Early May in the Quickcrop Vegetable Garden 2021

Early May in the Quickcrop Vegetable Garden 2021

When my daughter Anna (21, not living at home) called to tell us she had adopted 2 kittens I started a countdown in my head to see how long it would take for them to end up with us. It took about 4 weeks. Anna now lives in an apartment and the cats, inevitably, live with us.

Not that I mind. They are the two oddest cats I have ever come across; one of them is interested in gardening and the other one appears to like film and video. If I am in the garden, Charlie, who you see featured below, will appear and begin a never ending inspection of whatever I am doing. For some reason he also wants to sit on my shoulder like a parrot so if I'm bending down weeding or whatever, he climbs aboard and coils his tail around my head.

Broad bean witkeim manita

I rarely see his sister, Lola, if I'm working outside, but if I'm making a video in the polytunnel she will turn up and start throwing herself around as if auditioning as a stunt cat. She also climbs the back of the set and pokes her head around the edge when we are shooting which has Mike, the camera man, in stitches. Don't worry, I'm not going to keep going on about them but figured they deserved a mention, especially Charlie, who kept me company (and my ears warm) when planting potatoes on Saturday.

Shallots growing in raised beds

This image shows shallots looking very happy in the Saturday morning sunshine. Unfortunately, a prolonged period of frosty nights (we have just had a week of frost) in late April will make it more likely for onions or shallots to bolt in the summer. Thankfully we didn't have a warm March (followed by a cold April) which is the worst possible scenario so we shall see what happens. I think I mentioned it in an earlier mail but it is better to delay planting onion sets until the third week in March to minimise the chance of bolting.

As per the previous mail, the reason for bolting (going to seed) is that onions are biennials so are programmed to produce a flower (and seed) in year 2 of their lifecycle. If an onion set goes through a early spring followed by a cold period it chalks up the cold spell as winter and goes into the seed producing part of its cycle.

Cat under fleece

Frost damage under fleece I should have mentioned in the previous mail about fleece that if you have a prolonged period of heavy frost, particularly if the fleece has got wet in the daytime, the parts of the plant that are touching the fleece will freeze. To avoid this, use hoops or battens (or a cat) to raise the fleece above the foliage. The photo shows the first early potato sprouts after a -2 night and all is well with no damage.

Asparagus Jakmar Purple in the vegetable garden

Asparagus Spears This is Asparagus Pacific Purple coming up though a layer of garden compost. The asparagus picking season runs from late April to early June but, like rhubarb, you should not harvest all the stems as the plant needs some to go into leaf and make energy for the following season.

Asparagus is a long term project with the first harvest coming 3 years after planting crowns or 4 years after sowing seeds (my plants are coming into their 6th year). The upside is, once established, it will crop every year for at least 20 years. I suppose it's like a pension, not that appealing as the reward seems so far away but something you will be very glad of when it starts bearing fruit.

It is too late to plant Asparagus crowns but, for next year, choose a hybrid all male variety if you are thinking of growling as they are much more prolific.

Early carrots growing in the polytunnel

That's about if for this week, I hope you found something in there relevant and helpful to your own garden.

See you next week