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I find it hard to believe this will be my 25th year on the plot; I have seen many changes over
the years some for the better and some not but each year has had its challenges and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it;
I am sure this one will be no different.
DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
The Hampshire Potato Days at Whitchurch will be held on January 31st and 1st of February. For details of other areas visit http://www.potatoday.org/
A wide variety of seed potatoes, beans, peas, onion sets and much, much more will be available. A very enjoyable day out.
Compared to this time last year when we were under water for more than 2 months 2015 has started dry and bright; I have been able to complete several major repair jobs including the path between me and my neighbours plots, the shed doors have been painted and I have refilled one of my compost bins with manure. This has been well layered with plenty of green waste and the straw left till last; this will keep the heap nice and warm and allow it to rot down nicely for use later in the year.
With the path paved we are hoping it will prevent a few less twisted ankles from falling in the badger holes.
I am pleased with the way my carrots are holding well and keeping frost free under the enviromesh tunnel; I only need to pull them as required. I still have plenty of leeks, parsnips and celeriac the purple sprouting should start to produce spears by the end of the month.
The Veggie Plot 23.
Keep checking any fruit and vegetables in store, carry out any pruning to apples and pears (not stone fruit) and apply winter washes; complete any winter digging now if you can and check fruit canes for any loose ends that might be whipped off in the winds and tie in securely. New bare rooted fruit trees and bushes can be planted any time now up to March as long as the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged.
The second half of the month and we have had a tremendous amount of rain; most of the plot has been flooded again but I have been able to move and re-erect my old raspberry frame to a new bed and plant new canes Glen Magna from Marshalls; this is an old favourite mid-season variety producing large fruits from the end of June onwards. The canes were planted to the level they had been grown and then cut back to about 6 inches. New canes for next year will start to appear about mid-summer onwards; these can then been tied into support canes and wires.
Seed potatoes and onions sets are now widely available; potatoes can be laid out in cell trays or egg boxes to chit in a cool light frost free place and onion sets can be planted in cell trays of 24 till they are about the size of a large spring onion to plant out from mid-March onwards. This will give them a good start. I will not be tempted to start any other seed sowing just yet; March is plenty time enough but pots, trays, fresh compost etc. can be got ready and seed packets put in order of sowing in readiness.
A very kind gentleman has made me this Bug box to go on my new shed doors. I shall watch with interest.
I’ve been doing some mulching now the ground is nice and moist and bagging up some well rotted compost and placing in places around the plot ready for when I shall need it later after planting to mulch and 2 sacks of sand I have raked into where I plan on planting my early carrots. Badgers are continuing to dig holes and seem to have taken a liking to my dahlias tubers. Not sure if I will have any left this year.
A date for your diary is the G.A.H. & G. spring gardening talk on 24th March at 7.30 pm at H.E.D.C.SA. Coombe Road. Gosport; given this year by Mr. Marcus Dancer on ‘Scented Plants through the year’. A selection of plants will be available for sale at the end of the talk. Admission is free to members and £1 to non-members. All are very welcome.
March is now the time to be thinking of starting to sow the first seeds under protection of a greenhouse or a warm window sill. I shall be sowing, leeks ‘Pot’, first of the cabbage ‘Attraction’ and ‘Candissa F1’ both new ones for me to try, celeriac ‘The Prinz’ and ‘Little Gem’ lettuce in seed trays; spring onion ‘White Lisbon’ and beetroot ‘Bolthardy’ in modules, peas ‘Hurst Green Shaft’ 5 seeds to a 3” pot and broad beans ‘Robin Hood’ 1 to a 3” pot.
11th and I have now started planting the first of the early potatoes ‘Rocket’ and then will continue with the second early ‘Foremost’. I’ve sown 3 rows of parsnip seed tapes ‘Panache’. I was very pleased with these last year, the tapes made it far easier to sow and the seedlings needed no thinning but I am still going to sow ordinary seed Gladiator F1’ to compare the 2 again this year. Onion sets grown in modules in the greenhouse are now the size of spring onions and ready to be planted out. The cabbage sown earlier is now ready to be potted on into 3” pots and I have sown an old packet of Wellington sprouts, all have germinated and ready to be pricked out into 3” pots to. Tomatoes I have sown indoors as I feel the night temperatures are not high enough yet in my cold greenhouse.
