This year I have planned my veg plot antics with military precision, relative to my normal slack approach. I have three 8’x4′ raised beds in which to grow veg, supplemented with containers and the greenhouse for tender crops.

It’s not a huge space, but I am aiming to get a good yield. You can read more about my plans for the full year here, but for now I am concentrating on the first part of the growing season. It been a slow start in general, the weather has been very cold and dull in March, not ideal seed starting weather. I am beginning to wonder what this might mean for harvest dates and potential impacts to my late-season plans.

This is the latest version of the plot plan for the first half of the season. Anything coloured mid-blue is already growing away out on the plot, the rest is either not yet sown or growing with varying degrees of success in the greenhouse.

veg plot april

In the greenhouse

Peas ‘Blauwschokker’ – second batch, sown last weekend, but not germinated yet.

Broad beans – second batch, sown 10 days ago, not yet germinated. The first batch were fairly slow to show themselves too, I’m not yet concerned.

Snap peas ‘Nairobi’. These have germinated and are now hardening off in the cold-frame. I am hoping to plant them out this coming weekend.

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Beetroot ‘Boltardy’ – second batch, these have germinated more willingly and robustly than their first batch cousins. I should be able to plant them out in a couple of weeks.

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Lettuce, various. I prefer to grow lettuce that lends itself to harvesting of leaves rather than letting a heart develop. Since the last update I have sown and pricked out a couple of different varieties, they are doing fine.

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Leeks. Oh dear. While some have germinated, my plan to grow leeks for summer harvest as baby leeks is not starting well. They are weedy looking things. I might go again, and grow them in some pots rather than on the plot, using that space for something more willing. Shallots perhaps…

Shallots ‘zebrune’ – I wasn’t planning to grow any this year, but was convinced by other GYO folks on Twitter. The space on the plot was allocated to elephant garlic but it either never sprouted, or more likely was turfed out by squirrels. The shallots have begun to germinate, just about.

On the plot

Peas, ‘Blauwschokker’ – I planted the first batch out the other day having hardened them off for a period. I am using a wigwam of 8′ canes, planting one plant at the base of each, and one plant between each cane. I also dotted a few spares around the inside of the canes. These apparently grow quite tall so I am expecting to use all 7′ of above-ground height that the canes provide.

Carrots, three varieties. I sowed the first batch a few weeks ago, direct on the plot, but under cloche protection which had been in place for a couple of weeks. They have been slow to germinate but are now coming through. I dotted some radishes and spring onions in for good measure. They will grow faster than the carrots, and use the top inch or so of soil, so should not conflict. I have thinned out the radish to 9 per square. The carrots were station sown, 16 stations per square, so I will need to thin those out. I have some ideas about carrot fly protection, more on that next month.

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Garlic. The cloves were planted out in November and seem to be bulking up nicely. No sign of any bulbs forming yet, but the stems are thickening and growing taller. They seem healthy but I haven’t grown them before.

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Onions, from seed, ‘Beds Champ’ and ‘Red Brunswick’. I planted these out a week or so ago, they are still small, but doing ok. I will thin them out a little by harvesting spring onions when ready but will leave the rest of each bunch to grow to medium size onions.

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Onions, from sets, ‘Electric’. These went out in early March, having been in modules since November. They seem to be growing on well despite the cold and rain.

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Beetroot ‘Boltardy’. The first batch were a little unenthusiastic as seedlings but I planted them anyway, what the hell. They are not yet thriving, but are surviving. I put half a squash bottle over each bunch for some protection from both the elements and the sparrows.

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Parsnips ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Tender & True’. Sown last week direct out on the plot. I put three seeds in each station, 16 per square, as I gather they are troublesome germinators. As with the carrots, I have also sown spring onions in the gaps, to make best use of the space. They are under a cloche for a bit of added warmth and protection.

Broad beans, three varieties. The first batch survivied the cold snaps, and were itching to be planted out. I have used pea-sticks to support, plus some bamboo and string. I have planted at 9 plants per square. I am going to plant the second batch less densely by way of an experiment, see what the yields are like.

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Sweet peas, several varieties. I have planted them all out. They looked a little moth-eaten at the time, but most have perked up and sent questing tendrils out to find support. I am using wigwams of 8′ canes and have added some string. This is my first proper attempt to sow sweet peas, I am hoping for good things.

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Rhubarb – growing away very enthusiastically. I just have one crown, so a couple of crumble’s worth probably, but I can already tell it is producing more stems than last year.

Tomatoes and chillies. I’m covering these in a separate update, but suffice it to say that the news is mixed. I do have some decent size tomato plants and some nice seedlings. The chillies are mostly disappointing so far, although some are now beginning to show true leaves. It has just been too cold for them, even in the heated bench.

Potatoes, earlies. I have ‘Charlotte’ and ‘Lady Crystl’, which I have planted, one per pot. The pots are recycled florist buckets, acquired for pennies each from a local supermarket, suitably drilled for drainage. They are in a mix of garden compost and rotted manure, plus I added some fertiliser for good measure. I have 24 such pots, 12 of each variety. I filled the pots to the top, the foliage will take a few weeks to break through.

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Potatoes, mains. I have ‘Sarpo Mira’. Or I had ‘Sarpo Mira’. When I went to plant them up I found that most had rotted in the bag. Just four were intact, but I bought another pack of 8. These are a heavy cropping potato, so the pots used for the earlies are too small. I have used 40L sacks, I have a stash from a manure delivery a couple of years back. I planted two per sack on top of a few inches of the same compost/manure/fertiliser mix as for the earlies, then filled up the bag with garden compost. I have 12 seed spuds, so 6 bags. I am going to try to grow some dwarf beans in the tops of the bags, just to squeeze more crops from the same space. I’m not sure how well that will work, it’s a first for me.

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That’s it for April! There’s a lot going on with much more to come. In a couple of weeks I will be sowing bean and squash seeds, in the greenhouse to begin with, planted out on the plot mid-May when the risk of frost is negligible round here.

How are your GYO plans coming along this year?

I’ll be back in a month or so with another plot update.

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