The April diary | The Voice of the Allotment

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Despite the wet ground, there’s been a lot to do on the allotment, and plenty has been achieved this month, says Barry Cuff

On the last day of March, a line each of Maris Bard and Jazzy potatoes were planted, only possible by working from the path as soil was very wet.
April
1st – Collected leeks and purple sprouting broccoli
2nd – Plug tray of Little Gem lettuce placed outside to harden
5th – Cut spicy salad leaves and pea seedlings for salads (trays in greenhouse)
7th – Planted line of Charlotte potatoes
8th – Sowed plug tray of Brendan Brussels sprouts, planted out lettuce under cloche, sowed patch of radish. Pulled sticks of rhubarb for the kitchen. Sowed a plug tray of Neon celeriac and two plug trays of Golden Self Blanching celery. Planted six lines of potatoes – Sagitta, Caledonian Rose, Caledonian Pearl, Jazzy and Desiree (made possible by standing on scaffolding boards to avoid soil compaction)
9th – Dug more ground for more potatoes. It dug well, despite being fairly wet
10th – Removed all of last year’s brassicas. The last of the broccoli plants were covered with snails
11th – The forecast finally looks good, with no rain for at least 10 days but still some cold nights. Planted two lines of Desiree, and noted the Conference pear is in full flower
12th – Pumped water on site, mainly to check the pump as it was last used in September! Planted four rows of Picasso potatoes

Four lines of onions were planted out, 40 stations per row, with one to three seedlings per station
Image: Barry Cuff

14th – Cut the hedge: a mixture of hazel, blackthorn, hawthorn, elder, snowberry, ivy, blackberry and dog-rose. This hedge is on our northern boundary and gives protection from cold winds.
15th – Planted out a line of Red Drumhead cabbage and covered with cloches to protect from pigeons. Pulled more rhubarb.
16th – Sowed two 3-litre pots of Musselburgh leeks. Weeded strawberry bed – the early varieties are in full flower. Broad beans also have their first two sets of flowers.
17th – Sowed part lines of Early Nantes carrot and Boltardy beetroot. Potted up sweet peppers in the greenhouse.
18th – Dug the ground for onions and parsnips.
19th – Tidied the mint area which has spread during the wet winter. Covered the skulkers* with pots and the strawberry bed with fleece to protect from the forecast frosts
20th – Potted up tomatoes in both greenhouses (we have 14 varieties)
21st – Broke down the large soil lumps on the onion and parsnip plot
24th – Planted out four lines of onions from plug trays: about 40 stations per row, with one to three seedlings per station. Have planted Bonus and a few Red Brunswick
25th – Dug out the weeds in the fruit bush area – mostly grass weeds, with some willowherb and bindweed. Planted a line of strawberries from pots (some of last year’s runners).
Depending on the weather, at the time of writing, we hope to sow two lines of peas by 30th April

  • Skulkers – a Dorset term for ‘volunteer’ potatoes accidentally left in the ground from the previous year.

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