Mission accomplished – January 2013
Mission accomplished, despite the wet autumn last year and over the majority of the festive period I still managed to finish my winter digging at the allotment. Luckily putting a good layer of mushroom compost over the surface in November before the worst of the weather arrived helped, this enabled me to stand on the compost and still dig my soil without slipping in the mud. Now this job is complete I can sit back and let the frost and snow that are sure to arrive soon do their work breaking down the soil so I can work it easily in the spring.
The last of the Brussels sprouts are waiting to be harvested, which I think will all be eaten before the end of the month. These will be followed by the savoy cabbage January King that have hearted up well and are waiting to be picked whatever the weather over the next few months. Purple sprouting broccoli is already starting to throw up some spears and this will make a tasty meal for several months, making this a very worthwhile crop to grow. If the weather turns very cold the production of spears will slow up and then start again once the weather warms up and should continue producing a crop until May.
Still looking at vegetables, the leek pips potted in December are growing nicely in the greenhouse sitting on a little bottom heat from the propagator. I will gradually cool these down and then move to the greenhouse benches to grow on.
On Christmas eve I sowed my large exhibition onions ‘Bunton’s Showstopper’, these have germinated very well and the seedlings are just past the hairpin loop stage and are ready to prick out (transplant) into cell trays and grow on in the greenhouse.
Also in the greenhouse the geranium cuttings rooted last autumn have been potted up into large 6 cell trays and these are growing well on the greenhouse shelves where they will get maximum light. I did however have to spray them with an insecticide the other day as I saw the first signs of aphids, which needed some attention before they did too much damage.
I have some lobelia plants of the half hardy perennial form ‘ricardii’ from last year’s display in pots on the greenhouse staging. These were cut back hard in the autumn and now have some new fresh young growth that I will be taking as cuttings for this year’s display. At this time of year light levels are very low so I always sprinkle a layer of Perlite on top of the compost in my cutting trays, then I insert the cutting through this into the compost. This white product will reflect light back onto the cutting and help it root more easily.
Despite the very wet weather, spring bulbs are just starting to poke through the soil in the garden borders. Winter flowering pansies and violas are still throwing a few flowers, but will be better in spring, andthe polyanthus plants are making some good sized plants and should create a lovely spring display.
Finally the garlic and shallots need planting into some pots and grown on in the cold greenhouse. These should have been planted direct in the soil in November or December, but it was just too wet and the soil was not easily workable.
I have heard a few gardeners saying theirs have rotted off that were planted, so maybe this is a blessing in disguise. When planted now they are kept cool where they can grow slowly and should make nice plants to transplant to the allotment in March or April.