Alex’s Ramblings April 2022

It’s the beginning of April and there has been a distinct change in the weather. We were experiencing some quite unseasonably high temperatures last month but have come down to earth with a severe bump. Temperatures are below average although we are promised an upturn. In the meantime we are still experiencing frosts which mean that I am having to protect earlier sown crops at night.

Last month, I added postscript advising that I had learned that the RHS were no longer classifying slugs and snails as pests and would be withdrawing slug pellets from sale. Well, things have moved on and we learn that the Government have banned the sale of these from 1stApril 2022 advising that metaldehyde pellets can seriously poison other animals. The organic alternative seems to be the use of nematodes. These are microscopic creatures that parisitise garden pests including slugs and snails. They release bacteria into the host’s body to kill them and is applied by watering on the target area. Trying be more environmentally friendly, I’ve not used slug pellets for some time, I’d be interested in hearing anyones experience with nematodes.

Harking back to lasts month’s ramblings where I suggested using peat free compost in the garden, I am pleased to report that for the first time in my experience with the garden centre I use, peat free grow bag compost is now available. It costs the same as peat based compost although the quantity contained is somewhat less so, pound for pound, is a little more expensive but a price surely worth paying for the environmental benefit. I shall be using this for growing my tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and chillies while closely monitoring for any variation in cropping results.

By now, you should be well advanced with seed sowing. Although I have been a little slow this year I shall be catching up with sowings of beetroot, carrot, squash, beans etc. Don’t be put off sowing if the dates shown on the seed packet have passed. Sow them anyway. Plants have a habit of catching up on earlier sown crops.

In the greenhouse, I am about to final pot up my tomatoes and cucumbers moving onto peppers later in the month. Outside, it’s time to plant potatoes and I shall be preparing trenches for sweet peas, runner and French beans. These will be filled with home produced compost and newspapers to creat a damp rooting environment which they will appreciate.

Each year, out of curiosity I try to grow something I’ve not tried before. Last year I tried okra. Having read the long list of possible pests and diseases from growing in a greenhouse, I raised them outdoors. I have to report they were a dismal failure. This year, I’m taking the risk and growing indoors. My never before tried plant this year, is samphire which is naturally found by the seaside. Apparently, excellent results can be obtained in the vegetable plot, watering with a salt solution. Watch this space! 

Other activities for the next few weeks will include: dead heading daffodils, completing the splitting of herbaceous perennials, taking softwood cuttings from deciduous shrubs and potting up dahlia cuttings taken from tubers stared into early growth.

Finally, don’t forget the plant sale we are holding May 7th in the Village Hall. This will be the first face to face plant sale held since the start of the pandemic. Do come along with any spare plants, chat with fellow gardeners while enjoying tea/coffee and a piece of home baked cake. All proceeds are to be donated in support of the situation in Ukraine.

Hope to see you there and in the meantime, enjoy your gardening.