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DIARY 2022

 

 

Welcome to another year on the plot, I find it hard to believe I am still here

looking forward to Spring once again and eager to get started;

Learning to live with Covid restrictions it is a blessing

we can still enjoy our plots.

 

 

JANUARY

 

2022 arrived still very wet and mild. Spring bulbs are well up now and it is tempting to want to get planting and sowing but best to err on the side of caution. Seed potatoes are now in the garden centres and can be laid out in a frost free light place to chit. Egg boxes or cell trays are ideal for this. (orders from the stores will be with us soon)Onions sets too are available but best to plant in cell trays to give them a head start and protection should the weather suddenly change. Still plenty of time to plant bare rooted fruit trees provided soil is not water logged or frozen.Spend some time in the greenhouse making sure trays, pots, tools etc. are clean and ready for use; check watering cans for any snails that will overwinter in them. March is really the earliest I will start any seed sowing in the greenhouse and April outdoors.

 

This very pretty Lichen is growing on my old plum tree where I hang the bird feeders. So pleased I decided not to have it cut down.

 

Memberships are now due for renewal and can be obtained at any of the site stores to continue to receive the benefits of cheaper seeds, seed potatoes, fruit trees and soft fruit etc. also a good selection of gardening sundries all at cheaper prices on hand for when you need them.

 

The month has ended with little or no rain this month so I have been able to get all my frames erected ready for use later in the year and repaired edgings.

 

FEBRUARY

 

Seed potato orders are now ready for collection from your stores. If you failed to order then there are spares available. Lay them out in a frost free light place to chit (to produce shoots), egg boxes or cell trays are good for this. I put mine in the greenhouse but keep an eye on the night temperature and cover with fleece or newspaper if there is a threat of frost.Onion sets can be started off in cell trays if you can give them some protection if not wait till next month.

Finish any winter digging this month, plant bare rooted fruit trees and remove all perennial weeds.

Sweet Peas I have been growing in the greenhouse are now getting a bit leggy so I have pinched the tops out to allow plants to bush out.

 

Week-end of the 19th/20th, storm Eunice hit us very badly. Extensive damage was caused to allotment plots across the south. Greenhouse next to me was completely wrecked. Apart from a couple of water butts lids that went missing I suffered no actual damage. Usually we are flooded this time of the year but this time it is the strong winds causing so much devastation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MARCH

 

The month has started quiet weather-wise and it is very tempting to get ahead with seed sowing and planting but it is early days yet and March/April can throw just about everything at us. Some things like onion and shallot sets can be planted now; make sure the tips are just below to surface to avoid the birds pulling them out. I have made a start with the first early potatoes; setting them in a good spade depth, earthed well up and mulched; then if there is any frost they wonít come to any harm.

 

Sowings can now be made in the greenhouse or on a sunny window sill, such as peas, cabbage, beetroot, spring onions, lettuce, leeks, and celeriac. I would wait till the end of the month before sowing squashes and tomatoes and French beans. Runners I always leave till May and plant direct in the soil. I have been growing Sweet Peas in pots in the greenhouse and they are now ready for planting out but there is still plenty of time to sow more seed.

 

The plot is starting to come alive again with all the spring bulbs and the early plum blossom.

 

Keep on top of any weeding now, make any final repairs and prepare beds ready for sowing and planting out next month. Make sure watering cans are free from any snails which love to overwinter in the spouts. I am also continuing to feed the birds.

 

24th of the month, and this last week it has been such lovely sunny warm days it has been tempting to get on and start to plant out but the nights are still cold and it is best to err on the side of caution. This is so unusual too be so warm during the day.

Continue to plant potatoes and onion sets and I have made a sowing of parsnip.

There is plenty to be done in the greenhouse where seedlings have germinated they can be potted on but keep the fleece handy for the cold nights.

 

Clumps of snowdrops can be split now to increase their show for next year. Dig up clumps and divide into 2 or 3 pieces and replant. Then leave the foliage to die down naturally, the same with all spring bulbs; donít cut or tie the foliage. The allotments really are looking lovely now with all the daffs, and other spring flowers. The bees are humming doing their job.

