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Welcome to a
new gardening season down on the plot.
2007 was quite
a challenge for me; I wonder what 2008 will hold?
year has started cold and damp. I still have a few repair jobs to do. The shed
window needs replacing after yet more break-ins. I have planted out a new
strawberry bed with bare-rooted plants. 'Marshmello'
plus an old variety 'Royal Sovereign'. Erected the posts and wires and
prepared the ground well in readiness for the plum tree 'Bounty' I have ordered
from Suttons which should be delivered in February. This I intend to train as
an espalier. Most of the winter vegetables are coming to an end now but I still
have sprouts 'Oliver Fl' to harvest, leeks a few
celeriac and winter cabbage 'Tundra'. The purple sprouting should start
producing spears from mid-February onwards. It is far too early for me to be
sowing seeds yet in the green house. The light levels are too low this time of
the year. March will be soon enough.
daffys are beginning to show through so spring cannot
be far away.
there are now many excellent gardening forums on the internet I have decided to
discontinue the Questions and Answers and the Forum page as from January 2008.
One forum I always enjoy visiting for helpful friendly advice is the Kitchen Garden Magazine forum but
you can also find many other forums via my Links page.
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
10th Hampshire Potato Day will be held on Sat 26 & Sun 27
January 2008. 10am - 3pm at the Testbourne Community Centre, Micheldever Road, Whitchurch. For more details go to http://thewhitchurchweb.org/potatoday/index.htm
After a very wet January the soil is beginning to drain but it is
still too wet to get on to do any digging. I have been making good use of the
drier days by topping up the paths with wood chippings and refilling the
compost bins with more manure and keeping on top of the weeding as the mild wet
conditions have kept them growing.
Although still too early to be sowing seeds I have put a few onion
sets 'Red Baron' and 'Sturon' in modules in the
greenhouse; reserving most of them to plant out in March. Seed potatoes can now
be laid out in modules or egg boxes to chit keeping them in a light frost free
Keep an eye on any fruit and vegetables in store now for any that
are rotting. Onions in particular will start to shoot now and need using
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
The G.A.H. & G.A. will be holding their Spring Talk on
Tuesday 11th March at HEDCA, Coombe Road, Gosport, at 7.30 pm. We are pleased
to welcome Mr Right to give a talk on 'Fruit and Vegetables on the allotment'.
Admission is free to members and just £1.00 to non-members Light
refreshments included. Everyone is welcome.
Back on the plot March is the beginning of the growing season but
it is best to be cautious and take into account the weather and conditions
before sowing or planting outside just yet. The soil could still be quite cold
unless you have kept it covered. Onion sets can be planted out now using a
trowel (don't push them in) so their tips are just below the surface to avoid
the birds pulling them out and I will be sowing the first parsnips 'White
King'. These can take up to 6 weeks to germinate. For now I shall be content to
get started in my cold greenhouse making the first early sowings of leeks,
cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce spring onions, beetroot and peas; using my old
favourites; and with some gentle heat tomatoes and peppers. I am trying a new
bush variety 'Pepolino' tomato this year as well as
On the fruit plot the plum and cherry blossom is about the break.
The buds are fat and pink and with all the bulbs now out I feel spring has
finally arrived. We have welcomed many new plot holders to our site; it is good
to see it such a hive of activity once again.
the month and the plot has really taken a battering in the strong gales and
heavy rain that has swept the country. The Purple Sprouting has stood well and
there is plenty to harvest now. The soil is saturated so will take a little
time to drain and dry out again before I shall attempt to plant the first
potatoes or the early carrots. Carrots I find like to have a warm soil to
germinate well. In the meantime there is still plenty to do in the greenhouse.
Early sowings of tomatoes, peppers, cauli, and
cabbage have germinated and now need pricking out into 3" pots. I shall
continue to sow, kohl rabi,
squashes and courgettes and now many annual flowers can be sown. French Marigolds, Statice, Rudbeckia, Cineraria, Asters and the hardy perennial Coriopsis and Heliopsis.
last 2 weeks of the month haven't been much better and the plot is still very
wet but I have managed to get the first of the potatoes planted.
delivery of another load of manure and decided to add another section to my new
compost bin rather than try and repair another existing one.