16th and the plot is now bursting with spring colour, the daffodils are giving a nice display together with the plyanthus.
Last week-end in March and so much to do in the greenhouse now. Tomatoes are ready to be potted on into 3” pots, leeks, and the first of the bedding, French marigolds, and statice, into modules. I have made further sowings of beetroot, kohl rabi and lettuce. I will delay sowing any of the beans, squashes and courgettes until the middle of next month as they are inclined to rot if sown too early.
On the plot I have now planted main crop potatoes, Sarpo and Piccasso. These are all well mulched so will need little attention other a bit of handing weeding till they crop.
After a very blustery end to March my peas are now ready for planting out they have all got their curly tendrils and will start to cling to the twiggy supports I shall give them. With 5 peas in each pot they can be planted without the need to separate.
I have made my first sowings of carrot seed tapes under the protection of enviromesh. Nominator and Nairobi; first incorporating 2 sacks of horticultural sand into the soil. I was very pleased with my crop last year that I am hoping to repeat the same this year. Beetroot, spring onions and broad beans started off in modules in the greenhouse earlier are now ready for planting out but the night temperatures are still quite low so I am being cautious for another day or two.
13th and the day time temperatures are very warm but it is still cool at night but I have planted out beetroot and cabbage under enviromesh. Fruit trees are now in full blossom so fingers crossed we do not have any frost. In the greenhouse I have sown courgettes, butternut squash and French beans. There is lots of potting on to do, sprouts and tomatoes in particular.
First 2 dates for your Diary. The G.A.H.& G.A will be holding their AGM on Tuesday 5th May at 7.30 at HEDCA, Coombe Road; and the Annual Plant Sale at the Brockhurst site Military Road on 17th May at 10 am. Further information can be found on their website http://www.gosportallotments.btck.co.uk/
The last 2 weeks of April were really unseasonably warm and with very little rain everything is growing away well. The potatoes are now up and although mine of very well mulched it is time to perhaps give them a little earthing up; this means just drawing the soil to cover the tops as we could still have night frost which would set them back a week or two. My French beans were getting their curly bits for climbing so I have planted them out with some extra protection of enviromesh. This is really much too early but the same with the tomatoes they have grown so tall in the greenhouse I shall be setting those out soon to. I have removed the netting from the onions now; they are well established and starting to grown through the netting which is not a good idea.
I am now cutting my first asparagus which is always a delight. These need to be cut regularly to keep the crowns cropping well for the next 6 weeks; keeping any weeds at bay by hand weeding only to avoid damaging any emerging spears.
On the fruit plot it is now is time to hang up the Pheromone Traps in apple and plum trees to prevent the codling moth and ensure any grease bands that have been applied are free from any debri. The blossom is still giving us a lovely display and I have seen the first bee making use of my Bug Box. Remove any runners from new strawberry plants as they appear to strengthen the plants for next year. Start pulling the first young rhubarb stems and enjoy them now.
In the greenhouse I am making further sowings of beetroot and lettuce and still thinking ahead to the autumn/winter crops, cabbage Unicorn, Red Arrow purple sprouting and Dwarf Green curly kale.
My daffodils are now over but I am leaving the foliage to die down naturally this will encourage strong bulbs for next year; but I still have lots of colour to take over the wallflowers are in full flower now and the bees are loving them.
I am pleased to say I am having some success in keeping the badgers off by using chilli powder and white pepper. These need to be reapplied should it rain though. I have planted some new dahlia tubers but just as a precaution have covered them with netting till up and well established.
17th of the month and we should be past the threat of any heavy frosts now so the more tender plants can be planted out. I have planted tomatoes, courgettes and butternut squash, hardened off the celeriac and planted as well; Celeriac is very susceptible to the cold so this is very important for them. I have also now sown runner beans direct in the ground. Any bedding plants can be put out now, I am planting French Marigolds, Statice and Geraniums as and when I have the space and time. Some of the autumn sown onions are now throwing up seed heads, these need to be snapped off; the onions will still be usable but won’t keep.
