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This weekend on the allotment

Posted by Guy Barter on 29 Jan 2010 at 01:12 PM

Last weekend the spade was used to very good effect so that now just two digging jobs remain:

• Leek seedbed – leeks are readily sown outdoors from early March in this district so a perfectly level, crumbly seed bed can be made now and this is best achieved by careful digging. 

• The carrots are being harvested as should be cleared shortly.  A trench has been taken out at one end of the plot and the carrot bed is deeply dug to bury any carrot residues and also any carrot fly pupae to limit emergence of this pest.  As the bed is ear-marked for Brussels sprouts it can be sown early with intercrops.  Here the sprouts won’t be planted out until May but between where the sprouts will go I intend to sow turnips, kohl rabi, radish, spinach and lettuce as early as possible in March.  To give them a boost and fend of the pigeons and cabbage root fly they will be covered with fleece that will also entrap emerging carrot fly protecting the 2010 carrot and parsnip bed just 5 metres away.

• The carrot and parsnip bed awaits its covering of clear polythene to warm the soil for a late February sowing (all other things being equal).

• The early pea bed has also been dug into a perfectly level and slightly raised (for drainage) seedbed and it too will get a polythene cover ready to sow in just four weeks time...
Of course if the rain now falling persists or if the soil remains soggy, then the soil cannot be worked, but no matter, there are plenty of other preparatory jobs to do:
• Fertiliser sufficient to keep going until the allotment trading hut opens in two weeks time is stacked at the back of the shed, so this will need bringing forward ready for use. 

• Measures made out of old tin cans need to be calibrated with some old kitchen scales so that fertiliser can be spread accurately.

• It is just about time to top-dress the overwintered lettuces, cabbages, broccoli and spinach.

• Pea sticks cut out of a hedge lie ready for bundling and taking to the allotment.  Some other brushwood remains to cut into pea sticks - always a pleasant job on a sunny day.

 • Seed potatoes are still arriving and need traying up to chit.

• Onion sets are now arriving too and need storing warm but dry.

• Asparagus plants raised from seed in pots last year remain in the cold frame - these need to be cleaned up and taken to the plot ready to be planted in the bed recently deeply dug and generously manured to receive them - already tiny shoots are appearing below the potting media.

• The rotovator needs its annual oil change, plug clean , cable greasing and filling with fresh petrol.  A trip to the local dealer for a new 'R' clip is required too. As the machine at the back of the garage there is an opportunity here to clear up the garage as well, bringing forward all the spring tools ready for marking-out, sowing and planting.   This can be an evening job as  I have invested in some new low energy LED lights for the garage.

Some frost is forecast for the weekend and if the soil firms up as it freezes it is an ideal opportunity to undertake some jobs that require to ground to be trafficked as opposed to worked:
• Although all the manure has now been barrowed to where it is needed it still requires spreading so that the rotovator can mix it in as soon as the soil dries next month.

• Gooseberry pruning remains to be done.

• Rhubarb plants need mulching with manure.

• Plant wastes still await burning.

• All the weed control membranes through which crops were grown last year are roughly rolled and folded beneath the trees at the back of the plot - they are easiest to handle when the water and mud that they trap is frozen and just falls off as they are unwrapped and folded ready to deploy as soon as needed.  Sandy soil is full of weed seeds and these sheets are a vital part of keeping the plot weed free.


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