Saturday 5 April 2014

Garden Share Collective - April 2014

This is my entry for the April edition of the Garden Share Collective, organised by Lizzie Moult.

Hopefully by the time you read this Lizzie's baby will have been born, so I'd just like to say that I hope everything went OK and that mother and baby are well...

In my garden things are growing apace now that Spring has arrived. I have seed-trays and modules full of young plants all over the place. Our weather is not yet very warm, and the nights are still definitely cold, so I am making maximum use of my plastic mini-greenhouses.

Sowings made during March:
Brussels Sprouts - 3 varieties
Tenderstem Broccoli
Lettuces - 6 types
Endives - 2 types
Tomatoes - forgotten how many types! (lots)
Chillis - 2 more since last month
Parsnips - 2 varieties
Carrots - 5 varieties
Spring Onions
Corn Salad / Lamb's Lettuce
Land Cress

Before you get too excited about the huge crop potential implied by that list, let me just say that I only ever have a small number of plants of any type. I just like a lot of variety! It is also good practice to diversify. If one variety, or one vegetable type, does badly in any given year, another may do well. I sowed 30 pots of tomato seed, but I expect I'll only grow about half that number of plants. It just depends how many I can squeeze in!

Tomatoes, just a few days old

 I have also planted my first batch of potatoes - the First Earlies. As ever, I am growing them in containers, for two reasons: firstly because I can't spare the space for them in my raised beds, and secondly because the containers are portable and can be moved around as necessary. At present they are under cover, being protected from frosts:

Later they will be moved out into the open, to a sunnier spot. Each of those containers holds one potato tuber, by the way. The First Early varieties I have this year are Sharpe's Express, Marilyn, Leontine and Red Duke of York.

Harvests at this time of year (the so-called Hungry Gap) are sparse. Nevertheless, I have picked some of my favourite veg - Purple Sprouting Broccoli:

Other than broccoli, my only harvest during the past month has been of herbs. We use lots of herbs in our cooking, so it is really convenient to have a regular supply of them just outside the door. We have been using lots of Parsley, which is at its best right now, as well as Rosemary, Oregano and the first tender sprigs of Mint from the pots in the coldframe:

We have also had for the first time, a few leaves of home-grown Wild Garlic. I brought a clump of this into the garden in the Autumn of 2012. I didn't cut any last year, so that the plant could establish itself fully. During 2013 it self-seeded and spread a lot, so now I feel justified in picking some. In fact it is spreading so rapidly that I hope I am not going to regret introducing it!

Jobs to do this coming month
Harvest last remaining over-Wintered salads
Harvest Asparagus as available, Radishes and last of PSB
Transplant chillis and tomatoes to bigger pots
Earth-up First Early potatoes in their pots
Plant Second Early and Maincrop potatoes
Plant out Lettuce seedlings
Distribute compost over raised beds to be used for Runner Beans and Winter Brassicas
Remove pots of past-it Daffodils, and replace (with Geraniums?)
Plant out rooted Lavender cuttings taken last Autumn
Sow seeds for Runner Beans, French Beans, Swede Turnips, Beetroot, Cucumbers, Squash

Here in the UK April is the prime time for sowing and planting, so I'm expecting to be pretty busy!

P.S. Just a little plug for myself... There is a small article about my garden and blog in the May edition of The Kitchen Garden magazine (page 97).


  1. April is usually my busiest planting month. Before the end of the month all my cabbages and Asian greens will be in as well as my root crops. Though my warm weather crops get to wait until May and June.

  2. You have do a great job for your garden. You do have a great plants list for your garden. Diversifying plants in my home garden is a must. It's more healthy for my garden.

  3. You say your planting is limited but I am amazed at how much you produce from your 'limited' number of plants.

    1. Sue, I think my technique is called "intensive cultivation"!

  4. Hi Mark, are you and Jane able to use all that you grow, or do you share with others or freeze and can veggies, as well?

    1. Egretta; we do tend to use most of the garden produce - and while it's fresh too - and we only freeze a few things, like runner beans and tomato sauce.

  5. Great post Mark & I wasn't going to buy any garden magazines now I will have to buy The Kitchen Garden one,haven't you been featured in there before?

  6. Because of you....I ordered purple sprouted broccoli seeds to grow this fall. Thank you!
    You make it sounds so yummy!
    Melanie in Ohio, USA.

  7. I too like to plant out more than necessary when it comes to variety. Even here we struggle getting all our seedlings up as it is sometimes too hot for them would you believe. So from 30 tomatoes I may get them all up but then even on transplanting it can be a real tough life for the first week and majority of them just can't hack it. Good to see you gearing up for summer. We are still waiting on bub, thanks for the wish though.

  8. Forgot to say, i love the look of your purple sprouting broccoli. Not sure if I will be able to grow it, might have to give it a go all the same.

  9. your seedlings are looking good! I hope it's a great season for you!


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