Oooh my muscles are sore, I thought by the second day it would be getting easier, but nope, i’m still in ouch, ouch, ouch as I go to sit down, which ends less gracefully with a flop. I’ve tried stretching out my long leg muscles but its not really helping.  Its going to take a while to get back into crouching for weeding and seed sowing.

On the plus side we have ordered some toms. Lots and lots of lovely toms, big plums, small plums, cherries along with french and italian style tomatoes.  I’d rather have less yield but more flavour, so no shirleys for me thank you very much. I’m also trying to grow a couple of seeds that I had saved from the heirloom varieties in Waitrose, we will see what happens with that.  We also ordered a couple of cucumber plants and a couple of Crown Prince pumpkins, which are delicious.  It is all hubbys fault, on year two of our allotment adventure many years ago, he decided to order some grafted tomatoes which were supposed to have a better yield and boy did they have a better yield. So although I try to squeeze in a few home grown from seed toms, he soon fills up the greenhouse with grafted plants.  Sadly we could not find any piccolo plants this year, we think they must all be going to the growers as piccolos seem to be the no.1 cherry tomato in all the major supermarkets – I love them, but I am trying a couple of new varieties which apparently have the sweetness and acidity I like, so you never know.

Nipping up to the plot today I notice that the rocket has lived up to its name and germinated first. Such a good salad leaf that is, it hardly required any work, keep watering let it grow. And a couple of cabbages look like they are on the move as well. The greenhouse is like a mini sauna at the moment and they seem to be loving it.

It looks like the weather is improving for a few days, hopefully we will get some more of the allotment done.

In other news Rupert is still improving, he still has to wear his cone of shame, but he gets stronger by the day. We even reintroduced a few toys back to him, where upon he went bananas and we had to quickly take most of them away and leave him with just one. Which really he was a bit too excitable about, but he was okay and seemed much happier.

April is a busy month at the plot.

April, traditionally in the midlands is a bit of a busy month at the plot, but normally one has managed to do a bit of sowing of seeds and digging in the month of March. But its been wet and cold and in some places snowy, which has set us back considerably.  I’ve heard that farmers are well behind on their wheat and corn planting, which will mean the profit because of the yield at the other end of the year will be much diminished, the cost of British flour and bread may well go up.

Seeing a bit of a gap in the rain we headed up to the plot after an early lunch and set to work. Firstly I decided to sow spring onions. In the past I have grabbed a packet of spring onions on passing them in the seed rack at the end of the season, sown them into a pot outside, forgot about them, the shoots then get mixed up with grass as they have taken a long time to germinate and I then have given up on them. Not very successful one might say.  I’ve been thinking about this problem as I am quite partial to spring onions, so this time I have sown them into individual modules.  One seed, one tiny module. On the packet it said there was 150 seeds in the packet, so I thought that would be okay… there will be a few failures, I’ll transplant them out.. 140 divide by the minimum of  8 we eat a week,  is  about 17 weeks worth.. yep sounds good.

Except, I sowed 120 modules, and had well over 300 seeds left, there was double the amount left than i’d sown, crazy. So I walloped them into a big seed tray, to prick out later when they appear and then wondered where I am going to put 450 spring onions.  I came upon a solution later in the day when I cleared a couple of raised beds of very old strawberries.. with the addition of good compost, i’ll be able to plant them all there and the scary thing is I know we will probably get through them all.

Next I sowed in trays for the greenhouse was butternut squash and more brassicas.. broccoli which was a failure once before, but the memory has faded so worth trying again, cauliflower of the pretty and small Romanesco variety, black kale which I love for italian dishes and a pointy spring cabbage for spring greens late in the autumn.

By this time hubby had rendered to a fine tilth an area big enough to sew carrots, parsnips of which there were two varieties, two rows of beetroot – we love beetroot, and turnips.

Hubby then planted a thornless blackberry and thornless loganberry while I cleared a raised bed and planted six strawberry plants.  Hubby then made a start on the raspberry canes while I made a start on the other raised beds, but after five hours, rain stopped play and home we came. A few strawberries planted. And a whole bed of root vegetables planted – see, I knew you would be impressed!!!

The planting of the potatoes and onions.

After a little bit of research I rediscovered that if I didn’t get my spuds in soon they might suffer from blight at the other end of the year.  And knowing this plot as we do, we know that there has never been a year on the site that has not had blight. Its a quandary, especially when we have had such a long, wet and cold spring. So we looked at the oracle, The Met Office and discovered that yes it would be raining all day tomorrow, but it would be 12 c rain, almost balmy one might say, and then the next few days were dry and there was talk of a heady high on one day of 14 c. The lows, which are not at this point exactly important, but will be in a few weeks, at night were 5 c, but with cloud, not much risk of a ground frost, which means game on I reckon,  its spud planting time.

I could be completely wrong of course, only time will tell. It will be easy to find out, I’ve planted 7 International Kidney, known to you and me as Jersey Royals and 7, 2nd early Charlottes, if there is not a nice tidy row of 7 a piece, I lost a few!  I would love to plant main crop potatoes, but it is impossible in the midlands, the high humidity guarantees blight well before the end of the growing season and even with 2nd earlies, one has fingers crossed, is on the blight watch app, which alerts you to blight and am checking the leaves at least once a day.

And along with that is the onion problem,  or should I say, onions, garlic and shallot problem. Garlic should have been planted late autumn, shallots are mid november to mid march and onions are mid march to mid april.  Nightmare, for someone that has only just taken over a plot.  So in the spirit of Yee Hawww, we planted two rows of strong garlic, we may well eat half of that as fresh shoots in a pesto, which will be gorgeous. Hopefully the shallots will do enough to give us that early roasted autumn glow of a well cooked shallot, and the onions, well I love the onions, they are cheap as chips, but straight from an allotment they are amazing, juicy, vibrant and gorgeous in a salad or cheese and onion sandwich, we planted three rows of a giant variety!

And while hubby was preparing the soil before I went to give him a hand I looked through my seeds and planted up, runner beans, more courgettes this time a yellow variety, little gem lettuce, a savoy and a primo (summer) cabbage and a lot of sweetcorn. I love sweetcorn, and one day it is going to do amazingly well on my allotment…

And just before we headed home for the day, I dug out the previous tenants leeks, before they go over.  I would have took them around to them if I’d known where they lived.  But unfortunately with the advent of the data protection act, even in allotments, I wasn’t able to do that. Hopefully I will be able to do them justice in a recipe tomorrow.
And hubby dug out a couple of beds, to plant some rosemary, chives, mint and thyme. And just before we went home, rather feeling the cold, we attached a bird box on a north facing wall of the shed. Our bird box at home has just been occupied by a blue tit, we live in hope for our new nest box.