Potato day has become a memory and we  are unsure about any of our future events. We will make a decision in June about the Annual Show which is scheduled for the second Saturday in September.

Meanwhile we have pulled together some advice  on what jobs to do this month – May

Our friends at  Garden Organics suggest these are the parts of their web site to look at.

  1. Weeds https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/weed-management
  2. Nematodes https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/nematodes
  3. The organic lawn https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/organic-lawn
  4. Comfrey https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/comfrey

We have culled the following checklist from Kings and the organic catalogue.

Many veg seeds can be sown direct, put your supports in place first for climbing varieties such as beans. Otherwise you can sow the seeds into 9cm (3 1/2 in) pots of multipurpose compost and place on the bench in a heated glasshouse or on a warm windowsill. This early sowing can then be moved into a cold frame once germinated, so the plants acclimatise gradually, before being planted outside towards the end of this month.

Further sowings of late peas, radish, carrot, lettuce and beetroot can be made into drills outside. This will ensure you get a continuous supply to harvest throughout the year.

Potatoes need earthing up, as the shoots show hoe soil over them to act as  a blanket protecting them from frost

Any tender plants you have kept under glass over winter can now start to be hardened off and moved outside but do it gradually.

Plants needs bees so grow as many pollinating plants as possible

Get on top of the weeds

Vine weevil is one of this month’s enemy so either use a biological control or spend evenings outside picking them off. Another is the dreaded lily beetles, If you are growing lilies in borders or containers, make sure you are vigilant this month as they will be active munching on the foliage of lilies. Adult lily beetles are easily recognisable as they are an attractive bright red colour, keep a close watch over your plants and pick the lily beetles off with finger and thumb as soon as they are seen.

Keep the onions and garlic you planted last autumn well watered and weed free

strawberry plants will start to produce a lot of flower, and to encourage a good fruit harvest, feed your plants with high potash granular feed. Carefully work the feed into the soil in-between the plants, or the tops of the containers. Plants in the ground can then have some straw mulch placed around the plants to protect the developing fruit as it grows.

This is the ideal time to sow some of the hardy and quick growing herbs like dill, coriander, rocket, and parsley. As the soil is warmer, so you can sow these seeds direct into the herb or vegetable garden outside in shallow drills, or into containers on the patio ready for harvesting later in the year.

Deadhead tulips and feed them and daffodils.

Once they have finished flowering prune spring flowering shrubs such as Forsythia, Ribes and Spiraea

Hardy annual seeds can be sown anytime this month up to the beginning of June and will reward you with a colourful summer display. Try sowing some nasturtiums, sunflowers, cornflowers, godetia or calendulas

Towards the end of the month, plant out some of summer bedding plants into their final positions, once the plants have been hardened them off properly for a few weeks in a cold frame so they are acclimatised to outdoor conditions before planting.

Follow on from potato day

At the last WYOG potato day in February two people showed interest in joining the Sarvari Trust potato breeding group.  Dr David Shaw, who gave the presentation on potatoes that day and who leads the trust would very much like to hear from you (or anyone else interested in growing on research products ). Please contact Martin  Bijl on martinusjbijl@yahoo.com

Concern Worldwide  have an interesting web site and a story on how the potato is building resilience and tackling food insecurity in Ethiopia www.concern.org.uk/who-we-are/why-hunger/meet-humble-potato?utm_source=newsletter_c2we32020&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nutritioncampaign&utm_content=mnbtn

If the link doesn’t work, go to www.concern.org.uk go to the our work page and click on where we work on the left hand side and find Ethiopia

 Growing advice

WYOG have teamed up with Garden Organic to allow our members to access Garden Organics massive list of help available on their web site. In each mailing we will concentrate on a relevant theme so this month it’s all about getting going, planting seeds and potting on.

What to plant now: https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/what-sow-and-plant-april

How to sow seeds: https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/six-steps-successful-seed-sowing

Potting on: https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/potting

Getting growing supplies

Some on line suppliers have stopped taking orders as they are temporarily overloaded, www.organiccatalogue.com is taking orders although deliveries may not be as fast as usual.

In the Aire Valley we are finding that many of the small independent garden centres have had to close their shops but are now offering a delivery service, as many do not have detailed web sites they are asking people to ring and talk about what they want, they will sort out a price and ring you back with a delivery date. The ones we know about are ACW, Bradford; Woodbanks, Harden; Acorn, Bingley; New Coley, Denholme.  It would be good to try and keep them going.

Supermarkets and pesticides

The pesticide action network (PAN) UK has published a ranking of how well the top ten UK supermarkets are doing on reducing pesticides and they conclude that well known supermarkets are not doing enough to protect human health, wildlife or the environment from hazadous pesticides. Some companies are doing better than others, so M&S, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s were found to be making good progress but overall supermarkets are not being open about pesticides, the information is not on food labels or their websites. PAN argues that the supermarkets with their sprawling supply chains and powerful influence over how food is produced are uniquely positioned to drive a wholesale shift away from pesticides, not just in the UK but globally. The full report is at www.pan-uk.org/supermarkets/

Getting water wise

The Organic Way has an interesting article on dealing with extremes of weather when gardening and the Spring edition has an article on water

Some tips for dealing with flooding

  • Trees and shrubs have deeper roots which can absorb and retain water
  • Allow grass to stay long over winter
  • Growing more perennials will help
  • As soil has air pockets which can hold water don’t dig it over or let it get compacted
  • Keep soil covered in winter, green manure or spent crops
  • A compost rich soil will have an improved structure that can hold more water (but don’t compost in the winter as the valuable nutrients will wash away
  • Hard surfaces such as concrete cause run off problems so go for porous pathways and space instead, such as gravel or paving stones
  • Use gravel and raised beds to enable the water to soak away and leave the crops and their roots protected

Some tips for collecting and storing water

  • Increasing the number of storage vessels, water butts or underground storage systems if you have the space and money, otherwise leaving out buckets and barrels when its raining to collect what you can
  • Water flows downhill so think about that when planning your garden
  • If your land is flat you could buy a small pump, some of them are solar powered
  • A pump will allow you to channel water around your garden and from paddling pools and baths

Dealing with perennial weeds – by composting

With perennials such as bindweed, couch grass, nettles and docks it tends not to be a good idea to put them into your compost bin/ heap. Made a separate pile and cover with black plastic, or use an old builders dumpy bag and fill up and cover with black plastic; leave for 18 months and you will have a lovely heap of compost

Most things can be composted despite the number of myths around, so tomatoes, pumpkins, orange peel, poisonous plants, carrot tops, potato haulms can all be added. Avoid infected potato tubers, plants with clubroot, used cat litter and dog poo.