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DIARY 2017

 

 

I am pleased to be back for another year and hope you will join me down

 on the plot for another challenging year.

 

 

JANUARY

 

2017 has started very cold and foggy; the plot is not the place to be for now but as soon as the weather improves I shall carry out the last of the winter pruning to the fruit trees and check the grease bands are free from any debri. I have arranged to have my fig tree professionally pruned towards the end of the month; it has got too large and out of hand for me to deal with. Any winter digging if conditions allow should be finished this month and spent crops consigned to the compost heap. Continue to check over regularly any fruit and vegetables in store.

28th and little has been done on the plot; the very gold frosty weather has continued only beginning to warm up at little now. Because of the frozen ground I have started off my shallots in the greenhouse in small 3” pots. Onion sets can be started in the same way in cell trays. I am continuing to harvest parsnips which have been some of the best I have grown.

 

FEBRUARY

 

The month has started mild but very wet it is still impossible to get on the plot but signs of spring are beginning show with the daffs poking through now. It is still far too early to be sowing any seeds even in the greenhouse, the light levels are very low and anything that germinates will only become leggy; wait till the beginning of March.

20th and it is amazingly warm for the time of year; I have been able to get all my grow frames, runner bean frame etc. erected in good time so they are ready and waiting for use later on.

This is the month to finish any pruning to apples and pears while they are still dormant and check all soft fruit is tied in against strong winds. Give the strawberry bed a good tidy up now by clearing away dead and dying leaves and weeds.

In the greenhouse I have laid out the seed potatoes to chit. This can be done in egg boxes or cell trays. If there is a threat of frost cover with fleece or newspaper.  Prepare pots and trays ready for the first sowings in March.

The plot is beginning to come alive again with all the spring bulbs giving some welcome colour to brighten the dull days.

 

MARCH

March has blown in like a lion and is very cold so don’t be in a hurry to start sowing or planting outside yet. Frosts are forecast so keep the fleece or newspaper handy ready to cover potatoes or anything tender in the greenhouse, I am making a start in the greenhouse with the first seeds, sowing broad beans Robin Hood, 1 seed to a 3” pot,  peas Hurst Greenshaft 5 seeds to a 3” pot, beetroot sowing several seeds in a 24 cell tray, leeks, cabbage,sprouts, lettuce and celeriac in a small seed trays; covered with a fine layer of compost all covered with a propagator lid till they germinate. Tomatoes, Fandango, Mountain Magic, Cherrola and baby plum Santonio I have sown but keeping them indoors till they germinate as my cold greenhouse is not warm enough. Annual flowers can the sown this month continuing through to April; I am starting off with French Marigold and Statice.

 

16th I have been let down by the tree specialist who was coming to prune my over grown fig tree; I decided to tackle it myself and although it did take several days I am quite pleased with the result. Hopefully it will now be easier to maintain.

 

We have had some very warm days and spring has finally arrived to the allotment. 

 

 Taking advantage of a very warm day I have planted out the shallots which I had started off in pots and sown a double row of parsnip tapes under a tunnel of enviromesh to protect them from a very active fox. First of the second early potatoes ‘Foremost’ have been planted now and I shall continue with main crop.

 

APRIL

 

The last week in March we had unusually high temperatures for the time of year and now the beginning April is continuing the same.

Sowings made in the greenhouse last month have come on in leaps and bounds; I am planting out peas, broad beans and beetroot. Some of the early potatoes planted last month are already showing their first shoots and will need earthing up.

 

Daffodils are starting to go over and will need dead heading regularly, remove the whole stem and leave the greenery to die down naturally; this will feed the bulbs for next year.

 

April is a busy month in the greenhouse, seedlings will need pricking out and those already pricked out potted on into 3” pots. This month all the vegetable and annual flower seeds can be sown now. I am sowing Courgettes, Butternut Squash, beetroot, lettuce, and French beans and Peppers;  Runner Beans I leave till May when I will sow direct into the ground.

Spray Chrysanths that have been over wintered in the greenhouse will be making good growth now; cuttings will root quickly; take a 3” new shoot, removing the lower leaves and inserting about 5 or 6 round the edge of a small pot. Place in a cool part of the greenhouse till rooted then pot up.

 

Weeds are also growing well so keep the hoe going even on vacant ground, this will chomp off any emerging before they get a chance to take hold.

 

Easter week-end and with virtually no rain this month the ground is now getting very dry; however the nights are chilly and unless you can cover plants there is still as risk of frost. I have planted out Onion sets Rumba and Fen Globe which I first raised in cell trays, also Broad Beans.

There is still plenty to do in the greenhouse, potting on tomatoes, celeriac, leeks, cabbage and sprouts. My butternut squash has failed to germinate so I have made a further sowing. Although I am still harvesting Purple Sprouting I have sown a few seeds for next year.

 

Asparagus is starting to crop now and needs to be cut regularly.

 

Strawberries are in flower and if you have not already done so, tidy up the plants and remove any weeds.

 

28th Bank Holiday week-end; with the recent frosty nights the potatoes have had their foliage clipped but they should soon recover.

 

I have planted out the sprouts ‘Montgomery’ but because of the lack of rain and the ground is so dry, I dug a deep hole first for each plant and filled with 2 watering cans of water, allowed to drain before setting the plants deeply up to their seed leaves, watering again very well, firming in with the heel of my boot and mulching; finally covering with netting to deter the pigeons.

 

 

MAY

 

Bank holiday week-end and at last we have had some very welcome rain but nowhere near enough. This is the month when most of the major planting takes place so it will be a busy time. With the threat of any frost now gone I shall be setting out tomatoes, courgettes and beetroot, sowing runner and French beans and my second sowing of carrots and lettuce,

Now is time to hang up the Pheromone Traps in apple and plum trees to prevent the codling moth and ensure grease bands that have been applied are free from any debri. The blossom has been wonderful this spring so we are hopeful of a good fruit harvest this year.

