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2012 was a difficult and very unpredictable year for us all. Some crops grew well while others just refused to grow.
I am sure 2013 will be no exception but hopefully we will have better weather and can look forward to a bumper harvest.
Please come and join me for another year on the plot and enjoy your gardening.
The relentless rain and wind continued to the end of 2012; we suffered terrible flooding again and it has been impossible to get on the plot. Before the rain arrived I did manage to get the centre path between the 2 10 rod plots raised with wood chippings and completed with paving. This has made a tremendous difference and I can now walk round without wading in all the water.
There is little I can do until the plot has drained other than harvest what crops are left. The sprouts have been particularly good and have withstood the gales and heavy rain so far. The Association’s seed potato order will arrive this month, volunteers are needed to unload the lorry but I shall be in the stores helping to weigh and make up the orders; preparing pots and trays in the greenhouse and putting seeds in order ready for sowing later in March. It is a good idea now to keep an eye on any produce in store; anything showing signs of rotting will quickly spread and need to be used or disposed of.
10th – With a break in the rain the plot drained sufficient for me to be able to take down my old small shed on plot 34. I was able to use enough of the panels to make another compost/storage bin which I shall use to store old compost sacks filled with the netting till needed. With yet more heavy rain on the 12th it is back to square one and with the threat of cold frosty days to come I fear we will be like an ice rink soon.
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
The G.A.H. & G.A. will be holding their first talk of the year on Home Wine Making entitled ‘From Garden to Glass’ to be held at HEDCA, Coombe Road, Gosport on TUESDAY 15th JANUARY 2013 at 7.30 pm This will included tastings of wine brought along by Jan the speaker. At the conclusion of the talk Jan will be pleased to taste and give an opinion of any home-made wines you care to bring along (and maybe we can all have a taste too!)
Admission is free to Members and £1 for Non-members. All are very welcome. Light refreshments included and a Raffle.
Unfortunately this talk had to be cancelled to due to ill health but hopefully will be rescheduled at a later date.
The weather still dominates after snow and more rain at the end of January it will be impossible to get on the ground till the end of the month perhaps. Trying to do anything while the ground is so saturated will do more harm than good. In the meantime I have had another delivery of manure which will help to restore back some of the goodness into the soil that has been washed away. Seed potato orders are now arriving and will need to be laid out in trays or egg boxes in a cool light frost free place to chit. I am trying 3 different ones for me this year, 2 first early Bambino and Mirabelle, and main crop Blue Belle together with my old favourites Foremost and Sarpo Mira; both of these stored very well last year despite all the blight around. Onion sets to are now available (cheaper price than last year at our allotment stores). These can now be started off in modules in the greenhouse and grown on till about the size of a spring onion before planting out in late March/April. I still have plenty of sprouts to harvest, also leeks, curly kale and the purple sprouting is just starting to produce tender young spears. Parsnips still in very water-logged ground but usable.
I have been asked to spread the word by Charlotte O’Rourke of Silver River Productions They are producing a new primetime Gardening Programme for BBC2.
DO YOU GROW YOUR OWN FRUIT, VEG AND FLOWERS AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THEM? ARE YOU THE COMPLETE KITCHEN GARDENER?
We are looking for pairs who have the skills and the dedication to compete to be the nation's best kitchen gardener. Someone who can cultivate the perfect carrot, make their green tomatoes into award winning chutney and turn their dahlias and sweet peas into floral arrangements fit for a Queen.
If you have the skills to compete and are interested in featuring in our series, please contact
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 907 3433 for an application form. The deadline for applications is 9am on the 8th of March 2013.
Calls to this number will be charged at your local rate, mobiles may vary. Silver River Productions will use any information provided by you only for the purposes of selecting participants for the programme and will
only share information with the broadcaster and any independent contractors involved in the programme. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to answer all applicants individually.
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
The G.A.H. & G. A. welcome Mr Kelvin Mason of Sparsholt College who will give a talk on Growing Vegetables; on Tuesday 12th March at HEDCA, Coombe Road, Gosport, at 7.30pm. The usual refreshments and raffle will be available. Free to members and £1. for non- members. All are very welcome to join us.
