April, a month of warmer days and light. Weeks when we yearn for more growing space, perhaps a glasshouse, while being grateful for what we have.
Wherever you are – and yes, there may be a chance of late snow in some northern spots – much of the UK is on the cusp of change. If in doubt, local weeds will be a guide to what grows where and when.
Plot 29 has an abundance of poppy shoots. Self-own, scattergunned, from extravagant flowers we trialled last year. It was the gorgeous gaudy packet what did it. Already we have too many – ignoring the new seed I bought in the past couple of months.
Our resident fennel is shooting fast. There’s a run of small leaf it’s too early to identify. Our verbena bonariensis was caught by the late snow, but we have hopes it will recover.
So, hoe and mulch your flower and fruit and vegetable beds. Finish preparation for the sowing season. Green leaves can be unleashed now: sow brassicas, chards, spinaches, orientals (mizuna, komatsuna, etc). Salads, lettuces, rocket and land cress, too. Under cover or not depending on where you grow. Parsley should also be ready to go.
The same with many root crops. I have a yen to grow beetroot again. We’ll sow orache as some of last year’s is shooting up, small pretty stems in purple-pink. We’ll likely wait until later on amaranth.
We’ll be sowing peas and climbing beans as soon as we source more hazel. Hard in the city. We’re also impatient for sweetpeas, nasturtiums, calendula, tagetes. I’m craving color.
Remember, though, to keep an eye for slugs and snails now. Predator aphids, greenfly and blackfly will appear in search of tender shoots.
Allotment growers should be seeing more of their neighbors as longer, warmer afternoons become the norm. We’ll wave and chat, muse over new plans and plants. Getting set for the growing year.
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com