It’s still too cold to put most things out, even though they’re ready in the greenhouse - it’s not worth the risk but it has let us get on top of pretty much everything in preparation for when we get back from holiday in early May.

Hopefully we’ll be able to get the courgettes and squashes out, start planting out the sweetcorn that’s germinated and think about maybe putting the tomatoes out depending on the weather. We’ll also be looking to direct sow a lot of things in May too.

Here’s most of what we got up to in April though and if you missed last month's allotment diary you can read it here.

Click on images to enlarge.

Planting Out Beetroot & Chard

We’d multi-sown about forty cells of beetroot seeds in February with about 4-5 seeds in each cell. The idea is to get them out a bit earlier, and as the beetroots grow, twist off the biggest ones so you can start getting an early harvest. We love beetroot and get through a quite few each a week - we mostly steam them but want to grate them and eat them more raw. We’ll be planting a lot of them this year but wanted to try multi-sowing them.

We put the seedlings out on 31st March in the end but it was too late to include in the last diary.

We are sowing most of our plants this year using square foot guidelines rather than the row spacing suggested by the seed packets. Square foot gardening is used by many people in their small raised beds to make use of their limited space but the often suggested 12” row spacing is generally unnecessary. We will use it for small/medium plants and hope we get good airflow through them. We’ll still be direct sowing most of our beetroot.

Planting out beetroot
Planting out beetroot
Planting out beetroot

We also put out our chard at the same time as the beetroot. Vicky really likes chard but I’m not so keen but as it’s very good for you we will chop a lot of it up into our salads over the summer.

You can plant four plants in each square foot (same as the multi sown beetroot) and we’ll keep their size down by cutting off the leaves as they grow. If they all grow we will have a lot of chard this year.

We’ll see how the beetroot and chard do going out in April. Much will depend, as usual, on the weather. We’ll just direct sow in May if they don’t fair so well.

Building Frame For Runner Beans

We hope to put our runner beans out before we go away in May but they’ve been slow to germinate in the greenhouse so we’ll see what happens.

Regardless of what our seeds do we still needed to get a frame up in anticipation of planting out. Vicky had put a few wheelbarrows of manure down where the beans are going about two months ago.

Building A frame for runner beans
Building A frame for runner beans
Building A frame for runner beans

We decided to run them the full width of our baby sitting plot which requires a lot of canes! An A-Frame suited us best and I think there’s about 50 upright canes in the end so that will be quite a lot of runner beans. We’ll plant the runner bean plants that have been growing in the greenhouse along the back of the frame first, and direct sow along the front at the same time so we can harvest at different times throughout the summer.

We can’t wait for our beans to become a wall of green with big red flowers that will sit at the top of the plot and block out the houses that overlook the allotment. Hop efully they’ll grow and everything goes to plan!

Building Frame For Cucumbers

We tried a few cucumbers outside last year and they did really really well, they were delicious - crispy, and full of flavour, and the variety (Market More) are very similar in size to your supermarket cucumbers. We are also trying a variety called La Diva which are short and dumpy and a popular variety to grow outside.

We’re growing seven plants of each kind on our original plot, so we needed to build another frame. Cucumbers need a bit of horizontal support so we tied a few at intervals across the frame - the frame is about six feet tall. We have lots of canes as we buy a pack every so often and have also been given loads by someone that has bamboo growing in their back garden and have let it get out of control - at least it’s been handy for us if not them!

Building A Frame for cucumbers
Building A Frame for cucumbers
Building A Frame for cucumbers

With the frame now in position we can’t wait to get the plants growing up it and seeing how they do this year. Vicky is really keen on growing cucumbers so spends quite a bit of time maintaining them and giving them feed.

Unfortunately quite a few of our cucumber seedlings were savaged by slugs in the greenhouse and we lost nearly all of them. We sowed some more and moved what was left back to the windowsill in the flat.

Planting Out Lettuce & Rocket

We had sown lettuce and rocket in the greenhouse in early March and these were doing really well. Rocket is pretty hardy and we have bell cloches for the lettuce so we wanted to get them out.

These are going on our original plot next to each other on the same bed. We planted the rocket to square foot guidelines (four per foot) and did the lettuce so we could get a bell cloche over them (one per foot).

We also direct sowed some rocket when we put them out too. We’ll thin the rocket by eating it.

Planting out lettuce and Mizuna
Planting out lettuce and Mizuna

Getting Hoops Ready

I really we’d cover everything if we could but it can get quite expensive buying hoops that actually work, and netting good enough to keep the pigeons and slugs off of everything so we try and put what’s most affected under some really fine VeggieMesh and plastic water piping hoops.

We got these ready as we’ll be sowing our Carrots, planting out our Leeks, Pak Choi, Kohlrabi and French Beans as soon as we’re back from our holiday.

There was also a full width set of hoops for the Cabbages and Kale to go under too. We cover those with some scaffold netting.

Blue water pipe for garden hoops
Blue water pipe for garden hoops


Vicky took a couple of bits of rhubarb early in the month. The clump on our original plot really is a happy healthy look bit of rhubarb. The crowns on our new plot don’t seem so happy though and keep flowering. We have a feeling it’s because they haven’t been picked enough over the years. We had always commented when walking past the plot (before it was ours) that it was such a waste of rhubarb that no one picked it. Hopefully it will benefit from the attention it’s now receiving.

Vicky Salter Rhubard

Painting Shed

I’d been itching to get a few coats of paint on the shed but the weather just wouldn’t allow me but there were a few nice days at the end of the month so I quickly got two coats on over the space of two days. I’ll get one more coat on in the Summer. That should hopefully protect the shed for a couple of years.

Painting shed allotment
Painting shed allotment

Planting Out Cabbages & Kale

Our red cabbages have been doing really well in the greenhouse, so we we wanted to get them out as we were worried about the heat in the there while we were away. The temperature in out make-do greenhouse had already killed our Primo cabbages, so we’d had to sow some more which we doing fine enough to put out. We are also growing Kale, which is going in the same part of the allotment.

Building A Frame for cucumbers
Building A Frame for cucumbers

We got most of them out on the last Sunday in April, we’ve got some more growing so we don’t end up with everything coming at the same time. We reckon we’ve done way too much Kale but we’ll see how we go.

It really was a rotten wet day putting these out but with the netting on and seeing everything so well protected it's worth the effort.

Building A Frame for cucumbers
Building A Frame for cucumbers

Random Stuff

Most things are growing really well but we did have a tiny bit of frost damage on a few of our potatoes, ironically it was on the ones that we chitted really well, and were put out second. The potatoes we didn't chit and put out first seemed to miss it. You can't odds it sometimes can you...

Our Broad Beans continue to do well, and the ones we'd directly sown are up for the most part. We do keep having to replace the ends with beans from the greenhouse as the slugs and snails are continually at them over night.

The Sugar Snap Peas haven't done so well, and have obviously been dug up by mice but they haven't got all of them! Hopefully next year we'll do better out of the guttering.

Next month is going to see everything planted out or sown so it'll be interesting to see how it all does over the summer...

Cutting out bad habits is far more effective than cutting out organs.

Herbert M. Shelton

Allotment Diary Archives