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Spud Grubber's Blog

Guy Barter

  • Date Joined: 15 Jan 2007

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There is not day to lose.

Posted by Guy Barter on 27 May 2009 at 12:24 PM

Now that duties at Chelsea are over, the allotment can get some attention.  My favourite part of allotment gardening is raising new plants each year.  Every sunny place in the back garden near a tap or water butt is covered in young plants and tray by tray these are scooped up and conveyed to the plot and carefully planted one-by-one.

Sowing seeds direct in the ground is a lot quicker, but they have to fight their way through the weeds that are so damaging on sandy soils.  Transplants on the other hand are put out later, giving a interval to eliminate weeds.  On bare ground weeds are lightly hoed or treated with contact weedkillers.  The occasional bindweed or creeping butter cup is spot treated with a glyphosate weedkiller in a handy ready-to-use pack.  After recent wet summers horsetails have staged a comeback.  Normally frequent hoeing and heavy smothering crops keep horsetail at negligible levels, so it is back to repeated hoeing to beat this weed back down.

Opaque plastic sheeting is my secret weapon of allotment growing and many crops are planted through the plastic and are then essentially weedfree.  Tiresome weeds do occur at the edges of the plastic just where they cannot be hoed but a contact weedkiller usually polishes them off nicely.

With care the sheets can be recovered and re-used year after year.  Even better when the time comes to replant later in the summer or in the autumn, the soil is weedfree and in perfect condition for quick re-planting.  The downside is that the sheets can harbour slugs so slug controls are applied before laying the sheets.

Tender plants such as cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squash, sweetcorn and tomatoes set out through opaque plastic are usually covered with fleece or clear polythene cloches  to boost growth and provide protection from the wind that can be very damaging to plants raised in a sheltered garden and suddenly exposed in an open allotment site, as well as boosting their growth.

The general idea is to get as much leaf out as quickly as possible to turn the high light levels in May, June and July into useful plant material; by August and September the best of the growing season is over with light levels are falling fast and days shortening.  There is not day to lose.

Comments

Digger said:

Do you leave the covers on the tender plants all summer? I know they bees need access, but I was wondering if you re cover the plants when the fruit begins to form?

on 27 May 2009 at 12:48 PM

Guy Barter said:

I leave covers on as long as practically possible. Weeding, p&D control and watering under covers is a chore however.  If plants need pollinators the covers are at least partially lifted to allow insects in and out - I try to cover melons and peppers with clear polythene to give them more warmth but this requires careful management to avoid cooking the plants on sunny days, whereas fleece covered plants look after themselves.  The extra warmth at fruit formation enhances ripening and flavour - green peppers are less rewarding to eat then red ones for example.  Even if foxes, breezes and general mishaps make the covers a bit moth eaten by late summer they can still exclude deer and pigeons.

on 27 May 2009 at 02:50 PM

sdsds said:

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on 01 Jun 2009 at 07:36 AM

sdsds said:

hgh

on 01 Jun 2009 at 07:37 AM