In the greenhouse further sowings of beetroot and lettuce and more autumn/winter cabbage ‘Unicorn’ which was very successful last year and stood well without splitting. I’ve potted on Kale and Purple Sprouting into 3” pots.
Keep on top of the weeding carefully hoeing between rows and any vacant ground; they will soon die off if left on the top dry.
June is the month when we should be starting to reap the rewards of our labours. I am harvesting new potatoes ‘Rocket’, this is the first time I have grown this one and I’m really surprised how quickly they have grown, planted on 5th March and my first lifting was 29th May with a little help from Mr. badger. Beetroot, spring onions and broad beans and kohl rabi are also ready now for picking and the asparagus is still cropping very well. Strawberries are turning pink/red now if I can get to them before the badgers do and I am continuing to pull rhubarb while it is still young and tender. I have planted out the first of the leeks under enviromesh and beetroot which I started off last month in modules. Tomatoes need to be tied in regularly now and the side shoots pinched out.
On the fruit plot, the new growth on red currants can be pruned back by two thirds to expose the fruit to aid ripening then covered with netting. New canes for next year on blackberries and loganberries etc. are growing well and need to be tied back from the fruiting canes to avoid being broken in the winds.
My wallflowers have finished now and they have been consigned to the compost bin and I’ve replaced with geraniums, French marigolds and Bizzie Lizzies. Anything that flowered in the spring now needs to be cut back and put in the compost bin.
In the greenhouse, I am sowing wallflowers and sweet williams to flower next year and a further sowing of lettuce; kale, winter cabbage, and purple sprouting need to be potted on into 6” pots ready for planting out next month.
11th June and I have now been cutting asparagus for six weeks so have made the last cutting and will leave it to grow and make fern till the end of October when it will turn a bronze colour and need cutting to the ground then and mulching well. I am also renewing the edging to the bed while I can get to it, taking care not to damage the roots to the crown. Curley Kale is now ready for planting out in its allotted place. The Purple Sprouting and cabbage I will plant where the broad beans and peas are when they are finished; both of which have nice plump pods and will now need watering well to swell the beans and peas completely before harvesting. Leeks are now planted under enviromesh to protect from the leek moth and the spare plants I have I will plant as the potatoes are lifted. I am now harvesting the first baby carrots (I think my favourite of all the new veggies), beetroot, cabbage, Attraction, kohl rabi, spring onions, Rocket new potatoes and strawberries.
On the fruit plot I shall be pinching out the end tips on all the trees to control the aphids. Cherry trees will need netting against the birds if you can and I am continuing to prune back the new soft growth on the grape vine.
This is cabbage ‘Attraction’ which I have grown for the first time to replace Earliest of All which I believe has now been withdrawn. I am very pleased with the results, quick growing in just 3 months from sowing the seed to cutting; crisp and clean with a good flavour; ideal for cooking and eating raw.
The end of June already and the squirrels are making short work of my peas. Although well netted and weighted down with bricks they are so clever at finding their way in and enjoying a feast on the sweet tender peas. I’ve had about half I think and will now cut them down leaving the roots in the ground to put back valuable nitrogen and use the space to plant out the Purple Sprouting which is ready. The animals don’t seem interested in the broad beans; they are still cropping well I am continuing to harvest while they are still small. The first early potatoes Rocket are finished so I’m using the space to plant out the last of my leeks and digging the second early ’Foremost’.
The month has started with souring temperatures. Don’t panic into watering without any thought; most plants will survive their roots will go down to find the moisture. Water only those plants that are cropping now and really need it. A good soak in the cool of the evening or early morning once or twice a week is far better than a daily dribble which only evaporate in the heat of the day. Cabbages will split if given a deluge of water all at once. The carrots below ‘Nominator F1’ were pulled on June 30th and have not been watered since they were sown other than what has come from the sky.
However anything planted now needs to be watered in really well. Water the planting hole first, set the plant in and water again. Cover with dry soil or a good mulch. I have now planted out my purple sprouting ‘Red Arrow’ this way. As my soil is so light I have firmed the soil really well with my boot and given them strong stakes to tie into later on as they grow then covered with netting to deter the pigeons and butterflies.
