Mid March and it's 25 days since we transplanted these lovely lettuce.

Mid April 2022 sowing, planting, effects of covers, frost and pest damage, spring specials, no dig mulching, and storing vegetables

Spring is rushing in. I hope you enjoy my tips from Homeacres, and a look at what we are up to. The featured photo is morning of 16th March, the lettuce cover briefly removed

We have started an offer of weekly advice for £5/month, emailed to your inbox every Friday. It’s free for schools, community gardens and allotment groups. The response has been very positive: do take a look, with a ‘free’ first week.

‘The newsletter was excellent and I will be recommending it to all my gardening friends’ – Ann Donnelly


Now if not done already is top time for planting potatoes. You can cut them in pieces as long as there is one eye or shoot or chit – all are the same name for one potential plant. I often am planting with 2-4.

Leeks and chard and basil are in season to sow. Leeks, soon! T
And cucurbits. They need as much warmth as you can find, to help with germination, especially if seeds are not as fresh as one might hope. Even packets of seeds you have recently bought may contain older and less powerful seed.

The new CD30 and CD15 are growing nice plants and are proving popular, see more in this video.

New plantings using covers

My growing method for early spring is to start sowing under cover in late winter and this year that has really paid off. Because I’m noticing now that there are quite a few little slugs and a risk of damage, compared to earlier transplanting. However it’s not always straightforward and that’s why we use covers a lot, see video from April last year. I still don’t know of any non-plastic covers but at least these ones last for many years.

Sometimes we support them, sometimes not, the photos give you an idea. Radish with the carrots help to push up the fleece, see my Skills book which has a chapter about using covers.



Few weeds no dig

The photo is Anna in her soon-to-be new garden where she is mulching on top of grass. Follow her in the weekly when what how.

See my new video on needing less time and energy with suitable tools.

In January we covered some very strong pasture growth with black plastic, plus some compost on the grass so the plastic is always on top, never buried. It’s an easy and quick way to diminish strong weeds before planting. In this case we shall even plant potatoes and winter squash through the plastic, which will save time dealing with bindweed.


I hope that you are enjoying success with raising plants. Every year one learns a little bit more, and I’m always trialling new things. We’ve come through the most difficult time: from now on, new seedlings should grow much stronger and faster.

Be ready with some fleece, if you’re raising warmth loving plants in a greenhouse and there is a cold night forecast. This applies to tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergine, squash, melon, basil and sweetcorn. Lay it from evening until morning only.

Spring delicacies

We’re enjoying some lovely spring cabbage, from a sowing in late August and transplanting late September, after summer beans. Make notes in your or my diary for these kinds of vegetables which are such a bonus in the spring.

The broccoli on the other hand was sown last June. And now we have just planted some asparagus crowns, in shallow holes rather than trench-and-ridge.



Stored vegetables 

When you grow your own lovely healthy vegetables, they store far better than anything you buy. Just look at the quality of these carrots which we harvested in December and the potatoes harvested last July. They taste so good, and are super welcome now.

Frost damage

Just a heads up on what can happen. My broad beans are quite tall and the frost of -5 C 23 Fahrenheit has slightly damaged some of the stems so they’re not standing up well. The other damage is where frozen fleece touches any leaves, and this can happen with potatoes as well, if there is a late frost. Support the fleece if you can. Even then, they may be singed if it’s -3C or lower. It’s why I plant most potatoes in April rather than March.

Pest damage

Adam was removing bindweed from the bed of onion transplants and wondered why there were so few plants! Then he found wireworms, clustered around many of the roots. Quite small ones, and I’m with puzzled that they seem to be only in this one bed.

I hope that you do not encounter pyralid damage from compost. See my video for details. Classic symptoms are curling inwards of new topmost leaves, on beans, potatoes, tomatoes and peas above all.


Cat is developing tasty recipes, including foraged food! Here is a sample. Book comes out late autumn.

20 thoughts on “Mid April 2022 sowing, planting, effects of covers, frost and pest damage, spring specials, no dig mulching, and storing vegetables

  1. Many thanks for this and previous bulletins. Referring back to applying wood chip mulch to the actual beds, don’t slugs rather like to dwell in it?

    1. Yes Jill, and mainly when it’s in a depth of more than about 3 cm. It’s for that reason that I never use it in any thicker depth and nor do I recommend putting it on beds, only on pathways.
      My home-made compost has quite a few wooden bits in, which results in the surface of beds having a thin layer of old wood, and this is fantastic for soil fungi

  2. Thanks for the info, I signed up for when what how a few weeks ago, do you know when the first one is due to arrive, I can’t see that info on the signup form?
    Also I’m a novice and particularly struggling with how often to water. My compost seemed very dry so I’ve watered 3 – 4 times a week for the last few weeks (since transplanting out under fleece) . Do you think I’ve been overwatering as now the bottom leaves of many of my plants are yellow and shriveled? Thanks in advance for any advice on watering.

