HAND MADE PRODUCTS FOR YOUR HOME
Carruthers was a founder member of the Allotment Society and, living somewhere east of Moorfield Rd, is known as our Far-Eastern Correspondent.
Although it doesn't seem like it, Spring is now officially up and running. However, after the late snow and very wet weather over Easter, the soil has yet to warm up enough to really get going with out-door seed sowing. 7 degrees celsius is the magic temperature, below which it's too cold for even the hardiest seeds (such as broad beans) to germinate properly. The old country way of testing this is to remove trousers and sit down - if it's too cold to sit on, it's too cold for the seeds! Laying a bare forearm on the soil is maybe a less risky way of checking without a thermometer! Another sign that sowing needs to be underway is the weeds - if they've started to actively grow, so will your seeds.
A visit to the garden centre at Easter revealed a wealth of lovely healthy veg plants ready to buy. And the usual commercial cynicism! Cabbage, kale and other brassica seedlings are fine to buy now and plant out as they are pretty tough. Runner and french bean seedlings are a different matter and will surely be frosted if planted out any time before May; it's better/much cheaper to sow bean seeds (indoors) now that will be ready to plant out in a month's time. A windowsill or greenhouse is necessary for tomato and pepper plants bought now to grow on for planting out - again in May when all danger of frost has gone. As for carrot and parsnip seedlings - these almost never like being transplanted. Badly distorted roots are the result - again, wait until the soil dries out a little and sow seed directly into the ground.
There are no potato plants on sale yet; these will come later and the large plants will cost several pounds each for a handful of harvest! Make sure you don't get tempted by sowing your own seed spuds (in trenches or large pots/bags) now. Even if you haven't managed to chit them, they will still give healthy plants and a good yield. Try varieties Ratte or Anya for lovely new salad potatoes in July.
Now retired from active plotting, Carruthers is also a star cook, inspiring (or testing) seasonal recipes from the veg garden.
Give them a try...
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We still have a few 1.6 m round fence posts in stock in the members' store shed. The price is £5 for three,
please email if interested; DAS members only.
Soil improver and potting compost
We have a stock of Dalefoot wool and bracken-based composts. Not the cheapest, but very special. The double-strength soil improver is brilliant for moisture retention in our sandy soil - great for boosting a raised bed. The potting compost is fantastic stuff; makes a real difference to young plants. £7 a 30 litre bag (normally retails over £10).
We have our usual supply of Groworganic fertiliser. This is the equivalent of 6X in the garden centres and is available for £7 a bag (enough for a half plot) to DAS members.