Frosts, cold winds from the North and East and no rain made April a rather trying month.
Blackthorn put on a spectacular show in the hedgerows. This cold dry spell is known as ‘Blackthorn Winter’ in Dorset, but was much more prolonged this year.
Our March planted potatoes needed frequent earthing up as they emerged to protect the tender young growth from the night frosts. A neighbour lost seedlings of courgettes and French beans in her greenhouse when the temperature dropped to minus two one night. Many nights saw temperatures dropping between minus one and plus two degrees celsius.
Our greenhouse ranged between zero and thirty eight on sunny days!
Decisions when to sow and plant during this unusual weather had to be made, and we decided to delay most until the end of the month hoping for better conditions in
May. So during the last week we have sowed two lines of Hurst Green Shaft Peas and lines of
carrot, beetroot and parsnip.
We also planted out four lines of Golden Bear onions from plugs – these were sown with two to three seeds per cell at the beginning of March.
All these new sowings and plantings were into undug soil, conserving moisture from the Winter rains. By the end of the month the top few inches of soil was exceptionally dry, whereas
just below there was plenty of moisture.
April is one of the ‘hungry gap’ months when there is very little in the way of fresh vegetables
to be had from the plot. Our sprouting broccoli finished mid month as the flower buds quickly became flowers in the bright sunshine. We now relied on stored and frozen vegetables. The only fresh vegetable being chicons of Witloof chicory and some mixed salad leaves from the greenhouse.
Sowings were made in the greenhouse of lettuce, leek, celery, celeriac, parsley and Brussels sprout.
We now look forward to warmer conditions and some much needed rain as May is one of the main sowing and planting months.