Back on the plot although the soil is now drying out it is still very cold.
I have put down a plastic cloche and covered one of my new frames with polythene to try and warm up the soil ready to sow by mid-month. Better to delay sowing until the soil has warmed up as seeds will only rot in cold soil. I shall make a start on the potatoes this month starting with the early ones ‘Bambino’ and ‘Mirabelle’; both new varieties for me to try this year. I have dug over the old strawberry bed and planted up with herbs,
In my cold greenhouse I am reluctant to sow too much just yet but some are more hardy and can be started off now. I will not be growing cauliflower this year but as I have not grown Broad Beans for some years decided to try a new low growing one this year from Plants of Distinction ‘ Robin Hood’ instead. These I have sown one seed placed on their sides to a 3 inch pot. Peas I am starting to, my old favorite Hurst Greenshaft which has always given me a consistently good crop, 5 seeds to a 3 inch pot; Leeks, cabbage and lettuce in seed trays; beetroot, and kohl rabi in modules, all covered with a clear plastic lids. Keeping the fleece handy should there be a threat of any night frosts.
20th and there really hasn’t much been done on the plot. Parsnips I have now sown under the protection still of the polythene and continued with a few more potatoes; these I have earthed up and mulching well as I go.
The relentless winter continues with it either being bitterly cold with night frosts or raining. But there are signs of spring with the daffodils starting to open; their golden bobbing flowers in the wind very welcome.
Easter week-end was dry but bitterly cold still. I have used the time to continue to tidy up by sorting out my wood pile; doing some weeding and planting out the first onion sets, Red Barron and Stutgart. These I started off in the greenhouse in late February. The seeds in the greenhouse are all germinating but very slow to make any significant growth yet. Purple Sprouting although later than usual is now producing lots of tender young spears and will need to be picked regularly for a continuous supply.
14th. It is at last starting to warm up. I have made another frame using my enviromesh to cover it and making two removable doors for easy access. Under this I have planted out the first kohl rabi and beetroot both started in cell trays. Also peas and broad beans but these I have just covered with netting to deter the wild life. The peas I have given them some support with twiggy Hazel sticks.
In the greenhouse things are moving on now and there is lots need pricking. The tomatoes, cabbage, leeks, celeriac, lettuce, French marigolds and Statice. Time to think about sprouts; I have sown Early Half Tall and Hastings F1. This should give me a good supply from November through till January 2014. My chrysanthemum cuttings are growing well and to encourage nice bushy plants I have pinched out the tops.
24th And I think Spring has finally arrived. The wallflowers are in full flower now. We have had some very pleasantly warm days and the soil now feels warm enough me to sow few seeds; carrots ‘Early Market’ a short wedge shaped carrot and ‘Trevor F1’; this I have not grown before. Beetroot and climbing French Beans ‘Purple Cascade’.
The plots are still looking quite bare for the time of the year; everything seems to be about a month behind this year. The blossom is just starting to burst and the wallflowers are giving some bright colour; we now need to encourage more bees and insects to ensure a good pollination. Click here to view photos.
Usually one of the busiest months of the year but although it is warm during the day it has turned chilly again at night and for now I am only planting out the first of the lettuce ‘Little Gem’ and under cover some more Kohl Rabi. Plenty to do in the greenhouse with pricking out and potting on. My tomatoes are now ready to be transferred to larger 4” pots; setting the plants as deep as possible. This will encourage more roots to grow and give a stronger plant to put out at the end of the month. Celeriac and leeks are also ready to pot on into 3” pots. The Squashes and courgettes failed to germinate so I have re-sown those.
11th of the month and with heavy blustery showers the weeds are starting to grow so I am keeping the hoe going on all vacant ground. This will stop any weed seedlings emerging before they have a chance to take hold. I have removed the netting covering the onions to avoid them becoming entangled as they grow. The purple sprouting is coming to an end and needs to be taken out. The greenery I shall compost but the thick stalks will have to be chopped up and disposed of. Unless you can shred these they will take too long to rot down in a normal compost bin. The asparagus is just beginning to crop and needs to be cut regularly to encourage continuous cropping.
