Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary April 2014
It has been ‘all systems go’ in Stephanie’s kitchen garden this April. The mild weather has got everything putting on lots of growth and is keeping us busy. The greenhouse has been a hive of industry and is currently packed with lovely healthy plants and seedlings. Outside, the pear arch is dripping with beautiful blossom and the apple trees are covered with pink buds ready to burst into flower. The growing season is well and truly underway.
April has been a month for seed sowing, pricking out and potting on. Earlier in the month we sowed courgettes, French beans, runner beans, cucumbers, squashes, sweetcorn, salad leaves and chillies in the greenhouse. These grew quickly and have already been potted on and moved into the cold frame ready to be planted out in early May. The mild temperatures and good weather can make it hard to resist the temptation to plant some tender vegetables outside, but the night time temperatures have been very low here, so we’re holding off for just a couple more weeks before planting. The cold frame is invaluable at this time of year, as plants can harden off to the outside conditions, whilst still benefitting from some protection when needed.
Our tomato plants are now a good size and have been planted out into halos in the greenhouse boarder where they have a slot and lock frame in place to support them as they grow. We have also planted some into tomato success kits ready to be transferred into our tomato grow houses which Jo has assembled and put into place in the garden. The plants will be transferred to these in the first week of May.
Outside, we have been sowing kohl rabi, turnips, beetroot, salads and carrots. We have also planted out our maincrop potatoes into the ground. Jo has planted some early potatoes into potato bags. Some of these are outside and some are in the greenhouse where they are growing rapidly away next to a pot of mint. It won’t be long now until we are enjoying our first taste of new potatoes.
The greenhouse is also home to three troughs of strawberries which have been brought undercover to force an early crop. These have already flowered and small fruits are beginning to form. Jo brings them out during the day to ensure the pollinating insects can get to them. The strawberries growing in our raised bed are also looking healthy and have begun to flower. These have now been covered with bird netting to protect the fruits.
In the fruit cage, the new raspberry canes are now putting on growth. We have hung our raspberry beetle traps on the raspberry supports to warn us of any possible attacks. The blueberries and blackcurrants have also started flowering this month. All our fruit has been given a generous feed of Sulphate of Potash and is being watered regularly. Jo has also been applying a foliar feed of Epsom salts to all our fruit trees and bushes on a weekly basis. Now that the leaves have fully formed, she will switch to a weekly foliar feed of liquid seaweed to keep them healthy.
Perhaps the most exciting event in the kitchen garden this month has been the discovery of the first asparagus spears appearing through the soil. Our crowns are now in their third year, which mean that we can finally begin to harvest them. The plants were given a feed of fish blood and bone earlier in the month and are being watered well to encourage their growth. We have quite a few fat spears emerging and it won’t be long before we are tasting our first crop. Can’t wait!
Here are some of the jobs we've got planned for May in Stephanie's Kitchen Garden:
- Hoe and weed beds regularly to prevent weeds taking moisture and goodness from the soil.
- Earth up early potatoes.
- Continue weekly foliar feed with liquid seaweed for fruit trees.
- Plant out tender vegetable plants once all risk of frost has past.
-Apply nemslug too beds and boarders.
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Our 116-page 2014 catalogue is out now and it's packed full of gardening ideas, products and solutions to the problems every gardener faces, plus plenty more seasonal ideas to help get the harvest in and keep it fresh!