Now 6 sacks compost on top & treading

April 15th in a cold spring, fleece covers, transplant survival, new bed and compost heap

A difficult spring so far, with a lack of warmth and frosts down to -4.5 C here, nine frosts in the last 12 nights. However it has been dry! And although that means watering new transplants, it also means that growth stays healthy. All my carrots have come up, with no slug damage. That is a little unusual.

On 16th April at 18.00 GMT you can see my new video about growing carrots. And see live weather at Homeacres, anytime.

Looking ahead, things are warming up and exciting times are in front of us. There is still however no rush to sow courgettes and squash (say 20th-25th in view of the cold), nor climbing beans (10th May here). I do plan to sow cucumbers very soon, but on heat for sure.

Overwintered salads polytunnel

Considering the weather, I am so impressed with how these plants to keep on giving. We have picked them every week for the last six weeks and before that it was about every second week since late November. They are like old friends. I lost some lettuce and we are pulling some lovely radish now, sown February and transplanted 2nd March, multisown.

Sadly within three weeks or so most of them will be rising to flower and we twist them out, then spread compost and soon after that transplant summer vegetables. By that time, the outdoor plantings will be cropping, mostly lettuce.

Propagation good & bad

After all these years – I made a chronic mistake. I was worried about frost being hard enough, even in the greenhouse on the hotbed, so although I knew it was risky I put a fleece on my tomato seedlings for just the coldest night. This was just after I had topped up the hotbed with two barrowloads of fresh horse manure. Overnight the ammonia gases singed many leaves and you can see the results. My harvest of early tomatoes is quite compromised and I have sown again. Fortunately a few plants were not covered!

My pain is mitigated by the growing success of the new module trays, CD 60s. Plant roots like them and they are extremely easy to manage. Although of small size, I grew nice transplants of peas for shoots, two seeds per cell.

More bad!!

For a pyralid test (see video), I had not before used seed of field beans. They are more sensitive to this weedkiller then broad beans and the ones I sowed a month ago in mushroom compost and green waste compost are not looking too brilliant at the tips.

Even worse are seeds I sowed into some digestate which I was given. It behaves like no other compost I have ever used, and in fact I would not call it compost because of how it is created. Last year we found that plants struggled wherever we used it as a mulch.

For sure this digestate is fresh, it was warm about 40 C in the sack, so that is part of the reason why the seeds are not appearing. But I have sown seeds into fresh, warm green waste compost and they all grew. I still do not really understand this product. There is no advice that one should not use it as a mulch so if one does that and then transplants or sows, I can’t see plants growing well at first.

Using fleece in spring

Brassica transplants in particular are damaged where touching fleece and when frosts are below about -4 C. As we have seen this year! A reader in Paris lost all brassica plants to weather. of -5C by night and 25C by day. Also she was transplanting into a new bed of compost over cardboard. I don’t know how much she watered the transplants.

Some of my transplants under fleece are looking poor at the moment, with crisp yellow damage to leaves where they were touching the fleece. However there is still healthy green leaf at the main growing point. Onions look ok and so do most leaves where the fleece was held above them.

Normally I do not use hoops or supports for fleece, because it then blows away in wind. As it happens, we have had a little wind this year! More details in this video.

Transplant support

Photos below are all from sowings mid February, except for the carrots sown direct late March. The battens have helped.

I gave this advice to a follower who missed the sowing dates!

BROAD BEANS, sow asap will crop less but still ok

SPINACH, order seedlings!! Sow chard maybe, sow spinach early August

PEAS FOR SHOOTS, go for it

ONIONS sow now for small bulbs, or plant sets

It’s a cold, late spring so you have actually lost less time than normal.

New compost heap

Adam did a great job of knocking off the bottoms of each pallet, which makes them easier to handle and avoids the waste of space around the edges. Meanwhile I used my sharp, copper spade to remove the top or surface roots of ivy, some nettles and a few woody roots of bramble and blackthorn. I want the edge area clear of those weeds.

