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They say that gardeners 'never grow old' because they are always too busy
planning for the next season. I hope I am no exception because I am really looking forward to another year
on the plot. Each year brings challenges and I am sure this one will be no exception.
2011 ended mild and very wet. The plot is very water logged but I am still harvesting leeks, swede, parsnips, sprouts and cabbage; I will be back as soon as it is practical.
14th Hampshire Potato Days
Sat 28th & Sun 29th January 2012, 10am - 3pm. Testbourne Community Centre, Micheldever Road, Whitchurch RG28 7JF
For other areas and dates see their website. http://www.potatoday.org/
9th of the month and after the heavy rain and strong winds it was a real pleasure to be able to spend a few hours on the plot today in warm sunshine. The purple sprouting needed some attention having almost blown over I have now staked and firmed the ground in but also given them a good watering to settle the soil around the roots again to avoid any air pockets. It is also a good idea to check any young fruit trees that are rocking. Firm the soil and water well even if the ground is wet. It is a good time to tidy up the strawberry beds removing all the dead and yellowing leaves. The blackberry canes seem to be still growing and needed to be tied in again.
29th and having been away visiting family I am now back and itching to get started again; It has now turned very cold and it is far too early for seed sowing but I have put the onion sets in modules in the greenhouse to get them started and potatoes can now be laid out to chit. Keep them in a light frost free position. Greenhouse is fine but they may need covering at night with fleece or even newspaper will do if removed during the day. Some of my frames need renewing and I have put up 2 news ones ready for the first carrots and tomatoes later.
I am amazed that Sandra one of the other plot holders has managed to dig out my 2 nut trees both of which she is going to transplant on the side of her plot. After all that hard work I hope Sandra is successful and they take.
Winter has arrived with a vengence. Make sure any tender plants or seedlings are well protected from the falling temperatures. Lift any root vegetables needed for use in the next week or so before the ground freezes too hard and store heeled in or near the kitchen in a shed. And a reminder not to mulch while the ground is so frosty, it will only seal the frost in.
The last 2 weeks of February have been exceptionally mild and warm but I have resisted the temptation to sow just yet.
A DATE FOR DIARY. The G.A.H. & G.A are pleased to welcome back Mr. Peter Barwick to give a talk on 'All aspets of growing soft fruit'; at HEDCA, Combe Road. Gosport, on March 27th at 7.30 pm. The usual raffle and light refreshments will be available. Admission is free to members and £1.00 to non-members. All are very welcome.
March is really the start of the new season when the plot seems to come alive; the bulbs are starting to flower
and there is an air of anticipation and excitement from us oldies and the newbies alike. It is still too soon to be sowing seeds outside yet but I am making a start planting the first early potatoes. I have 2 new ones for me to try this year, Annabelle and Vales Emerald. I will continue then as the weather allows with Nicola and Foremost my favourite second early then main crop, Romano and Pink Fir Apple. The bed for the parsnips can be prepared by raking down to a fine tilled but don't be in too much of a hurry to sow if the soil still feels cold. On the fruit plot a good couple of handfuls of potash can be sprinkled around all fruit except strawberries. The rain will soon wash it into the soil. Remove any debri from grease bands.
In the greenhouse I will geting underway with some seed sowing, many can be sown now in a cold greenhouse. Peas - Hurst Green shaft, cauli - Snowball, cabbage - Golden Acre, kohl rabi - Kolibri, Leeks - Mamouth Pot, beetroot - bolthardy, lettuce - Little Gem, spring onion - White Lisbon; and under some gentle heat celeriac - The Prinz and tomatoes - Red Alert (usually the first early one to crop outside), Ferline, Gardeners Delight, and F1 Tomatoberry Garden, this one has firm strawberry shaped cherry fruits which I found last year kept exceptionally well after harvesting. If you didn't sow broad beans in the Autumn they can now be sown in pots and will soon catch up.
Plants that I have over-wintered, such as the chrysanths need some attention now, removing all the dead and dying leaves and making sure there are no slugs or snails between the pots.
11th of the month and the first of my onion sets are now ready for planting out. Centurion and Red Baron and I have taken delivery of another load of manure to refill my 2 empty compost bins. This I will leave to rot down well for the Autumn.
