Homeacres no dig drone view 30th April

May 2022 new plantings, harvests more rare, many sowings in May, no dig allotment, companion and inter planting

It’s a third consecutive year of April being very dry. In fact since 17th March we have had just 24mm rain (an inch). We need to give more water than usual, especially to new transplants and salad vegetables. We can appreciate how no dig is excellent for moisture retention.

Harvests at this time of year are precious and we are almost in the hungry gap, when stored winter vegetables finish and many newly planted ones are not yet ready. Leafy vegetables come to the fore including spinach, lettuce and spring onion.

It has also been quite cold recently, with the continuing possibility of night frost. My greenhouse is now crammed full of tender plants which are better in there for at least a week, although there are signs of warmer weather ahead. Featured image is 30th April.

  • New Audiobook, my No Dig Gardening Course 1, spoken by me with plenty of improvisation and bringing it right up to date. Not that no dig changes much!

Sowing and plant raising

Possible sowings this week include leeks, chard, beetroot, carrot, lettuce, celery and brassicas including cauliflower, cabbage and calabrese. In cooler regions, sow Brussels sprouts and kale. Here I sow Brussels around 8th-10th May.

You can sow salad onions any time, until and including July. Allow about ten weeks to maturity, depending on what size you like them.

It’s still fine to plant potatoes, my video shows a no dig method for that.

Sow courgettes and squash in warmth, for transplanting outside after mid May, when it’s warmer.
Sow cucumbers for growing under cover, if you have not already.

This is the kind of advice we are giving in the weekly email called When What How.

Transplanting under cover

I dared to set out some tomatoes this week, Sungolds which had grown very fast from sowing in the second week of March. We bury strings with knotted ends under the root balls, but have not tied them to the wires above because overnight they are covered with fleece, in case of frost. I interplant dwarf French marigolds for beauty and aphid reduction.

Interplants / companions

Plants like being close to (companion with) other plants, especially when they’re small. Intersowing, interplanting and multisowing are all variations of companion planting, as in these photos.

How to pick 1, overwintered vegetables

Purple sprouting broccoli is finishing, with new shoots being thinner with every passing week and then they become quite stringy. I’ve twisted out about a third of the plants already, and next week many others will finish.

Cauliflower on the other hand is a single harvest and they are suddenly cropping all at once! Aalsmeer, sown late August.

Outdoor garlic comes ready towards the end of June. It has been in the ground since October, cloves from homegrown garlic.

How to pick 2, salad plants

Mostly we harvest by gently twisting off outer leaves, which allows plants to grow back rapidly, and to live for a long time. Current harvests of sweet leaves of Medania spinach are from plants sown last August, for example.

An exception is wild rocket which I cut as you can see in the photograph. It has too many small stems to pick individually and regrows amazingly well after cutting

How to pick 3, multi or single sown fun

Cauliflower need to be harvested as soon as you see them fully grown, because soon after that they grow upwards and become broccoli!

Carefully twist out the largest roots of any multisown clump, such as radish or turnips at this time of year. This allows the remaining plants to continue growing and extends your period of harvest.

The third photo below is a total nice example of my no knead bread!

Stored potato, new asparagus and beans

We harvested a fair few tops of the broad bean plants for eating over winter. To clear some of them now I cut them just below ground level, to leave the root system in place (food for microbes) and make space for the asparagus now growing.

Stored potatoes from last summer are a valuable part of our diet in May, after rubbing off the shoots.

No dig allotment

This is by Emma Kane, near here. She works two days a week at Homeacres, it’s now full time gardening after being a physiotherapist. She took on the allotment 1st April and worked hard with her partner to smother the weeds!

Learning

Courses here are popular as ever, while in the first half of May I’m giving a few courses and talks elsewhere, see my events page.

At Ashburnham in E Sussex on 5th May, I give a course and a talk.

20 thoughts on “May 2022 new plantings, harvests more rare, many sowings in May, no dig allotment, companion and inter planting

  1. Hi Charles, so happy to see that your vegetables are doing so well. This is my 3rd year of no-dig following everything from you on the sowing calendar to spacing to companion planting.
    This year however, I already have a major aphid infestation in my polytunnel due to the calendulas that self seeded and was growing so lovely in the polytunnel amongst the garlic. My fault for not noticing them earlier but now all my plants including the tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergine, strawberries etc have aphids on them. May I have your advice how to effectively control and remove the infestation? I’ve been trying to do so manually, and also spraying neem oil with a little dish washing liquid but doesn’t seem to reduce the numbers. Would really appreciate your advice on this.

    1. Hi Jan, thanks, interesting!
      Aphid infestation suggests changes needed. Some aphids are normal in the spring, which for them is a major breeding time and that happens before the populations of predators have established.
      If their populations grow a lot and start to damage plants significantly, either you need to water more, or increase the organic matter content in your soil which helps it to hold moisture and to make plants stronger, and possibly there are ventilation issues from having too many plants together undercover. Without seeing your whole set up, I can’t be more specific than that but I never recommend to use products such as neem oil because from what I know, they kill predators as well, and they stop you looking at the bigger picture, which in your case needs to change. Even something like increase your ventilation.

  2. My most valuable learning the past two to four weeks has been the amazing growth you get from celery, lettuce and to a lesser extent, celeriac, by in effect floating a module tray in a shallow lake and never watering the plants from the top. By having them continually exposed to moisture without ever wetting the leaves, the rate of growth has been quite phenomenal. I’m really ready to plant out the celery already, which is a week earlier than normal, but if the warmer weather predicted is happening, it shouldn’t be a problem.

