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DIARY 2020



Welcome to another year down on the plot. This will be my 30th year at Elson and even

 with all its ups and downs I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have met many

 delightful people and learned a great deal from them. I hope this year will be no

 exception. Come and join me and see what it holds.




My plots are changing as I no longer need to grow so many vegetables but they are still a major part and I hope to carry on growing a good selection for my own needs.

The New Year has started with the plot still under water from the torrential rain we had in December. Slowly as it drains I will be able to get started again; in the meantime I am in the greenhouse preparing and organising pots etc. for the first early sowings towards the end of Feb/March.  Keep checking any produce still in store for signs of rotting. Potatoes maybe starting to shoot but these can be rubbed off and the tubers still usable.




The month has started very mild but still very wet, spring bulbs are now beginning to show their first fat buds and should soon burst into spring colour; Snowdrops and crocus already being the first.

Seed potatoes are now widely available and at all allotment stores. Lay out in trays or egg boxes in a light frost free place to chit ready to plant out next month. Because of the mild weather weeds are starting to grow and will need hoeing out if you can or lightly turn top over to expose roots which they will then die off.  I’ve decided to remove my old strawberry plants, they have reach the end of their time of 4 years and having been water logged all winter really won’t produce anything this year. The vacant bed I will prepare with some Sharp sand ready to sow carrots at the end of March.

I still have plenty of leeks and parsnips to use which have survived the wet and the purple sprouting is just showing their new early tender shoots.


14th and the plot is still being battered with strong winds and rain and with Storm Dennis forecast for this week-end there is no let-up in sight.

I have managed to plant up my new strawberry bed with Strawberry Malling Centenary with bare rooted plants from Marshalls. Not one I have grown before but decided it was time for a change from Marshmello.


There has been a lot of damage from the strong winds on our site particularly plastic greenhouses; I have been fortunate and only water butt lids went missing but I have been able to find them and hopefully for this week-end I have anchored them more firmly. Flooding I think will be the main problem again as the plots are so saturated.


February is ending with the plot so saturated it is going to be well into March before I can get on the ground again.

I have a mouse in my shed which is making himself very cosy and nibbling my gardening gloves, some old sacking and fleece. I have several times placed a small piece of chocolate in the humane trap but he is very clever and seems to manage to retrieve the chocolate without springing the trap.

My early Plum Beauty tree is in full blossom now, the spring bulbs giving some very welcome colour; we just need some respite from the continuous rain.




I still have some leeks left and the Purple Sprouting although late is just starting to produce some nice tender spears with onions, potatoes and butternut squash in store. 





This month I shall now start to get under way with sowing seeds in the greenhouse. Peas ‘Hurst Green Shaft’ first, sowing 5 peas to a 3 inch pot. Beetroot ‘Pablo’ in cell trays, Cabbage, ‘Pixie’, Lettuce’ Little Gem’, ‘Celeriac, ‘Prinz’, Leeks ‘Winner’. This one is very hardy which I grew for the first time last year and I am very pleased with the results, Good strong stems that have withstood the dreadful wet winter we have had.  . Tomatoes, Honey Moon, Fandango, Cherrola and Santonio (baby plum). These I shall bring indoors and put the tray on top of my boiler for some gentle heat to germinate.


French Marigolds and Statice and geranium plugs have been pricked out into cell trays.


The first early potatoes Pentland Javlyn I have planted on my highest bed and covered with enviromesh; I shall continue with the second early Foremost as conditions allow.


GARDENING TALK – This has now been cancelled and will be re-arranged for 17th November. This date has still to be confirmed.


20th of the month and with Coronavirus now affecting all our lives the allotment is a good place to be; the water levels are down and the soil is now starting to warm up and the first and second early potatoes can be planted. I have also sown 2 rows of Parsnips giving them some protection as our resident fox is still around and likely to dig them up. The ground can now be weeded and prepared ready for later sowings and planting in April. If it is still sticky I would wait a bit longer to finish draining and drying out.

There is much to do in the greenhouse, seedlings are growing well and need pricking out into cell trays or 3” pots. The nights are turning much colder so keep some fleece or newspaper handy to cover at night for added warmth and protection.


