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What I would have done this weekend

Posted by Guy Barter on 25 Jan 2010 at 03:29 PM

This what I would have done on the allotment this weekend had the weather been sufficiently inspiring to tempt me away from the many long overdue DIY tasks abou the house:

 

With weeks and weeks to go before any significant sowing or planting needs to be done, I am very relaxed about working the plot or not, but if the weather comes right these are the things I could do:

 

• For just a few more weeks there remains an abundance of winter crops to use up; savoys, winter cabbages, Brussels sprouts, Swedes, turnips, parsnips, scorzonera, beetroot, celeriac and leeks all await my attention.

 

• Already carrots are showing new green leaves in this mild southern district.  This means that the sugars in the roots that give them their flavour is being used up and they will soon become dull and wooden.  However only a little crop remains and these will be used as fast as possible – I can and will buy more supermarket roots when my crop runs out.  Supermarkets get their New Year carrots from Scotland where winter lingers longest.

 

• Now that the tide has gone out and the soil is not quite so wet digging can be carried on, but if there is any doubt the soil will be left alone.

 

• Where surface water remains there is nothing to be done but wait.

 

• Wheeling manure can continue – there are, I calculate, just five barrow loads left and after some consideration these are going on the brassica patch and also where the leeks are to be sown.

 

• Sowing indoors now just means many seedlings that deteriorate without heat ( in the greenhouse) or without light on the windowsill (indoors) and as later sowings soon catch up it is not worth doing just yet.

 

• Shallots sets have now come in and theoretically they can be planted, but they won’t do much in the wet cold soil so it is safer to hold off until February.

 

• The first seed potatoes have arrived and will be put to chit on top of the wardrobe in an unheated room where Her Loveliness will never see them.

 

•  The last of the fennel will be harvested from beneath the piled earth that is keeping the frost off it and this area and adjacent ready dug ground covered in clear polythene to begin warming for parsnip and carrot sowing that will start, weather permitting, in the last week of February – don’t try this unless you live in the south and have a warm, light soil.

 

• High nitrogen fertiliser will be applied to the over-wintered onions to suppress bolting, the spring brassicas to induce growth and, in great moderation, to the over-wintered broad beans – they respond to this on light soil.

 

• Peas too will go in during early March and the bed for them has been carefully hand-dug to get a well-drained level seedbed.  Now the onion set bed needs to be prepared with deep digging and ample manure – again the first of these will go in during early March.

 

• Winter pruning of the gooseberries remains – it is nice job for well-gloved hands on a cold sunny day wit the prospect of a big roaring bonfire at the end of it.  Ditto autumn fruiting raspberries.

 

• Winter-pruning of blackcurrants has been done, but like much allotment fruit the bushes are riddled with diseases and pests in this case reversion disease carried by big bud mites – the swollen buds harbouring the mites are picked off every week and flung into the digging trench and good riddance.

 

• This allotment business is down to preparation; shed, stakes, netting – all must be in place by April.  The shed clearance is a much-delayed rainy day project…

 

• Another much delayed project is cleansing the propagating trays and pots in a big tub of disinfectant – with full-scale sowing just three weeks away this ought to be a priority.

 

 [By Sunday afternoon I was able to exchange chisels for spade and get on with digging]

 

 

 

 

 

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