 

The foliage on the early spring bulbs and wall flowers are starting to go over now, leave the bulb foliage to completely die back before removing but the wallflowers can be cut back or removed to the compost bin; all the time the bees are enjoying them I shall leave for a bit longer. The ground can then be forked over ready for further planting.

 

20th of the month and after a prolonged dry spell we have had some much needed rain. Everything including the weeds are now growing well. While the soil is now nice and moist I have mulched the onions and as much ground as I can. This will also help to keep the weeds down and the moisture in. Potatoes are ready to be earthed up, peas are in flower, tomatoes are ready to be tied in as they grow now and the side shoots removed. I have made a further sowing of carrots, lettuce, beetroot; sown runner beans 2 beans to each cane. Planted out celeriac and now gradually planting out bedding plants. French Marigolds, Impatiens, Statice and Antirhhnums.

 

On the fruit plot the strawberries are starting to ripen; I am removing any runners. If new plants are required they can be left and pegged down later to root. Aphids are becoming a nuisance on the plums and cherries and it can help to deter these by pinching out the tips.

 

I am continuing to harvest the asparagus and now the first baby beetroot and carrots.

 

A selection of photos taken on 23rd May.

 

      

   

JUNE

 

Flaming June is true to it’s word and has started being very warm indeed; this is the month when harvesting really gets under way with the first of the early vegetables being the tastiest. Every year it is still a thrill after all my years growing vegetables tasting the very first baby carrots which I think are my favourite. But it is still time to be sowing more for an ongoing supply. I have sown autumn cabbage Unicorn in a seed tray in the greenhouse and more lettuce; Lettuce like cooler conditions to germinate this time of year. For some reason quite a few of my runner beans have failed to germinate so I am sowing more of those, it is not too late and also French beans can be sown direct this time of year too. Turnip and Kohl Rabi are quick growing crops for sowing now.

 

June is the time when we can enjoy our plots but do not be too complacent the weeds will keep growing so keep the hoe going on all vacant ground and hand weed where necessary.

New canes are now growing on the soft fruit, loganberries, tayberries and blackberries, these need to be tied back sand supported to avoid being snapped off. New growth on grapes should be pruned back to 1 or 2 bunches of grapes. Prune new growth on red currants by about 2 thirds to expose the fruit to ripen. Netting may be needed to deter the birds although I do find very few are taken.

 

18th and the hot dry spell continues; watering is a priority to vegetables that are cropping now, such as peas, courgettes, French anmd Broad beans, beetroot. Water copiously every few days rather than a daily dribble so the roots stay in the cool rather than being encouraged to come to the surface for moisture and getting burnt in the hot sun. Hand weed where possible to avoid disturbing the soil to keep as much moisture in as possible. I have now stopped cutting the asparagus, allowing it to grow to make fern. This will feed the crowns for next year’s crop. 2 of my strawberries beds are finished. I have given the plants a good ‘hair cut’ and weeded well. They will soon make new growth for next year. Remove any runners as they appear unless you need them to make new plants in which case they can be pegged down to root. Tomatoes are growing well and need to be tied in and their side shoots removed on cordon varieties.

 

I am now harvesting, carrots, beetroot, lettuce, cabbage, peas, broad beans, potatoes, raspberries, loganberries, tayberries and red currants.

 

26th – After the blistering heat we now have cooler weather but no sign of any rain, most things seem to be surviving, I have picked the last of the peas and broad beans, the last of the lettuce bolted but has been replaced with new plants. I have also panted out winter cabbage Unicorn, but first filling the planting holes with water and allowing it to drain several times, setting out the cabbages, watering well again and mulching to keep the moisture in. All the soft fruit needs regular picking now; my new bed of Malwena strawberries and doing very well considering they haven’t been watered at all. Continue to cut back any excess foliage on the grape vines and water well. Courgettes are cropping well now and a good soaking once a week is better than a daily dribble.  

 

 

It is now cherry picking time; to enjoy these at their best always cut with scissors to avoid damaging next year’s buds.

 

JULY

 

July is the month when harvesting is in full swing and keeping on top of the fruit picking and vegetables is almost a full time job. Give priority to the soft fruit but don’t pick in wet weather as it will soon go to mush. French beans, peas, courgettes that grow quickly will need to be harvested almost on a daily basis now. Outdoor tomatoes are starting to fill out now and will need regular watering to swell the fruit.

 

Try and make final sowings this month of salad crops, beetroot, peas, beans, and main crop carrots. Plant out leeks, winter cabbage, kale, sprouts and purple sprouting.

 

In the greenhouse, prick out seedlings of Sweet Williams and Wall flowers into cell trays and grow on to plant out in September.

 

21st. After only one heavy down pour we are desperate for rain. Now the first of my soft fruit, loganberries, tayberries and raspberries are finished I have made a start cutting out all the old fruiting canes, selecting the strongest ones for next year, removing any weak ones and tying in; first making any repairs to the supports and wires. The grape vine needs to be kept watered  and the grapes thinned carefully with pointed scissors taking care not to damage the fruitlets left to develop.

 

I have made a start now lifting main crop potatoes Desiree; leaving them in the greenhouse for a day or so to harden their skins before storing in hessian sacks in a dry cool dark place such as the shed or garage. Use any damaged ones first as they won’t keep. Tomatoes are starting to ripen now too; remove some of the lower leaves to give them full sun.

Onions will be bending over now, don’t force them allow it to happen naturally.