Welcome to a New Year back on the plot. We have many new plot holders now; and it is good to see more younger
families taking up the challenge to grow their own food. We wish them every success.
The month has started very wet and cold; there is still time to complete any winter digging provide it is not too wet or water logged to get on the soil; and clear away any spent crops.
Finish any pruning to apple and pear trees but not any stone fruit. Check all soft fruit canes are tied in securely and any dead and dying leaves around strawberry plants should be removed and composted.
I am still harvesting, leeks, cabbage, carrots, parsnips and celeriac. The celeriac ‘Asterisk F1’ has exceeded all expectations and grown to an exceptional size, standing well; some I had dug, trimmed of roots and foliage put in a box in the shed before Christmas are keeping well.
Seed potatoes will be available later this month and should be laid out in trays to chit in a light but frost free place.
20th and the month is proving to be very wet and cold. Little can be done now. I have cut back the old stems on the Sedums and carried out the last of the pruning to the apples and pears. Bulbs are all showing through now, crocus, daffs and snowdrops so hopefully spring is not far away. Continue to check vegetables and fruit in store for any that are rotting before it spreads.
Weather is proving to be a major factor in preventing getting anything done this winter. Ground is so water-logged best left alone till it has drained. I am managing to keep the weeding under control by reaching in from the paths and not treading on the beds at all. Autumn fruiting raspberries should be cut the ground this month; they will fruit on new canes which will soon start to emerge.
Still too early to be sowing in the greenhouse but I have laid out potatoes to chit, covering with fleece to keep them frost free and put a few shallots in cell trays to start them off. Onion sets will be available in the stores later this month.
Welcome respite from the relentless wind, rain and cold is a couple of fine sunny days in the middle of the month.
One side of the plot and a patch of leeks still waiting to be harvested.
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
G.A.H. & G.A. are pleased to welcome Dr Alick Jones to give a gardening talk on ‘Weeds – can we ever win?’ at HEDCA on Tuesday 17th February at 7.30 pm. Admission free to members and £1 to non-members with the usual light refreshments and raffle. All are very welcome.
Well, with the whole country covered now in a blanket of snow, ice and cold winds who knows when we will be able to get on the plot again. Don’t try digging frozen ground it will only do more harm than good. It is tempting to start seeds off in the greenhouse or a sunny window sill but I would be inclined to wait; light levels are rising but not really enough yet to prevent any seedlings emerging from getting leggy. Later sowings will catch up once the soil and temperatures have warmed up.
15th of the month and temperatures are at last rising but I am still erring on the side of caution. First and second early potatoes can be planted now if your soil is right and not water logged. In my cold greenhouse I have planted onion sets and a few more shallots into the cell trays; sown the first of the more hardier of seeds, cabbage, leeks, lettuce and celeriac. Peas I will sow in pots in the next week or so.
Pleased to say at last I have made my first picking of Purple Sprouting which has made a very welcome change.
Spring has arrived at last.
29th and I think perhaps I spoke too soon as we are now almost under water from the very heavy rain and the cold with no signs of it warming up over Easter either.
On one of the warmer days I planted out the shallots, put some Parsnip seeds in and a few carrots, both under enviromesh for protection. Have a feeling I shall be re-sowing later but we can live in hopes. I’ve cleared the last of the leeks which have been very good this winter – one crop that has enjoyed the cold.
I’ve been checking over the onions and potatoes still in store. Both are starting to shoot but with the potatoes the shoots can be rubbed off still leaving a very usable potato. The onions will need using soon but the shallots are keeping well. I have sown tomato seeds but keeping them indoors in the warm. ‘Mountain Magic F1’ which faired very well last year being the last to succumb to the blight, Fandango a blight resistant delicious large tomato and Cherrola my favourite cherry type.
A reminder first that the G.A.H. & G A, AGM will be held on 24th April, 7.30 at HEDCA. Depending on the council’s decision there should be plenty to talk about.
Easter Sunday was a beautiful day here so I was able to get on and start planting the main crop potatoes starting with Picasso one of my favourite all-rounders for cooking and storing well; I am still using last year’s crop, then I will follow with Desiree when we have another good day. The rain really is relentless this spring. However I am now using the time to get sowing more in the greenhouse. The peas I sowed about a week ago are now up so was the cabbage but unfortunately I have detected a slug which has been enjoying his breakfast on them. The peas will survive but I have re sown the cabbage and scattered a few slug pellets around and will keep a more watchful eye out from now on. I am sowing now, turnips and beetroot in cell trays, autumn cabbage ‘Attraction’ and the winter Savoy ‘Resolution F1’, this is a new one for me to try. All the annual flowers can be sown now in the cold greenhouse to.
The chrysanths I have over wintered are making good growth now and need to have their tips pinched out to make good bushy plants ready to plant out next month. The daffodils are still giving a glorious show but those that are going over I am dead-heading.
13th and although the plot is still pretty soggy, the beds are draining and I have been able to plant the last of the shallots and made a start on the onions.
The greenhouse is a busy time now, tomatoes have been pricked out into 3” pots, celeriac, lettuce into cell trays and I am continuing to prick out all the bedding plants.
The purple sprouting is producing lots of young tender spears now and needs to be harvested almost daily to keep them coming.
21st. After some very warm days I have now planted out the peas, giving them with plenty of twiggy branches for support then covering with some netting to keep the birds off. Also the first of the beetroot, turnips and Little Gem lettuce; all grown in cell trays. These I have covered with enviromesh till they are well established and any threat of frost is past.
On the fruit plot the trees are now bursting with blossom and the Wall flowers have taken over from the spring bulbs to give a very vibrant display.
