Monthly Growing Guide By Alan J Hartley For
Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Seeds To Sow.
The recommended sowing time may have passed for most things by now, but seeds will germinate so quickly, and the resulting young plants will grow so fast, that it is still not too late for most things. The fancy Green Cauliflower, Fennell and the ginormous Radish Mooli are seeds to start sowing this month. If you don’t know the Mooli Radish they grow bigger than Parsnips and consequently it is a type of Radish that lends itself to slicing some off and putting the rest back in the fridge for another day. Alternatively, you can cook it in things like Stir Fry’s for something different. Another worthwhile point is that they can be harvested later into the Winter than most Radishes, but they are susceptible to Slug Damage and rotting.

Plant Out.
It may seem late in the year, but it is only just time to plant out things like Runner, French Climbing and Dwarf Beans as they will suffer from even the occasional cold nights that we often get into late April. French Beans are more tender than Runners though. After planting, all types of Climbing beans will need tying in to get them going up the supports and as they grow they may need further tying in. It is best to use a natural, or soft string for this job, because then when you come to dismantle everything at the end of the season, you don’t need to fiddle about fishing out the bits of string. Being made from natural fibres the whole lot can just be dumped in the compost and it will all rot down. There is nothing worse than having your lovely, rich compost full of bits of plastic string.
Courgettes, Squash, Pumpkins and Sweet Corn are other things that often get planted out too early, but now is the right time for them. When planting out Sweet Corn it needs to be planted in “Blocks,” rather than rows. This is because it is wind pollinated and planting in a block means that you have more plants closer together which enables them to pollinate each other better. It is no good planting only 2, or 3 plants on their own, as they won’t develop any Cobs. You will need to plant at least a dozen together for good pollination.
Later in the month you can plant Outdoor Tomatoes in your plot. Some more exotic plants that can go out now are Tomatilloes, which are a large relative to Cape Gooseberries, but more delicate, and Yacon, that are basically edible Dahlias which have large, Sweet Potato sized tubers. Of course Dahlias themselves can be planted out now as well.

With the warmer weather that May brings, so come the pests that start to invade your plants of which Black Fly on Broad Beans is one. The old fashioned way to deal with this problem is to simply pinch out the tender growing tips, which are what the Black Fly goes for. They will be sticky and unpleasant to the touch, but it is a cheap solution. If you planted your Beans back in the late Autumn they will be nearly ready to harvest by now and so you probably won’t have a problem with black Fly at all.
Gooseberry Sawfly is another seasonal pest that can strip the leaves from a mature gooseberry bush seemingly overnight. You can buy all sorts of sprays including a Garlic/Soap one that is suitable for Organic growers, but with a little patience they are easy to pick off and if you have an active bird population on the Allotments you may not even have a problem. Gooseberry Sawfly are said to be low flying insects so encouraging your bushes to be taller may also help prevent the problem. Interestingly, the fly will also decimate Red Currant and White Currant bushes, but not Black Currant bushes. They are said to be deterred by strong smells, so you can try planting something strong smelling like Onions around your bushes.

The Early Japanese Onions that went in before Christmas will be nearly ready to harvest by now so watch them and bend their tops down if look as if they are mature. This will start the drying off process. As they start to go brown you can dig them out, rather than pull them out, and leave them either on the surface to ripen and dry properly, or else put them somewhere dry and airy like a greenhouse, shed, or garage.
Mature Globe Artichokes plants should be ready for harvesting just before Asparagus, but the two often overlap their seasons. These old fashioned, luxury vegetables produce a lot of waste in the kitchen, although they are ridiculously expensive to buy. Young plants can be fairly inexpensive to buy, live for 20 years and more, and each Artichoke plant will yield about 10-12 “Heads,” thus making them a really good long-term crop. 
As Asparagus shoots get to about 9 inches in length you can start cutting from mature plants. Don’t try to harvest from plants less than 2 years old, as this will drain the energy out of the young plants too much. Harvesting of Asparagus can go on until about the end of June and then the plants need a rest, although varieties are now being developed that can be harvested later. Asparagus plants will produce masses of tall, fluffy, green foliage, after harvesting, that needs to be left until the frosts take it in late Autumn and then it can be cut down.
Harvesting time for Wild Garlic leaves is also very short as they get tougher as the season goes on and they die off after flowering like the leaves of all bulbs.

Other Jobs.
The warmer weather means that you might need to put some Greenhouse shading up. This can be expensive blinds, slighter cheaper green mesh, green polythene, or very cheap greenhouse whitewash which is simply roughly painted on the outside of the glass for the Summer and washed off again as the Summer ends.


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