 

 

APRIL

 

The sudden drop in temperatures after such a lovely warm spell, will warn us that even up to end of April it can still be too cold to start to plant out or sow direct. Keep your plants and seedlings under wraps for now, cover with fleece at night for extra protection.

Dead head spring flowers to keep them from running to seed. This will encourage more flowers to form.

 

Easter week-end and it has turned very warm again. The soil is now very dry and we desperately need some rain. Try to avoid disturbing it if you can and hand weed. I would still err on the side of caution before planting out tender crops. Potatoes and onions can still be planted this month, as can broad beans and peas. Summer cabbage will need protection from the birds.

Those of us who planted potatoes early will be finding the tops just coming through, give them an earth up to cover just in case there is a late frost.

 

Plenty to do in the greenhouse now; I am making further sowings of beetroot, Silver onions, baby sweet corn, lettuce, savoy cabbage.

Winter crops such as Kale, Purple sprouting, sprouts and Chard can also be sown now. As can all the summer bedding such as French Marigolds and Statice. Celeriac is now large enough to handle and ready to pot on into 3Ē pots. Tomatoes too, planted up to their seed leaves.

 

I have trimmed and given my curry plants a haircut. They tend to be like lavender and get a bit straggly. Have taken some cuttings, not sure if it is the right time of year but if I can get them to root may be next year I will replace them with new plants.

The bees are loving the wallflowers now which are giving some glorious colour. They never fail to please. Well worth growing but wait till June/July before sowing seeds.

 

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MAY

 

Bank holiday week-end has turned very cloudy with a little rain, nowhere near enough to help our parched dry soil. I am trying not to disturb the soil and only watering down the plants that need it to retain as much moisture as I can. Most plants will survive if their roots are allowed to go down to find it, water too often and they will come to the surface getting burned in the heat.

 

This is the month when we can sow and plant out most things, I have already planted tomatoes as they were getting too big for the greenhouse and donít seem to have suffered at all. French beans also. Courgettes and all the squashes can be sown now. 2 seeds to 3ď pot. Continue to sow lettuce, beetroot, spring onions in cell trays for a continuous supply. And looking ahead to winter crops, Savoy cabbage.Tie in Sweet peas to encourage them to climb till established.

On the fruit plot, strawberries are coming into flower once the fruit has set they can be watered well.May is the time to be thinking about hanging the Pheromnone Moth Traps up. They lure the male moth but do not affect any beneficial insects.One trap will cover several trees.

I am digging out old raspberry canes which have not made any new growth this year. Not sure why but the roots have rotted. I donít plan on replacing them as I still have the purple raspberry, although smaller fruits are delicious.

In the greenhouse, potting on is almost a full time job, leeks, sweet corn, celeriac and all the summer bedding plants.

I am now harvesting asparagus spears every other day, cutting about 2Ē below the surface of the soil to keep them cropping for about the next 6 weeks.

10th of May and after the longest dry spell I can remember it has been a drizzly morning but nowhere near enough rain to refill water butts let alone dampen the soil. But plants are surviving and here is just 3 of the plot taken yesterday to show you; Sweet peas just coming into flower and the Wallflowers still going strong.

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JUNE

Jubilee week and we are still in desperate need of rain. The asparagus is now coming to its end with lack of water I will now leave it to grow and make fern to feed the crowns for next year; then in October it will be cut to the ground and given a good mulch for the winter.Wallflowers are now finished and have been cleared away to make way for planting out the leeks. I have sown runner beans direct in the ground and made a further sowing of carrots and beetroot. Tomatoes need to have their side shoots removed regularly now and tied in to the supports. Tiny fruits are starting to form and this is the time to start some regularly watering about once a week should be sufficient.