On the fruit plot it is time to be thinking about hanging up Pheromone Traps in apple and plum trees and ensure any grease bands that have been applied are free from any debri.
Last 2 weeks have been very busy catching up with as much planting as I can. All the Celeriac, Pack Choi, French Beans, Tomatoes and Mini Sweet corn. Runner Beans I have now sown direct in the ground, sowing 3 beans to a station. I am trying the new one Moon Light which has had good reviews; also Celebration with very pretty salmon pink flowers but also a good cropper. All the potatoes are through now but as I have mulched them well I won’t need to earth up any more but if you need to now is the time to do it. The broad beans are in flower and I shall be pinching out the tops to deter the blackfly.
In the greenhouse, sprouts need potting on again to 5-6” pots to be ready to plant out next month; I have made furthers sowings of Pack Choi and Kohl Rabi; Dwarf Curley Kale and Purple Sprouting.
I am harvesting lots of Asparagus now, the spears need to be cut daily below the ground level. They grow very quickly from seeing them just above the ground early morning they are almost ready to cut in the evening.
On the fruit plot the strawberries are in full flower and with the news the commercial growers are expecting a bumper crop this year we are ever hopeful to.
June is usually the month when we can sit back and enjoy the produce of our labours but this year with everything being so much later the only thing I could harvest now as well as the asparagus is lettuce; but I am pleased to say everything is now growing well and it won’t be long before beetroot and kohl rabi will be ready and maybe some baby carrots all from the grow frames. Although the sweet corn is covered with netting the animals have managed to destroy several but I do have a few smaller plants I am still growing on which I hope to replace them with. I have planted out the Squash ‘Metro’ and yellow courgettes ‘F1 Jemmer’ which completes the veg plot for now. Later when I start to harvest there will gradually be room for more winter crops such as the Purple Sprouting, Kale and leeks. If you have the space further sowings of carrots, beetroot, lettuce French and Runner beans, spring onions, spinach and kohl rabi can all be made now.
On the fruit plot the strawberries are in full flower and it is a good time to lay straw beneath them to keep the fruit clean And also deter the small black slugs. My cherries have now had their ‘June drop’ when the trees shed their unwanted fruitlets so I am now netting them as much as I can from the birds who will strip the faster than you can turn around. The red currant has also set it’s fruit so I am pruning the new growth back by about 2 thirds and then cover them with netting to. The stone fruit is showing some signs of aphids on the tips of new the growth; these will also be needed to be pinched out to help to control them.
My new Spray Chrysanths are ready to be planted out in their permanent positions and hopefully this year the foxes won’t dig them up. Weeding is a priority now so, keep the hoe going on all vacant ground or hand weed where necessary before they have a chance to take hold and set seed.
9th of the month and after a really beautiful warm week crops are beginning grow now. I have harvested my first baby vegetables, beetroot, pak choi, broad beans and lettuce; and the first strawberries from plants that I potted up from runners last autumn. I am pleased with the cabbage and kohl rabi grown for the first time in the grow house. The cabbages planted closer together than I normally would are now beginning to make firm hearts. For more photos of the early vegetables please click here.
On the fruit plot the soft fruit, raspberries, blackberries and tayberries are all making their new canes. These need to be tied back and supported to avoid being snapped off. When the old canes are cut back after fruiting the strongest of these will be tied in for next year’s fruit.
In the greenhouse I have made a further sowing of beetroot and lettuce. Keeping the lettuce in the shadiest part of the greenhouse as they will germinate better this time of the year in cooler conditions.
23rd. With little or no rain and very strong gusty winds and it is hard to believe we are now past mid-summers day however I have picked the first of the strawberries ‘Marshmello’
sweet and tender baby broad beans, lettuce, beetroot, kohl rabi, cabbage and ‘Foremost’ new potatoes. The climbing French beans are now half way up their cans and the courgettes are showing signs of small baby ones forming. I have lost one Butternut squash to the fox but still have 3 growing well. I have sown main crop carrots under enviromesh, Sweet Candle F1 and Ideal Red; and planted out more Beetroot ‘Wodan’.