A reminder the stores are remaining open and are well stocked now with all your needs. Please support them if you can.

Any potatoes still in store will need regular checking now as long shoots will soon grow and need rubbing off. They will still be usable tubers.


28th – Sorry Folks but in keeping with government guidelines stores have had to close until further notice. But the good news is we can still visit the allotment as part of our daily exercise. This last week has seen almost perfect weather with warm sunny days although still chilly at night. I have really been able to get on and get the beds well prepared and made some sowings and planting. All I have covered with enviromesh. Parsnips from seed, Peas ‘Hurst Green Shaft’ which I had started off in pots, given them some twiggy supports before covering with netting and then an old enviromesh cover which I will remove later, Beetroot ‘Pablo’ started off in cell trays and radish also under cover.



Taking advantage of the good weather I have several beds that need the edgings renewed. Amazingly the soil is now drying out and some plants need to be kept watered while they are still young to get established, peas and beetroot and the new strawberry plants. My onion sets have finally arrived from Marshals and I shall be starting these off in cell trays.


Straggly raspberry canes are starting to come through and to keep them from spreading chop them off with a sharp spade.

Dead head daffodils that are going over if you have time. Don’t cut the foliage or tie in knots, leave them to die down naturally. This will feed the bulbs for next year.


Easter week-end and with the lock-down still in place and lovely warm weather, everything is growing well now in the greenhouse so plenty to be getting on with picking out and potting on. I have also sown Butternut Squash ‘Metro’ and yellow courgettes ‘Floridor’ which is a round one; Savoy cabbage and Purple Sprouting to crop in the winter and next spring.


Beds renewed with some old scaffolding boards.


Surprisingly now the plot is very dry; it is quite a while since we had any rain and what I have sown or planted needs to be well watered till established.

24th And this amazing warm weather continues with no sign of any rain on the horizon. Plants are really growing well in the greenhouse now and I am taking a chance and planting out celeriac ‘The Prinz’, watering well and mulching. Cabbage ‘Greyhound’, onion sets which I started in cell trays, ‘Rumba, ‘Early Fen’ and ‘Red Fen’. The first tomatoes, Cherolla, Fandango and Money Moon; I will keep some enviromesh handy just in case there is a threat of a late frost..


Pleased to announce we now have a new Storeman, Mark at Elson and he has been given permission to open up should you require anything. He can be found on site most days usually beavering away on his own plot 30; anything not in the stores can be ordered from the main stores at Brockhurst as before. Mark will also renew any subscriptions and welcome new members to Gosport Allotment Holders and Gardeners Assoc. which will give them access to the stores and all the benefits of buying cheaper seeds, potatoes etc, as the seasons progress. 


There is now also new click and collect service for Association members available from the Brockhurst stores with a reduced stock list. Details can be found on their website http://www.gosportallotments.btck.co.uk/


With some very welcome rain, the weeds will soon be popping through, keep the hoe going on all vacant ground but carefully hand weed any emerging seedlings, Slugs and snails will be about to so use your preferred method of control. They will soon chomp their way through new seedlings.

The asparagus season is in full swing now, cut spears daily when about 8” tall just below the surface, taking care of any new spears coming through; always hand weed.


Cabbage ‘Golden Acre’ which I planted and protected with netting earlier is now growing well and I have set out new plants ‘Greyhound’ to follow on.


The deep blue Iris is giving some welcome colour to the plot now the daffs have finished.




May is the month when most seeds can be sown directly now, the soil will be warm and we have at last had some very welcome rain. Beware the slugs and snails that will soon demolish any emerging seedlings. I shall be sowing Runner Beans this month 2 beans to each station plus 2 at the end of the row in case of any loss. All the squashes and courgettes, broad beans, French beans, carrots, beetroot and salads. Continue to plant all main cropping potatoes now.


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.

Pinch out the new soft tips on plums, cherries and damsons; this will help to deter aphids that leave a sticky residue on the leaves.