Spring has arrived at last; peas 'Hurst Green Shaft' and beetroot
'Bolthardy' are ready in the greenhouse for planting
out now but with the threat of more cold weather on it's
way I shall delay for another week or so but I have made a start on the main
crop potatoes now, Desiree, Maris Piper and Pink Fir Apple.
On the fruit plot I am mulching both strawberry beds well with the
compost from the old bin which when empty I shall demolish.
12th of the month and thankfully the snow didn't last very long
and these last few days I have been able to plant out the peas and first
beetroot from modules; sown the first carrots 'Nantes' and spring onion 'White
Lisbon'. I have finished emptying and demolished the old compost bin. Given the
potatoes a thick mulch with compost. This should now
be enough for them and will not to be need to be
earthed up any more.
In the greenhouse I have had problems germinating cabbage and kohl
rabi so I have made further
sowings of both; sown the first french beans 'Sprite'
in 3" pots and fennel 'F1 Rudy' in modules. Celeriac and leeks are now big
enough for pricking out into modules.
29th - It has been such an up and down month weather-wise it has
been difficult to know when to plant out and when not to. The parsnips
germinated but then something munched them and I have had to re-sow. Carrots
failed to germinated, soil too cold and wet I think so I have made further
sowings. I have planted out the caulis under fleece to prevent an attack from
the flea beetle and added a cage of netting to deter badgers, foxes etc. I do
have a serious problem with the badgers now fouling my soil. If anyone can
offer me some solution I would be very pleased to hear from you.
On the 'up' side I have had a superb crop of purple sprouting this
year which is coming to an end now but I have starting harvesting the new
season asparagus and tender young rubharb.
In the greenhouse I have potted on the tomatoes and peppers into
6" pots; continued to prick out seedlings and made further sowings of
lettuce 'Dazzle' and 'Tin Tin' both Little Gem types.
Pak Choi, Kohl Rabi and Beetroot.
With the start of the bank holiday week-end being warm and dry at
last there is lots to catch up on the plot. Still with the added protection of
some fleece I have planted out the first Kohl Rabi and Fennel. Also squashes Turks Turban and Butternut; 2 yellow courgettes F1 Jemmer and the round one F1 Floridor.
Both of these make compact bushes but are very heavy croppers. Weeds are
starting to grow away again so now is the time to hoe as much vacant ground as
possible before they get a chance to take hold.
On the fruit plot it is time to be thinking about hanging the
Pheromone Traps in apple and plum trees. Make sure any grease bands that have
been applied are free from any debri. Check fruit canes are securely tied in to take the weight of the coming
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY is Sunday 11th May for the Bring and Buy Plant
and Gardening Sale to be held at Elson Allotments from 10.00 am. Steve will be
on site on the Saturday beforehand to take in anything you have to sell for
just a 10% donation towards the G.A.H. & G.A. funds or bring anything you
have on the day.
Tea and cakes will be available. Why not come and bag a bargain.
8th of the month and the weather really has turned very warm and
seems set to last for a few days yet. I have taken a chance and planted out the
tomatoes.'Ferline', 'Spanish Beef', 'Gardeners
Delight', Tropical Ruby' and 2 bush ones 'Red Alert' an old favourite and a new
one to try 'Pepolino'. The new lettuce 'Dazzle is
proving to be a very eye-catching deep glossy red. Much admired. I am now
planting out the bedding, French Marigolds etc. as and when I have time. For a
selection of photos taken on the 7th click here
16th of May and it is time to be thinking ahead to the winter
crops. In the greenhouse I have made sowings of sprouts, 'Early Half Tall', a
new one to try and old favourites, 'Brilliant' and 'Wellington F1' also purple
sprouting 'F1 Red Arrow' and swede 'Ruby' in modules; Runner Beans 'White Lady'
in 3" pots to plant out next month. Leeks, Celeriac and Pak Choi need
potting on into 3" pots before planting out early next month.