Then it’s simply a question of using wire to hold the corners together. There are no posts and the photos show how I used cardboard. Later we shall make more heaps alongside. More advice here on this site.

New bed 

I made this yesterday for a photo shoot, and once materials are assembled, it’s 3 to 4 hours work for the whole process, including the planting. Details in my Course book & Calendar. Compost here is 9 months old.

Perennial weeds pushing up

When you make no dig beds on the top of existing perennial weed roots, there is almost always some follow-up work to do. It’s important to keep pulling any regrowth. Sometimes use a trowel to remove a little more root than comes out when you pull.

We have some larger areas under polythene and a very vigorous hogweed, so we pulled the polythene back and used a spade to lever out more of the top growth than would be possible with a trowel. This area has yet to be finished with compost mulch.


I was thrilled to see that the Scottish government esteem my online courses! I don’t know of any other countries following this approach, which is for women in agriculture (sorry men!). And the readers of GYO magazine have nominated me for some awards, and they have many many categories of voting!

61 thoughts on “April 15th in a cold spring, fleece covers, transplant survival, new bed and compost heap

  1. Hi Charles
    thank you so much for being an inspiration. Your no dig method has shown me how I may grow my own food although I have compromised mobility. Dig method impossible. I have enjoyed watching your videos and there is one thing I would like to ask your advice on please. How much compost would I need for a bed size of 24ft by 16ft? We are putting wooden sides 6 inches high with plenty of cardboard base, because of dreaded horse tail on unused allotment.

  2. Hi Charles
    thank you for all you are doing to help us grow our own veggie.
    I am new to growing and have a question about corrugated cardboard, which has air pockets.
    Would I be ok to use this type of cardboard under the compost?
    or would the air pockets create problems for the roots of the plants?
    I can get large sheets of it which would save time.
    thank you

    1. Hello Anna, thank you, and large sheets are brilliant!
      The air pockets do not last for long and are absolutely not an issue. Most of the cardboard decomposes within about three months and it’s a temporary weed barrier, adding to the light suppressing effect. Its only purpose is to help eliminate existing weed growth, then once your ground is weed free, you should not need to use it again. Possibly just around the edges to stop weeds growing into your groin area.

  3. Hi Charles

    I sowed Aquadulce broad beans last autumn from seed that I had saved myself. Every single one came up and they were doing really well up until 2/3 weeks ago l. I had covered them with thermacrop in February but removed it at the beginning April, having worked on the premise that they had been in the ground since mid Oct and I didn’t want them to grow too tall. Since then, they have gradually been collapsing. Some of the longer stems that collapsed I cut off as I could see new growth coming along. Others just died. I didn’t know if it was because of the removal of the thermacrop or not but a colleage lost all her broad beans and another has had a similar problem to me but she never covered hers at all.
    I have been growing broad beans for over 30 years and have never know this to happen before. Have you got any ideas as to why? Fortunately I did plant out some bunyard exhibition in the spring, which are still under fleece and appear to be ok.

    Like you, April here has been extremely cold with many nights of sharp frost. Additionally, my allotment (where these beans are growing) is rather windy.

    I’m just wondering if it is the very cold April we have had.


    1. Hi Sharon
      I should post about this problem because it has been happening also here! The beans sown in November have actually been collapsing since about January even, kind of one by one. When I saw this in January, we sowed more Aquadulce & transplanted them 2nd March, with fleece over, and they are looking great! So that relieves me but it is odd.

  4. Hi Charles,
    I have watched your video on weed killer effects in compost, and would like your thoughts on our endeavours on making our own.
    We have a local farmer who rescues unwanted muck heaps from local stables and I have recently had a couple of loads from him. These were from a stable that he supplies Hay to, and I don’t believe he uses weedkiller.
    Anyway, this muck heap was at least 2 years old, and there was mycelium apparent in it and fungus growing.
    So my question is, would the mycelium and mushroom growth be a sign that the compost we are making is healthy?

    1. Hi Stephen and it sounds like that manure should be okay, but actually mycelial growth does not indicate absence of weedkiller, sadly. I would still do a broad beans test just to be sure.