The strong winds have caused a little damaged and I have had to repair the grape vine frame and at the same time pruned back the new growth to reduce some of the weight and encourage the tiny grapes to form. The blackberry also heavy with unripe fruit has needed 2 canes to be supported and tied in again.
Summer really has arrived; the last week of June sent the temperatures soring and now as always us gardeners are praying for rain. Although a little late the harvesting of fruit and vegetables is now in full swing and the young vegetables need to be harvested while still young and tender. I am picking peas, broad beans, carrots, beetroot, courgettes, lettuce, spring onions, cabbage and kohl rabi; potatoes, ‘Blue Belle’ a new one for me this year. This is really a main crop potato but having lifted some by mistake it really is a delicious waxy potato with purple/mauve eyes. Used as an early potato I would grow this again but will now leave them to mature as a main crop and continue to lift ‘Foremost’ my old favourite.
My Czar plum tree has now got too large for me to handle and all the fruit is at the top of the tree I have decided to have this professionally taken out and use the space for something else next year.
I have made one last sowing of carrots ‘Autumn King’, watering the drill really well before sowing and covering with soil; planted out more beetroot ‘Pablo’. In the greenhouse lettuce, Wallflowers and Sweet Williams are ready for pricking out into modules; these I will grow on ready to plant out in September for flowering next year. Keep on top of the weeding by hoeing all vacant ground now otherwise hand weed to keep as much moisture in the soil as possible. Water only those crops that really need it such as peas and beans. Support or tie in new fruit canes to one side to avoid being broken in any strong winds. This will make it easier when you come to cut down old fruiting canes later. Remove runners from strawberry plants unless you need them to make new plants.
14th And with the hot weather across the country set to continue for the foreseeable future watering is essential now on vegetables that are coming into crop. A good soaking every few days is better than a daily dribble which will only encourage roots to come to the surface then bake in the hot sun. Let them go down to find the moisture. It is far too hot for me to be working on the plot now but as soon as it cools down my first bed of strawberries are finished and the foliage will need to be cut down and composted. The foliage will soon recover to make good plants. When the soil has had a good soak it can be mulched with well rotted compost. I have now lifted the last of my second early potatoes ‘Nicola’ before the tubers become too large. I have an exceptional heavy crop this year and these I will store now in hessian sacks to be used later in the autumn. Continue to tie in and pinch out the side shoots on tomatoes till they have set 4 trusses then pinch out the growing tip. Once the fruits start to ripen and swell some of the lower leaves can be removed to allow a good air circulation. Keep on top of the soft fruit picking and if you can water well to swell the berries.
It was a very hot but a good day out to Hever Castle at Edenbridge, Kent was enjoyed by the G.A.H.& G.A. yesterday. With plenty of beautiful spreading trees and cooling water features, including the boating lake and water maze were able to keep out of the hot sun as much as possible and enjoy the beautiful gardens. For more information on Hever castle visit http://www.hevercastle.co.uk/
At last on the 28th we have had some rain over night and as they say ‘every little helps’; already the plot is looking fresher. Badgers squirrels and foxes are continuing to cause us endless problems with damage. The squirrels took almost my entire pea crop, badgers are trampling and destroying the onions but I have managed to rescue some and put them up high on wire across one of the frames to finish ripening out of harm’s way.
On the fruit plot, blackberries are now ripening fast and need to be picked or protected from the birds.
Unfortunately we are now experiencing some theft of wheel barrows and tools; fruit is also going missing which some can be put down to animals but not all. We ask plot holders to be alert and ensure sheds are made secure and gates kept locked at all times. Any theft should be reported to the local police.
A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY – The G.A.H. & G.A. will be holding their annual Flower Show on August 10th at the Alverstoke Parish Centre. You do not have to be a member to enter, anyone with an interest in gardening is welcome. A show schedule can be obtained for any site stores or visit http://www.gosportallotments.btck.co.uk/Shows/SummerShow2013 for more information.
