Sow & Grow: April

I've been reading the Grow your own fruit and veg magazine for a while now as part of my Readly subscription, and I find it a great read. It is one of those magazines that comes out really early - for example the May magazine is already out, and I find that confusing because I never know if they mean the real month or the magazine world month. I'm hoping it's the real month or otherwise all of my veg sowing could be a little out, but I digress.

They have a feature every month on the month's crops to sow and harvest, which I find a useful checklist as to what I probably should be doing veg-wise, and so I thought I'd share where I am against this guide on a monthly basis. I'd been contemplating a new Sow & Grow series of posts so it all seems to work together. 

So let's catch up with April's advice, as I've finally got around to getting started with my seeds. My garden is north facing, and so it takes the greenhouse a while to get the sun, which is always my excuse for starting later than I plan to (every year!).

ONIONS GALORE, AND ALMOST TIME (AGAIN) FOR NEW GLOVES

ONIONS GALORE, AND ALMOST TIME (AGAIN) FOR NEW GLOVES

Sow

  • Aubergines: I'm not growing aubergines this year, and haven't for a while. I grew them many years ago with mixed success, and while they were pretty plants there weren't too many good sized aubergines on them.
  • Brussels sprouts: I'm tempted to give these a go, and am pleased I'm not too late to get them started - well I've a few days left of this month!
  • Broad beans: Yay!  Mine are sown and I'm waiting for them to do their thing. To give them a head start I soaked my bean seeds for thirty minutes or so before planting which helps break down the shell around the seed, and I like to think gives them a head start.
  • Cabbages: Goodness, I'm not sure I've picked the last ones yet, actually I should check on those red cabbages on the plot again soon.  I will grow some, but I need to find some space first.
  • Carrots: I'd love to grow some of those baby carrots, but I think it's probably worth waiting until we have improved the soil at the allotment. It's currently so full of stones that I'd be the sure winner of the funniest shaped vegetable. I do have a tyre, which I could grow some in so maybe I'll try that.
  • Celeriac: We gave these a go last year, but didn't have much success. We managed to grow a ball of roots, and I think they suffered from the soil conditions too.  Maybe I should grow a couple of these in my tyre instead?
  • Celery: Maybe one day, but not this year!
  • Chillies: Something else I planted at the weekend. I've a tray of chillies sown ranging from Chocolate Habanero, through to Aji Lemon to more normal Jalapenos, and a free packet of seeds from Seeds of Change which we picked up at Taste London in the autumn.
  • Cucumbers: I've six of these planted too in small pots. This year I've got two varieties sown, a couple of seeds left over from last year and a new mini-variety which I've not grown before, but which promises to be a prolific cropper.
  • Florence fennel:  I think I'll give these a go, I've found some old seed - I'm not sure how old, or how active they are, so I will try some of them on a damp kitchen towel to see if there's a chance they'll germinate.  
  • Herbs: I've some chervil, garlic chives, basil, coriander, vervaine and tarragon on the go and I'm hoping I'll be able to use some of these in the new herb planter I've got planned, more on that soon though.
  • Kohl rabi: No, I'm never going to grow this vegetable, I ate it once and really didn't like it. It's a no, no, no, from me.
  • Peas: Yes, I'm planning on some peas so I'd better get cracking. I like to grow a pot for pea shoots for salads too and if I'm honest usually have more success with these.
  • Potatoes:  Well they're chitting and as I said earlier in the week they appear to be taking over...
  • Salad leaves:  I haven't any planted yet, and must remember to do succession sowing. I'd love to grow lettuces in lines, but in reality I'm quite often a cut and come again kind of salad girl.
  • Shallots:  I've sixteen of these on the go too, the fancy French-type which I like a lot roasted. In fact I like these any which way, maybe I should have got some more.
  • Sprouting broccoli: Goodness, this is up there with the cabbages although I had less success with my own plants last year. I'm definitely growing this again, and will be getting this started soon. It was the first plant we planted on the allotment in our first year, and probably my favourite vegetable (or one of them anyway)
  • Sweet peppers: I had some success with bought plants previously, but these aren't on my growing list this year.
  • Tomatoes: Yes, yes, yes. The tomato farm is swinging back into action and these are by far and away my favourite plant to grow. This year instead of over-sowing I've tried to restrain myself sowing two seeds to a module. Even taking this restrained approach I've still two seed trays full and more varieties I've not sown yet. This year I'm growing a couple of my favourite varieties again for the first time since we've had the allotment, so I'm looking forward to plenty of Tigerellas and San Marzanos.
  • Turnips: I'm going to grow these again, but little and often. I had some success with these last year but failed to harvest them all so the last of them rotted in the plot. Must remember to avoid that this year. 
TURNIPS IN 2016