    1. Hi Nikki. I’m sorry to see this and I’m emailing you to confirm that you will receive the newsletter. I wonder if it might have gone to your spam box?

      It’s a difficult spring in terms of dryness and we are watering new plantings – but only in their first week and then we leave them alone.
      I wonder whether you may have used new compost which was not mature, which means it doesn’t hold moisture.
      It could help to buy a sack or two of potting compost and sprinkle it lightly on the surface to fill some of the spaces and hold moisture.

  3. Many thanks Charles for all this information and that in previous bulletins.
    I also am curious about raking off wood chip before applying more compost. Doesn’t this mulch provide a haven for slugs as well?

    1. I have lost the thread here because of the way comments are presented in the backend of my website. Just to summarise, it should never be that beds have a lot of woodchip on top, nor pathways for that matter (3cm max). Therefore the question does not arise.
      However if you did have a bed with say 5 cm/2″ undecomposed woody material on top, I would indeed rake it off before applying compost.

  4. A note of thanks to you and your crew for all of your wonderful work and information — I found my way to your videos and website only recently, and am thoroughly obsessed! I’m three years into my own adventure turning half of my small 1/8 acre backyard into a continuously-cropping veg garden, and am so thrilled to have your knowledge and methodology to inspire me now. I’ve devoured your online content, and look forward to reading your books as well.

    As a novice No-digger, I have many, many questions, but perhaps the most anxious-making is to do with sourcing compost; until I am able to rely on compost of my own making (started this week!), I’ve been using local municipal compost that is available for free; I’m fairly certain it’s green waste, but I’ve no real idea exactly what’s in it, or how old it is. It’s moist and crumbly, with a lot of woody bits and stems (nothing bigger than my thumb), and some small stones. Are there good ways of determining its maturity or state of decomposition? Anything I should be wary of when it comes to municipal sources?

    Again — thank you!

    1. Hi Sara, thankyou, nice to hear.
      Yes it varies a lot and some of it is luck. Aim to purchase it a month or two before you need to use it so that it can mature some more. They often sell it immature and then it does not grow such good plants, while ripening.

      There is one horrible thing which sometimes gets in called pyralid weedkiller, from use on lawns. See this video, and check by sowing fava beans.
      I wish you success.

  5. Many thanks Charles for the wealth of information you make available.
    Having first seen your YouTube channel during during lockdown, then your Diary and this year your Skills for Growing I’ve transformed my disjointed 1/2 allotment into 1 and 1/2 no dig allotments.
    Made tons of compost (I’m a landscaper so plenty of weeds, and wood chip for the heaps) so satisfying! But above all so much food produced- I’ve got spring greens, leeks and a crop of purple sprouting broccoli I could’ve only dreamed of a few years ago.
    Thankyou, and here’s to many more seasons of learning and growing good food.
    Yours faithfully, Leon from Colchester

    1. Hello Leon
      It sounds wonderful, especially the healthy food abundance!
      I’m so happy to read this and thank you for your feedback. I’m really pleased that you’ve managed to work it all out through the different materials we are putting out.
      I should love it if you can write a review please, on the Skills book page?

  6. Hi Charles, my No Dig garden is doing well and my friends that I have introduced are pleased with the results.
    For two years I have tried to grow celeriac but not a single plant has been produced from the seeds. I have tried Bingenheimer seeds but no luck. Could it be not high enough temperature at the start. They are just put in a seed tray in the greenhouse.
    I hope you can give advice, I’m enjoying the Skills for Growing book.

    Best wishes Peter from Newton Abbot

    1. Hi Peter, that’s nice to hear, except for the celeriac.
      I have a feeling that you are covering the seeds with compost. Celery and celeriac need light to germinate and therefore sow them on top with some glass over, preferably out of the sun for 10 to 14 days as they are slow to germinate.
      I used those seeds this year and they all came up really well.

  7. Thanks again for all your great advice. I am using your CD 60 plugs and the germination rate this year is so good. Bad news is I will now have to make difficult decisions on which ones to plant, keep for replacements and which ones are for the compost heap (I shall try and give some away) because I have so many thriving seedlings. A nice problem to have! I have also discovered that my years old dibber is the same shape as the plugs.