The weather has been very hot and dry so to conserve has much
moisture as possible I am hand weeding so as not to disturb the soil. Although
it is now cooler and over-cast we have had very little in the way of rain.
Asparagus is doing well and needs cutting daily now.
The end of May gave us the much needed rain and now the plot is
looking very 'green' and lush. Everything is growing well but with the warmth
and moisture it also has it's
problems. Slugs and snails are out in force and you need to be vigilant for
young seedlings appearing. The black keel slugs under the surface will devour
them very quickly. I think this is what has happened to my parsnips this year
and now feel it is too late to make any further sowings. Carrots too are very
sparse this year but I will persevere and sow some more.
I am now planting out the Runner Beans, last of the Celeriac,
Swede and all of the peppers.
On the fruit plot the first strawberries are ripening and June is
a good time to prune red currants; cutting back the new growth by about half.
This will open the bush to allow the berries to ripen but will also attract the
birds so I will be covering mine with netting.
If you have aphids on your fruit trees nip out as many of the tips
as you can, this will help to deter the cherry black aphid and any greenfly.
Next year’s new canes are growing well on the blackberries,
loganberries etc. and need to be tied to one side to prevent any damage.
In the greenhouse the sprouts and purple sprouting need potting on
into 3" pots.
I am now harvesting the first baby beetroot, spring onions and the
new red lettuce Dazzle. This I have found to be slightly disappointing in taste
and crispness but a very colourful lettuce for the salad bowl. Little Gem in the foreground.
Click here for
a selection of photos taken on June 8th.
The Sweet Williams are now giving a very colourful display and are
ready for cutting; lasting well over a week in the vase.
I have now planted out all of leeks, some under fleece to protect
from the leek moth and the green broccoli 'Romanesco'. I have had mixed reports
on this one and trying it for the first time. It should have one central head
and produce lots of side spears from October onwards. Success with carrot
germination at last! I now have 4 good rows showing. Fennel needs to be earthed
up to blanch the bulbs and I have broken a few leaves over the cauliflower
heads which are forming now to prevent the sun turning them pink.
I've taken delivery of another load of manure which will keep me
out of mischief for a while.
July is still a busy time on the plot with so many delicious
summer crops to harvest. The peas are now finished; I have removed the twiggy
supports and laid the plants down to die back before digging in. The roots will
put back valuable nitrogen into the soil. I am now planting out sprouts,
'Brilliant', 'Early Half Tall', and 'Wellington F1' which should give me plenty
of sprouts from the end of September into next year. I've made a further sowing
of carrots 'Eskimo', said to be a frost hardy variety, a final sowing of
Beetroot and in the next week or so planting out purple sprouting 'Red Arrow'
to crop next March/April. With the long dry spell continuing these and the
sprouts need to be well watered when setting the plants out. Soak the plants
first, take out a good depth hole, fill with water and allow to drain; seting the plants deeply up to their seed leaves and firm
in, giving a further watering and mulch well. Priority watering should be given
to vegetables such as squashes, courgettes, french
beans, fennel, lettuce and tomatoes. Asparagus spears should now be left to make
fern to encourage good plant growth for next.
On the fruit plot, all the soft fruits are ripening now and need
to be picked regularly. When strawberries are finished give the plants a good
'hair cut' and tidy up the bed; they will soon make new growth for next year
and if the plants are still healthy and not showing any signs of disease new
runners can be pegged down to pot up later when rooted. Cherries should be cut
with scissors rather than pulling them off to protect the new growth buds
behind for next year. I am continuing to tie in the branches on my new plum
With the new fox cubs, badgers, and squirrels all causing havoc on
the site it is an uphill struggle. I am constantly repairing the netting,
replacing fleece and removing damaged crops. The squirrels seem very partial to
nibbling courgettes. Badgers have taken a liking to cabbage and the fox cubs
love bouncing on the fleece.
The G.A.H. & G. A. held their delightful display stall at
'Alive and Kicking' in Walpole Park on Saturday the 26th. A great day out was
had by all.
