May on the Allotment Garden

By Richard Chivers

Let’s celebrate May!

The past two months have been a roller-coaster of ride weather wise and the allotment garden hasn’t known if it’s been coming or going. Heavy snow. Heavy rain. ‘Heatwave’?

I’ve had to squelch in wellies. Strip down to a T-Shirt. And resort to fleece on the beds.

I’ve had seeds fail to germinate. I’ve had seedlings dry up in a day. I’ve had to re-sow a number of vegetables and flowers.

But now. Please! Let this be a return to the norm.

It feels like this is the case. The allotment is looking less green than it did this time last year, but there are shoots above the soil. There is promise.

I’ve sown a number of vegetables directly in the beds. Some, like the radishes, are poking through the soil and I’m hugely excited to taste what is the quickest crop to grow.

Temperatures begin to rise over the coming weeks. As a result, there is evident growth. However, the weather of May is fickle. This is the month that’s often caught me out with a late frost, damaging the tops of my early potatoes.

This year, I delayed planting my spuds because of the torrid weather in April. The ground was soaking wet for much of the early part of April. Despite the size of the chits bursting out of the seed potatoes, there is no sign of them through the soil yet.

They are not the only thing that’s testing my patience with growth. I love rhubarb and I’ve been hugely jealous to see so many people sharing their photos of freshly picked stalks online. Mine are slower. I’m desperate for the first crop. I’ve even resorted to using Jedi mind tricks to make them grow faster!

I’ve finally caught up with my monthly task list. I missed sowing so many of the crops I plan to grow this year, but I’ve finally popped the seeds into pots or in rows on the bed. It’s lovely to enjoy the longer day light hours and head to the allotment after work during the week.

I planted shallots a few weeks ago and they are growing tremendously well. I’m surprised this is the first time growing them as they are favourite crop to use in the kitchen. This year, the main reason for growing shallots is to make pickled onions to share and enjoy over the Christmas period.

Now we are really into spring (I hope), this month I’m sowing Brussel Sprouts, autumn cabbages, sweetcorn and French beans. I’ve nearly finished building the polytunnel and so I’ll also plan out my tomato plants and add my chillies too.

How is your allotment or kitchen garden shaping up? Are you back on track with all your sowing and growing plans? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Richard Chivers

Richard Chivers is passionate about growing fruit and vegetables on his family allotment garden. His blog, Sharpen your Spades aims to inspire anyone to pull on their wellies and join in the movement to grow their own. You can also follow Richard on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.