On the Plot in June

Finally some sunshine … although there is always a downside, and we are all having to water our precious crops on the plot. But it has to be said that our push to harvest and store rainwater is paying off, and the mains water was only turned back on 10 days ago. But let’s continue to save water where possible; there are some interesting water saving tips below, published by the National Allotment Society, which I hope will be helpful.

So June is going to be busy on the plot, lots of crops are growing well and if you planted salads, beetroot, radishes and peas early then you will probably get to harvest some of these in June. I have been lucky with my asparagus harvest this year, but now is the time to stop and let the plans run to seed, but remember to keep the crowns weed free and keep them well fed until they start to die back, when they will benefit from a good mulch of something like homemade compost.

If you haven’t already done so, it is a good time to plant out runner beans, sweetcorn, pumpkins, squashes, and outdoor tomatoes. Make sure you keep your crops weed free by regularly hoeing off the weeds, and of course plenty of water during the dry spells.

As well as being busy on the plot, there is plenty to do at home – whether planting out your flower beds, or bringing on plants and seeds in the greenhouse, it is a busy time. And to get the best from your floral displays, don’t forget a daily walkabout pulling out the occasional weed, putting a stake in if plants are growing tall, deadhead but most important take a good look at your hard work and enjoy!

And it is Open Garden season, details of two openings this month are shown below, and make a diary note that Pentyrch Open Gardens will be taking place over the weekend of 1st and 2nd July.  Hope to see a few familiar faces at one of these openings.


On The Plot in May

OK it’s time to get busy, the weather is improving a bit (OK so I’m an optimist …) but the warm dry days are happening more frequently so we can get on with all the jobs. The days are also getting longer, but don’t get over-confident we can still have cold nights so it makes sense to protect your new plantings with fleece or cloches.

If your early potatoes are showing, then earth them up.  And check out all your early crops – I have just started harvesting my asparagus – yummy, and of course everyone is harvesting rhubarb.

It is a good time to sow beans – dwarf and climbing, sweetcorn, courgettes and pumpkins; ideally in a greenhouse or if you don’t have a greenhouse available then anywhere undercover, such as a cold frame. I have just planted out cauliflower and cabbage plants that I have brought on in the greenhouse, and have protected them with fleece tunnels. Now I will sow a few more cauli seeds to follow on. I have also planted out my leek seedlings, hope I have not been too enthusiastic but looking around the plot, many of you are also planting out.

As well as young plants, you can continue to sow crops direct – lettuce and salad mixes, radish, beetroot, and carrots.  It’s a good idea to cover carrot sowings with fleece to try and prevent carrot root fly.

And you can also prepare for all those bean plants – go out in the woods and cut some good long bean sticks, and get the supports in place on the plot – either a wig-wam which seems to resist the winds a bit better, or rows of supports.

And if you want some relaxation in-between all these planting jobs, take a stroll around the allotment site. It is looking really good at the moment, very tidy and well prepared for crop planting, and it’s a good idea to look and see what crops are growing and maybe get inspiration for trying something different. And when you have finished your walk-about, get back to your plot and do some weeding …

Finally something not crop/growing related. At the AGM in February, there was a discussion on the current ‘wheelbarrow’ access at the Rec, behind the tennis courts. The suggestion was made that the current gap was closed up, and an alternative gate installed. Well I am pleased to say that Pentyrch Community Council has modified the kissing gate, so that wheelbarrows can be accommodated. A big thank-you to PCC for addressing this, and especially to Colin and Gary for a splendid job – see photos.

A Successful Coffee Morning

We held another very successful charity coffee morning last weekend which was well attended and supported.

As usual there were delicious cakes for sale and a good selection of plants. We raised £576 on the day for our chosen charity BRACE. This charity supports research into  Alzheimer’s disease, and although based in Bristol it funds scientists in Cardiff and Swansea Universities. For more information take a look at their website www.alzheimers-brace.org

A huge thank you must go to our hardworking and enthusiastic social committee who were supplemented on this occasion by a few extra helpers from the allotments and a team of 3 girls working towards the Duke of Edinburgh award. They put in a sterling effort in the kitchen and our thanks to Helen Davey for organising this.

