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First winter weekend on the allotment

Posted by Guy Barter on 06 Nov 2010 at 03:03 PM

Unusually mild weather means that crops are still growing slowly.  The soil remains workable after moderate rainfall and conditions are in fact perfect for sowing and planting.


  • Garlic will be planted through new porous black landscape fabric into very fertile soil where potatoes previously grew.  As the previous allium crops have been very poor indeed due to downy mildew and onion white rot the old fabric used for these crops will be soaked in a tub of disinfectant before being used for beans in 2011.

  • Shallots too will be set out to join the September planted onion sets already 15cm tall – this is a little too high, but there is nothing to be done.  If the weather  had been colder they would be at a more winter hardy 10cm.

  • Broad beans are beginning to show through, which is about right.  Some plotholders have 30cm high bean plants already – these will be in peril when it sets in cold.

  • Peas sown last month are peeping through and will be netted this weekend using the hoops that until recently held fleece over peppers and aubergines.

  • It is time to gather and compost the spent squash, pumpkin and courgette vines – a three prong cultivator is ideal for this.

  • The cultivator will also harry the weeds, especially chickweed that thrives even in winter, – they will re-root of course, but they won't set seeds and can be incorporated with the manure.  I don't want to add soft weeds full of earth to the compost pit.

  • There is a hiccup in the cauliflower supply – the October crop is used up and the November crop looks like being a December crop, but if a freeze sets in there will be no crop at all.

  • However calabrese, kohl rabi and turnips are in peak condition and we have started in on the Brussels sprouts – Maximus is the current favourite early sprout.

  • A few potatoes remain to be dug – they are Setanta and the yield is truly enormous – planted late, in May, they were in exactly the right stage to respond to the late summer rain and in the absence of blight have grown right up to the recent frosts.  Slugs are not a significant problem on this dry sandy soil and late spuds are in good condition.


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