  8. What are your thoughts on Forever there chemicals which could be in cardboard and compostible food containers? The whole issue is so depressing.

    1. I don’t know Diana. In fact it’s one really looks into it, we are surrounded by huge numbers of synthetic chemicals, even in the rain and air. So I can’t pretend to have an answer to this and regarding cardboard, I use it as little as possible for the initial kill of weeds and holding heat in compost heaps.

  9. A few thoughts based on the past few weeks:

    1. Woodchip mulch over well-composted no dig beds really does make a huge difference in terms of preventing the soil drying out. I was just hoeing off the few weeds that do emerge through the woodchips and the deep brown colour of the soil below was akin to having just watered the bed! I’d not watered it at all for six months! A bed which was hoed the same day without woodchips on was losing surface moisture much more rapidly in the warm April sunshine.
    2. Kohlrabi which did well under fleece in late March and early April has been susceptible to some munching after removing fleece due to 20C days. Beetroot next to it in the same bed has thrived.
    3. Pea Shoots grow beautifully in no-dig beds with an 18-month-old woodchip mulch on top. They are as far forward in mid-April as I have seen them the past five years. I’ve not watered them at all since watering them during transplantation.
    4. Leek germination is faster on a leaf mould layer top and bottom in a tub than it is via standard module sowing. I sowed both on 11th April and after 7 days I have a hundred odd leak plants emerging from the leaf mould, whereas the first leek in modules only emerged this morning. Both were indoors at identical temperature for the first five days after sowing, then both went outdoors given the warm weather.
    5. I have had my first batch of duff seeds from Seed Cooperative five years after starting to use them. Their Merveille des Quatre Saisons lettuce seed this year germinated poorly twice, and the first time those plants which did emerge were weak growing on. I sowed Little Gem in the same tray as the second sowing and they have roared through as expected. It has taught me the importance of sowing multiple batches to ensure a first PACA crop, which this year we will now have to do without. We’ll just have to survive on Little Gems in June and July instead.
    6. I am sowing my cucurbits in early May this year, along with Squash as I find they grow so fast indoors that they are ready to go out too early if I sow them in mid April. It’s one of those tweaks that people have to make if their set up is different to yours. They will be in the ground in late May and I’ve not had a problem doing that last year.
    7. As for sowing onion clumps into newly cleared/composted ground, I have to say I didn’t find Year One at my new allotment did too well onion-wise. They got much better in year 2 and this year the sets are all firing very very well. I don’t find putting onion clumps out in mid to late March works well before the ground is perfect and find I get a better, albeit less abundant crop by sowing early to mid March and transplanting mid to late April. If I had 20cm of fresh compost on the bed, maybe my experiences would be different? I just transplanted purchased Exhibition onion plants into my home beds covered in Wood Chip and they have taken off very well indeed.
    8. Like you, my over-wintered Broad Beans suffered both from frost and Storm Eunice, but have recovered with a few losses. The ones sown in early February and transplanted early March are looking perfect, albeit not yet flowering. It’s a risk management strategy I’ve tended to use to cover different ‘plagues on bean harvests’!
    9. I’ve sown my second celery batch a month earlier than you suggest as last year, although the first crop was magnificent, the second didn’t really reach maturity – probably as the amount of sunlight we get in the back garden isn’t as much as you get at Homeacres. Giving them an extra month to mature may be the pragmatic solution, although it does mean they need to follow rapid-growth first spring crops rather than those harvesting in early July.
    10. The perennials that I have been planting which have done the best the past three years have been lovage, wild lupin, Echinacea Pallida, Welsh Onion, Catnip, Orange Hyssop, Russian Olive, Tansy, Chives, Yarrow, Hollyhock, Ligularia and Artemisia. The Lavender seem to be giving up a bit in year 3, which is a shame. Asphodel have survived a winter in 8cm pots outside and are now ready for transplanting down at the allotment. Establishing Rosemary plants from seed is a labour of love! I may end up buying some. Siberian Pea Shrub aka Caragana Arborescens appears not to like heavy clay soil.

    1. HI Rhys,
      Thanks for this detailed information which I find especially useful as I am located near to you.

    2. Definitely agree that you need to figure out what works well in your own space. I’m 500m from the sea so protected from hard frost even though I’m further north in Wicklow, Ireland. The fleece covers on early planting are a huge success though and give me about double the growth compared to plants left uncovered.
      One question though , if you cover beds with woodchip mulch isn’t it problematic when you want to put on more compost later? Or do you rake it off first?
      thank you so much for all the information, it’s very helpful.

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