27th of the month and with the exceptionally warm weather continuing it is very tempting to plant out but be warned, the nights are still cool and it could all change soon. However, I have planted the first of the beetroot, kohl rabi and lettuce all under fleece to be on the safe side. Parsnips that I sowed at the beginning of the month have now germinated. I've also planted up two new strawberry beds, one with Marshmarvel and one with Malwina a new one for me to try and should fruit later for a longer season. Although we are fortunate not to have any water restrictions as yet it is as well to conserve as much as posssible by not digging or disturbing the soil unless it is absolutely necessary. I have covered my water bins to stop any evaporation.
On the fruit plot the blossom is breaking on the plum trees now and the small apricot and peach trees are an absolute picture.
A date for your diary is the G.A.H. & G.A. AGM. To be held at HEDCA on April 24th at 7.30 pm. Do come along and have your say.
Back on the plot the long warm spell has come to an end but it is still mild for the time of year and no rain in sight as yet. I have planted out the peas Greenshaft, giving them plenty of support with twiggy Hazel branches and covered with netting, raising the top slightly so the birds can't reach and peck the new shoots when they get to the top; watered well and mulched; also another row of lettuce. Under fleece I have sown the first early carrots 'Nantes' and Amsterdam Forcing. Dead heading the daffs is a regular job now as this will help to encourage strong bulbs for next year. The purple sprouting is producing an abundance of delicious tender spears and needs to be picked regularly to continuing cropping for the next few weeks.
The badgers are very active and causing havoc; many of my spring bulbs have been dug up and eaten.
In the greenhouse, many seedlings now need to be potted on or pricked out. Tomatoes, cabbage cauliflower, leeks, celeriac, lettuce and all the annual flowers; if you have not sown yet now is the time to get them done. I have sown the second batch of beetroot Wodan, sprouts Clodius and Wellington, and Sweet corn Mini Pop in cell trays. Mid April is early enough for all the squashes and courgettes. Sown too soon and they will only rot as will French and Runner Beans.
With the start of some very welcome rain Easter week-end has not been one for getting down on the plot for long but I have managed to plant out Pack Choi and more lettuce.
The week-end of the 14th/15th it has turned bitterly cold with a very drying wind. Keep all tender plants under cover particularly at night and avoid disturbing the soil any more than necessary to keep the valuable moisture in that we have had.
22nd and April is true to form, becoming the month of sunshine and showers. I have now planted out the cauli's 'Snowball' and cabbage 'Golden Acre'. Everything has to be well protected because of the foxes and badgers, also pigeons would soon demolish tender young brasicas. I dislike the use of bricks to secure the netting but it has become necessary since pegs can easily be dislodged by the animals.
Earlier plantings of onion sets, lettuce 'Little Gem' and Pack choi and beetroot are all doing well.
I have been asked to trial the use of twigs as plant supports for my delphiniums this year compared with my usual plastic ones and I have to say I do prefer the look of them. I will report back later.
The wallflowers and pear blossom are giving the plot some welcome colour as the daffs did not last very long this year.
The wallflowers and pear blossom are giving the plot some welcome colour as the daffs did not last very long this year; and the apple tree Rev. Wilks is just coming into blossom.
The main fruit plot is all looking good
Back in the greenhouse I have sown more Kohl Rabi, F1 Jemmer yellow courgette, butternut squash and climbing purple french beans 'Purple Cascade'. These are said to keep their purple colour when cooked. I will let you know.
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY. On Sunday morning 13th May the G.A.H.&G.A will be holding their annual Plant and Gardening Sundries sale at the Brockhurst allotments in Military Road, from 10.30 am. Any spare plants etc. you may have will be very welcome. Please bring on the day or hand to your site store person. Everyone is welcome whether an allotment holder or not.
April ended very wet and stormy. The ground is now far too soggy to do any more planting until it has had a few days to drain.
The earlier sowing of carrots I made under fleece have not germinated. I discovered ants which have probably been the cause so I have sown again using ant power along the drill.
On the fruit plot it is time to hang up the Pheromone Traps in apple and plum trees and ensure any grease bands that have been applied are free from any debri. Check the high winds have not loosened any of the fruit canes and tie in where necessary.