I have dug my first new potatoes Pentland Javlyn; donít dig more than is needed for that day to enjoy them at their best. Also I have Greyhound pointy cabbage, spring onions, lettuce, carrots, strawberries and rhubarb.I was very disappointed with the Italian Beetroot Chioggia, pale pink and I found to be tasteless compared with the deep red varieties. I wonít grow it again.

I am cutting back some of the new growth on the cherry and plum trees. If you have fruits forming then now is the time to protect from the birds with some netting.

18th and we have had a very hot few days, now turning humid and thundery. Soil is so dry everywhere again, water only those crops that are producing now. I have peas filling out and have picked the last of the broad beans. Tomatoes are forming and will need regularly watering about once a week with a good soaking.Our resident fox is being more than a nuisance, he can smell water I am sure and bulldozes along the rows where I have watered. So many plants have been dug up. There are only just so many times I can keep putting them back.

Turning my thoughts to next year, I am sowing seeds in the greenhouse to flower next spring and summer. Wallflowers, Lupins, Sweet Williams and Foxgloves. It is too hot in the greenhouse at the moment so I am leaving the seed trays outside for now with a lid on top toprotect from cats etc.

Sweet peas are flowering well but do need their blooms to be cut regularly to keep them flowering.

 

JULY

July and the long drought continues; with the strong winds drying what little rain we have had, plants are really suffering now. My sweet peas have the mildew and running to seed so they will be coming out and composting. Tomatoes are looking good, with one ripening the others soon to follow. Spring cabbage is finished and Iíve cleared the ground to plant out the 3rd sowing of beetroot which I started off in cell trays. French beans are slow this year but have just started to flower. Runners too are slow but now starting to climb.I am very pleased with some bulb Fennel and am growing this year and have just harvested the first bulbs together with the first of the baby sweet corn; courgettes not so good through lack of water but canít complain at the potatoes an excellent first and second early crop.

The birds are taking the soft fruit, black and red currants gooseberries and raspberries. My early blackberry is fruiting well so they are leaving me something. My strawberries are finished now so I have given the plants a good haircut and removed all the runners as I donít want any new plants but these can be pegged down and when rooted, potted up.When we have had a significant amount of rain I will then mulch them well for the winter.

Fennel, baby sweet corn and courgettes fresh from the plot.

The month is coming to an end, still hot and dry. The only really good thing to say is I have been able to dry my onions in full sun and they are now ready for storing. I have decided to do those with thin necks on strings. Something Iíve not done for quite a few years now. But they will keep well, and take up less space for storing. It is easy to plait on to a loop of strong string, hang the loop from a hook or nail, tie a large onion to the bottom twisting the neck in a figure of 8, add more onions in the same way till the required amount is reached. Hang in a light frost free place.

Tomatoes are also enjoying the sunny weather and ripening very quickly now.I am removing the lower leaves to expose the fruit and aid ripening. Careful watering is needed now, too much all at once and the skins will split.

AUGUST

The long hot dry spell continues; I am concentrating on keeping the French beans going and concentrating on one crop at a time to soak as much as possible.I now need to plant out for next year, Lupins and Wallflowers which are getting too big for their 3 inch pots. I have taken out a trench, filled with water and allowed to drain twice before setting the plants in, watering well and covering with dry soil to keep as much moisture in as possible. I hope this will give them a head start till we have that much needed rain.

A reminder it is the G.A.H. & G. A. summer show on the 20th August, at the Alverstoke Village Hall;allHall. show schedules are available at all allotment stores, with classes for all age groups. The hall will be open from 8 am to 10.30 to display your exhibits, closing for judging then reopen to the public from 12.15. Entry is free; do come along to see what we do. Light refreshments available.All are very welcome.

12th of the month and finally had to give in the French beans are really not worth the time and effort in watering so have decided to take them out and concentrate on the one good Runner Bean I have left, which is producing some nice tender beans. Lettuce is bolting in the heat.I do still have some nice carrots and beetroot. Main drop potatoes have been exceptionally good; all the foliage had died down; the tubers were a good size and dry so they are now all lifted and in store in hessian sacks for winter use.Tomatoes too have loved the hot sunshine and so many are now ripening quicker than I can use them.

