Summer has arrived!
It's nearly the Bank holiday here in Cannock and summer has arrived. This week has been very busy for Gardenchief fulfilling new contracts for the new season.
I have taken on a new member of staff this week which has been a revelation to me, a case of having to due to due to my workload.
Anyone out there needing quotes for work will need to book early and i'll do my best to accommodate your needs.
Last year my tulips were in full flower by the end of April – we are a month behind this year. With the cold winds blowing, I left the seeds in their packets, but now, with the warmer weather, there is catching up to do.
I planted my potatoes this year in a snow flurry over Easter. The tubers remained safely below ground, and now their growth is emerging, it is time to earth them up. I do this twice to protect new growth from late-spring frosts and to keep the tubers that push closer to the surface from greening. What with preparation, earthing up and digging, ground is cultivated several times in the same season, which makes a crop of spuds a great way to break new ground if you are extending your garden.
In Cannock and parts of the South Staffordshire it is safe to say that we have had the last frost, but beware if you are planning to put out tender plants. Half-hardy annuals and tomatoes from the nursery should be hardened off for a week or so. Keep them in a chocked-open frame if you have one or in the lee of a house wall.
Dahlia tubers can be safely planted out now. However, hold back and wait until you are sure temperatures are warm enough before planting dahlia cuttings. Feed them with plenty of compost dug into the hole and give them a sunny position. The same treatment applies to cannas.
The autumn sowing of broad beans has already flowered and it is good to think they can sail through winter wet and spring chills. Autumn sowings are also said to be less prone to blackfly.
The broad beans were some of the first seed to go in as soon as the weather warmed in April; peas followed shortly after. Runner and French beans will be held back until the end of the month, when there is a better chance of guaranteed warmth, but they will catch up. Erect tripods when you have a moment so that seed can be sown to the support as soon as there is a warm window.
With the cold April I decided not to sow as many tender annuals under cover. The likes of cosmos and tagetes are just as happy to be sown outdoors and directly if they are sown once soil temperatures are higher. I will wait until a warm week later in the month to sow courgettes, pumpkins and sweet corn.
A planting plan in the vegetable garden is incredibly useful. Failing memories will be refreshed at a glance so that last year's crops are not repeated in the same ground. A three-year or, better still, four-year rotation of roots, beans and brassicas will help to keep pests and diseases at bay.