Most of the foliage from the spring bulbs has died down now and can be removed to the compost bin.
In the greenhouse I am now thinking ahead to sowing more winter crops; Purple Sprouting and Curly Kale. Celeriac does not like any check to their growth and needs to be potted on from cell trays into 3" pots ready for planting out at the end of the month. I shall now put a few runner beans in pots in the greenhouse to fill in any gaps later on but my main sowing will be mid-month straight into the ground. And I have made a further sowing of Little Gem lettuce.
26th of the month and May is really turning out to be one of the most difficult I have known. Trying to decide whether to plant out or not has become a lottery. It is now exceptionally warm and the soil is drying out quickly. My earlier plantings of brascicas don't seem to have suffered at all so I have now put out all the sprouts Wellington and Clodius one I have not tried before. The pack choi is throwing up flower heads and will run to seed so I've sown more seeds in the greenhouse. The Kohl Rabi is doing well so I have planted out more to give me a continuous succession. Celeriac and a new purple french climbing bean, Purple Cascade. This is said to stay purple when cooked. I will let you know. Tomatoes I have taken a chance on and they seem to be doing well. Ferline, Gardeners Delight, Red Alert and Strawberry plum and courgettes Jemmer 1. I have sown a few more carrots and now the runner beans; erected a new grow frame for my leeks later on. I hope this will be a good investment.
One the fruit plot the trees have benefited from the rain, taking up the moisture which I think is why I have not been flooded. The soft fruit, strawberries and Tayberries are all in flower and looking very good. Red currants I have pruned back the new grown by about a third and covered with netting.
The purple sprouting was starting to get a bit thin and straggly so that has all been consigned to the compost bin now except for the woody stems. The asparagus although slow to start is now producing a good crop in the much warmer temperatures.
End of May photos.
Beetroot, kohl rabi and pack choi. - Cauli, cabbage, & kohl rabi. - Lettuce & climbing beans. peas and onions.
Jubilee weekend and the Gosport Allotment Holders will be holding their own celebrations with a scarecrow parade and a bring your own food and drink B-B-Q. Starting at 2.30 pm at the Brockhurst site, Military Road. Why not come along and join us.
Back on the plot the weeds are growing well if nothing else. Keep the hoe going or hand weed where necessary.
I am now planting out the 'Pot' leeks under protection a few more Little Gem lettuce and the Butternut Squash. Some of the earlier onion sets are throwing up seed heads. These need to be snapped off; the bulbs will still be usable but won't store. Peas are starting to produce nice fleshy pods; this is the time to make sure they have regular watering to encourage the pods to fill out with tender juicy peas. Make sure they are protected with netting from the birds. Tomatoes need to be tied in now as the grow and the side shoots removed on cordon varieties.
June is the start of the soft fruit season with the strawberries just starting to ripen.
I am still cutting asparagus and harvesting the new crops of cabbage, beetroot, kohl rabi and lettuce.
13th of the month and what can one say about the weather except that it has been wet and windy and there is yet more rain forecast to come. Most vegetables are growing well now and I have started to dig the first of the new potatoes Annabel and the first cauli's are ready. These I think will need to be used quickly before they 'blow'. All the soft fruit is doing well and has benefited from the rain but I am keeping a look out for any signs of mildew which will ruin the crop. I have made extensive repairs to my old original compost bin which is now ready for my next load of manure at the week-end. The strong winds have devastated my delphiniums again this year but I have managed to save some on the more sheltered side of the plot.
A few photos on the plot today.
Well, I think we are all glad to see the end of June this year but so far July is not set to be any better. The copious amounts of rain are still benefiting many crops, with superb potatoes, all of the brasicas, beetroot, lettuce etc. the only ones that are slow are the beans and squashes; courgettes are only just beginning to form and tomatoes. We really need some warmth now to give them to kick start. Peas are exceptional to but the squirrels are cunning little devils and have been under the netting for a good feast. I am now picking most days to ensure I have my fair share.
Some of my sweet corn has also been chewed through the stems but I still have about 2/3rds I think which is growing well.