In the greenhouse it has been difficult to keep it well ventilated during the hot days, some seedlings were suffering and had to be moved outside in the shade during the day, however we are back to ‘normal’ temperatures for this time of year and hopefully all will be well. I am continuing to pot on tomatoes, cabbage, celeriac etc. as and when necessary.
April ended very wet again but the start of May temperatures are at last warming up, the soil feels warm to the touch so planting and sowing can now begin in earnest. Tender vegetables will need to be hardened off first, allowing them a few hours out of the greenhouse each day before setting out in their final positions. Runner and Broad Beans can now be sown direct in the soil. Just keep an eye on the night temperatures as it is still possible to have a frost in May. Potatoes are starting to come through a good earth up may be necessary. Draw the soil from either side to cover any foliage showing.
My Purple sprouting is coming to an end so that is being cut down and consigned to the compost bin. Unless you have a shredder the thick stems do not compost well those I dispose of at the tip.
The fruit blossom has survived the strong winds and the bees are loving the wall flowers; fingers crossed for a good fruit harvest.
I have been checking my water butts for slugs and snails, they love to over winter under the inside rim and lid. Also any watering cans left outside to.
16th and planting is now in full swing but beware some of the nights are still cold and any tender plants such as courgettes, tomatoes and squashes will need to be protected. Runner beans can be sown direct in the ground now; I sow 3 beans to each cane about 2” deep.
The greenhouse is starting to empty but more sowings can be made of all the salad crops, beetroot and turnips in cell trays; also the winter crops of purple sprouting, kale and winter cabbage.
Time now 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. Next years’ canes are starting to grow on the soft fruit so make sure there is room to tie them to one side out of the way of strong winds to avoid them snapping off.
Spring flowers that have gone over can be removed and consigned to the compost bin but leave any bulb foliage to die down completely first. This will feed the bulbs for next year.
I am now enjoying the first asparagus; spears need to be cut regularly as they grow so quickly. Keep the bed hand weeded to avoid damaging the crowns.
19th Beautiful warm sunny day. Planted out the Celeriac before watching the Royal Wedding on TV.
May ended with some very welcome rain the plot was getting quite dry again; the benefits mean I am now harvesting lettuce, radish and baby turnips together with the asparagus and the first Marshmello strawberries. Summer has arrived at last. But no let-up in things to do, tomatoes will need to be tied in regularly as they are growing well, peas Hurst Greenshaft are in flower a regularly supply of water will be needed to swell the pods once they have formed. I shall be planting out leeks and sprouts this month together with the courgettes and butternut squash. The rain has also made the weeds grow away again and a hoe to all vacant ground will help keep the moisture in ready for later crops. Slugs and snails are also out in force and your preferred method of control will be much needed now.
In the greenhouse I have made further sowings of lettuce, autumn cabbage and turnips. The purple sprouting I sowed last month now needs to be pricked out into 3” pots.
June is the month to be planting out all the bedding and annual plants now the threat of any frost has gone. Some of the perennial plants may need some support and staking now.
8th and it is now time for me to stop cutting the asparagus and let the spears grow on to make fern. This will strengthen the crows for next year’s crop. The peas have set their pods and need plenty of water to swell the peas. The Sweet Williams now in full flower are giving a brilliant display and the bees are loving them to.
24th and it is now well over a month since we had any rain to speak of, the ground is very dry and priority must be given to crops that are now ready to harvest. Today I have picked a large trug full of peas having given them a really good soaking first a couple of days ago. I find it best to cut them rather than pull them off as it stops damaging the plants. The leeks also have been given a good soaking and now mulched well. My next priority will be the celeriac which is starting to suffer from lack of moisture. Courgettes are cropping well and again a good soak once a week is better than a daily dribble.
The first strawberries have finished and have been given a good ‘hair cut’; all the old foliage consigned to the compost bin. New growth will soon appear.
Soft fruit, raspberries, loganberries etc., currants and gooseberries are all ripening now and need regular picking.
I am now harvesting my second early potatoes Foremost. Only take what you can use in a couple of days, they will taste so much better. All the other summer vegetables are now ready, beetroot, lettuce spring onions, courgettes, cabbage French beans etc., enjoy them while they are young and tender and at their best.
July is usually the month we can sit back relax and enjoy the fruits of our labours, unfortunately with the continuing heat wave no such luck. With water restrictions soon to be in place every drop counts. Some plants are really suffering the strawberries I cut back after fruiting are dying back and a soaking really is necessary to save losing them; soft fruit such as raspberries and loganberries are very small and need the moisture to swell the fruit. It is difficult to decide on priorities but try and only water down each plant rather than all the soil as this only wastes water. Hand weed to keep what moisture there is in.
I am enjoying my summer cabbage now although they haven’t had a chance to develop much of heart they are still tasty and tender. I have made the final picking of the peas, cut the vines off at ground level the roots will put back valuable nitrogen in the soil, the vines have gone in the compost.
On the fruit plot, I have picked what cherries the birds have left me and what little soft fruit there is. The gooseberries and purple raspberries seem to have fared the best. Grapes are forming their bunches now and have been given a good soaking.
16th and the hot days continue. I have been able to keep the tomatoes watered regularly and they are now starting to ripen. This one is Cherola a cherry tomato which for me I think has a better flavour than Gardeners Delight and always seems to ripen first.
If you have been able to keep the Celeriac watered now is the time to start removing the lower leaves as they bend down this will encourage the stem which is the edible part it to swell and not the root. My French beans are coming to an end but the beans are setting on the Runners now so will turn my attention to them from now on with the watering.
Onions are ripening, gently ease with roots with a fork and lay in the sun to finish ripening until they are brown and papery. Use any with thick necks first as only the thin necked ones will store well through the winter.