lettuce planted outside in mid March are under fleece and not growing much. Salad transplanted in the tunnel is growing away fine, as are autumn salad plantings, so indoor growing provides a great safety valve in cold weather.
We have planted lots of peas and beans under fleece outdoors in the first week of March. First early Sharpes Express potatoes planted 27 February were up 18 days later in spite of the cold. Fleece over the peas keeps birds off and speeds up germination. The pigeons here love pea shoots and so we will have to fold Enviromesh over their netting support if we want any peas.
The carrots sown in early March should emerge in 3-4 weeks: if not, we bought 2,000 seeds in an 89p Country Value packet of Autumn King and can replant in April. We lightly water the soil if we have three days of dry windy weather because the seed are sown shallow and wind soon dries the top soil. As always, we have kept weeds down all winter, and so there are few slugs left in the soil, especially as we don’t use slug pellets.
The small seeds are the trickiest: cleriac seed scattered on the surface of well compacted compost, wrapped tightly in a carrier bag to keep a moist surface and kept in the airing cupboard for a week and a further two weeks in the greenhouse before failure is acknoledged is all nerve racking stuff. But that’s the fun of it all!
After an anti-climax with an almost imperceptible solar eclipse today, we are hoping the vegetables won’t have noticed, and quote Arther C. Clark: “I don’t believe in astrology. I’m a Sagittarian, and we’re sceptical.”
What to sow this month
April is a good time to sow all the English favourites outdoors, and the heat loving imports indoors to be transplanted outside later.
Outdoors: Maincrop peas, broad beans, leek, beetroot, onion sets, maincrop potatoes, lettuce, carrots & parsnips.
Indoors: early: celeriac, mid month: courgettes, basil, sweetcorn, French and runner beans, late April: cucumber.