I have stopped cutting the asparagus and leaving it to make fern now. This will feed the crowns to ensure a good crop next year. I have sown more beetroot, lettuce, carrots and pack choi and I have lifted the autumn planted onions and left them in the sun to ripen and dry a little before bringing home to finish off in the greenhouse. This will now give me space to dig a deep pit to take all my soft waste now which can be filled in later when full.
All the soft fruit is ripening now and needs picking most days. On the grape vine I have removed all the soft new growth by about 3/4s and removed any large leaves so the fruit is left exposed to fill out and ripen later. Pinch out the new shoot tips on fruit trees to control aphids. I have taken down my 2 Williams Pear trees. These were not large trees but old and haven't fruit very well for several years now. The stumps I have treated with Roundup stump killer. http://www.roundup-garden.com/which-roundup-product/tree-stump-root-killer.aspx
If you are experiencing these strong winds make sure all new canes on the soft fruit are tied in to prevent them being broken.
I have taken delivery of another load of manure and both bins are now full.
Back in the greenhouse the purple sprouting needs to be potted on into 6" pots. I have pricked out Minicole cabbage, pack choi, parsley and Wall flowers; sown kohl rabi and Sweet Williams.
9th of the month and at last we have had 2 long dry days but the torrential rain has taken its toll and my tayberries now have the mildew. Strawberries have given me a very good crop but are now finished so I am cutting back the foliage and cleaning out all the dead and dying before giving them a mulch with some rotted compost.
To reduce the threat of blight on the potatoes I am cutting back all the haulms, some plot holders on our site are already experiencing symptoms. Nicola and Foremost are both of a good size and if lifted and dried will store at least until Christmas. My main crop I shall lift later when I have time but they should be ok with the haulms cut back.
I now have too much soft waste to compost so have dug my first deep trench which I shall start adding to and later when full fill in. This will all rot down over winter.
19th and at last I have picked my first French Beans, a few baby carrots and the first mini sweet corn. We really need some warmth and sunshine now to give everything a boost. Tomatoes I am concerned they will succumb to the blight and have removed any leaves that I think are suspect. Only a few of the Red Alert have so far ripened. I have cut my last summer cabbage which have been excellent and so have the Kohl Rabi. I have planted out more Kohl Rabi and cabbage Minicole for the late summer to carry me through to early winter. Also Little Gem lettuce, again these are doing very well in the cooler wet conditions. Runner beans are slow to climb but are about half way up their canes.
On the fruit plot the raspberries are slow but good, the tayberries are not worth picking as they are covered in grey mould but the red currants now are excellent. These are netted against the greedy birds.
I am gradually clearing away the early spent flowers, delphiniums etc. and adding to my second deep trench.
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY. The G.A.H. & G.A. will be holding their annual Summer Show on Saturday August 18th at the Alverstoke Parish Centre. There is a new extensive show schedule with a wide range of classes to suit all ages. You do not have to be an allotment holder to enter. Schedules can now be obtained from any allotment site sotres or telephone Steve Broughton on 023 92587662. Public viewing is from 12.15 pm.
The day is designed to be a fun day out for all the family.
Back on the plot this year is turning out to be one of the most challenging I have experienced. Weather and the wild life are taking their toll but I am still managing to harvest a variety of crops. The mini sweet corn faired quite well and gave me about 30 cobs. Climbing French beans slow to start are now cropping very well and so are the carrots and courgettes; again very slow to start. Tomatoes so far have avoided the blight and now ripening. All the haulms I cut off the potatoes second early and main crop and seem to be okay. I have lifted all the second early and now starting on the main crop. They need drying to remove any damp soil before bagging up and storing. Onions I have just broken their roots with a fork and leaving them to dry and ripen, in hopefully, the sun. I have planted out my last sowing of beetroot and planted the purple sprouting to crop next spring.
On the fruit plot I am now cutting down all the old fruiting canes on the tayberries and rasperries; covered the blackberries with netting to deter the birds. We do seem to be inundated with them this year. My one apple tree which has a good crop on, Rev Wilks, I have also netted.
