Despite some thick fog which lasted a couple of days last week, I did manage to find time to spend a good couple of hours on plot to finish up jobs which have been outstanding since the autumn.
On my last visit we managed to dig up the old Strawberry bed and manure and cover the lower half of the plot ready for next year. The Swiss Chard was still going strong at that time, so I left it alone to carry on until the first frosts. Without Cloche protection the Chard had now finally succumbed to the weather, although I still managed to pick a quarter of a black full of young healthy centre stems that had been sheltered by the large outer leaves.
I cleared away the Chard and lightly forked the area over, the soil was wet but still workable. I have been growing on some Garlic Cloves in the mini-Greenhouse for the last couple of months, all but one tray of which have shooted. The Elelphant Garlic has only just started to come through so I might keep them going at home and plant them out early spring. The bulbs which I considered to be ready were took to the Allotment for planting out now. These were positioned in the top half of the plot and covered with tunnel cloches to protect them for the winter. I have never bothered to cover them before, but considering that most of last year’s direct planted Avignon wight bulbs failed, I think it can’t hurt to try out a new way of doing things.
That done, I turned my attention to the Rhubarb bed which has completely died down now. I removed any traces of brown withered leaves and covered the whole bed with a layer of manure with plenty of straw in it, to act as a barrier for the crowns which don’t mind the cold but hate being waterlogged.
Next job was to manure/cover the top half of the plot, we use old carpet underlay to tuck up the beds for the coming winter. When the sheets are lifted off in spring the soil is weed free and ready to be turned over. We are lucky enough to get free manure from the farm next door, the only limit to how much take is your own physical strength. The manure was wet and therefore heavy on this particular day but my motivation was high as I had a found some ‘good dark stuff’ in one of the hollowed out corners of the pile. Motivation or no, I still only managed four wheelbarrows full, a bit disappointing, I had convinced myself I was up for carting at least 6!
On a trip down to plot today I winter pruned the two Gooseberry bushes which are quite large. I used to have a third weeping bush but never seemed to see any fruit on it so I removed that this autumn and put the White Currant bush transferred from plot two in it’s place. I never know how much to cut off and tend to to just cut away any stems that cross over or grow too low to the ground. I try to keep the very centre of the bush open to allow air to circulate.
Next job was to remove some stray Raspberry suckers that were crowding other fruit bushes. I selected a handful of the best ones from the Red Summer fruiting variety and replanted them. These should be cut down to the ground ready for next year but I might let them settle in first.
Thinking ahead to next year I have discarded my previously drawn up plans in favor of my new KEEPING IT SIMPLE PLAN. After an 8 year career break, I am finally in a position where I feel I can return back to work, which I am very excited about, but obviously I would like to keep my lovely Allotment in good order as well. I know that lots of busy people keep their Allotments in tip top condition, but considering that I have the kids and dogs to think of as well I am going to focus on crops that I just can’t live without and which are good at fending for themselves during the week (summer watering aside of course).
The plan looks pretty sparse (even with the huge wheel type symbols which are supposed to represent Pumpkin plants!) but I will still be growing lots of flowers from seed for both the garden at home and the allotment. I have kept Peas and Mangetout off the plan for now but I will probably end up doing Peas on plot and Mangetout at home. I also have a list of Gap fill plants that I will run on in pots ready to slot in where I can. These include: Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Kale, Leeks, Summer Cabbage and a few herbs. Some Red Alert tomato’s, Apache Chilli’s and Cue’s will still be grown at home in the container garden. We will see how it all goes.
Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year.