april newsletter

The birds are tweeting, the buds are bursting and the bees are buzzing. Hurrah for April, spring has finally arrived!

April is pretty much your last chance for planning what to grow, come May the growing season will be well underway. Hopefully you either kept a note or can remember what veg you grew and where last year and so now can ensure some crop rotation. The result of which will be improved cropping and no build-up of disease.

Do make sure that you’ve ordered all the seeds and plants that you will need as stocks will be running out this month.

Gardening jobs to do in April.

  • Many seeds can be sown direct this month, but March was pretty cold so first check that your soil has warmed up. Sowing dates shown on seed packets are for guidance only and need to be adapted to weather conditions.
  • If your sage is looking straggly then rejuvenate it by cutting to just above ground level. This will encourage fresh new shoots that will grow into a neater looking plant.
  • Late frost will kill off fruit blossom so keep some fleece handy. But do remember to remove it to allow pollinating insects access.
  • This is the last month for ordering bare root fruit trees so if you want to benefit from our “buy one, get a 2nd at half price” offer then you’d better be quick
  • Seedlings in the greenhouse may struggle on sunny days so give them some shading. Carefully laying newspaper on them will do the trick.
  • Put supports in place for peas and beans, ready for planting out.
  • Plug plants potted on now and kept in the greenhouse will put on a glorious display this summer. Dobies’ colour themed collections are a perfect, and easy, way to fill your tubs and hanging baskets with colour.

Club Root Resistant Veg!

We know from your calls and emails that club root continues to be a real pain in allotments and veg patches throughout the country. With no real treatment available the only ways to avoid club root are to practise strict crop rotation and to grow one of Dobies’ fantastic club root resistant varieties.

cauliflower clapton

A few years ago, we only offered Cauliflower F1 Clapton but now the following are also available, with full details to be found on our website:

Brussels Sprout F1 Crispus
Red Cabbage F1 Lodero
Cauliflower F1 Clapton
Broccoli F1 Monciano
Cabbage F1 Kilazol
Swede F1 Tweed

Established rhubarb will be ready for pulling this month. One of easiest of foods to grow, rhubarb has been eaten in the UK for hundreds of years but was especially loved by the Victorians. Yorkshire has remained the rhubarb stronghold of the country with tender shoots being forced in pitch dark barns.


When growing your own rhubarb, resist the temptation to harvest until the second year as this will allow the crown to establish and strengthen. Then onwards you can freely pull the delicious stalks from late March to June, possibly longer but never remove all in one go.

When harvesting your rhubarb pull only what you need. Although it will store in the fridge for up to a week prior to going floppy like all fruit and veg, its best eaten fresh.

Who doesn’t love a rhubarb crumble? If such a person exists, then I bet even they couldn’t resist the delight of a rhubarb and strawberry crumble. Sublime. Or make a simple compote and swirl it through rice pudding or pour onto vanilla ice cream.

Rhubarb works equally as well in a savoury dish as in sweet:

Rhubarb Sauce for Mackerel
500g rhubarb batons
2 tsp sugar
1 orange – grated zest and juice
150ml fish stock
40g diced butter

Put the first 3 ingredients together in a pan and cook on a low heat until you have a puree. In a separate pan boil the fish stock until it has reduced by 50% then stir in the other ingredients and gradually whisk in the butter. Serve with baked mackerel.

Rhubarb works well with:
Strawberries     Mackerel       Salmon     Ginger       Vanilla
Cream                Yoghurt         Chilli          Orange     Meringue

And the really good news is that rhubarb is packed with goodness yet one of lowest fruits in calories. There’s just 21 calories in 100g so tuck in!

West Country Lupins

Being based in Devon, Dobies are very pleased to be able to offer our customers Westcountry Lupins – probably the best ever! Growing wild in many parts of the world lupins are members of the pea family and have featured in Italian dishes since roman times. Only the beans are edible, not the pods which can be poisonous, and even they need a long soak first in salted water.

westcountry lupins

We don’t suggest that you eat our Westcountry Lupins but instead that you enjoy simply looking at their beautifully architectural flowers, in their amazing selection of colours.

Plant your lupins in well-drained soil that is not too rich. They are not keen on chalky soil but otherwise are not fussy. Plant in an open position and remove the flowers once they have died. You may be rewarded by a second, later flush of flower spikes.

The Good Life

First, we brought you chicken keeping and now we are pleased to introduce you to our selection of top quality beekeeping products. Whilst still of course continuing to offer all things chicken!

Whether you want to keep honey bees or just improve pollination in your garden with native bumble bees our range includes all you need to get started.

If you prefer fresh eggs to honey, then now is the time to start hatching. Our fertilised eggs are available now and give you the added pleasure of “growing” your own chickens!

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