With the exception of my strawberries which are finished now the soft fruit is ripening and needs to be picked regularly. I am preparing a bed for new misted tipped strawberry ‘Vibrant’, ordered for August planting. I have not grown these before and will see how they compare with my favourite Marshemello.
Some of the early flowers such as the Sweet Williams are going over now and need to be cut back and consigned to the compost bin.
In the greenhouse next years are ready for pricking out into cell trays. Sweet Williams, Wall Flowers and Canterbury bells.
As we approach the end of the month it has been devastating to see so many of us having our carrots completely destroyed by either rats/or squirrels. I think it is more likely to be squirrels; they are intelligent enough and can get under the tunnels in a small space and enjoy rich pickings leaving only the green tops and crumbs but I am keeping an open mind. I have sown a further couple of rows of Autumn King in the hope they will germinate and give me a crop for the winter when the squirrels have moved on to other things.
They went in one side had their fill and of sweet carrots and out the other side leaving their debris behind.
Week-end of the 24th/25th and we have finally had some rain; enough to revitalise the plot which was getting very dry. This was very welcome as many crops are now ready for harvesting; French beans, courgettes, tomatoes, cabbage and all the salads need a regular supply to keep them cropping. Celeriac is now large enough to have its first lower leaves removed. Continue to do this as they droop to encourage the stem to swell. Onions are starting to bend over, allow this to happen naturally and leave the bulbs to ripen in the sun.
On the fruit plot my first raspberries are finished now and the old fruiting canes will need to be cut down and the new ones tied in; selecting only the strongest canes and removing any weak ones. The birds are attacking my early plum ‘Beauty’ so I am picking those now. Blackberries, Tayberries, Loganberries and red/black currants are all ripening now and need to be harvested regularly before the birds get to them.
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY. The G.A.H. & G. A will be holding their Annual Summer Show on Saturday 15th August at the Alverstoke Parish Centre. Show schedules and entry forms can be obtained from any allotment store or downloaded from http://www.gosportallotmentsbtck.co.uk
This is intended to be a fun day out for all the family; anyone can enter whatever their age, a children’s section is included. Exhibits must be displayed by 11.00 am on the day and public viewing is from 12.15 pm.
Back on the plot August is a holiday month but it is also peak harvesting time. If you are away try and arrange to have any fruit and vegetables picked to keep them going such as beans, courgettes tomatoes and all the salads.
Onions can now be gently eased with a fork to break the roots and left to ripen in the sun. Most of my herbs are getting leggy and woody so a good cut back is necessary now.
I am now preparing a new strawberry bed; forking over and adding plenty of well rotten compost. The grape vine is very heavy with bunches of small grapes and they now need to be thinned carefully with pointed scissors.
VISION, STRATEGY AND PLAN TO ASSUME DELVOLVED MANAGEMENT OF ALLOTMENTS FROM GOSPORT BOROUOGH COUNCIL – UPDATED JULY 2015.
Copies are now available to read in all site stores.
16th - I was very pleased to be awarded first place for the Best Allotment at the G.A. H. & G. A. Annual Summer show.
After some very welcome rain the plot is looking much fresher once again. The large berries on the autumn raspberry Polka are ripening now and so is the Victoria plum. I am still at a loss to understand what is taking my figs before they are ripe. With so many on the tree they are disappearing while still hard and green. I have removed some of the lower leaves on the tomatoes to aid ripening. No one on our site has escaped the destruction of their carrots however well protected they were.
With the heavy rain at the end of August harvesting is now a priority each day; in particular Runner beans, courgettes, and tomatoes. Any crops that have gone over should now be cleared away to the compost bin and the ground lightly turned over and any perennial weeds removed. Keep removing the lower leaves on the Celeriac to encourage them to swell and clean out any dead and dying foliage on the parsnips and any brassicas. I have planted new strawberries misted tipped Vibrant and now I am finding a few figs ripening. With the heavy rain weeds are again needing attention and it is worth hoeing any vacant ground to deal with them before they get a chance to grow. I am glad I removed all my onions while they were still dry before the rain came and finished off drying in the greenhouse. Only onions with thin necks will store and if you would like to know how to string them for storing go to September.html
12th and the dreaded blight has struck my tomatoes even the blight resistant Ferline, Fandango and Cherolla have all succumbed; there is nothing for it but to remove and destroy all infected plants, do not compost either burn or dispose of. Wash and disinfect any canes and tools used. Some fruits may be usable but any showing blackening should be destroyed. Fortunately I have harvested all my potatoes now but if you haven’t then now is the time to be lifting them quickly.