20th - With no rain now for more than 2 weeks, watering is becoming very hard going. I try and water only those that really need it giving a good soaking once a week which is better than a daily dribble.

Peas are now setting so these will have priority for the water to fill them out; squirrels can be a big problem for us so making sure they are well netted and pegged down securely.


I have made a second sowing of carrots and as it is so dry sprinkled a little Ant powder down the row to deter them as they will soon carry off the seed for themselves; covering with enviromesh as always.


28th, and for some reason my Runner Beans have failed this year. Maybe the squirrels have had them I don’t know. I have now sown a few in pots in the greenhouse and hopefully they will come up in time to plant out later next month.

I am now eating my first new potatoes, Pentland Javlyn, just taking enough for what I need each day. The asparagus is still cropping well and I have baby new carrots, Little Gem lettuce and the first strawberries.




The main veg plot at the end of the month; peas now setting.




May was the driest month on record I believe so no rest for the wicked. Watering is still a priority on the crops that really need it. Tomatoes are now setting so a good soak once a week should be all they need. Any seeds sown directly now will need the drill really soaked first. I shall be sowing my main crop carrots. All the soft fruits will be ripening now; protect from the birds if necessary and harvest regularly. Trained pear trees can be pruned to keep them in shape; leave apples till August.


14th – I have made my last cut of the asparagus; will now let it grow into fern. This will feed the crowns for next year. When it turns a bronze colour in October/November it can be cut to the ground and mulched well.  We have had some rain but nowhere near enough but it has freshened the plot up; peas are starting to fill out and will need checking daily before the squirrels get to them.  Sweet peas are flowering now and they too need to be cut regularly to keep them flowering.

I am now harvesting my first cabbage ‘Golden Acre’, beetroot, carrots, onions, second early new potatoes ‘Foremost’, lettuce and strawberries.


25th – It has turned very hot and dry again. My peas are finished now all safely harvested and in the freezer. I have replaced with the Purple sprouting. First the pea vines have been consigned to the compost, the ground dug over and lots of good compost incorporated. A deep hole filled with 2 watering cans of water first then setting the plants deeply and firming in well. Another good watering and well mulched, adding a strong stake to prevent the plants from rocking in the autumn winds; before covering with netting to keep the butterflies and birds out. This should be all they need now till the spring.

Strawberries too are finished, they will be given a good ‘hair cut’ and the old leaves cleared away, weeded and mulched with fresh compost. They will soon make new growth for next year.

I am now harvesting my first French beans, picking them regularly and while about 6-8 inches long to enjoy while they are young and tender.




Should be the month when we can sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labours but there is always something that needs doing. Harvesting is taking up quite a bit of time, picking the soft fruits to enjoy at their best and freezing the surplus to be made into jam etc., later.  Onions should be filling out nicely now, don’t be tempted to bend the tops let them fall naturally. Tomatoes need to be watered and fed regularly; a good soak once a week should suffice. Celeriac leaves will need removing as they bend down, this will help to expose the stem to fill out. Still time this month to sow main crop carrots, beetroot, Kohl Rabi, turnips and all the salad leafy crops.


This year as an experiment I am growing Sweet Peas with the runner beans; so far I have had some lovely Sweet Peas and the Runners are now almost to the top of the canes.



I plan on growing a new bed of strawberries ‘Elsanta’ I have chosen this time. I have cleared and prepared the bed well with a good layer of fresh compost ready for when the bare rooted-plants are delivered.


16th New bare rooted strawberry plants have arrived, they have been planted with their roots spread out, keeping the crown above the soil and very well watered in. We are still desperate for rain.

Potato haulms are going over now so I have started lifting main crop Desiree. They are very clean with no signs of scab or slug damage; left over night in the greenhouse to harden their skins before storing in hessian sacks in my garage; Any other cool dark frost free place such as the shed will do.



