May is the month of sowing and planting but watch the weather carefully. It is a month when we can get caught out by mini droughts and heat waves. On the other hand May can be a complete disaster month bringing damaging frosts, cold winds with heavy rain or hail, so be prepared to take steps to protect plants if it is necessary. Here’s some advice from the National Allotment Society:
Sprouting broccoli, cabbage, spinach, rhubarb, spring onions, early sown lettuce, beetroot, radish and peas. Cut asparagus regularly to maintain the supply. Start to remove the side shoots on tomatoes.
Use up of the last leeks. Clear away any old or finished crops and dig over the soil and prepare the site ready for the next crop.
Sowing and planting
Plant in pots or trays under glass, Dwarf and climbing French beans, runner beans, sweet corn, outdoor cucumbers, courgettes ,pumpkins, squashes, outdoor cucumbers – all which can be planted out next month.
Savoy cabbage, winter cabbage, endive, kale and sprouting broccoli can all be sown in the open ground now, ready to be planted out next month.
Continue making direct successional sowings in the soil of lettuce, radish, spinach, turnips (switch to kohl rabi when the weather becomes hot) beetroot for summer use and also maincrop beetroot to put into store at the end of summer. While the leeks, Brussels sprouts and French beans sown last month under glass, can now be planted out.
This is also your last opportunity to sow peas and parsnips this year.
Thin out whilst still very small, the seedlings of beetroot, carrots, lettuce, onions, parsnips, turnips and always water along the row to settle the disturbed seedlings back in, once the job is completed.
Put up poles for runner and climbing French beans. Support peas and broad beans before they become too tall. Start to earth up potatoes especially if a frost is forecast.
Keep hoeing between crops to control weeds and also create a “dust mulch” to conserve precious soil moisture. Try to water in the cool of the evening if possible using a watering can to direct the water around the root area of the crops.
If you can get it, put some straw underneath the developing strawberry fruits to keep them off the soil and try to avoid watering overhead to reduce any problems with mildew.
Pest and diseases
Look out for blackfly on broad beans, greenfly on peas, lettuce, cabbage root fly, carrot fly, thrip damage on brassicas especially when the plants are small. Spray the affected plants with soapy water (diluted washing up liquid) or squash the flies with your thumb and finger. You can buy insecticides if you prefer, including a fatty acid soap to spray on the plants.
Annual General Meeting
Our Annual General Meeting is going to take place this Thursday (May 5th) at 7:30pm and you are invited. This will be held at the British Rail Staff Association on York Road. Do join us for the various reports from the committee and for the election of officers. We are also looking for new members on the committee, if you want to help make the allotments even better, please join us on the committee.
If you wish to attend, you can let us know or you can just turn up. Light refreshments will be available from the bar. Contact Lesley our Secretary, via her email, for more information about the AGM, the committee or for directions. Doors open at 7pm for the meeting to start promptly at 7:30. We look forward to see you there!
Many of you will have seen that the Fire Brigade were at the allotments last month. This was due to one member lighting a bonfire in their chicken run and leaving it unattended. With minutes of them going home it was out of control, and the fire services were called just five minutes after the plot holder had left. What made it worse is that the member also had petrol and other flammable stuff in their shed, he unfortunately lost all his hens.
The Fire Brigade also inspected the whole site, raising lots of concerns about various plots. Lesley, our Secretary will be reporting further on this at Thursday’s Annual General Meeting because standards need to improve. It should go without saying that all bonfires should not be left unattended, and that they should be outside and away from flammable stuff. If it’s windy, dry, or if there are any risks then fires should not be lit.
Rent is due
Thank you everyone who has paid their rent. All members should have had an invoice emailed or handed to them, do contact us if you have not received your invoice. The easiest way to pay is by bank transfer, our bank details are on invoices. Please be aware that all invoices are now overdue an if people are not in contact with us regarding their rent they may lose their plots.