April really is the month that hots up for sowing and growing as the days get longer (all plants need light) and warmer - lovely jubbly! From last month, your chillies, peppers, tomatoes and onions should all be doing great provided you have kept them warm and watered. If the seeds are 10 Cm's tall you can pot them on into bigger 7.5 cm pots. Fill the new pots with multi purpose compost , ease out the seedlings with a small spoon - holding them by the leaves only and tuck them up into their new home. Water and keep in a warm spot on a windowsill. They need lots of light. I will post pictures of mine on the Stoke hammond village facebook page if you fancy taking a peak. By the way I gave out 300 pepper seeds from my free offer last month - this month I am giving away sunflower seeds ....send email to email@example.com and say " I wanna grow😊" and I will get them to you. I will talk about planting these seeds in May edition of the SH News.
Glorious June...when all your hard work of sowing shows real promise. Weather conditions are prime, in theory, with sun and showers. Everything should be zooming up, producing flowers and then fruits. If you sowed all your favourite tender veg in May indoors as we discussed last month they will be ready to plant out. Keep an eye out for a late frost and plant out when there is a week forecast of warm weather. So either sow your seeds direct into well dug over and fertilised soil now or plant out your squash's, marrows, courgettes, runner beans, dwarf beans in the best sunny, sheltered spot you have...and don't forget to water them in and try and get the water to the roots and not onto the leaves. Keep your melons and sweet corn back till the second half of June just in case Jack Frost raises his nasty little head..grrr!
Phew what a scorcher most of June was. Brilliant for growing provided you water and feed plants regularly BEFORE they need it. I know it's difficult with the busy lives we have but keeping the plants watered and fed gives better results. We have all done it...come home and seen a plant all wilted, feel guilty and quickly over water it. The next day it is looking better of course but you can only do that a number of times before your crop will be poor. So, water a lot in the heat, early morning or later in the evening especially if you are on a free draining soil or in a pot. The other alternative is to set up an irrigation system. I have them taking water from my water butts' for the greeenhouse and the hanging baskets. They are very reasonable these days and work from solar power. If anyone wants to see my set up just email me and will be glad to offer help
August is here.....July was good for the garden with some much needed rain for everything growing outside. Potatoes, squash, sweet corn and onions all need rain to swell the fruits and so if the rain doesn't fall you have to put the sprinkler on. Your fruit trees need rainfall too especially if you have them in pots so don't forget to do it ( yes that’s an order).
Well what a difference a week makes....the sun has been out for 4 days and it feels like spring has arrived compared to the wind , rain , snow and rubbish that was coming from the sky for months. Normally the second half of April and May tend to be the real sowing , planting time and we all need to get a wriggle on as we have lost time due to the weather.
I planted my seed potatoes on the 19th April ( 3 weeks later than last year )...about 35cm apart in the rows with each row 90cm apart. Rather than dig a trench about 20cm deep I have a tool which looks like a giant napkin ring on a stick. I just place the ring on the ground , stamp my foot on the top of it , twist it and pull out a big plug of soil into which I put some potato fertiliser and the the spud . Cover with soil and mound up over the area with more garden compost. As it grows continue to earth up soil over the area to protect the greenery from frosts and stop the tubers coming to the surface and going green and inedible. I am growing Lady Christyl first earlies , Marfona second earlies and Blue Belle main crop spuds. Spuds keep really well if kept in the cool ( not frosty ) and dark. We ate last years spuds right up until beginning of April this year.
If you haven't already get your favourite herbs growing in seed modules or small pots. Seed compost , warmth , water and light ( once they have germinated ) is all you need - basil , sage , chervil, chives , parsley, coriander all treated the same way...just keep the temperature at 15c minimum and water them with tap water. Pot on into bigger pots mid May or plant out into your border or big pots. Keep drainage a priority.
This year I am trying to grow ginger , from tubers and lemon grass from whole shoots bought in the shop ( choose stems with a bulge at the base from where the roots will sprout rather than ones that have been cut from above the crown). Find a finger of ginger that has some growing points on it...point buds that look a little like a rhino horn. Plant the finger with buds facing up in a rich compost with plenty of sand or perlite to help drainage and plenty of heat. Hot , moist soil will work with plenty of light. Pot on into big pots as they sprout...best kept in a greenhouse if you have one, if not in a sheltered sunspot. With a good summer and long autumn we should have plenty on ginger rhizomes and lemon grass shoots to add to our curries. Give it a go ..it's something different.
May is also the time to start off our tender seeds like Melon , sweet corn, squash , courgettes, cucumbers , French and runner beans. Plant big seeds on their side in 7.5cm pots full of moist seed compost and do not be tempted to plant out before 3rd week in May earliest !!! Or a cold snap will have your hard work and there will be casualties.
General housekeeping remains the same....keep on top of weeds, look after the soil by adding new garden compost and add grow more fertiliser or chicken pellets or fish, bone and blood fertiliser. In dry periods water the crops , especially carrots , parsnips and spuds - people just don't do this , I don't know why.
I still have more Thyme plants than I know what to do with so if you want any contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and give growing something a go , even if it is lettuces and radishes