Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Friday 20 April 2012

What I am planting now - April

It is what I have been doing for the last few weeks, !

Things I am either sowing, have just sown or am planning to sow very soon.

When soil and growing conditions are right, it is time to sow vegetables! A good indication that it is time, is to look at your lawn:- if the grass has started to grow the soil temperature will be above 5-6 degrees centigrade and you can sow/plant hardier seeds direct in the ground, or plant out tubers such as potatoes.

BUT If you have a heavy clay soil wait!. Seeds sown in wet or cold soil tend to rot and die. Waiting for a few more weeks won’t hurt, ( honest!)

A black or clear plastic covering over soil will warm it up, so you can sow some seeds outside a little earlier than usual. Spread plastic sheeting over the areas where you plan to sow the seeds. Weigh down the sides so it can't blow away in winter winds. After 3 - 4 weeks, the soil should be warm enough for seed sowing. I use big sheets of Geotextile ( weed sheet) which we have a huge roll of, so we have 4 sheets which cover the 4 plots in the veg garden all winter. We turn them back to let the weed seeds germinate in Jan, then cover the weeds up to kill them off ready for digging and planting in March :-)

I am sowing now outside in the ground

BUT in beds warmed up by geotextile cover and covered by fleece/cloche after, so you need to allow for my soil being quite warm and the seeds being protected after!

Broad bean plants sown and overwintered in the polyunnel

Parsnips grown in loo roll tubes seed planted in March

Early carrots

Planting outdoors

Potatoes  (Maincrop Desiree - have already got all the earlies into the ground!)
Shallots - mine went in several weeks ago.

Outside sometime soon, when I think its warm enough for them!

Onion sets

I am currently sowing in trays and modules

Raising plants to transplant outdoors (or under cloches or in a greenhouse/ tunnel) gives you a head start on the season. It is simple to provide extra warmth for a few pots and trays of seeds - in a warm room, or on a heated bench for example. But remember - the seedlings that appear will also need some warmth and good light levels, until they can be moved to a frost free final position, so allow for where you are going to keep them. I have had a lot of success with a cold frame inside an unheated polytunnel and this would work just as well inside a conservatory or a plastic small greenhouse I think.

Inside in heated propagator

Tomatoes/Peppers/ - for growing on in a cold greenhouse or tunnel. I planted the early varieties in Feb, and now have sturdy 8 inch plants in the polytunnel with the later varieties protected inside cold frames in the Polytunnel

Herbs and salad leaves
Courgettes and other Squashes.

Outside in PT

Potatoes in grow sacks
To get an earlier crop! I planted these in Feb. If you have a sheltered place you will get an earlier crop by doing this, up to 4 weeks earlier. Mmmmm new potatoes and butter...mmmmm

Chineese Broccoli
Purple Sprouting Broccoli early
Broad Beans in pots
Spring onions
Lettuce and other salad stuff.
Herbs of all sorts
Leeks for transplanting ( I sow the autumn ones end of Feb and the winter ones now.)
Kohl Rabi - best sown in modules for transplanting
Celeriac - best sown in modules for transplanting
Peas in rootrainers or loo roll tubes.
Mange tout  peas in rootrainers or loo roll tubes.
Dwarf and Climbing French Beans.in rootrainers or loo roll tubes.

Sowing Leeks
Wait till early to mid-spring before sowing leek seed, depending on the weather. They can either be sown in a seed bed for transplanting the following summer, sown in trays/pots, or sown in their permanent positions. If you sow in a seed bed you have the added bother of transplanting, but this must be balanced out by the fact that if they are sown in their permanent position, they will take up a lot of space for a long time before producing results

I always sow seed in pots and then transplant.

A general note

Silly though this may sound, plant stuff you know you want to eat! Also, decide what you like and if space/time is limited, grow the stuff which is most expensive to buy. So, if you LOVE salad leaves and herbs, grow lots of them! If your favourite thing is new potatoes then grow lots of them!

It is much better to grow the veg you really really love, and eat lots of it, fresh and straight from your garden, than feel you "have" to grow beans, peas, onions or whatever....and then not want to eat it.

We grow lots of stuff, because we are trying to feed ourselves for most of the year!. Unless you have the time, space and inclination to do this, DON'T!

I used to grow new potatoes, salads, herbs and mange tout in our tiny garden in Worcester, ...and sprouts, leeks and carrots in winter because thay were the veg I loved to eat fresh from the garden.

Hope this helps

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how many folk simply plant for planting and growings sake things like Radish, just because they are easy, I'm always amazed when they then say they don't really like them!!

    I plant all the things we love and always try a few new things, last years 'new thing' was Cape Gooseberries and boy oh boy did we like them :-)

    Sue xx


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