Apple Blossom

Week seventeen

Things you can do this week
The temptation now is to believe that we won't get another hard frost before the beginning of summer. Experience tells us we probably will, and if we are really unfortunate it will be particularly late and severe. We can't be sure that we will be safe from frost until the first week in June. Hot sunny spells in May will provide a great stimulus to get outside and prepare beds for the many plants which will enjoy a warm English summer but can't stand the cold,- bedding plants in the flower garden and tender vegetables in the kitchen garden.

Links to weeks throughout the year
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Gardening diary week 17 beekeeping blog

Diary week seventeen April 23rd - April 29th

This is a good time to start sowing french beeans outside - when the lilac is in bloom - both the dwarf and the climbing varieties.


Monday 24th April. The weather is changeing. We had a little rain today - but not much. I'm still watering my carrots, shallots and lutuce. Next the forecast is for a cold spell. It was already too cold today for the honeybees to be out - but the bumble bees are made of sterner stuff - see video


Sunday 27th April 2008 I normally sow peas directly into the ground but for some reason this year I have germinated quite a few in pots and then planted them out. There are some advantages in growing peas this way. You don't get any gaps in the row where seeds have been eaten by birds or rodents and you have an extra couple of weeks whilst the peas germinate in the pots in order to dig muck into the ground and prepare the bed. I takes longer to plant them out than to sow seed but the resulting straight row of peas evenly spaced apart is very satisfying. Now we need a really good rain to get them growing well.

Saturday 26th April 2008 What a contrast. Just one week ago today it was warm and pretty much sunny all day. The the first of the apple blossom is out and the asparagus is begining to force it's way up through the ground.
The purple sprouting broccoli will soon be over as far as picking and eating is concerned and will be flowering soon, although there was still some to pick.

One of my obsessions is self seeding vegetables. My allotment now has a small list of plants that seed themselves. Most reliable is the everlasting or beet spinach that grows every year in a variety of forms and colour. The parsnips seed themselves all over the plot and rocket, land cress and parsley do in several areas now. My sprouting broccoli that pops up in almost any bit of land cultivated at this time of the year is a mixture of several selected varieties of purple sprouting broccoli and white sprouting broccoli often with some other cabbage or sprout genes added in. The result is a wide variety of plants that grow and crop at a different times. I will let many plants flower, as the bees like them, and leave one to go to seed. Some I have already been chopped up and dug into the ground under the runner bean and some are in the compost bin.

The first of the beans sown in pots where planted out this week and for the first time in many years I bought a new packet of runner bean seed from the allotment shed.

I am digging around under the peach tree it's the first time I have dug up to and around the base of the trunk of the tree. It is quite a large tree now and this year has no more verbaskum growing under it they have been replaced by the yellow rooted stinging nettle that has become so well established it will take me some time to get it all out.

Pricked out the aubergines seedlings into pots.

2007 This April must have been one of the driest on record and with hardly a drop falling from the sky it was necessary to have the hose connected for most of the month. The sun shone as if it was summer and the bonus for us was the pollination of all of our fruit trees including the pears and the peaches.

2006 Thursday 27th April 2006 The greengage tree outside my window has been flowering for some days now and is being constantly visited by a variety of bees. There is every indication that we should get a reasonable plum crop this year although I think the overall number of honey bees must be low this as the cold weather during the long winter has taken it's toll on the number of colonies that have survived.

Sold first nuc of the year today.

Wednesday 26th April 2006 Planted potatoes

Tuesday 25th April weeded onions on Geoff's plot. Gave garlic compost and put bin back together. Potted on cabbages

Tuesday 24th April Opened up compost near the bee hives in Geoff's allotment and prepared site for climbing French beans with it. Geoff is going to put up the posts this year as he likes them sited precisely.

Saturday 23rd planted a new row of asparagus

Sunk pots with germinated snowdrop seedlings in under the other large apple tree. Will cover tops of pots with leaf mould when the plants have died down and leave them until next year.

2005 Tuesday 26th April 2005 I put a feeder on the the hive with the new swarm in it. The long promised rain has arrived - well what is left of it - most of it has fallen on Britain to the west of us.

Monday 25th April 2005 We have had a run of warm sunny days now and I was called out to pick up the first swarm of the year.

Sunday 24th April 2005 I removed a queen from one of the hives and put it in a new brood box with a few bees and a couple of frames of honey to put on the students allotment.

2004 29th We have had a considerable amount of rain in the last few days as was evident by a wheel barrow half full of water in the apiary allotment. I spent some time this evening sorting out and transplanting my bluebells. I have several sorts of bluebells (click for an explanation) the English wild bluebell that has the flower bells down one side of the stem, the Spanish bluebell that has flowers all around the stem and hybrids of the two have a random arrangement. So I am separating the original English bluebell from the others and growing them apart in an attempt to prevent them interbreeding. They are sharing a space under an apple tree with the Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) that I have been growing for many years now and have built up quite a stock of bulbs. They disappear after flowering and have a habit of cropping up somewhere else in subsequent years as the smaller bulbs can get dug up and re-planted without being noticed.

If you are interested in bluebells Bluebells for Britain have an online survey that they would like your help with

April 24/25 Sowed first French beans and planted out red onion seedlings grown by John. Split up one of the bee hives in the other allotment apiary.

April 23rd 2004 The queen is dead - long live the queen.

