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March Growing Tips: From Val's Plot

I am starting to uncover some of my beds from their cardboard coats, removing the slugs that have nestled under them as I do so. I dig out any nasty weeds such as ground elder and bind weed, but try not to disturb the soil too much, and put on bags of Dalesfoot compost where it is needed. I use raised beds and so mend any rotten boards or put back bricks that have wandered over the year. I have now planted my onions, shallot and broad beans out onto the beds. Next up is preparing the pea beds, making new cages to take the netting which is the only way to stop the wood pigeons from devouring them. Modules of peas and beetroot are in my greenhouse. I have a box of seeds ready to start sowing later in the month.

It’s always a juggling act at this time of year, with my crop rotation plan in one hand, the last of the parsnips, leeks, savoys and kale all still growing, I try to decide where I can leave the cardboard down and plant through – suitable for corn and pumpkins. It is an exciting time as I start to sow and plant out, as well as harvest. My cold greenhouse has Wheelers Imperial spring cabbage coming along nicely, I am cropping the last of the over wintering lettuce and some radishes I sowed recently are popping through. In a couple of months, it will all get cleared for the tomatoes and cleaning the glass is on the list of job to do.

February Growing Tips: From Val's Plot

This is the month where I plan to catch up with all the structural work that I haven’t got around to yet. I have been examining my raised beds and repairing or replacing the rotten edge boards, mending the shed from the rat attack, topping up the wood chippings on the paths and cleaning the greenhouse glass. I have been picking different types of Kale – black, curly and Uncle Bert’s (a heritage variety), savoy cabbages and parsnips. My leeks were a disaster last year as many bolted and then the later ones didn’t take off.
On the growing side, I have started to cut back the autumn raspberries and will prune my currants and apple tree and put a bucket over one of my rhubarb plants to get the early forced rhubarb, although the warmer winter weather means that the rhubarb is much more advanced than usual. I have made a start on digging out the couch grass and ground elder from my fruit cage, and when that is done I have an old strawberry bed to clear and dig over. I planted a new strawberry bed last autumn and the transplanted plants look fine.
My few seed potatoes from the earlier potato trials – a mira/ valor cross are ready to be chitted. In the greenhouse I have sweet peas a few inches high, and I have sown some sweet peppers, hot wax peppers and jalapenos, a few tomatoes and some trays of broad beans on my propagator.
I have sorted out my seeds into the months in which they need to be sown and I have started to think about the crop rotation and my growing plan for this year, so it feels like I am getting organised! The compost order has come to the allotment now so I have a mix of West Riding Organic seeds and potting composts and some of Dalefoot, vegetable, tomato and double strength, bags. So roll on March and the main sowing period begins.

August Growing Tips: From Val's Plot

As beds get cleared when crops are harvested, if you don’t have another crop ready to drop into them, then try a green manure. Some of the summer ones can be sown until the end of August – like clover, mustard and phacelia, and others can be sown in September and October – like field beans, yellow trefoil and grazing rye. Green manures can play a big part in preventing the winter heavy rain from washing out all the nutrients and damaging the soil structure. Covering exposed soil with cardboard over the winter can also help prevent soil damage and can be dug in before planting next spring.

Read more: August Growing Tips: From Val's Plot

May Growing Tips: From Val's Plot

Well, after a few weeks of really cold nights I suspect that the rest of the month will be spent moving plants from our windowsills, cold frames and greenhouses out into our plots and garden. Be careful though a some plants, like squashes and courgettes are not ready to go out in case we get some more cold evenings.
It’s time to sow beans, the second lot of peas, outdoor tomatoes and the later cabbages such as kale and purple sprouting.
Successional planting of salad seeds can continue. Carrots might need thinning.
On my plot, most plants need netting to keep off the pigeons and discourage other wildlife from enjoying my nice new plants!

April Growing Tips: From Val’s Plot

This is the month when we start seeing brighter sunnier days and can get fooled into planting things out too soon. The soil needs to warm up a bit more first and drain after all the heavy rain we have had recently. Seeds planted in cold wet soil will simply rot. So, as you get your beds ready don’t forget to add in as much compost as you can get and maybe add some pelleted fertiliser to scatter on prior to planting; I use the plant based one Viano and I have also bought some seaweed feed for giving everything a boost once they have started growing.

Read more: April Growing Tips: From Val’s Plot

Terry's Tomato Tips

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Children's Section

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From Val's Plot

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Jack First's Advice

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