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
On Saturday 16th the G.A.H.&G.A.
will be holding their 4th Annual Flower and Vegetable Show. Show schedules and
entry forms are available from all site stores. Exhibits must be displayed by
11.OO am on the day. Public viewing is from 12.15 pm. This is designed to be
fun day out for all the family with classes for all ages. Open to anyone with
an interest in gardening.
The first of the early crops are going over now and the ground
needs to be cleared of weeds and lightly forked over. I have dug a deep trench
and will fill with any soft waste that isn't woody such as spent flowers,
cabbage leaves, french bean
plants, tomato trimmings etc. I will keep adding to until it is full then after
a good watering will fill in with soil. This will all have rotted down by the
Celeriac needs to have the lower leaves removed to encourage the
roots to fill out. Onions will be swelling now. Leave the tops to fall over
naturally, ease the roots with a fork and allow the bulbs to ripen in the sun
until papery before lifting. Use any with thick necks first as these will not
store. Tomatoes are ripening well with no sign of the dreaded blight this year.
Regular even watering is needed to avoid fruit splitting.
Vegetables such as Runner Beans and courgettes need to be
harvested regularly now to keep them cropping for as long as possible.
On the fruit plot all the old soft fruit canes need to be cut down
to ground level and the new ones tied in. Select only the strongest and cut out
the weak ones. Strawberry runners that have rooted can be cut from the main
plant and potted up ready for planting in the autumn. I have pruned back the
side growth on the grape vine.
All the summer flowers particularly the delphiniums and dahlias
need regular dead heading to keep them going and some may need supporting in
these strong winds.
The young fox cubs are still being a nuisance and have almost
demolished my campanular borders in their search for
The Annual Show was again a great success with even more entries
again this year. The children’s section was particularly good.
The bank holiday week-end has at last seen an improvement in the
weather and I have been able to start lifting the main crop potatoes.
Pink Fir Apple and Desiree leaving them in the sun
for a few hours to harden their skins before storing in hesian
Some of this year’s
crop of 'Turks Turban' Squash; which unfortunately have been completely
destroyed by vandals.
To avoid the risk of losing the Butternut squashes I have cut all
of them and placed them in the greenhouse to finish hardening their skins. By
doing this they should store well into the winter months. I have finished
lifting all main crop potatoes now and the beds have been dug over.
Tomatoes are still cropping well as are the runner beans which
need regular watering. Remove any yellowing leaves from the winter crops, such
as sprouts, swede, cabbage, and continue to remove the lower leaves on celeriac
to expose the roots. Leeks can be given their final earth up.
Gather up any fallen apples now and use as quickly as possible.
I have started to empty my old compost bins so I can make some
repairs before taking delivery of more manure.
Now is the time to be thinking about planting autumn onion sets
and garlic to get established before the worst of the winter sets in. I have
started mine off in the greenhouse in cell trays. When they are about the size
of a pencil I shall plant out. If planting outside make sure the tips are just
below the surface to avoid the birds disturbing them. These should give a good
supply of onions to use from May onwards next year.
I have also planted out Sweet Williams to flower next May which
were started off in cell trays in the greenhouse.
DATE FOR YOUR DIARY.
The G.A.H. & G. A. will be holding their Autumn Gardening
talk on Tuesday 7th at 7.30 pm at HEDCA, Coombe Road. Gosport.
The subject to be given by Mr. Perter Barwick will be 'All
Aspects of Growing Fruit Trees'. Admission is £1.00 and free to members.
All are very welcome.
Autumn is with us now, the leaves are falling and need gathering
up to either add to the compost bin or to make leaf mould. If you have enough
make a large wire basket to put them in.
On the plot the tomatoes have finally succumbed to the blight.
They were very good while they lasted but now the fruit is turning black and
needs to be disposed of. Don't compost the plants, burn if you can. Disinfect
thoroughly any canes and tools you may use to remove them and plan to plant in
another part of the plot next year as the spores can live in the ground. Runner
Beans have got their second wind and will still produce a good crop if picked
I have now planted out the onions started off last month and a
spring cabbage 'Hispi'. There appears to be an
epidemic of caterpillars this year and it is still very necessary to keep all brasicas covered with fine netting.
