Holding fire on planting vegetables

The glorious apple blossom has come out profusely. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
The glorious apple blossom has come out profusely. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

Who could believe our most recent spell of weather?

So hot and calm that we’d be forgiven for clicking straight into summer mode, throwing caution to the wind and planting-out subjects not yet fully hardened-off.

But experience dictates that nothing can be taken for granted until May is well advanced.

I’m holding fire another week or so on planting vegetables and bedding with soft leaves raised under cover, such as runner beans and petunia. If a late frost doesn’t get them, the cold wind might.

Apple trees, plums, pears and soft fruits have been making the most of warm, calm conditions in flowering profusely. All the jargon over matching cultivars according to their pollinating groups vanishes, important though it is, when you see a group of trees in full bloom literally buzzing with bees.

The strawberry bed appears to be full of soldiers standing to attention in rows when viewed from a distance. The strong growth is full of promise and flowers are already opening.

Recent weeding and a general organic feed to boost growth has had the desired effect, now it’s time to get the straw mulch slotted in between rows. This protects ripening fruits against rain-splashed soil deposits. It also highlights the presence of a tasty treat for birds so netting must follow.

Asparagus spears broke surface in mid-April, heralding the beginning of a regular two-month supply. We cease harvesting in mid-June, allowing the bed to become an ornamental feature, with tall, fern-like stems that need supporting. More importantly, this encourages stronger roots and crowns for next year.

This tasty perennial vegetable is easily grown by planting one-year-old crowns.

If you can’t source them locally try online at www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk or www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk. Ten crowns cost circa £15, plus P&P.

We have three different cultivars; Pacific 2000, Guelph Millenium and Pacific Purple, six plants of each, growing in a bed circa two metres by one. The soil is well-drained and they’re in full sun, so given reasonable attention they will remain viable for 20 years.