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Jamie’s Little Allotment: Here’s what Gayton gardener has planted in his first allotment bed of the season

In his weekly Jamie’s Little Allotment column, gardener Jamie Marsh discusses planting his first allotment bed of the season...

How much does grass grow in one week if the conditions are just about perfect? I would say about six inches.

It always happens as you get home from your lovely relaxing week’s holiday, you notice how much the grass - and everything else as it happens - has grown since you left just a few days before.

Jamie Marsh has planted his first allotment bed of the season
Jamie Marsh has planted his first allotment bed of the season

Apparently, last week while my wife and I were having a break in Ibiza, it was perfect conditions for the grass to shoot up five or six inches.

So that was most of my Sunday sorted, mowing and strimming to try and get a bit of order back.

It actually didn’t take all day to mow the lawn, after I finished I started to plant out my first allotment bed of this season.

Jamie planted kale, beetroot, carrots and onions in this allotment bed
Jamie planted kale, beetroot, carrots and onions in this allotment bed

I’m changing the way I’m growing in the allotment this year, usually in the past I’ve planted the whole or maybe half the bed up with the same vegetables, but this year I’m going to mix it up a bit to try to use the space in the raised beds a bit more economically.

For instance, in this first bed I planted a row of kale down the centre of it. These are in the centre because I know they will take the longest to mature, I also netted the kale to keep the pesky pigeons off.

On either side of the net, I transplanted a row of beetroot seedlings which I started off in the greenhouse several weeks ago, using my string line and dibber to make holes in the soil in a nice straight line.

I planted them quite close, about half the distance stated in the packet, and as they grow I will thin them out but not by pulling a seedling out and wasting them but will wait until the beets are about the size of a cherry tomato then pull out alternating baby beets leaving the remaining one with lots of space to grow to full size.

Beside the beetroot I planted a row of carrots - chantenay and purple mixed - which were also started in the greenhouse, you have to be quite careful when planting carrot seedlings out because the long taproot which is already there is the start of the carrot so you don’t want to damage it.

Next to the carrots, on the outsides of the bed, I popped some mammoth onions in, which I sowed back in the autumn and are now the size of small spring onions. Mammoth onions can grow to the size of a honeydew melon, so spacing is very important at this stage, we don’t want them squeezing into one another in a couple of months’ time.

The main reason for adding the onions to this bed next to the carrots is because the onions’ strong fragrance helps to mask the smell of the carrots which the carrot fly is so attracted to.

If the carrot fly does get to your carrots they will lay their eggs on them and as soon as the eggs hatch, the larvae eat into your cherished veg.

With this bed all planted up, I realised there was lots of unused space at the moment which will not be there in several weeks when the trio of beetroot, carrots and onions start to swell.

How can I use this space but still leave enough growing room for the others? I need something that will grow fast and can be harvested before space is needed - the ideal candidates are radishes.

Radishes are fast-growing and should be ready to harvest in about six weeks.

I decided to squeeze two rows in, in between the beetroot and carrot seedlings. Radishes are so easy to grow, just make a drill 1.5 -2.0cm deep, sow the seed quite sparingly then cover it over with soil and don’t forget to label everything.

Give the whole bed a good watering and wait. Harvest your lovely spicy radishes just in time to give everything else the room they need to mature.

This week I’m having a day at The RHS Chelsea flower show, so I can tell you all about it next week.

If you’ve got any questions about anything garden-related just email me at Jamieslittleallotment@gmail.com

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