  5. Hi Charles, thanks for another very helpful and informative email!
    I was wondering, when the potatoes start to grow (in the new bed on top of cardboard), do you need to keep adding more compost on top of the shoots? (I think my mum would have called it earthing up?)
    I’ve got my stash of cardboard ready!

    1. It sounds like you intend to make a new bed and plant potatoes? You can do that but if there is cardboard at the bottom, it needs to be wetted first because of the dry weather, and there needs to be 15 cm compost on top.
      Earthing up with more compost may or may not be necessary according to variety and how deep you plant the seed.

      1. Yes it will be a new bed. Thanks for the advice, I’ll make sure I wet the cardboard and put enough depth of compost on top 🙂

  6. Hello Charles,
    More of a heads up for your readers really – I know you have mentioned B&Q verve compost as a cheap and cheerful (non-organic) substitute if Moorland Gold seems too much to fork out for. I have bought it in the past and found it to be good quality, however I think they must have changed suppliers this year. It’s full of gravel and plastic and feels more like dry garden soil with roots and fibres added than compost. Very gritty to touch! Added to that it was warm to the touch so is obviously too fresh to use. I think I will be spending a lot of time repricking out my seedlings!

    1. Thanks for this information Danielle, and it’s worrying me! I am sorry you are having these problems and variations of content in brand composts is proving a headache.

  7. Hi Charles, Thanks for all that you do! you are doing the world a service! We have also had a cold spring…forever! its quite cold here generally and the growing season is really short whcih makes row covers and crop choices challenging! It has taken 3 years of learning to get away from using industrial fertilizers and relying on compost. This is going to be my first year doing no dig. I recently did a video where I converted 4 raised beds into two long no dig beds where i’ll just add compost. It was a pretty easy conversion although I haven’t documented the whole process. This will also be my first year multi-sowing. My initial greenhouse experiements are promising! Thanks again from Flatrock Newfoundland (Canada)

    1. Cheers David – you are making a good transition! I hope people will look you up, post a link here to your channel.

  8. Thanks for informative update Charles. So nice to read.
    One question, I am confused whether it is better to cover seeds with a plastic lid or not. I have cucumbers, courgettes and squash in electric propagator, squash in airing cupboard and sweet corn in kitchen.
    Any advice?
    I am also trialling above seeds in CD 60 modules as I love using them so much

    1. Covered can work to keep warmth in, needs remembering to remove once leaves appear, glad you like the trays

  9. Hello,

    I am really struggling with getting my lettuce seeds to germinate, The greenhouse is kept nice and warm and they are not being heating underneath in the module trays. I keep the soli in the trays moist daily with mist watering – any suggestions would be so appreciated!

    Thank you

    1. Hi Sasha, they may be old seeds Yes some people sell them old…)! Or you are possibly watering too much and you may have caused the seeds to rot from waterlogging.
      Try this:
      1 wet compost fully
      2 Scater seed on top, leave uncovered
      3 Cover tray with glass and keep out of sun 4 days, no watering

  10. Hi another question. I planted out peas for shoots and go hit by frost, yellowing but I don’t think terminal. What’s your experience of peas making a come back from frost damage?

  11. Hi Charles, it’s my first year of no dig. I’m just up the road on the Bath side of Bristol and I have noticed that even with fleece things like radish, turnips, beetroot, spinach and kohl rabi have just stayed at apparently the same state for 3 weeks due to all these frosts. I’m presuming they are rooting well and with a bit of a pick up in temp forecast they will start to get a move on :). I sowed some parsnips at the end of March which caught the end of that warm snap and for the first week I covered a raised bed with polythene to keep moisture and warmth in. I had a look this morning and can see a reasonable amount of seedlings and hopefully a few more will join these pioneers. Sorry about your tomatoes. A question on your modular trays which I do believe are worth the investment and will pay off in the long run. I have some brassicas which have reached a couple of inches….when do you think the point comes when they need planting out as their roots are going to be too constrained in the modules. Thanks

    1. Good to hear this and it’s more about whether there are enough nutrients in the compost and space for leaves to keep growing, usually with my trays that happens after 3 to 4 weeks for brassicas, depending on the season

  12. Hi Charles
    We have just contracted a new greenhouse. But the internal minimum at night is LOWER than the outside – below freezing and all. So I can’t leave frost sensitive plants, like my new aubergines, out there. Is it because it’s aluminium? It is in a very open space – gets sun from dawn til dusk, which I thought would be perfect. Am feeling VERY disappointed!