There are a few plants left and in the next few weeks we will be putting some out on the ‘swaps table’ at the plot and asking for donations towards the charity.

Nia Honeybun

April on the Plot

Well this wet weather certainly seems like a bad April Fool’s joke; let’s hope that we get some dry, warm weather soon so that we can all get out on the plot and work hard!

When we can get out on the plot, there is plenty to be getting on with – second early potatoes can be planted, and you can start to sow beetroot, carrots, chard, lettuce, and salad leaves outside in well-prepared soil. You can transplant broad bean seedlings as soon as they are large enough, and maybe protect them with a cloche or fleece tunnel until they are well established.

If you have a greenhouse – either on the plot or at home – then you can start to sow runner beans, French beans, sweetcorn, courgettes and cucumbers, ready to plant out when all risk of frost has passed and the plants have put on good growth.  And while you are in the greenhouse, think about sowing a few flower seeds for the plot – always good to attract pollinators to your crops as well as looking cheerful.

If you have been to the allotment over the last couple of weeks, you may have met some of the new plot holders – three of the four vacant plots have been allocated, and a viewing is arranged for the fourth in the next week. So please extend a warm welcome to the new veg growers, and offer them any tips or advice on their new plots, and share any surplus seedlings to help them get started.

There are a couple of social events in April that are worth mentioning. Firstly our very own fundraising coffee morning at Creigiau Church Hall on Saturday 22 April 10.00am – 12.00 noon; please come along and support – as well as coffee and cake there will also be plant sales; and if you would like to offer to help out on the day, I am sure the Social Committee would appreciate it (let me know and I will pass on names etc).

Secondly, there is a plant fair at Bute Park on the weekend of 15/16 April (click here for webpage). Sadly there is no RHS Spring Show this year, but there will be a good selection of plant stalls and plenty of opportunity to spend some money!

Finally a reminder that plot fees/membership should have been paid by the end of March, so if you have not yet paid can you please do so as soon as possible.

On the Plot in March

Happy St David’s Day to you all! I always think of March as the ‘sowing month’ as it seems to be the busiest time for starting your crops from seed.  With all the headlines about veg shortages, especially tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, get your seed packets and start sowing now in a greenhouse or a sunny windowsill, ready to plant out later in the season, and you won’t need Spanish imports!

Other crops to sow now are broad beans, chard, peas, beetroot and salad – keep sowing these last two crops every few weeks to extend your harvest.  You are probably chitting your potatoes now and early varieties should be ready to plant out at the end of the month if there are good shoots on the tubers.

A lot of us grow some flowers alongside the veg to attract pollinators, and hardy annuals are particularly suitable – they can be sown directly where you want them to flower, all you need to do is clear the weeds, and rake over the soil.  Don’t be tempted to add fertilizer as they will be quite happy if the soil is a bit on the poor side.  If you haven’t grown flowers in the past, it is not difficult so give it a go; easy annuals for the allotment are cornflowers, ammi majus, cosmos, calendula, nigella and of course packs of mixed annual seeds.

Continue preparing the ground, keep it weed free, add your home made compost so everything is ready when your seedlings are large enough to plant out, and the risk of overnight frost has passed.

February on the Plot

Spring is approaching, so lots of jobs and planning to get on with. I have just sorted through all my packets of seeds and put them in month order and there are plenty for February and March, so check out your seed packets and see what you can start sowing.

Obviously before you rush out with your packs of seeds, the seed beds need to be well prepared – dig the ground over and incorporate manure or homemade compost then rake it over for a fine tilth.  If that’s a bit too much hard work, you can cover the ground with organic matter and cover, which will warm the soil and suppress the weeds.

Another timely job is to check your cloches – make sure they are clean and then set them up ready for all the seeds you plan to sow.

We will be holding our AGM later in the month at Creigiau Church Hall (Friday 24th February) and all the relevant paperwork will be sent out in advance. Look forward to seeing you there.