Week-end of the 11th/12th and the glorious warm sunshine has returned. The onions are drying well the runner beans have finally reach the top of the frame and now producing a few beans. My carrots and some of the leeks have been uncovered for a few weeks and I am amazed that so far neither has been attacked by the leek moth or carrot fly. Tomatoes have not fared so well and the Red Alert I have taken out and I fear the rest won't have time to develop and ripen. Winter crops are all looking good now, the kale, sprouts, leeks celeriac, parsnips and last sowings of kohl rabi, beetroot and lettuce. I have planted out wallflowers and sweet williams to flower next spring. The flowers are now a blaze of summer colour; all have benefited from the excess watering they have had from above this year. Here are just a few photos for you to enjoy.
. .. .
Kale, Sprouts, Leeks and Onions drying in the sun.
All the onions dried well and were safely gathered in before the next lot of heavy rain last month. Runner beans are now cropping very well and need to picked regularly. All but the Ferline tomatoes succumbed to the blight and have been removed, but so far Ferline have escaped and although late they are beginning to ripen. I have a good third crop of Kohl Rabi now ready to harvest while they are still young and tender about tennis ball size, last sowing of beetroot is cropping well to together with lettuce, french beans and courgettes, pack choi and carrots. On the fruit plot all the soft fruit is finished including the blackberries and I have now cut the old canes back and tied in the new ones. My Rev. Wilks Apple is very good, both as a cooker and an eater so I m using the drops first for chutneys and pies. Figs are large and plentiful this year making up for the lack of stone fruit.
Fig 'Brown Turkey'.
I am now clearing any vacant ground of weeds and covering with a thick layer of well-rotted compost for the winter; keeping up with the dead-heading of the flowers and weeding where necessary. Strawberries are still making lots of new runners and these need to be cut off unless needed for new plants in which case they can be pegged down till rooted then potted up and planted out later. Only do this from healthy plants.
20th of the month and it is time to be thinking about planting onion sets to over winter for use from next May onwards when any in store will be coming to an end. I am planting Shakespear this year. One I've not tried before; starting them off in cell trays first and planting out when they are about the size of a spring onion. Broad beans can also be planted now to. New seed catalogues are starting to drop through the door and well worth browsing through. Most of my seed potatoes and seeds I buy through the allotment assoc. which are supplied by Kings and considerably cheaper but it is nice to see what other suppliers have to.
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
The G.A.H. & G A. will be holding their annual Pumpkin and Produce Fayre on Saturday 27th October at the Alverstoke Parish Centre. Many more classes have been added so there really is something for everyone from keen gardeners, wine makers, baking, photography, crafts, fancy dress and a children's section. Show schedules are avilable at any of the site stores or tele: Steve Broughton on 023 92587662. You do not have to be an allotment holder to enter. The usual raffle and light refreshments will be available.
Back on the plot. Autumn is fast approaching; the bad weather at the end of September has put me behind and there is still a lot of clearing up to do and adding plenty of rotted compost to vacant ground. Runner beans are still giving me a reasonable crop provided they are picked before they get too large and beany. I have made my first pickings from the centre young leaves of the curley kale to make a welcome change. Steamed gently for a few minutes it is delicious.
On the fruit plot. The figs are slowing down and the remaining fruit is unlikely to fill out and ripen now. All but the smallest fruits should be removed leaving those no larger than a small finger nail to remain for next year. I will do any necessary pruning in the winter when the leaves have fallen. The pears are still hard so I will leave those a little longer before picking. I am now picking the Charles Ross apples; not the best crop I have had but still good enough for baking and they make a very nice fluffy apple pie.
Most of my chrysanths and statice were snapped up at the Michaelmas Farye as were a good percentage of the Butternut squash but I still have plenty of those to fully ripen before the frosts arrive.
Weekend of the 6th/7th. What a change after a chilly start in the mornings it has been a beautiful weekend and I have been able to finish covering all vacant ground, cleared the summer bedding and mulched well the remaining perennials which are still giving me some welcome colour. On the vegetable plot, there is plenty of curly kale, leeks, celeriac, parsnips, cabbage and butternuts now ready to use and to see me through the winter; sprouts are beginning to form nice tight buttons for harvesting next month. The purple sprouting I will give a last firm in as my soil is so light. The runner beans I have now cut the plants off at soil level, leaving the vines to dry before removing to the compost bin. The roots will put valuable nitrogen back into the soil if left.
Photos taken on the 7th October.
