So I’ve pretty much worked my way through the list I made for March, and done more besides. Get me! However, I’ve still yet to empty out my compost bins. Can’t think why, such a glorious job.
I also didn’t get around to warming up the bed for the beetroot, carrots and parsnips. I have a soil thermometer in my shed, and I decided it really didn’t need warming. I tested it about a week into March and it read around 6-7ºc which is just on the borderline of being warm enough for beetroot according to the chart that came with the thermometer, and when I tested it again on Sunday it was reading 12-13ºc. So on Tuesday morning I nipped down to the plot and sowed a half row of each. I’ll sow some more in a few weeks.
The insect world certainly think spring is here and are out in force. Especially the ladybirds, I’ve never seen so many. I have a nettle patch at the bottom end of my plot that would probably be looked down on by some gardeners. It’s an area behind the fruit trees and between 2 compost bins where I can’t realistically grow much anyway. I have attempted to transplant some hardy geraniums that were growing a bit too rampant in my home garden, but there’s no stopping the nettles. I have to say though, it is a haven for insects where they are left pretty much undisturbed, and that’s a good enough reason for me to leave it a little bit wild. I think all allotments should have an area like this, and it should not only be allowed but encouraged, otherwise they become sterile environments for wildlife. I do try and pull out any really evasive weeds such as bindweed or anything that might flower and set seed, as that isn’t neighbourly. But the nettles can be kept in check and they also make fabulous fertiliser, so they’re staying put.
The last of the parsnips have been dug up. The usual motley crew of forked monsters, along with some not bad – even quite normal-looking ones. John also found some beetroot which I’d forgotten all about, so it was nice to make some chocolate beetroot muffins. They didn’t last long, so after making a huge batch of creamy parsnip soup, I also made a parsnip seed cake, which I’ve illustrated and will post next.
This is the bottom section so far, the path edges still need a bit of trimming, but we’re getting there. Shallots are under the mesh, then the root crops freshly sown, and the overwintered onions (weeded and fed) are just in front of the row of daffodils. Behind them are the raspberries, which unfortunately are choked with couch grass and bindweed, meaning we have decided to dig them out, so we can properly clear the weeds. I’m a bit undecided at the moment whether to replant the raspberries elsewhere, or leave them for a while and consider something new for next year. Maybe loganberries or something a bit different, possibly thornless or less vigorous. I do love the berries but not the plants.
Activities in the potting shed are in full swing. I’ve sown a second batch of leeks and lettuce, mange-tout peas, pak choi, a few flowers (cosmos and marigolds) and even though I won’t be growing tomatoes on the plot, I’ll get some going for pots at home where I don’t get the blight. The chillies and peppers have been transplanted into individual pots, so the windowsills are filling up well.
Lots of people have been planting out their first early potatoes. I’m only growing second earlies and main crop, so mine are happy to stay chitting for a little bit longer yet. I think the longer you can hold fire on planting out your potatoes the better, they can easily succumb to a late frost anytime throughout April, so it means having lots of fleece at the ready if yours are sprouting by then. They soon catch up from a later planting.
Planting out my little pineberries is definitely next on my list of jobs. Oh, and emptying the compost bins!