    1. Sorry to hear your disappointment, but I am always saying how night temperatures can be lower because the air is calm inside, with no breezes to mix the slightly warmer air from above with the cold air of the surface.
      However in the spring with such warmth by day, you need something to hold the heat by night, such as damp soil and buckets of water.

      1. Thank you Charles. Interesting. I shall try that. We’ve also decided to build a wall along the north-east side of the greenhouse which would protect it from that direction and also trap the sun and hold the warmth on the other side. I HOPE that will work!

  13. Hi Charles,

    I am in East Anglia and we are having the same very chilly night time temperatures. I have a question about why plums will likely not set fruit after frosty temperatures.

    I have damon Shropshire, 3 Greengages, and plum Blue Tit and all are in full flower. The blossom does not look affected by frost (like say, a magnolia does). Daytimes have been sunny and fairly still, so the trees are full of busy polinators doing their thing.

    So if the pollinatos are there and blossom is not dropping , why would I expect poor fruiting- does the tree take the energy from making fruit to sustain itself (no no fruit develop)? Just curious about how this works!

    1. Hi Lisa, I certainly hope that I am wrong, but I just went out to look at my blossom on gage and plum and all of the older, more mature flowers are now going brown without any little fruits.
      However all is not lost because there are a few new flowers, which could still set fruit if we do not have too much more frost. I am not too hopeful here, and wish you a fine harvest nonetheless.

  14. Hallo Charles,

    It’s always a pleasure to read your articles and watch new videos! Where I live here in Germany has the similar weather also, every evening we will receive the frost warning. We are at about 400m altitude and sometimes the frost is really harsh and unfortunately I bought the fleece before seeing your video and …bingo, what I got is 17g/m2 one. Anyway, I covered two layers (a bit lifted and left the leaves untouched) and most of the young plants are doing well, just growing slowing but steadily.

    I remember that you mentioned in the video that mesh is a bit helpful for protecting the young plants. Some of my planting areas are especially for brassicas and insects (before this wave of frost) already found them, so for those I covered with one layer mesh + one layer of unqualified mesh. When the sun shines well, I will let the fleece rest aside. Mesh did protect the plants till now several times from
    the graupel (yeah, graupel just came suddenly in a super sunny but still cold weather).

    Compared with directly sowed seeds, now I clearly see the difference. So far the progress here is quite okay, and I also used the similar approach for sowing, pricking and transplanting(later) flower seeds.

    I have a small question, as I noticed from the photos you posted, there is similar green layer on the surface of the potting compost , I also have them here for some cavities (not all, although the moisture level in a tray should be similar), don’t know why and some are really deep green. Will you suggest to remove this green layer? Many thanks.

    1. This all sounds good, well done, and I would not worry about that green layer on your compost, it could stay there or take it off if you wish

  15. I only have 2x 50p piece shaped compost bins so can only turn once. If the compost still has lots of worms in, is it too early to use and it is quite wet even though there is a lid .
    Thanks, Joan N. Yorks.