Back on the plot the hot dry spell continues with some crops suffering but others seem to be thriving. For whatever reason the brassicas have been doing exceptionally well. I have now harvested the last of the summer cabbage and kohl rabi. The climbing French beans are cropping well and I am trying to keep them watered and the tomatoes which are ripening now. Courgettes and squashes are thirsty drinkers too.
I am continuing to lift potatoes. Other than the blackberries most of my soft fruit is coming to an end. The raspberries and tayberries are ready to have their old canes cut down and the new ones tied in. Select only the strongest canes and remove any weak ones. Strawberries too can be given a good haircut when they are finished, they will soon make new growth and after a very good soaking can be well mulch again before the autumn sets in. Do make sure the soil is very moist before mulching though. Keep on top of the dead heading of any flowers you might be growing; this will encourage more flowers to open and prolong the season. Those that are finished like the delphiniums can be cut to the ground and composted. Sometimes it is possible to get a second flowering of these.
This is a holiday month so other than harvesting maybe it is a good time to sit back relax and take a good look at your plot; maybe there are some changes you would like to make for next year.
Onions will be ripening now, leave them to fall over naturally then ease out with a fork and leave to dry and fully ripen in the sun. Only those with thin necks will store so use the others first. Remember onions can be stored in a light frost free shed/garage but potatoes need to be stored in heavy duty paper or hessian sacks in the dark. Light will make them turn green and this is poisonous.
Remove the lower leaves on tomatoes to expose the fruit; this will encourage them to ripen and allow good air circulation.
Onions – ‘Rumba’ Tomatoes ‘Cherrola F1’.
18th of the month and my onions have ripened very well this year and are now ready to be plaited on to strings for storing. This is the first time I have grown ‘Rumba’ and I have been extremely pleased with them.
Onions ‘ Rumba’
To string them, cut a length of strong twine and knot firmly. Hang on a nail or hook and twist a large onion on the bottom. Continue to twist each onion neck in a figure of 8 until the string is about 2 thirds full. Cut off any surplus onion and store in a dry frost free shed or similar. Cut onions as required and check periodically throughout the winter for any that maybe going soft and need using first.
August is continuing to be a very dry month, we have only had one day of rain but most crops are surviving very well. I have not timed my beans very well this year as I now have French and Runners cropping at the same time. On the fruit plot I still have plenty of blackberries and as the figs are just starting to ripen now; I have pruned back some of the new growth and leaves to expose the fruits; this will help to ripen them. I have decided to have 2 more trees taken out, the Damson and one Cherry tree. This should help to make the plot more manageable for me next year.
The month has started the same as August ended still very dry with no sign of any rain yet. Runner beans are suffering and will need copious amounts of water to keep them going. Any beans that are setting large seeds now should be removed otherwise the plants will think their job is done for the season and stop cropping. Tomatoes surprisingly are doing very well despite the shortage of water; the sun is ripening them quickly and they seem to taste even sweeter this year. I am very pleased with Cherrola F1, for me they have a far better flavour than Gardeners Delight and have held well on the plant without splitting even when fully ripe.
On the fruit plot my blackberries are finished. I have cut the old canes down and tied in the strongest new ones for next year. Where the cherry tree was I have now planted with Wall Flowers. I am also now starting to plant out the Sweet Williams. All the flowers need dead heading regularly to keep them going but those that are finished can be taken out and composted. Keep any cleared ground free of weeds with the hoe.
A very enjoyable day out was had by all to the Wisley Flower Show on Saturday 7th. Our thanks to Jim of the G.A.H. & G.A once again for organising it.
10th of the month and the rain has arrived at last and so have the weeds even more important now to keep the hoe going. The winter brassicas, sprouts, kale, cabbage etc. will be dropping some of their leaves now they should be gathered up and composted. Remember rotting leaves cause diseases. It is worth clearing any of the dying and rotting leaves from the parsnips too. Continue to remove the bottom leaves on the celeriac to encourage them to swell. With the heavy rain tomatoes will split so keep an eye on those and pick before if you can. I am hoping now the Runner beans will have their second ‘wind’ and produce some late beans. Figs are ripening quickly and need checking daily. A laborious job but I am starting to thin the grapes now with fine pointed scissors and a lolly pop stick to hold the fruit away to avoid damaging the remaining fruit with the scissors.
