Finally, April is here and it’s starting to feel like spring. Not only are we enjoying longer days and the occasional warm spell, but I’m getting busier on the allotment – a sure sign that spring has sprung.
Fortunately, I have my ‘helper’ along, although I’m not sure how much help she actually is!
The Preparation Continues…
I’m still doing some prep work for the main growing season by applying manure to the strawberry bed, this provides extra nutrients during the growing season which will hopefully lead to a bumper crop of succulent strawberries in July.
I’m also watering my seed beds regularly to keep them moist, this helps with germination and prevents the seeds from blowing away. In the next few weeks I’ll be sowing beetroot seed, I’m going for Crimson Globe this year as it is a bolt resistant variety which means that it won’t go to seed too early.
I’m also mixing in manure to the greenhouse beds ready for the tomatoes and cucumbers which I’ll be planting out soon, they are notoriously hungry when they’re growing and the extra nutrients the manure provides will really help them ripen nicely
Back in February I chitted my potatoes and I’m pleased to report that they are coming along nicely. As you can see the potatoes are beginning to sprout which is a sign of good growth.
After keeping them in a cool, light, frost-free place for the last 6-8 weeks, it’s time to plant them out in my nicely dug trenches and cover them over with around 12” of earth.
Back at home I am hardening up the lettuce seeds which I started inside a few weeks back. I do this by placing them in a mini greenhouse for a few hours each day, the hardening process stops them getting too leggy and helps grow nice thick stems ready for planting on the allotment in late April/May. Don’t forget to bring them in each evening or they’ll get a bit of a shock!
I am doing my own peat vs peat-free trial with the lettuces, so far both are coming along nicely but I will keep you posted on their progress.
Cutting The Grass
I’ve done my first cut of the grass – this is always very satisfying but remember not to go too short on the first cut, you just want to take the top off, and try and avoid doing it if there is frost due that night.
The Proof of the Pudding…
There’s nothing better than enjoying the fruits of your labour and over the last few weeks I have tucked into some delicious meals with home-grown purple sprouting broccoli, squash and rhubarb. As I mentioned last time, rhubarb is really easy to grow so my family have been enjoying it for years and I think we have perfected the rhubarb crumble, scroll down if you’d like to have a go yourself – I’d be happy to do taste tests to see how yours compares!
As always, I love being outside surrounded by nature, I was fortunate to capture this beautiful peacock butterfly enjoying the sunshine rays of early spring.
Enjoy your allotment!
The Gilbert Family Rhubarb Crumble Recipe
- 450g Rhubarb
- 75 – 100g Granulated Sugar
- 175g Flour
- 75g Butter
- 50g Caster Sugar
- Chop the rhubarb into 3cm slices and layer with granulated sugar in a medium (2.5ltr dish) oven-proof dish
- Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter until your mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the caster sugar
- Sprinkle the crumble topping thickly and evenly over the rhubarb
- Press the topping down with the back of a fork
- Bake at 190 degrees/mark 5 for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180 degrees/mark 4 for a further 45 minutes or until the top is lightly brown
- Serve with custard, cream or ice cream (or all three!)