Gardening Blog – Spare Leek Seedlings Welcome

Floral Flotilla - flowers copysmall

‘Go away for two weeks in the growing season and you risk losing an entire veg crop’. With the words of a very experienced gardener and teacher ringing in my ears I went away for nearly three.

I left during that really cold spell. What to do with my healthy looking seedlings? If the temperature rose they’d cook in the potting shod. If it dropped any further at night they’d freeze on the allotment.

One solution was to rig up a self-watering system in the kitchen and leave the tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes and sweetcorn on the table with plenty of light. Most of the other seedlings – everything from runner beans to early sprouting broccoli – I nestled together in a sheltered part of the garden and covered with bird netting. Only beetroot, leeks and pea seedlings went down to the allotment.

To my amazement, everything in the kitchen survived, as did the seedlings grouped together in the garden. In fact, they more than survived. They looked incredibly healthy despite the extremes of cold, heat and rainfall you had while I was away. Perhaps, as I heard Charles ‘no-dig’ Dowding mention recently, ‘seedlings love company.’ Should we always grow them in a bit of a jumble and with pots placed very closely together?

The seedlings that went to the allotment didn’t do so well. The peas look very nibbled and there were lots of gaps in the rows of beetroot. As for the leek seedlings, they all disappeared. There’s still time to plant more peas and beetroot but it’s a bit late for leeks. I’ll be pinning my hopes on the Allotment Association Plant Sale on Saturday, 28th May. If you sowed too many leek seeds this spring, you are guaranteed at least one customer!

I see a lot of gardens as part of my job. This week I visited the wonderful Cable Street Community garden in Shadwell. It’s a perfect example of jumbled and joyful planting without a straight line to be seen. Surrounded by high-rise blocks and despite the Docklands Light Railway rumbling overhead, it’s a peaceful place.  Certainly no noisier than Greencroft Allotments can be as the traffic thunders down Remenham Hill. The local residents – from every corner of the globe – grow food and flowers or just sit and reflect. As you might imagine, there’s a very long waiting list. One couple signed up years ago. By the time their names reached the top of the list they had two children. Made me realise how lucky we are to have such easily accessible allotments in Henley.

We’re wishing for fine weather this weekend. Don’t forget the Chelsea Fringe Henley Floral Flotilla on Saturday 21st and the Meditative Walk through the woodland around Greys Court on Sunday 22nd. There’s plenty going on in Henley throughout the Fringe. Keep an eye on the website.

If the idea of visiting a garden in silence appeals to you, keep half an hour free on Friday 10 June, 13.30 – 15.30. Switch off your phone and spend time in the pretty garden at Friends Meeting House, Northfield End. Then help our research by giving us your feedback over tea and cakes. More details about the Silent Space pilot study in the next blog.

Top Tips from the allotments

  • Net fruit bushes to protect them from birds
  • Keep an eye on weather forecasts for late frosts
  • Harvest asparagus
  • Continue picking rhubarb
  • Sow beetroot, cucumbers, French beans, Runner beans, sweetcorn, carrots, spinach, peas
  • Sow more lettuce for succession
  • Transplant sprouting broccoli seedlings and firm the ground around them
  • Keep weeding