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28th March to April 3rd
This has been a quiet week for me even though the weather has been good. I haven’t been overly busy on the allotment as there is not that much I can do. I watered the fruit bushes and the strawberrys to make sure that they were happy. They didn’t seem to be complaining, there’s no obvious pests on it and they are nice and leafy.

I then sowed 2 small six foot rows of turnips – ‘snowball’. They are in furrows about a half inch deep with the seeds scattered thinly along the furrow, cover them up and water them in.

The spinach is nicely grown now so that went in as well and got a good water. I put the spinach in with about 6 inches between plants. When that recovers I should be getting some nicely home grown spinach fairly soon.

Luckily for me the carrots and the parsnips have come up and are decently advanced, so I have decided they can go in the ground. As I grow them in plastic box section I like to get them in the ground asap before the roots get too well developed. When I think they are ready I dig the furrow they are going in to, then cut the tape around the ends and remove the ‘L’ shape section so that the compost and carrots is resting on the ‘I’ shaped section. This goes in the furrow (I leave the plastic in place for now), and I repeat till he row is complete. Then I fill in to the plastic and then gently remove it. This way the carrots don’t fall down. It’s almost like having instant carrots. They do need thinning out later on but for now I am happy to just have things growing.

Not much else to mention really, the ground is starting to warm up and things are starting to grow, especially the weeds. The things in seed trays in the greenhouse are doing well and I’m keeping an eye on them. After they’ve gone in I’ll have to start pondering about growing replacements so I have a longer growing season.

April 5th
It’s been 2 weeks now since I put the first early potatoes in and I am getting itchy fingers, so in the warm Spring sunshine I decide it’s time for the second earlies – ‘kestrel’ to go in. They are well chitted and I am happy. Sometimes I feel that it’s later in the year than it is and want to have more plants in, but I have to keep reminding my self that up here in North Yorkshire we can still get a frost even up to the start of June, and it’s surprisingly cool in the evening light.

Luckily for me my onions have turned up as well. I always get heat treated sets and now seems as good a time as any to get them in the ground. I have planted a block of red onions – ‘red baron’ and a larger block of globe onions – ‘sturon’. I will admit that I have over ordered on the onion front and have had to put in a second block of globe onions in the corner (see plot map above) of the plot. For each of my onions I put about 4-5 inches between onions and the same between rows as well..

Also the broad beans that were at home are ready to go in (if a bit leggy) so they are in and supported as well. I plant these in a blocks, each block is 2 rows about 8 inches apart with plants staggered down the two rows, and about a foot between plants in each row. There is about 18 inches between blocks.

It’s quite surreal, I will happily admit that there I was in jeans and a no shirt planting my potatoes and putting in the onion sets in the glorious sunshine whilst listening to the Malaysian Grand prix (on the radio) being rained off.

While I was weeding I cleared out the asparagus bed and have discovered that my asparagus is coming through. The shoots are very thin, but this is only the second year I have had it so I don’t expect much this year. I’ve never really had much luck with asparagus in the past so fingers crossed on this.

Now that things are going in the allotment I have checked my seeds and I had an afternoon in the greenhouse sowing seeds. I now have the following (hopefully) growing in my greenhouse
beetroot – ‘detroit’
sweetcorn – ‘landmark’
French beans – ‘sprite’
butternut squash – ‘butterboy’
courgettes – ‘satellite’ and ‘optima’
pumpkins – ‘hundredweight’

April 7th
I’ve done a bit of weeding this week and just generally looked after the plot. I had a tidy up of the shed and have discovered that I have a daffodil growing in the shed itself. Very nice but not very practical.

Also if the fruit bushes crop as heavily as the buds on the plants then it should be a good year. I’ll need to keep up with the watering of them (not my strong point).

April 10th
It’s been a very dull day and a damp start for the Easter weekend. I spent the afternoon in the greenhouse potting things on and planting a few more bits and pieces.

I now have 23 tomato plants (all grown from the seed from 1 fresh tomato from the market in Thirsk), and 49 chilli plants of various varieties. Heaven alone knows where I will put them all! They’ve all been potted on to 3 inch pots from small 1 inch plant cells. I initially brought the tomato and chilli seeds on in the house in a seed tray with a propagator lid, when they came up I took the lid off and let them get a bit more accustomed to the world, and now they are in the greenhouse

I have planted some spring onions – ‘sweet lisbon’. I tend to plant my alliums from seed in large seed cells (see the photo posted up) as they’ll end up being separated anyway before planting in the allotment.

I also planted some tagetes to help my tomatoes along. I can’t remember the variety off the top of my head. Having read my companion guide I’ll plant some near the brassicas as well and see how we get on.

More lettuce seeds have been sown as well as some more sweetcorn (I don’t think you can ever have too much sweetcorn). We’ll see how they go.

I’ve also got some tubs with coriander, chives and parsley in. So if they come up I can move them around. From what I have read coriander and chives are good companion plants to keep away lots of pesky bugs. Coriander is meant to repel aphids and chives repel carrot fly (apparently, I’ll let you know if it’s true)

April 12th
Well it’s now well into Easter Weekend and the weather, for a change, is decent. As it was sunny I have decided that the time is right for more things to be planted onto the allotment.