  16. Hello Charles! Writing from Romania here!
    I am 34 years old and already have 4 little girls to grow food for 😁🤷‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙆‍♀️🙎‍♀️. I’ve been following your videos for a while now and I am really happy to start out no-dig beds in my yard and teach this method to all our neighbors in the countryside village. They are people with great experience in agriculture, like most romanians in the countryside, yet curious to see if the paradigm can be changed. It was so funny to see their reaction when seeing my cartboards layed on the ground and old horse manure compost on top! Just lovely reactions. 🙄
    I read Masanobu Fukuoka (a real mentor to all humanity I guess) and other similar authors before seeing you but your lessons came as the cherry on top. Just wanted to thank you for helping people around the world to start this simple way of growing their … health! A good deed that I pray God repays you tons for!
    PS – spring is also delayed here by almost one month. Frost still present with minus 1, minus 2 almost every night. Next week it will be done but still low temperatures and cloudy. Keeping the no-dig flag up sir!

    1. Hello Ovidiu, and thanks so much for your lovely feedback. It warms me to imagine all this going on, which otherwise I would not know about, and I really hope that it can make a difference for people to work the soil less, and have greater rewards.
      I am impressed if you can change any habits of experienced farmers and gardeners because they like to continue with what has worked for them before, quite understandably!

      I am interested that your spring is the same as here. It’s -2 C as I write, and April looks like being the frostiest month of the whole winter! I wonder if this is the solar minimum, and hope not.
      May your season be good, whatever 🥕, and may you and your girls be healthy.

      1. Our climate is temperate continental. My town is close to Carpathian mountains with a possible -20 in the winter and maximum + 35 in the summer. Trying to adapt all the no dig to our climate. This is the first year but we’ll keep you updated with our progress! Thanks for your quick and warm response!

  17. Thank you, your monthly articles are really helpful, and the characteristic honesty is really appreciated. What do you think of this? Net stretched over a horizontal copper pipe N-S 5ft off the ground and anchored along sides of a bed. Pea plants from seed sown a few weeks ago along one side, new sowing direct along the other side, and spinach and kale (sown Feb indoors) planted underneath in the ‘tunnel’, with some flowers at the ends. The idea is to beat the pigeons, as well as maximising use of space. Will the peas (Alderman) grow too fast so that the greens get shaded? I hope at least the spinach will produce a few crops, though I suppose the kale might be too slow? (We love kale soup) And a big thank you for a massive change: with compost beds and bark chip paths, I haven’t seen a slug, or any slug damage at all.

    1. Many thanks Alan, and I love the way you are thinking this through. The spinach will flower by late May, whatever you do so, that’s a fair idea. Kale can crop until autumn but first it will be overshadowed by the peas, look miserable, then perhaps will flourish when they finish. Can’t be sure though 😀

  18. Hi Charles
    I have just acquired a new (half) allotment that has not been well managed. It is 7m x 11m of heavy clay soil, full of Mares Tail; the bottom half looks worse. I have a huge quantity of compost arriving on Saturday (plus thankfully a strong nephew) and also have a supply of well rotted manure. I have collected a lot of cardboard, and will be raiding recycling bins for more later and tomorrow. Is it best to lay cardboard on the top half, with a good layer of compost/manure so I can plant this spring, but just put cardboard on the worst affected area, to try to weaken that Mares Tail? Would it not be a good idea to put compost/manure on top at this stage? I am getting conflicting advice, so feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment! Helen

    1. Good luck Helen.
      The marestail will be with you for quite a while and if by any chance you could lay your hands on some old black polythene, that would be easier than cardboard on the bottom half. With some manure on the weeds, before laying the polythene on top.
      Or cardboard will be effective on the bottom half for 2 to 3 months, and then either lay more cardboard on top, or keep pulling the marestail.
      I would spread some manure compost on the cardboard at bottom, to feed soil eventually & make pulling easier.

    2. Helen

      Having been through what you are about to go through in the 2019/2020 growing year, I can tell you that you should plan to need to weed regularly from now until August because, no matter what you put down, some aggressive weeds will still grow through it! I laid paths with cardboard+5cm woodchip and repeated the dose 3 months later and still had a few things grow through it!

      What I did find is that a lot of things stop being so bad in late summer, although if you have bindweed, that will still grow (and finding it amongst stands of maincrop potatoes is a feat in itself!) and I’ve found that the levels of perennials this second spring are way, way down. There’s still a bit obviously, and there are some annual weeds emerging from the compost I made last year, but if you really give it the full treatment for 3-6 months, you will break the back of the weeding problem.

