Oh how nature laughs and thumbs her nose when allotmenteers make their plans for the growing season! No sooner had I published my plot plan for the year and mentioned a few projects, when she decreed we'd have the driest March and April for decades.
The ground became parched and hardened, defeating my spring clearance and digging efforts. So rather than following my lovely plan, I've had to shove things in where I've been able to get any decent tilth at all. Even with over an inch of rain last weekend, cracks are still to be seen and a fair portion of the plot remains undiggable.
Thank goodness I religiously watered my trees during this time, so the prolific spring blossom has resulted in an excellent fruit set on my apples and pears. The juvenile fruits spread beneath the cherry tree warn that the annual 'June Drop' is still to come and that watering may have to continue if early promise is to result in a bumper fruit harvest in the autumn.
A shelved project for this year is my 'Dig' vs. 'No Dig'* comparison as I can't do anything with the area earmarked for the 'Dig' portion of the trial next to where I've installed my 'No Dig' bed. I guess this means the 'No Dig' method wins this year.
The picture shows the bed just before I sowed my salad leaves selection. It's beneath the apple and pear trees in a cooler, more shaded spot on the plot which will prevent the leaves from bolting so quickly as summer takes hold. The raised bed was a freebie from Garden Answers last year and is probably the smartest thing on my plot. It swallowed up an entire bin of compost in one gulp ready for planting. You'll see I'm also trying out the square foot style of gardening for the first time.
I don't really go for ready mixed selections of leaves as I've found that one leaf tends to dominate over the others (usually mustard). I prefer to make my own mixes instead. My selection this time is:
Beetroot 'Bull's Blood'
Lettuce 'Little Gem'
Lettuce 'Mint Crisp'
Lettuce Morton's 'Secret Mix' very mixed lettuces (from Ben at Real Seeds)
I'll combine that little lot with the self-sown sorrel, nasturtiums (leaves and flowers) and fennel I have elsewhere on the plot :)
What are you trying for the first time this year and has the weather thwarted any of your plans so far?
* = Charles Dowding is the expert on the No Dig method and his website is a mine of information on this and organic growing. Go and hear him speak if you get the chance: his talk at the Bath University Gardening Club last year was inspirational.