I am continuing to remove any annual flowers that have gone over,
gathering up yellowing brassica leaves and adding to the compost. Turning over
any vacant ground and covering with a layer of rotted compost.
On the fruit plot I am very pleased with the grapes. This is their
first cropping season and although I have not thinned them as much as I should
have done the fruit is so sweet and delicious I shall harvest them as they are.
'Lakemont' from Marshalls
The figs although plentiful are still hard and green. The golden
raspberry is fruiting well but I find them rather
tasteless compared with the summer fruit - I may decide to remove the canes for
something else later.
The Concorde and Conference pears are falling due to the strong
gusty winds so I have picked them all now and laid them out in trays loosely
wrapped in newspaper to ripen. These will need to be looked over regularly; it is not easy
to tell when a pear is ripe as they ripen from the inside out.
A timely warning now we are all thinking about adding manure to
our plots or compost bins. There has been widespread publicity concerning contaminated
manure; if you have missed it and are concerned a full update can be found at
the following link.
month has start very cold and wet but there are lots of tasty winter veggies
now available to keep us warm in the coming months. I am now harvesting leeks,
swede, celeriac, carrots, sprouts and Romanesco broccoli.
permitting there is still plenty to do on the plot. The asparagus fern has now
turned a golden bronze and needs to be cut down and covered with a thick layer
of good rotted compost. Any runner beans needed for seed next year that have
turned dark brown/black can be taken from the vines, shelled and stored in a
brown paper bag or envelope. Cut the vines at the base and leave the roots in
to put back valuable nitrogen and compost the rest. I am covering as much
vacant soil as I can with a thick layer of compost.
the fruit plot; tidy up the strawberry patch removing any stray runners that
have formed. Continue to tie in blackberry, loganberry and tayberry canes to
avoid them getting snapped off in the winds. I have decided to take out the
of the month and I took delivery of a trailer load of manure which I just
managed to get moved to the compost bins before the heavy rain and gale force
winds arrived. The sprouts stood up well in the wind but the Romanesco broccoli
has blown over. It is now far too wet to get on the soil and is best left till
it has drained.
second half of the month has turned very cold and still with blustery showers.
When it has been dry enough I have started to top up the paths with wood
chippings. Tidied up the 2 sheds, cleaned and oiled my tools so they will be
ready for use in the spring.
The month has started bitterly cold and wet. There is little I can
do on the plot now other than harvesting vegetables as and when I need them.
Any vegetables and fruit in store need to be checked over
regularly for any that might be deteriorating and used quickly. Should the
weather allow I will start to paint the sheds and compost bins with
Despite the inclement weather and lack of sunshine it really has
been a very good year on the vegetable plot. My only failure was parsnips which
even after several sowings failed to germinate. The swedes I think were the
best I have ever grown and more than compensated. The soft fruits were all as
usual very good but the stone fruit plums, damsons and cherries were
disappointing due to the snow I think when they were in blossom. This prevented
the insects from doing their job of pollination. Apples and pears more than
made up for it. I was very pleased with my first crop of grapes. Although
small, sweet and juicy and I will persevere with the thinning next year.
The wild-life are still a constant
problem so the need for secure netting will continue. We had a little vandalism
this year; some crops destroyed and sheds turned over.
I shall be back again in the Spring and
my challenge for 2009 is to use up as many of my half-empty seeds packets as
It only remains for me to wish you all a very Happy and Peaceful
Christmas and look forward to seeing you back on the plot in the New Year.
[Home Page] [A
Year in the Life of our plot 2000] [Diary 2001]
[Diary 2002] [Diary
2003][Diary 2004][Diary 2005][Diary
2006][Diary 2007] [Diary 2009][Diary
2010][ Diary 2011][Diary 2012][Diary 2013]
[Diary 2014] [Typical
Plots on the Elson Site] [Wild Life Area]
[Conservation Project] [Badgers] [Ray's
Plot] [Links Page