Last day of the month is proving to be very hot again but I have continued to lift main crop Picasso potatoes and again they are proving to be a good clean crop this year. I am well satisfied. Onions are ripening early, wait till the tops fall over and start to dry off, gently break the roots with a fork and leave in the sun to ripen and dry off completely, they will become brown and papery,  before storing. Only store those with thin necks and use any others first. They can be stored in onion nets or can be plaited on to strings. To see how I do this, go to http://www.saundersallotment.co.uk/September.html 


My experiment to grow sweet peas with the runner beans I feel was not successful. I had some lovely sweet peas but the runner beans have suffered; the sweet peas have been consigned to the compost heap and now thankfully the runner beans are picking up and flowering, hopefully I will be harvesting soon.

Tomatoes are now ripening, remove the lower leaves to give them full sun, water well and feed once a week.

Any herbs will benefit from being cut back now particularly, lavender which can become woody. New growth will soon reappear.


Continue to harvest any soft fruit if you are lucky enough to still have some, mine is all but finished now except for blueberries and later on will be the grapes. Prune the new soft growth on apples and pears.


Although I have been unable to keep up with the watering of the flowers this year I am surprised how they have survived with so little and really brightening up the plot.






My first project for the month is to dig out the root of the old Blackberry. Very little fruit these last few years I think it has come to the end of its life. As we are now coming to the last few months of the year I think it is time to take stock of what I want to keep and what not to and perhaps plan for something new for next year. 


The blackberry root came out relatively easy, it was really quite rotten. I have renewed the soil with some good compost and decided to plant a Honey Suckle; one which I had at home in a large pot that wasn’t doing very well. Hopefully it will like its new spot and thrive. I have made a frame work for it to climb.


I am now harvesting Victoria plums; unfortunately some have the pink worm inside even though I had hung the Pheromone trap up, but the majority are good. Tomatoes too are ripening quickly now so I am continuing to remove the lower leaves to expose the fruit to the sun.


12th with scorching temperatures continuing for the last few days it has been difficult to do even the minimal of watering. The 2 yellow round courgettes have been producing so many fruits I have taken one plant out. Onions have really dried and ripened well; I have now brought home to store just in case we have a thunderstorm I would rather they didn’t get wet. But I am pleased to say at last I have runner beans, slow to produce but now producing a tasty crop.


22nd – The Herb bed was in need of a good tidy up but instead I have decided to renew some plants; the lavender was getting very woody and so was the sage and the Thyme had all but disappeared. The Chive was very congested but I was able to dig the clump and divide into several smaller plants. Now is a good time to take cuttings of things like the sage, curry plant, lemon geranium and Rosemary. Take new non flowering growth, remove the lower leaves and place several round the outside of a pot containing and 50/50 mix of compost and vermiculite. Water well and place in a cool place till rooted. The lemon geranium is not hardy and needs either to be transferred to a frost free place for the winter or as I do take cuttings, which I find root very easily. Never add mint to the bed as this will take over. Grow in a separate large pot.



Come next spring this will all start to grow away and soon cover the ground again. 




Bank holiday week-end and it has turned quite chilly. I am pleased with my crop of butternut squash this year and have cut back some of the foliage to expose the fruits so they can ripen and harden their skins in the sun ready for storing.  I am surprised at how quickly my tomatoes have ripened this year; all but the baby plum have been harvested, plants removed and composted. Runner Beans are now doing well in the cooler temperatures and starting to crop at last giving me some tasty tender beans.

With the threat of the carrot fly now over I have removed the enviromensh cover and given it a good machine wash before storing for next year. 


Some of the summer bedding annuals have now gone past their best and I am gradually removing and composting.  Dahlias need to be dead headed regularly; cutting back to a leaf joint to keep them flowering. The Spray Chrysanths are starting to flower in clusters of bright autumn colours.


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A reminder seed catalogues are now available at all site stores and new members can join now and receive the 2021 card to take advantage of the 40% discount on Seeds. Broad beans and onions sets will be available soon all at very competitive prices together with a whole range of gardening products.  Please support your stores.



A display stall was held at Gosport Market to raise awareness of the allotments and what they can offer. All thanks to Steve and Jim for putting on such a wonderful display.



Some of the winter brassica leaves will be rotting now; gather up and compost; remember rotting leaves cause diseases. There is a good crop of apples on the trees this year, pick when cupped in the hand they come away from the tree easily. Although the ground is still very dry it is a good practice to hoe all vacant ground if you can to keep the weeds down.