      1. Hi Rhys and Charles,

        May I ask usually how many layers of cardboard you will use? At this moment I have really a lot of cardboard (saved from the beginning of this year), will 3 or 4 or 5 layers too much? I mean, will them block the way some plants to develop their roots or microbes to get some food from the compost?

        1. Phaedra, I can’t speak for Charles, but I tend to fold cardboard over into a natural double layer and then slightly overlap to minimise the chance of weeds growing through the gaps. It’s all swings and roundabouts. If you have enough compost/manure to put 10cm on top, then you probably only need a single layer of cardboard. I tend to only have enough to put 5cm down, so I have tried to make the cardboard a bit thicker.

          The bottom line is that some perennials are able to mine their way through cardboard too!

  19. Can I recommend a blackberry cross called Silvan. I bought 1 from Ken Muir 18 years ago. It bears a huge amount of fruit from early July and does not take much work. I see you have a new plot and this would be ideal to make some money as you already sell on markets.

  20. Hi Charles. We moved to Anjou in the Loire Valley late last year and I’ve created new no dig beds straight on top of the existing pasture, some with cardboard underneath and some not but those without I’m trying to keep polythene over the top and grow potatoes/squash/sweetcorn etc. Everything is going well so far thanks to all of your advice!! I noted your comments about the grower in Paris. In a way I’m pleased to see that because some of my transplanted Broccoli and Peas weren’t looking great but we also had some crazy weather of 26C by day with a -5C a night or so later!! Growing points look good though and I’m just heading out to pull some couch grass and what I think is bindweed. Thanks again and I always look forward to new youtube videos!!!

    1. Thanks for your feedback Lee and that is encouraging!
      Quite a bit about gardening is coping with the weather but if the basics are correct, it’s amazing how plants mostly pull through, with a little timely help from us

  21. Hello Charles

    Sorry to read of your bumpy ride this Spring, hopefully things improve for you from now on.

    I wanted to ask you two quick questions:

    1) I have just planted my potatoes (second early) this morning – do I need to fleece them for a few weeks (frosts are still around in Cumbria) or is it not necessary because they are underground?

    2)I hope to get a polytunnel next month and have had black polythene mulch over the area for many months now. A small part of the tunnel will be a potting space – what do I cover the ground with in this work area to keep it as weed-free as possible? Do I treat it as if it is a large path and use composted wood chips?

    Thank you very much Charles.


    1. Hi Alice, if you have planted your potatoes they will take a couple of weeks to show up. If the weather has changed by then, you will be fine but be aware of any forecast frost once the green shoots are above ground and fleece or cover with anything you can find – cardboard, old bed sheets etc just for the night (we had a very hard, late frost 17th May last spring).

      Re your potting space in your tunnel, if you have had black plastic down for many months the area should be pretty dead of weeds by now. You could put down weed fabric, cardboard or a few chips but you will probably find that by constantly standing and moving about on the ground in front of the potting bench, that little will grow again anyway. Hope that helps.

      1. Hello Kevin

        Thank you so much for your help, it is much appreciated. I will watch the weather forecasts for frosts once any potato shoots are up and am pleased to read that I don’t have to make any plans for the ground of my potting area.

        Have a great growing season and thank you for your kindness.

  22. Hi Charles

    A question about removing the fleece.

    On our Beginners Allotment Veg Course our radish (now ready for tasting!), peas, broad beans, sets and spinach were module sown and have been under fleece for 3-4 weeks to harden them off. As the nights are changing here in sunny Exmouth to 5-6C after the weekend, could we remove the fleece? It is partly so that the students can show off their crops to the other allotment holders, many of whom go past raising their eyebrows at the no-dig methods that we are using! You have a lot to answer for!

    As an aside, most plot holders have been using a Devon Shovel to turn over their ground in recent weeks and the top 15-20cm of soil is now bone dry. In spite of almost no rain in recent weeks, we are still quite damp below the surface.

