Tales from the plot April 

All systems go – well, that’s how it should be this time of year! The days are thankfully getting longer and there’s an awful lot to be done, but we must remember the seeds that are set now will hopefully supply us with fresh vegetables throughout the year. Something I love to see are the first tender shoots of rhubarb which should now be ready for the first crumble, just lovely. 
The Allotment is coming to life but sadly this also means the weeds are coming to life so regular hoeing must start now and will continue throughout the year; with the war on bugs and pests also beginning.
I have purchased for the first time a product called neem oil. I’ve heard quite good reports of this natural product so we will see – you mix a tablespoon along with a little squirt of washing up liquid into a 1 L bottle of water and spray to keep the bugs away……I’ll let you know if and how effective it is. 
I emptied one of my compost bins last week onto the plot just to put something back. First of all, I riddled enough to get a couple of compost bags full of quite fine compost that I will use mixed with some bought for setting seeds etc. For me compost has been a problem since we stopped using peat, an awful lot of it is now not only rubbish – it’s expensive rubbish. I’ve been buying compost called Jack’s Magic when it’s on offer, the last lot was only £5 for a 60L bag and mixed with my own riddled compost seems to be a good compromise and so far everything is going quite well.
The broad beans that I planted over a month ago are only just coming through the soil, when they’re tender, young shoots just poking through is when the pea & bean weevil normally attacks them so I’ll be giving them a spray of neem oil and I’ll let you know if it deters the blighters, I’m a bit late putting the peas in so thinking I’ll be doing that after writing this.
Towards the end of this month I’ll be putting my potatoes in. It’s always a bit of a gamble choosing the right time …… the fatal mistake is when you see somebody else put theirs in, you automatically feel you’re to follow suit – and this can be a mistake. Potatoes don’t want to be poking their heads through the soil until Jack Frost has gone. I was always told if they get frosted it halves your harvest. I don’t know whether there’s any truth in that but I always do my best to try and avoid them getting frosted.
Young seedlings of cauliflower, cabbage, brussels, beetroot etc. are all in the greenhouse and will soon be big enough to be planted out in the allotment. Carrots are already in, they are grown in large tubs to try and deter the carrot fly, they’re just starting to poke their heads above the compost.
I love this time of year. I hope it’s gonna be a great year for you all!
Richard Thorpe Syston Allotments 15b