Brian Kidd sets you to work.
• Runner bean seeds can be planted indoors now. You don’t need a greenhouse. Sow them in insert cells in a window. They’ll be ready to plant out the day after Wickham Fair day, the traditional day after which there should be no frosts. Keep some seeds to plant during the third week in June. This will ensure you have tender beans in the autumn.
• Fork over areas in the garden where summer flowers are intended. Scatter two-three ounces of Vitax Q4 fertiliser to each square yard and lightly rake into the soil. The fertiliser will then be active once the plants are planted after mid-May.
• Do you love spring greens? Try sowing seeds of the summer cabbage called Hispi. It is an F1 hybrid and the leaves are green while the plants are young. Sow single seeds in insert cells. Plant out once large enough to handle and eat the greens in 12 weeks. They can be sown like this every four weeks until August.
• Sow marrow and courgette seeds indoors.
• Continue to cover emerging shoots on potatoes and use the compost and potash as suggested last week to prevent slug damage. Scatter slug crystals between the rows. These crystals will not harm birds, they only kills slugs by dehydrating them.
• Give early potato plants half a gallon of water to each plant, applied slowly. If the haulms look thin and weak, add a dessertspoon of sulphate of ammonia to the water but don’t allow the mix to touch the leaves.
• Look at roses to check for greenfly. A quick squeeze here and there where the groups of aphids are seen may keep them under control but a spray of Multirose will be even more effective.
• Support broad bean plants. A very good way of doing this is to insert 4ft-long canes upright every four feet among both sides of the row and then tie in horizontal canes, a bit like a fence, the horizontal canes being four inches above the other. This is a good wind resistant method and especially good on exposed sites where high winds often break the plants when they are laden with bean pods.
• French beans, either the dwarf varieties or climbing types, can be planted directly into the ground. Dwarf beans are best planted eight inches apart in double rows, 12 inches between rows. There are usually quite a few ‘misses’ so sow a few extra seeds at the ends of the rows and these can be used to fill gaps. Scatter slug crystals because slugs and snails eat germinating beans as if there’s no tomorrow.