April was a month where the Walled Garden really started developing, with lots of vegetables going into the ground while we continued to grow and nurture hundreds of other plants ready to follow them into the beds, but only once the risk of cold and frost has passed.
This is the second in my monthly recaps of what goes on in the Walled Garden. The vision was to give people an insight into the behind-the-scenes of a productive garden and I have thankfully been delighted by the reception the first post received. You can catch-up on the March update here.
April was unsurprisingly a very busy month and we did see the full range of weather thrown at us. The heat over the Easter period was particularly not the norm and meant a lot more watering of plants in the outdoor beds than you would usually expect at this time of year. Mix in wind, rain, lower temperatures, even hail and some frosts and it meant a challenging month.
Plants have been going into the ground in their numbers, with all of our onions and potatoes in particular now planted out and growing happily. There are three varieties of onions (Sturon, Long red florence, and Robelja) with some multi-sown and planted in clumps to increase yield via a method promoted by no-dig guru Charles Dowding. Our potato varieties (Milva, Bambino and Maris peer) are in and the shoots of the earliest varieties are through and earthed up to protect from any upcoming frosts.
Also planted out in April include some cabbages, kale and cauliflowers in the newly-built brassica cage. Constructed out of blue water pipes we now have three two-metre wide tunnels covered in netting to protect from pigeons and other pests. Each tunnel has been designed so they can have the netting easily removed to allow for planting, weeding and harvesting.
Our tomatoes have grown incredibly well – I am delighted with them – and their success means we made the (albeit rather bold) decision to plant them in their final destinations. They are however in an insulated polytunnel that will keep them protected from any cold and it was very satisfying to get the three varieties (Black cherry, Goldiana & Sakura) all planted, and to inter-plant the rows with herbs such as dill and basil.
The first of the lettuces have been planted, including a mix of Asian quick-growing leaves Bok Choy, Mizuna, Mustard Purple and Golden Frills to go alongside the more traditional green and red lettuces. These cut-and-come-again plants have been growing quickly and have already been harvested for the kitchens, using the method of removing the outer leaves to ensure regular pickings over an extended period.
Elsewhere, the first sowings of the beetroot have been done and we have the first of both the cut flowers and edible flowers in the ground. This includes sweet peas, borage and some calendula. There will be more successional sowings of the beetroots, while a lot more flowers are growing on strongly in the polytunnels ready to be planted out in the ground in May once the threat of frosts has gone.
On that note, there has been lots more continued propagation throughout April, with seeds being sown and plants being pricked out in big numbers throughout the month. Space continues to be at a premium in the tunnels as plants grow on strongly and May is really going to be a bumper month for getting plants out in the garden – the beds are going to transform and fill up quickly.
Our cucumbers and courgettes are growing really well and enjoying the heated tunnel, while the likes of the runner beans and squashes are recently sowed and will start popping their heads through the soil soon. There are so many vegetables and flowers growing in our tunnels it would be exhausting to list them all on here.
However, I will try to put some images of the plants we have growing on social media in the coming days and weeks to give an impression of the scale of growing we are currently working at. Remember to follow me on Instagram @perennialnerd where I do provide regular pictures and updates from inside the Walled Garden.