A DATE FOR YOUR DAIRY – The G.A.H. & G. A. will be holding their Pumpkin Fayre on Saturday 26th October at the Alverstoke Parish Centre. Show schedules and entry forms are now available from all allotment site stores or tele: Steve Broughton on 012392587662. Classes include fruit, vegetables, home baking, preserves, wines and spirits, photography and fancy dress. Something for all ages including children. All entries must be displayed by 11.00 am and public viewing is from 12.15 pm. You do not have to be an allotment holder to enter anyone is welcome.
Back on the plot it is now time to be thinking about planting onion sets to over winter. These will be ready for harvesting from next May onwards. Sets can either be started off in modules and grown on till they are about the size of a spring onion before planting or planted straight into the ground. Use a dibber or trowel to plant instead of just pushing them in to avoid damaging the roots. Plant with the tips just on the soil level otherwise the birds will soon have them out.
Runner Beans really are a disappointment this year and so far no sign of a second flush of flowers but I will leave them a little longer as they will crop until there is a frost – if I am lucky. Unfortunately most of the tomatoes now have the blight so I have removed all the plants except for ‘ Fandango’ a blight resistant variety which for now is holding well with no signs. All canes and secateurs should be well disinfected to avoid spreading the disease elsewhere.
On the fruit plot the badgers are taking the lower bunches of grapes before they ripen and some of the pears. Pears are still very hard but I have cut some and laid them in trays in the greenhouse to see if they will ripen. I am continuing to dead head the chrysanths which are giving me a lovely autumn display and as a cut flower they will last several weeks in the vase. As I have the time I am now covering all vacant ground with a good layer of compost.
Last week of the month and we have had the wind, rain and gales which has spread havoc across the country. Before then I did manage to get my onions planted, cleared the runner beans but leaving the roots in which will put back valuable nitrogen into the soil and started to cut down the asparagus fern. Since then it has been impossible to do anything on the plot other than harvest a few vegetables as and when needed. I have plenty of carrots, Mincole cabbage, leeks, curly kale, sprouts and celeriac. Parsnips will be much more tasty if left till they have had a frost on them before lifting.
If you haven’t already planted out your onion sets and broad beans to over winter it is not too late but best done so as soon as possible; Any brassicas such as the sprouts and curly kale that have been loosened in the strong winds should be firmed in and staked if possible and if the ground is workable start digging over vacant ground now but don’t tread on wet soggy soil as it will cause more harm than good. Gather up fallen leaves and either make a wire bin to break down for leaf mould or add to the compost bin in small amounts at a time.
Last week of the month and I have finally finished filling all my compost bins now with a new load of manure layered with all the green waste I had been saving. This should rot down nicely to use in late spring onwards for mulching. After a few night frosts the sprouts and parsnips are now ready for harvesting as and when needed. Now as the weather allows I shall be topping up the perimeter paths with wood chippings and doing some maintenance to my shed and any structures that need it. It is now a good time to dunk all used canes in a bucket of bleach or disinfectant so they will be ready for use again in the spring. Clean and oil all tools that will be stored over winter and check there are no snails safely tucked up in the spout of your watering cans for the winter. They will also hide under the rims of pots left outside too. Keep clearing away any fallen brassica leaves and consign to the compost bin.
Here we are nearly at the end of another season. The year has been very good from the growing point of view; all my crops with the exception of the runner beans which didn’t produce their usual second flush of flowers, have cropped exceptionally well. My only 2 disappointments I can put down to the badgers destroying the mini sweet corn and the squirrels enjoyed almost the entire pea crop. I am sure the battle to protect crops from the wild life will continue on again next year.
There is little to do on the plot this month but do continue to check all fruit and vegetables in store and should the weather turn really frosty root vegetables and leeks can be dug before the ground is frozen and heeled in in a more sheltered area to use as required.
All the new seed catalogues will be dropping through the letter box this month. Enjoy reading and planning next year’s plot in the cosy warmth over the holiday period.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me through the year; I wish you all a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas. God willing I shall be back again in the New Year.
The plots at the end of December.