Curley Kale and Sprouts, Pot Leeks, Celeriac and Cabbage Minicole
Butternut - Metro and vacant bed covered with a thick mulch of rotted manure.
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
The G.A.H. & G.A. are pleased to welcome Mr. Bryan Madders to give a talk on all aspects of growing Dahlias and Chrysanthemums at HEDCA, Coombe Road, Gosport, Tuesday 16th October at 7.30pm. The usual raffle and light refreshements will be available. Admission is £1 and free to members. All are very welcome.
Having been away from the plot for 2 weeks at the end October there are now one or two jobs need doing. With the heavy rain and winds again the sprouts and curly kale need to be firmed in to prevent them from 'rocking' at the roots; as my soil is so light a good firm tread down around the roots should be sufficient or they could be staked if necessary. All the dead and dying leaves from all brassicas should be gathered up and composted to prevent any diseases spreading.
Most of the summer bedding, marigolds etc. are now finished and need to be removed to the compost bin. On the fruit plot continue to tie in canes on all the soft fruit that is still growing and gather up fallen leaves from the trees to either make leaf mould or add to the compost. Any figs left now can be removed leaving only those about the size of a finger nail; these will form next year’s fruits. Pears have been harvested and laid out in trays, keeping an eye on them as they ripen quickly and soon go 'sleepy' in the middle. Last remaining Charles Ross apples have been picked to. These I will use up quickly as they are not good enough to store this year. Butternut squashes I have cut and placed in the greenhouse, turning occasionally to finish ripening and harden their skins before storing.
I have dug up some of my chrysanths, cut them back to all but one stem about 6" long and potted up. I will keep these in the greenhouse, only watering sparingly when they are very dry and then in the spring will use the new growth for cuttings. The other plants left in have been cut back and mulched well. They are very hardy and should survive whatever the winter throws at us.
The asparagus fern is now turning a golden bronze and can be cut down, hand weeded and given a mulch for the winter.
Lots of maintenance to do during the winter when the days permit, any canes used should be cleaned and disinfected by standing in a bucket of bleach or Jeyes fluid before storing. All pots, seed trays, buckets, fleece and netting pegs washed before storing and tools cleaned and lightly oiled to prevent rusting over winter; remembering too that snails will over winter in the spouts of watering cans. And if your shed is like mine, on a dry day a good turn out and tidying up also if the weather allows a coat of preservative on the outside. All netting, fleece etc., should be folded and stored away ready for use in the spring. Continue to check any onions and potatoes in store.
The last 2 weeks of the month the plot has been deluged with the rain like the rest of the country then followed by cold icy winds and cold frosts making it impossible to carry out any further work but I have managed to harvest what vegetables I need.
December looks set to continue cold and wet. I am well up to date on the plot now; having emptied one of my compost bins renewed and added some more slats making it even high in readiness for my next load of manure which I expect sometime around Christmas. There are things I would still like to do should the weather permit such as giving the shed a coat of preservative but it is much more inviting to turn to some arm chair gardening this time of the year and snuggle up with the new catalogues and plan for next year. I have plenty of vegetables to see me through the cold winter months and only harvesting will be necessary now.
The year has not been an easy one with the weather taking its toll but I think I have been very lucky and the only 2 failures really were carrots and tomatoes. All the brassicas did well; I now have the best sprouts for Christmas I think I have ever grown. The stone fruit was very disappointing with very little fruit due to the lack of bees and insects at blossom time; apples, pears and figs have been plentiful and although a short season the soft fruit was good to. The twigs I used to support my delphiniums I found to be very effective and I would use them again; the purple French beans I did not find they kept their colour on cooking only when very lightly steamed for a short time.
Seed potatoes are said to be in short supply and not of good quality next year so if you haven’t ordered yours yet maybe it would be worth visiting one of the Potato Days next January. You will also find, onion sets, peas, beans, seed swop and lots lots more. To check out your nearest venue and dates for 2013 visit http://www.potatoday.org/
We were all sorry to hear Peter, our warden has decided to step down at the end of the year and give up his plot to due to ill health. We shall miss him and wish him well for the future.
It only remains for me to wish you all very happy and peaceful Christmas. I will be back on the plot in the New Year ready to face the challenges of 2013.
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