Growing from seed always has an element of risk – Barry Cuff shares his challenges this month, along with the wide variety of veg he’s bringing on, and his weevil battle
May is always a busy month on the plot and one of the main sowing times. We always like the challenge of raising our vegetables from seed rather than buying plants from a garden centre. Raising from seed can be a challenge – but it is so much cheaper. Most seed packets contain enough seed for at least two years, and if stored correctly they do retain their viability. Our allotment association is a member of the South West Counties Allotment Association which enables us to buy flower and vegetable seed at a fifty per cent discount, with a choice of seeds from Suttons and Kings Seeds.
We always sow more than we need to cover losses on the plot, and any surplus young plants are given to neighbouring plot holders.
This is what allotmenteering is all about – sharing and swapping with friends.
Vegetables raised in modules during the month include cauliflowers, broccoli, romanesco, courgettes, cucumbers, squash, gherkins, sweetcorn, French beans and runner beans. For the first time we only managed to raise 25 Swift sweetcorn plants from a packet of about 50 seeds. A second packet of the same variety was bought from a garden shop, and these were more successful; enough to complete a block of about 50 plants.
During the month we planted out the first sown sweetcorn, Brussels sprouts, runner beans, French beans, gherkins and courgettes.
Sowings were made of carrots, Beetroot, peas, mangetout and snap peas.
We look forward to digging our first new potatoes early in June.
Weeds and pigeons
Weevil has again been a problem with our peas, taking out many seedlings before emergence, but we have replacement seedlings to fill the gaps.
Pigeons are becoming a major problem on the site, with all plot-holders having to erect nets over their young brassica plants. The council does not allow shooting on their land so it has to be netting or some type of silent scarer.
With rain falling on about 12 days this month, plants, seedlings and weeds have made good growth. Weeding can be a back-breaking job, especially among young seedlings where the hoe will not go!
In the small area for flowers both Californian poppy and bastard balm have kept the bees happy.
by Barry Cuff
Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre