All systems go
Put in a bit of effort now and reap the rewards with a harvest to feed your family all summer.
This is a frantic month for growing. It is if the plants have realised that the cold weather has passed and it is safe to hurl out their tender young growth.
Ripe for the picking
Asparagus, broad beans, beetroot, carrots, lettuce, lemons, grapefruit, oranges and rhubarb.
In the vege garden
Keep planting tomatoes, corn, courgettes and French beans out in the garden. Treat yourselves in the months to come and plant a variety of tomatoes. Now many garden centres offer many of the heirloom types of tomatoes along with the more modern varieties. Go crazy and plant some black, some purple or some pear shaped tomatoes. There are many theories on how to grow the best tomatoes. Generally they like compost-enriched soil, a sunny, welldrained spot and a thick stake if they are tall growing. When you plant them out, plant them deeper than the pot they came in. Tomatoes can develop roots all along their stems. Some people pop a tablespoon of milk powder around the roots as they plant. Others pierce the stem with some copper wire to protect the plants from disease. If you are a lazy gardener like me you can just ‘plant and leave’. No pinching out laterals, no staking, no nipping out the first flowers. This is a permaculture method of letting the tomatoes mix and mingle and grow together forming a thicket of sorts. The fruit is protected from birds, the plants are protected from high winds and forms its own living mulch of leaves. Not to mention the fact that you have more time to do other things. This is also the month to plant French beans directly in the ground, transplant cucumber, chilli, eggplant and courgette plants so they can also get off to a cracking summer start.
Any remaining compost can be spread on the garden providing an ideal time to start to accumulate new ingredients to construct a new pile. The best position for a compost pile is near a water source and somewhere you can reach with a wheelbarrow.
Hyssop is a small woody shrub with aromatic leaves and small blue flowers. Bees love the blossom. White cabbage butterflies are also attracted to its flowers and some people say to plant hyssop around your cabbages to attract butterflies onto the hyssop rather than your brassicas.
This common garden plant has a long tap root and bright yellow flowers visited by bees. The roots can be dried and used as a very poor (I think) coffee substitute. The young leaves can be used in stir fries and salads. The French cultivate the dandelion which is sold as a vegetable.