    I have now gone ten weeks without watering the pea shoot plants after putting them out into a woodchips-covered bed in late February. They have grown like the wind, which does suggest that plants growing vigorously deep roots do well with woodchip coverings. The same was true for the over-wintered chard, which was of course pretty well grown when the woodchips were put down. Kelsae onions have settled down nicely in such beds and now look a healthy deep green with three good sized true leaves. The results putting out young seedlings are more equivocal – it may be not a good idea for all things. 25 modules of spring onions were set out in 0.25sqm yesterday, so we shall see how they do on a wood chip bed.

    I must say that 2022 is shaping up to have the potential to be epic for fruit, currants and berries. Absolutely everything here has set fruit/currants as well as I have ever seen (apples, pear, cherry, plum, redcurrant, blackcurrant). Still time for adverse conditions to cause havoc, but the crucial fruit set phase has been truly wonderful with this sunny dry April with barely a frost.

  3. Charles,
    Long time no talk – it’s osteopath Yvonne from Cheshire. I’ve seen you talking about “When, What, How” and saying that a free copy will be going out to all that are subscribed. I don’t appear to have had mine. If you can let me know the date that they were sent, then I can check my junk folder. Kind regards, Yvonne

  4. Charles,
    Long time no talk – it’s osteopath Yvonne from Cheshire. I’ve seen you talking about “” and saying that a free copy will be going out to all that are subscribed. I don’t appear to have had mine. If you can let me know the date that they were sent, then I can check my junk folder. Kind regards, Yvonne

    1. Hi Yvonne, I guess you are talking about our weekly newsletter? Best thing is to email [email protected], who will send you a copy, and the first one went out about four weeks ago.

  5. Hello Charles – I’ve just created my first no dig bed which I hope wil be one of four. I’ve planted it with onions as I started them from sets and they were ready to move. However, I’m now reading that there are lots of plants which should not go into an onion bed! I had hoped to plant some peas and beans at the other end. What do you recommend to share the remainder of the bed and also interplant please?

    1. Probably a lot of what you’ve read about plants not liking onions is untrue! Over the years I’ve grown many vegetables close to onions on my beds, without any issues. The thing to consider is simply spacing and allowing enough room, see the photos of my two trial beds, dig and no dig. This year the onions are in two rows across the middle, and on one side I have some peas 45 cm away, on the other side are some carrots 30 cm away. Just for example.
      Whether you plant between your onions depends on the spacing you used. Generally it’s best to space them pretty close and let them grow all together in a group.

  6. Thank you Charles, especially Jacqui’s song (so true) and Emma K’s inspiring allotment pictures. Hard lessons learnt for me this year so far: (i) wet any cardboard put down in late winter, especially if it’s good quality stuff: you never know when a drought’s coming, and now I’ve got parched potatoes. (ii) Take the advice (again) and fleece the beetroot – CD does have some experience, and those little multisown cells are vulnerable to cold nights at first. (iii) Net the peas against pigeons. (iv) And I’ve had a first-ever courgette seed failure, my wife’s favourite yellow ones not coming up. I think the combination of heated propagator and sun on the french window may have been too much. At least there’s time for more.

    1. Thanks for sharing this Alan, sorry about those issues.
      It’s the amazing thing, how every year there are new challenges.

      1. I must correct one thing I said though, which exonerates the cardboard. My neighbour tells me (and you also mention it) what I hadn’t realised, which is that there was a frost. So the potato leaf damage was actually due to that frost. Now covered over by new leaves. My fault entirely: I don’t keep fleece on as long as I ‘should’. I like to see my plants as much as possible, part of the ‘riches’ of having a growing, natural garden, which appears in the lovely Homeacres song. So I’ll always – not being a commercial grower of course – have to find that balance between maximum yield and maximum view of growing green things. Thank you as always.

  7. Hi Charles, thanks for the reminders and reinforcement of the no-dig method. Have you any experience of cutworms? They’ve been a fairly regular springtime problem on my allotment. Thought things were OK this year, but on removing fleece from my onions, some of the multisown plants are being eaten. And my first sowing of carrots (I’d seen them germinated a few weeks ago) have disappeared. Any thoughts on cutworm control?

      1. I don’t know Geoff but catching them is probably the most effective method, to reduce numbers

  8. Where do you get your Linzer Delicatesse potatoes from? I’ve done an internet search but to no avail.
    Up here in cold Speyside (N E Scotland), we’re eating the last of the cabbages and Red Russian Kale. The latter is now flowering but I’m picking the flower heads and the baby leaves that are still forming, and they’re very tasty and tender. I’m about to sow next year’s Kale – Red Russian again, Cavolo Nero, and a hertiage Scottish variety called Sutherland Kale, all from Real Seeds. Excited about the Sutherland Kale – it feels good to be growing something more local. Will follow your advice about sowing purple sprouting broccoli in June.

  9. Thanks Charles,a few Qs: Can you tell us a bit more about your little flour mill? Are you doing sweetcorn this year? Half of mine were got by the allotment rat last year but rather than give up, I’m trying out a way of protecting the cobs with squash bottles and old socks. Kalettes: when to sow? Same as Brussels?

    1. Samap stone mill 1983
      Yes corn as badgers are less evident
      Good plan!
      Kalettes same indeed, sow soon

  10. Hello Charles,

    Great blog as usual. That you can propagate squash in so little is amazing, I start them in the old containwise 40’s but seems like I’m wasting compost.

    Your calender says ‘if normal weather, remove fleece’ but I assume it’s a bit cold at the minute and waiting until next weekend would be more sensible.?

    Thanks

  11. I took your advice and grew this years Garlic undercover in the sides of a long-low tunnel with winter salads in the middle row. With the salads finishing my pepper plants will replace them and the garlic will remain undisturbed but protected. I have to say, the stems have never been this thick before so early in the year. Thanks Charles.

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