I hate doing it - killing a queen bee. Especially when she has given her best in several years good service and in her turn been the mother of other good queens. But it has to be done. When a queen bee gets old and starts to run out of eggs the worker bees will make a queen cell for her to lay an egg in where they will feed the hatching grub with royal jelly and as a result produce a new young queen. All of which is fine except that having two queens in a beehive is rarely successful and one of the two has to go and the old queen is likely to swarm. In order to prevent this event the old queen has to be removed from the hive.

As I removed the queen before she had dropped an egg in her selected cell several other cells are likely to be made into queen cells. In a weeks time I will open the hive again and select the best looking completed cell and remove the others. I won't then open the hive again for a month by which time the new young queen will have hatched, left the hive for a maiden flight, mated, returned to the hive and started laying eggs - that's if all goes to plan.

2003 25th April Rain at last. Used up a complete bag of blood fish and bone feeding potatoes, onions shallots and garlic.

2002 Sunday 28th 2002 We had substantial rain during the night and early morning that added to that of the day before and has now made a real difference to the allotment. When I sowed the last French beans just a few days ago it was like sowing them into sand it was so dry and dusty. Now the soil is in perfect condition for planting out cabbages and lettuces and for sowing more seed. The day was bright with patches of warm sunshine and scudding clouds brought over with a strong wind from the west. The showers held off until evening allowing time to finish planting potatoes and planting out. As the wind was blowing I weeded the carrots (sown some weeks ago) for the first time, trying all the time not to touch the carrots themselves that were now showing their true 'carrot' leaves. With a bit of luck they will not need too much more weeding and will be able to compete with any new weeds that will germinate now as a result of the rain and the newly disturbed soil. Before leaving the plot and the arrival of more rain I gave the onion sets and shallots a generous dressing of blood fish and bone hoping that it will get well watered in. The onions sets will need weeding in the next few days.

April 27th 2002 Saturday afternoon was more typical for the time of year - April showers have arrived. Although there were two heavy downpours (one of hailstones) they were very short and didn't stop the action for long. Sowed more radishes (Sparkler2) a row of beetroot (Boltaroy) a row of carrots (Berlicum2) and more potatoes (Pink Fir Apple) Dug more ground.

April 26th 2002 Finally the rain arrived today. After a month or more of dry weather (so much for April showers!) and very warm sunny weather in the last couple of weeks, the wind has turned to the north east, the temperature dropped and the rain arrived. The sprouts put in yesterday looked fine and the rain had stopped by early evening in time to plant out some calabrese. I'm glad I weeded the Japanese onions and the shallots yesterday I also gave them some of the first home made (stinging nettle) liquid feed. The spring cabbage have been big enough to cut for the last week or so, but are only now a really good size. The asparagus has begun to emerge from it's leaf mould mulch and the first radishes were also ready to pick.

April 25th 2002 Planted out first rows of sprouts.

2000 21/22/23/24/ After a third week of cold winds from the North there has been a change in direction with strong winds from the west - much warmer and wet. The bees in the allotment are now a strong colony and raring to go. The have begun to use the new supper but the weather has prevented them making much headway. The stores in the brood box have now been almost completely used and replaced with brood. I'm sure the full supper has also provided a useful supply of food in these cold weeks even if it has been replaced as soon as the sun shines. This hive swarmed last year and has a young unmarked and unclipped queen in residence and despite the extra space of a new supper I have had to remove queen cups on the last two inspections. I think vigilance will be the order of the day here if I'm to avoid another swarm this year.

My modest town garden doesn't have much work to do in it at this time of year. Mowing the lawn and a little pruning of the Forsythia that has now finished flowering. My weed tolerant regime gives me a display of dandelion honesty and forget-me-not's mixed with the planted wallflowers and tulips - a riot of colour. If I had the space I would experiment with just a combination of dandelion and purple honesty that are such a contrast to each other. Who ever follows me will probably curse my dandelion tolerance and take years to remove them all but they don't flower for long and can be dug out after flowering to make space for more choice summer specimens. The allotment now has several rows of potatoes planted, shallots, garlic, broad beans, carrots, beetroot, onion sets, spinach, and a row of various brassica seeds sown (Cauliflower - All The Year Round and English Winter, Cabbage - Savoy, Christmas Drumhead, January King, Holland Late Winter, Broccoli - Purple and White). The cold weather in the last few weeks has extended the cropping season for the purple and white sprouting broccoli but as the weather warms that will soon change and the plants will run to flower and need to be pulled up and put on to the compost heap or dug in under the last of the main crop potato planting.

1999 April 24th/25th. A beautiful sunny weekend. The Lilac is in bloom - time to begin sowing French beans - but not too many as there is still a chance of loosing these early sowings to a late hard frost - they can be sown weekly until well into July if both main crop and late varieties are chosen. I sow some late varieties now in order to have plenty of seed for next year's late sowings as those sown in July are less likely to set seed easily.

Moved many plants around. Hoed, sowed seeds weeded the onions, garlic and shallots by hand. I've sown more broad beans - possibly the last for this year as I find late sowings of broad beans less than a 100% successful and not really required in the Autumn when there are plenty of other vegetables to hand.

April 26th The weather this evening has made a sudden change. It's much cooler than yesterday the wind has turned Easterly and there is a fine drizzle casting a cool blanket over everything - ideal for planting out cabbages, lettuces and garden plants that need relocating to a new site and of course digging and planting more potatoes. Sowed more lettuce, radish, cauliflower.

Back garden 2017

Our back garden changes as the years go by. - Click here to see more images

Back garden

April was early this year (2007) and despite the saying there were no April showers indeed we had virtually no rain at all throughout the whole of April

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