    1. It sounds like brilliant work you are doing there John and so nice that you can share your experience with the others, who must be thrilled!

      Yes I would remove the fleece in your case, any time in the next few days. Remember that wind is another factor, although it does not look like much is coming.

      Isn’t it amazing how people carry on in old ways which are clearly not fit for purpose. I do hope a few of them notice what’s going on on your plot 😃

    2. John

      My allotment chairman sent a note round last autumn about thinking about conserving water, as with hot dry summers, the water pumped from the table below (we are in the flood plain of two smallish rivers) was beginning to run dry.

      I thought that a suitable opportunity to put together a very, very brief powerpoint slide presentation with organic ways to conserve moisture, obviously with No Dig at the top of the list.

      I also included making Huegel beds, because I had to pollard a large hazel tree that was shading out the whole plot, and so dug four 3*1m pits to bury quite a few big branches, along with some immature horse manure/straw, some mature stuff and a load of grasses pulled during the initial clearance.

      The third one, which I have not tested scientifically, is hoeing and raking in the afternoon, rather than the morning, as biodynamics practicioners say that that helps to conserve moisture too.

      I don’t tend to push things much at our site, much easier to let people see how the plot is developing and judge for themselves whether no dig can have any cogency. If they are set in their ways, that is fine by me, so long as the Allotment does not introduce new rules saying that digging is required or else!

      Like you, I have found that my no-dig beds have plenty of moisture lower down (I was planting maincrop potatoes the past two days so I was going down 4-5 inches to put the tubers in).

      1. Hi Rhys,
        Our allotment rules state that the ground ‘must be cultivated’ and that weed membrane can only be down for a maximum of six weeks before it’s considered ’uncultivated’ and the allotment holder can be evicted. When it was smothered with invasive perennial weeds we were told by management that the only way to tackle them was to spray a glyphosate brand, and that the weed membrane we’d already put down to smother weeds had to come up shortly or they’d give the plot to someone else on the long waiting list. Hopefully your committee is more with the times. Unsurprisingly, I’ve yet to see a bee on the plot this year in spite of broad beans being in full flower.

        1. Poor you, Jan!

          My plot, when I inherited it in September 2019, was a total jungle and when i was clearing it I found various membranes totally covered over with grass having grown between gaps. It was rather like a tug of war competition to get the damn things free!

          I was lucky starting in September, because the early clearance was sown to Hungarian Rye, which is quite a good weed suppressor and it took me until the end of November to clear the rest, which meant that I had 4 months where really little growth took place. I used that time to put down loads of cardboard and horse manure, with woodchips over cardboard for paths.

          There were a few know-it-alls trying to interfere to begin with, but I’m old enough to just keep going and to stand my ground. When they saw the quality of my potatoes and squash, leeks and winter radish in 2020, I think they realised that I must be doing something right….

          I made just enough friends to ensure that the enemies did not win the day….

  23. Hello Charles
    Digestate might carry more unpleasant surprises.
    Studies found that antibiotics from farming use go right through the anaerobic digester into digestates.
    This could cause the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria/germs like MRSA in soil.
    There are concerns that people working with digestates have a higher probability of getting infected by those bacteria. Since the risk is known in e.g. pig farming , this makes sense.
    I’m not really happy that the new tenant of the field behind our house is a company running digesters…

  24. Hello Charles,

    Good to hear that you feel this spring has been cold and hard. I was looking at my plants and comparing them to this time in other years and thought they looked far smaller.

    Given this,how do you succession plant? As an example, I’m thinking that I might have to put tomatoes intercropped with the feb salads (lettuce, pea shoot, maybe radish but they seem to be plumping up well) for a quite a few weeks and I’m concerned about shade and nutrients. Either that or pot them on to massive pots which I prefer not to do.

    1. That is no problem because the winter salads will flower at the same time as normal, because that is governed by daylight. Some of the later sewing so might need to be a week later but one has to judge that as it happens. We may have a warm May!

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