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April Allotment Tips

asparagus ready to serve

The key allotment focus at this time of year is potatoes. During the last week of March I got my first early potatoes in. This was after a few days of enforced deliberation; taking into account the current weather and soil conditions.
There is rarely a perfect time to plant early potatoes-it is far from an exact science. However, we potato devotees have to take the plunge sometime!
Those allotmenteers who wait a bit longer, cite the risk of frost as a note of caution. This is perfectly fair comment of course. Indeed that risk remains until the end of May for most of us.
Nonetheless time moves on; I have my trusty roll of fleece on standby, along with the option of earthing up the young plants a little more, covering the vulnerable foliage with soil if a frost beckons.

VEPOT30182_3I hope to plant my second early potato varieties “Lady Christl” and “Vivaldi” around the middle of the month. The maincrop “Sarpo Mira” will go in, two-three weeks after that.






A necessary job this week has been to remove my spent sprout plants which have now finished cropping. I have composted the foliage, though the stems are far too tough to compost in one go.
With anything this woody, I cut the stems into small pieces before adding them to the compost heap, to speed up the decomposition process.
The cropping of the last of my leeks and swede is just about over for another winter too. As the weather warms up, these overwintering stalwarts will quickly go to seed.

strawberry plants - royal sovereignOver the next few days I’m going to be giving my strawberry bed a little TLC. The new growth is showing nicely in the centre of the crowns. However, typically last year’s dead foliage remains attached to some plants. Not only does this spoil the look of the bed but it can have more serious implications too. The air flow to the plant and subsequent fruit can become affected, allowing rot and botrytis to potentially take hold. I cut the brown decaying spent foliage away with a sharp pair of scissors- a good job for when the soil is too wet to do anything else with.

I’m keeping a lookout now for the first signs of the tasty asparagus spears emerging from the soil. Once they are visible, they will quickly grow to around 15cms tall, when they should be harvested.
A key job at this time of year is to protect the fruit blossom of peaches, nectarines and apricots from any frosts by using fleece or even a thick polythene sheet. It is important to keep the fleece or polythene off the blossom itself. One of my allotment neighbours has become very adept at doing this by using bamboo canes!

If the soil is warm enough as the month progresses we can sow beetroot “boltardy” under cloches or fleece, along with lettuce, radish, swiss chard, spring onions and parsnips.

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About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and horticultural consultant. He has also had an allotment for over 25 years. After initially spurning horticulture as a career option, to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a train driver, Lee soon realised he couldn't resist getting his hands dirty to make a living. Horticultural College training led, to getting an allotment at the tender age of 18 (in the days when you could actually get a plot quickly). My gardening hero, is Geoff Hamilton" says Lee. "It was Geoff who convinced me that you didn't have to spray everything that moved in the garden. Watching him on Gardeners’ World in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was a revelation. I was lucky enough to meet Geoff and I’ve also more recently had the pleasure of meeting Joe Swift. Now over two decades of practical experience has taught me to work with mother nature, not to fight against her and don't try to tame her, as so many gardeners seem to be on a mission to do. Small-scale food growing is my passion and I can't wait for my two daughters, one who is 8 years old and the other who is 5 to hopefully pick up the baton in the future. Nothing beats the flavour and satisfaction of growing your own food. You simply cannot buy the same quality and freshness. Everyone can have a go at growing something says Lee, no matter where they live. Lee has also written his two books; 'Pennine Way, The Highs and Lows' which is a humorous, personal account of walking this momentous iconic walk. His second book 'Walking in the Aire', features 14 short walks in Yorkshire.

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