The end of the month and it has now turned very cold. I have emptied one half of my compost bin and made some repairs; it is now ready to be refilled.

I am still enjoying a late crop of runner beans, picking them while still small.




There are plenty of onion sets, shallots and broad beans available at the stores.  Plant now to over winter while the soil is still warm to get them established; and plant out spring cabbage. Finish lifting main crop potatoes; leave in the sun for an hour or two to harden their skins and then store in hessian or paper sacks in a cool dark frost free place.  Continue to keep any vacant ground hoed regularly to avoid the weeds taking hold again and add a good layer of compost. Remove any dead and dying leaves round leeks and brassicas.

Asparagus fern will be turning a bronze colour this month, cut down to ground level, hand weed to avoid damaging the crowns, water well and add a thick mulch of compost.


Dahlia and chrysanths are really flowering well now but still need to be dead headed to keep them going till the frosts.


17th and I have been taking advantage of the beautiful Autumn sun we are having and doing some maintenance jobs. The shed and compost bins have been repaired and a good coat of wood stain applied. Giving the inside of the shed a good turnout, cleaning and oiling any tools I won’t use over the winter; Canes to be stored for next year should be plunged into a bucket of bleach or disinfectant. Any pots, trays etc, washed ready for next year.


Last week of the month and the weather has really changed to wet and windy. Not pleasant to work in but I have put final touch to the shed a new down pipe on the guttering. Also taken delivery of more manure so I can  keep the layering going in the compost bins with the green waste and leaves I have gathered up. 




We are fast approaching the end of another year but still time to get those onions, broad beans and garlic planted if you haven’t already done so. All the squashes should be harvested now cutting to leave about 2 inches of stem; harden the skins in the sun then store in a frost free place for winter. Continue to check on any fruit and vegetables in store for any that are rotting. Carry on winter digging if the conditions are right, leave in large clods and let the winter weather break it down. You will also be feeding the birds with snail’s eggs and insects too by bringing them to the surface.


My two successes this year I think are the celeriac and Savoy cabbage, despite the long dry summer, both have done exceptionally well. I still have ‘Sweet Candle’ carrots, kale, leeks and parsnips to see me through the winter months.




For some late autumn colour the small chryanths are doing their best to shine on the dullest of days.

Now we will be lock down again this month it is still good to know we can get out on the allotment. 


24th and coming near to the end of lock down and the end of the month but although we have had some very wet spells in between it has been warm and pleasant to get out on the plot and do some repairs to the edgings. The wood is rotting and has needed to be replaced. Weeds are still growing so a good idea to keep the hoe going or hand weed to keep on top of them before they seed.



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December already, where has the year gone? Coping with lock downs etc., and although we will be in Tier 2 for a while now it has been good to get out on the Lottie all this time and enjoy our gardening; a place to forget all the trials and tribulations of the world for a while and grow some good produce into the bargain.


The year has had its failures like most years and I think for me it was the beans. Runners just didn’t take off at all and the French didn’t do much better. I think the early long hot dry spell was to blame. The rest of the vegetables have been very good indeed particularly the celeriac , carrots and savoy cabbage. Soft fruit too was disappointing, raspberries really failed to produce anything worth eating and the rest, loganberries and blackberries were dry and pippy. All put down to the lack of rain.  All the tree fruit has been very good apples plums and pears. Cherries I think the birds did very well as I failed to net them this year. And the flowers in their glorious colours kept us cheerful through the hard times.


Continue to dig over vacant ground as the weather allows leaving the soil in clods for the weather to break it down. Check over any fruit and vegetables in store, removing any that are starting to rot; Finish any winter pruning.


December is time to reflect and plan for next year, all the seed catalogues are out now and just waiting to be read to see what new and exciting varieties there are to try.


The year ends with us all now in Tier 4 lockdown.


It only remains for me to wish you all a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas, stay safe and I shall look forward to being back on the plot in 2021 to do it all over again. – Beryl.