BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine

Transplant chard

- GardenersW­

Chard plants sown under cover back in March should have true leaves by now, which means they are ready for a new home.

Half-fill some 8cm or 10cm pots with peat-free multi-purpose compost, with a little grit or perlite

Seedlings of leafy crops need space, so thin them out now.

Before you start, check the optimum spacing for the crop you’re working with. A simple wooden batten with notches every centimetre helps.

You could choose to thin by half, harvesting every other seedling to use in a salad, and then finish the thinning in a few weeks’ time, or you could do it all in one go. It can be wise to do it in stages as this also gives you spares in case of mollusc damage. added to it. Then make a hole in the compost using a label or dibber and lower the plants into position, and gently add more compost around it so the spindly stem is covered. Finish by firming the plant in gently and watering.

FOCUS on the seedling you’re keeping, and pull nearby ones away. Move to the next one in the row that is at the right spacing.

Give the transplant­s a week or so to settle into their new compost, then move them to a very sheltered spot outside, bringing them indoors or covering with fleece when there’s an overnight frost in the forecast.

FIRM the soil around the remaining seedlings then settle their roots by watering, using a fine rose on the can.

Most soils are warm enough for maincrop potatoes from the middle of the month, so make sure you’re ready to plant them out. They do best in soil enriched with rotted manure together with a general fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone meal added when planting.

Dig out a trench 12cm deep. Make rows 75cm apart to allow for earthing up the plants as they grow. Stand the tubers along the row at 40cm intervals. Potatoes form above the planted tuber at the base of the ridge.

When shoots emerge, rake soil over them to cover them straight away. This protects them from frost and promotes tuber formation.

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