Both lots of the lettuce and the herbs have been planted, although they do look a little floppy at the moment. I planted each lettuce with 6 inches between plants and in a block. The herbs were all planted with about 6 inches between them. They are really an experiment to see if they grow, so we shall see.

Most of the brassicas have gone in, I planted about 12 of each and I covered them in hoops of chicken wire to keep the pigeons off. I plant each one a foot apart with a foot between rows. A few years ago I was fed up with pigeons stripping the leaves and wanted a solution. I had tried polythene cloches with success but they were always bulky and a pain to set and unset (me being lazy again) and kept the water out. I tried netting them but because the area was so big it was nigh on impossible to weed. I really wanted the best of both worlds so I went out and bought a few rolls of chicken wire, then cut that into two foot lengths that I bent into hoops. I put these over the plants along the row and keep them down using cheap nickel tent pegs (bought from Millets) or when they run out I use bits of bamboo cane.

I’ve found that this protects them nicely for a month or so until they are over the worst threat and I can move them off in manageable sections and weed away. I can water through them as well.

The only drawbacks are the obvious nature of sharp metal objects sticking in your hand when handling them (so use gloves) and storing them. I just put them in a pile near or in the shed. Untidy but they aren’t going anywhere.

April 13th
Today we went out. We spent a lovely day at Castle Howard, wandering around the gardens. There’s not much in bloom at the moment but daffodils, hyacinth, magnolias and ornamental cherries. Still we had a nice picnic by the lake, and a lovely walk.

When we got home I had a few more jobs to get done.

Both the peas and the mange tout are up and shooting with the shoots about 2 inches up now. So I have netted them to keep the pesky pigeons off as well. Last year I built some 6’ by 3’ frames covered in netting to go along side the peas which get attached to stakes in the ground. Then I use string to form a sort of cats cradle above it to keep birds out. It does work. Over the years I have tried a number of deterrents for birds (CDs, tape, etc.) and nothing seems to work that well but I do find that the plastic bottles on sticks does work better than most. I may well make a scarecrow sometime if I get the chance. I’ll do it just to see if it works, although chances are I’ll just see it and think ‘who’s that on my allotment that’s attracting all those pigeons?’.

Amazingly one of my potatoes (in the metal tub) is already sprouting above ground, so I’ll bank that up next time I am there to protect it.

Also the grass at home is now growing with a vengeance, so I have lots of grass cuttings to go into the compost. I could really do with another compost bin just for household waste. If I can get hold of the necessary wood (cheap or free) then I’ll see about building one.

The other big thing this week has been a dramatic battle fought on the paths and edges of my allotment. I spent a good hour going along and either digging out or cutting out the dandelions on Monday afternoon. I managed to get 2 garden trugs worth of the evil things. I tend to use an old short bladed kitchen knife that is quite flexible to cut the stem as a lot of them are in pathways that I don’t really want to dig up.

All in all I feel a very nice weekend of gardening.

April 14th
I went down again tonight only to discover that there were more of the dandelions growing in my nicely cleared path. Sadly I had other things to do tonight so I couldn’t attack them. Well my dander is up now and tomorrow they go!

April 15th
As the week progressed up here in Ripon it’s been a bit mixed, with cloud and mist in the morning and then lovely sunshine in the afternoon. The cloud and mist have kept the frost off but it has been quite chilly.

It was a bit windy as I got down to the business of getting rid of yet more dandelions. I know it won’t last long but it is nice to get them out of the group. I managed to cut out anther half a trug full, so yet again the allotment is dandelion free. And before anyone points out, I do know that the only way to get rid of a dandelion (without using systemic pesticides) is to dig it out, but these, as I said are in the path, and I don’t want the path any more uneven than it is now.

Tonight I have noticed that my first earlies are showing above the ground. For me the sight of those lovely dark green leaves starting to come up above the ground is a wonderful thing. It always fills my heart with joy and wonder.

April 16th
Today I just didn’t feel like doing anything, it’s been a dull misty day here all day, my knees and back hurt and after a hard day at the office I came home to relax and switch off, home made lasagne and television.

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any lasagne left?
you have been a busy bee.

17 Apr, 2009


Ha ha ha ha ha Isn't life grand...................

17 Apr, 2009


Do you think you could post some photos as well, please? It would bring your diary alive. It would be a good record for you, as well!

17 Apr, 2009


I love how you planted your carrots in the trench. An ingenious method, thanks!

Carrot fly flies at 18" above ground. You can put a fine protective cloth over it or raise the carrots up. That's why if I get my free BBC seeds, I shall grow them in big deep pots with some cosmos to deter the pests. But yes, you're right, planting both veggies together does work.

Nice to see Dads come in useful sometimes, lol!

I'll know what variety of veggies to grow and how to do it, for next year, many thanks!

19 Apr, 2009

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