Allotmenteers countrywide can breathe a collective sigh of relief as June arrives. The sometimes fraught task of planting out the half-hardy vegetables should be completed. The main priority now is keeping a close eye on our young charges to help them get established.
The weather has been generally favourable, if rather dry during May. The good news in a dry spring is the threat from slugs and snails is greatly diminished. That said, it is amazing when the rain does come how quickly these pesky molluscs reappear…
A negative during sustained dry weather are the extra watering requirements. Recent transplants are especially vulnerable as they don’t yet have a fully developed root system. That said it is no fun planting out and seed sowing in cold wet conditions. It never ceases to amaze how quickly the plants respond to a good day or two of rain. Everything seems greener, fresher and suddenly a lot further advanced.
One allotment holder on our local allotment site has hit the jackpot early with her overwintering sweet peas. Incredibly several plants began to flower during the last week of May. There are a good number of blooms in bud on several other plants too. Here in Yorkshire I can’t ever recall such an early flowering date. A good reminder if ever one is needed of the virtues of overwintering sweet peas from an October sowing.
My asparagus has been cropping well in May, after a slow start in mid-April. As soon as the weather warmed up the plants romped away, including the inevitable weeds in the beds. Try not to let couch grass, or mare’s tail become established near the crowns. As I’ve found out to my cost it is almost impossible to eradicate without damaging the crowns. I’ll continue to harvest asparagus spears until Father’s Day. After that it is a case of leaving them alone apart from feeding and weeding. They need to build up strength for next year to do it all again.
I will be covering my strawberries with bird-proof netting over the next day or too. It is a similar story with redcurrants, blackcurrants and gooseberries all of which are currently earlier than normal. At the end of May I sowed Swede “Invitation” and I may well make a second sowing at the end of June. Pre-water the seed drill prior to sowing to retain moisture as long as possible.
Swede is one of the unsung heroes of winter. They are tough as old boots, reliable and tasty in shepherd’s pie or even mixed as a mash with allotment grown potatoes and carrots. Other tasks I’ve planned for early June, include sowing savoy winter cabbage and broccoli “Purple Sprouting Continuity mixed “. If you haven’t time to sow the seed, broccoli “Sprouting Continuity Collection” make a great time saving alternative.
Admittedly, I need to be getting on with the cabbage especially. However, given good weather and fertile soil, they should be fine. I’ll be fitting cabbage collars around the plants at planting out time. This is will prevent the troublesome cabbage root fly pest laying eggs close to the plants. The resulting larvae voraciously feed on the roots, rendering the plants useless.
My three year old daughter had great fun with my compost tumbler recently. She managed to partly turn the tumbler and ended up getting rather wet! Unfortunately there was some water on the top which proceeded to land on her head much to her disdain and my amusement. Allotment lessons are sometimes learned the hard way! Whichever way one looks at it; this is not a time of year to be away from the allotment for long.,