dry at last

We have had a relatively dry week and, with some long days, have caught up with most of the planting. The break in the rain came too late for some of the plants which have had to be skipped; there comes a time when they have waited in their trays for too long, making them leggy with disease on the older leaves. Ideally the plants would go out to the fields with youthful vigour: when there is still some nutrition left in the compost, when the foliage is hardened off but not stunted and when the roots reach the edges of the modules they are grown in. If we get it all right they root out in three or four days and grow away unchecked by the transition from glasshouse to field.

Few things have been ideal in the last month and many of our plants have been sitting around for too long. Once the roots start to brown, spiralling around the containers, they are slow to establish in the field and it can take weeks for roots to venture out of the propagating compost into the surrounding soil. If you buy plants (vegetable or ornamental) whatever the leaves look like it is worth lifting them out of the pot before you part with your cash. If they are brown with a mat of roots taking and holding the shape of the pot, they will be very slow to establish and may never make it. Some garden centres have become masters at giving old, tired, root-bound plants a youthful boost with liquid feeds. If you can find nothing better and buy one of these plants I recommend being brutal and breaking up all these roots before planting.

We are coming to the end of our broad beans. The autumn sown crop did well but a lot of the spring sown beans, that would have been picked this month, have been overwhelmed by a plague of black fly. This week