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Allotment this weekend - what to do:

Posted by Guy Barter on 19 Feb 2010 at 05:15 PM

The dry weather last weekend meant that the winter digging and rotovating is almost up-to-date, but the soil temperature is still about 4C; it risky to sow outdoors until soil temperatures reach 7C.  However there is still plenty to do – allotment gardening is after all very much to do with preparation:


• Top-dressing – now that the fertiliser has been bought, sulphate of potash will be applied to the gooseberries at 20g per square metre followed by dried chicken manure pellets at 50g per square metre.  The blackcurrants and hybrid berries have been generously mulched with manure so dried chicken manure pellets at 50g will be plenty.  Raspberries will get 150g per square metre of dried chicken manure pellets.


• The veg plot has already received its sulphate of potash, but it is feasible to apply the modest background, pre-sowing ‘base dressing’ now:


          Carrots, peas, broad beans – nil
          Potatoes – nil – their background fertiliser will go on at planting as  bands placed in the soil below the seed tubers
          Brassica patch – 200g per square metre
          Runner and French beans, beetroot, onions, leeks, sweetcorn, courgettes,  pumpkins etc – 150g
          Everything else – 100g


• Before I can do this an old tin can has to be calibrated with a balance to aid accurate measuring.


• Many crops are being cleared up cabbages, sprouts, leeks, roots etc and their debris is either carefully buried in digging or consigned to the compost pit or, if diseased to the burning pile.


• The cold weather will have knocked back pests, and unfortunately will also deplete their enemies so it is well to destroy any carry-over from last year.  Unfortunately the standard of gardening on most allotment sites is frequently dismal so the bugs and diseases will drift in from adjacent plots.


• The continuing cold has dissuaded me form being adventurous with the propagator, but the weather must surely turn around soon, so cleansing pots, trays and propagator with the peroxide based, environmentally friendly disinfectant bought from a farmers’ store should be done soon.


• However, the early Brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, calabrese, cabbages, lettuce, leeks are all possibilities.  There is no rush however as not wishing to spend on greenhouse fuel, they won’t grow much if sown now than is I hold off until March.


• Neither is it worth buying in transplants for those early crops.  Local nurseries offer good stock, but for now they will have to hold onto them and carry the risk of damage and disease. They should be expert at this and have ideal facilities.


• Finally, everything has now been bought for 2010 (a tidy sum unfortunately), except for the stakes (tomatoes, netting etc) so it will be off to the timber merchant tomorrow for a carful of 2m treated softwood laths. 



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