I am very pleased with the new raspberry Polka which is producing an abundance of very large berries now.
Onion sets for autumn planting are now widely available. They can be started off in cell trays or planted directly in the ground between now and November. To plant take out a shallow drill with the side of a rake and space the onion sets about 6-8inches apart; just covering with soil to avoid the birds from pulling them out.
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY IS THE G.A.H. & G.A. Autumn Pumpkin Fayre on the 31st October at the Parish Centre, Alverstoke. Anyone is very welcome to enter there are classes for fruit vegetables, flowers, home baking, preserves, beers wines and spirits, photography and fancy dress. Something for all ages including a children’s section. No entries will be accepted after 10.30 am. Public viewing is from 12.15 pm.
There is a definite autumnal feel now but the days are still nice and warm and with the forecast set to stay good for a few days now is the time get those onion sets in if you haven’t already done so. Clear away any spent crops, turn the ground over if you can and add a good layer of rotted compost on top. This will help to keep the weeds down and the worms will do their job and incorporate it for you over the coming months. My runner beans are finished now so I have cut them off just above ground level and left the vines to dry off before removing to the compost bin. The roots will add valuable nitrogen to the soil if left in.
Pears will be starting to ripen now, pick when they come away from the tree easily and while still firm. They ripen from the centre out so difficult to tell when fully ripe; the only way is to try one. I am cutting bunches of grapes from the top to finish ripening in the greenhouse as the badgers are taking the lower ones. I am still picking raspberries from my new Polka canes. I am very pleased with these large juicy berries full of flavour.
I am now harvesting cabbage, leeks, parsnips, celeriac and curly kale; so far the squirrels haven’t found out I have a nice row of sweet late carrots to pick. In store are the onions and potatoes.
I have a load of manure being delivered to keep me busy.
Although the days are now shorter the beginning of November is still very mild; continue to clear away any spent crops, dead and dying brassica leaves etc. gather up falling leaves if you can and either put on the compost heap or make a wire cage for them to rot down for leaf mould. Asparagus fern will now be turning a golden bronze colour and should be cut to ground level, hand weeded and mulched with rotted compost. Harvest the last of the Squash and store in a frost free place for winter use.
With the mild weather weeds are still growing and need either to be turned in when digging or removed. Cut back dahlias and chrysanths; mulch well if leaving in the ground over winter.
On the fruit plot harvest the last remaining apples and pears, store only those that are perfect; laying in trays in a frost free place; checking every few days for any that may be rotting. Autumn fruiting raspberries should be cut to the ground from the end of November to avoid any regrowth. New canes will start to grow in the spring for next year’s crop. Grape vines can now be hard pruned. Any remaining figs should be removed and only those the size of a pea left on; these will form next year’s crop.
All my green waste, flowers, etc. I have been saving to layer with my next load of manure later this month.
I am now harvesting sprouts, no need to wait for a frost, picking from the bottom upwards and removing any remaining leaves as I go.
December continues to be wet, windy but still mild. I have received my delivery of manure which has been layered with all the green waste into the compost bins. This will rot down well for use in the spring. Continue with any digging if conditions allow adding compost or laying it on top for the winter. Clean and oil any tools not needed over winter and store ready for use in the spring. If we have a dry spell I shall be adding a coat of preservative to the shed and compost bins and doing any maintenance to the beds.
I still have plenty of vegetables to harvest as and when needed together with onions, potatoes and squash in store; these will need to be checked over regularly for any signs of rotting.
There is little I can do on the plot now; time to take a break, study the new seed catalogues and plan for 2016. On the whole I have been pleased with everything I have grown this year. The only drawback continues to be the destruction caused by badgers, squirrels and foxes; finding a satisfactory deterrent for these will be the ongoing challenge for 2016.
I wish you all a very Happy and peaceful Christmas and hope you will join me back on the plot in the New Year