A very good day was had by all at the Summer Show. The tables were laden with some surprisingly good produce considering what a difficult year it has been and the numbers of visitors exceeded our expectations.I came away with 3 firsts and a 3rd, so well pleased. We now look forward to the Pumpkin and Produce show in October.

SEPTEMBER

Back on the plot, autumn is coming early, leaves are dropping from the trees and plants going over, flowers have been particularly hard hit as the drought continues. And so many like the Phlox, I am just having to cut back and hope the plants will recover for next year. Tomatoes have finally finished, plants taken up and composted although my compost heap is very dry and needs to be well watered before I add too much.

Strawberries need to have their final hair cut, clean all the dead growth from them and remove any runners if not needed for new plants. A good watering if you can and then a mulch is all they need to see them through the winter.

22nd and a reminder the G.A.H, & G. Association will be holding their annual stall at the Michaelmas Fayre in Alverstoke on Saturday 24th. They will be selling a range of fruit vegetables, plants and flowers grown by the allotment holders. Do come along I am sure you will find some goodies to buy at reasonable prices and help to support us once again. It is our main fund raising event.

A very god day was had, all thanks to Steve our chairman who provided all the produce for the display and of course, our grateful thanks to the members for supplying us with sufficient produce to sell and raise over £500.

The month has ended with some very welcome rain.

OCTOBER

Autumn is now with us and the temperatures are much cooler. Those of us that put our runner beans in late are now harvesting a very nice tender crop. They should go on well till the end of the month provided we have no frosts. They really didnít like the hot temperatures of the summer months.

Winter vegetables like the celeriac, parsnips, carrots and cabbage are all making good growth now.All brassicas benefit from removing any dead and dying leaves to avoid any disease. Continue to remove the lower leaves on Celeriac too. I am removing any spent crops to the compost bin and also making sure the ground is kept weed free till we have had sufficient rain for me to start to cover all vacant soil with a layer of rotted compost for the winter. I do not grow winter onion now but it is a good time to get them planted while the soil is nice and warm to give them a good start. Garlic too can be planted now.

Apples and pears unfortunately have suffered with Brown Rot this year so they will need to be gathered up and any left on the tree disposed of.

This month the asparagus fern will start to turn a bronze colour. Time then to cut it completely to the ground, hand weed and give it a good mulch of well rotted compost and a dressing of wood ash if you have any.

NOVEMBER

I have taken delivery of a small load of manure to add to my now almost empty compost bins. I shall have several moreover winter for use in the spring and I will continue to add all my green waste to layer as well.

Continue to plant Autumn onion sets while the soil is still warm to get them established. Garlic and Broad beans also.

Pears have been disappointing this year the Conference was badly damaged in the strong winds so I have had that one cut down. My one remaining tree the Concorde I hope will continue to crop better again next year. Soft fruit can be pruned now, Black and red currants and Gooseberries. Summer fruiting Raspberries, the old canes need to be cut right down and select the strongest the new ones to tie in and support for next year. Autumn fruiting Raspberries can be left till the \new Year when they should all be cut to the ground.New canes and plants can be planted from now on provided the ground isnít water logged or frozen.

23rd of the month and the rain continues relentlessly. The plot is now flooded making it impossible to get on the plot. Fortunately my beds are raised high enough for the remaining vegetables not to rot. Savoy cabbage, carrots, celeriac, leeks and parsnips are all still holding their own.

DECEMBER

I have decided the time has come for me to give up writing my Dairies and to that effect as of now there will be no further updates.

I have made many friends over the years and enjoyed doing it and hope it has given some would-be allotment gardeners inspiration to dust of their gardening gloves and have a go. The website will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

I can still be found beavering away on my plots and would always be pleased to hear from anyone who would care to write. My contact details can be found on the Home Page

Many thanks to you all for your support. I hope you continue to enjoy your gardening however big or small your plot is.

With best Wishes,

Beryl.

 

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