TURNIPS IN 2016

Plant

  • Asparagus: Erm no, I love to eat it, but I think I'll leave the growing to the professionals. I think there's something special about buying the local grown asparagus on our Norfolk visits, it really is way superior to the imported stuff.
  • Blackberries: I'd like to grow these, and now have the plastic-covered wire fence that I could grow these up on the plot, but I think it might be one for next year, when I hope we're a bit more organised on the plot.
  • Blueberries: I have a plant in my greenhouse, which has come on leaps and bounds (see the picture below), it's even flowering this year and I'm hopeful we might have a handful of berries this year.
  • Gooseberries: This is on my list and I may be inheriting a bush. I have reservations, well, because I've heard about gooseberry bushes... Seriously though it's not a fruit I buy, but I think having grown it ourselves will make all the difference. I don't think I've had gooseberries since school dinners, and surely they'd have to be better than that...
  • Onions: Tick. I've got onions on the go, although I do need to plant them out.
  • Pears: We've a pear tree in our garden, I've no plans to add to this. We've not had much success with fruits from our tree though, but I think that's because we don't prune it correctly; the squirrels though have great fun with the pears and leave them half-eaten all over the garden.
  • Raspberries: We have some raspberry canes on the allotment and for the first time I think we've got the pruning right. These were one of the highlights when we finally checked in with the allotment this year.
  • Strawberries: I've another trough-full of strawberry plants from the garden to plant out over at the allotment, so this is something to add to the growing to do list. Some of them are already in flower, which surprised me, but that's a good thing I guess.  And it may mean some funny shaped strawberries if I leave it too long before I plant them out!
WILL THIS YEAR BE THE FIRST YEAR IT FRUITS?

WILL THIS YEAR BE THE FIRST YEAR IT FRUITS?

Harvest

  • Cauliflowers: I've none left to harvest. I grew four plants last year, one got decapitated by foxes, the other failed and I picked two. So not a bad result as two were weaker seedlings. But mine have all gone.
  • Endive:  I didn't grow any, and this is on the maybe list for when the plot's established.
  • Kale: I've picked what was left of mine already - it was slightly on the miniature size and very much enjoyed on our plate.
  • Rhubarb: Something I can grow. I need to get back over to the allotment and pick some. We've a disagreement here about rhubarb, I think it's perfectly acceptable at breakfast with greek yogurt and granola, but MOH disagrees. It's ok isn't it?
  • Salad leaves: Nothing to pick here, but I wish there was...
  • Spring onions: Hmmn, another one I struggle with. They should be so easy, but somehow it never seems to be. So I've none to harvest. Again.
  • Swiss chard: We do still have some on the allotment, but it was shoved into a corner and so hasn't been treated that well. But it's a hardy plant and I'll be cutting some more, MOH isn't a big chard fan, but I'm sure I'll be able to sneak some into meals at some point.
RHUBARB - AND GRASS - ANYONE?

RHUBARB - AND GRASS - ANYONE?

It's quite a long list isn't it?  But an interesting one and one that'll help focus my efforts i think. I'll be back with May's Sow & Grow in a couple of weeks, and maybe, just maybe, I'll get somewhere close to aligning with what I'm supposed to be doing!

How did you fare against the list? 

You Baby Me Mummy