What a few weeks we have had, excessive rain, snow, hard frosts and biting winds, but thankfully I did get the mushroom compost spread before the worst weather arrived. Although my allotment is on heavy clay, over the years I have added plenty of compost to it which has helped improve the soil structure so as a rule it digs very well. The layer of mushroom compost has really helped this year as this has soaked up a lot of the rain and allowed me to carry on digging without slip sliding all over the place and making a mess.
I like to trench dig using my stainless steel spade. I divide each piece of ground I am digging into manageable chunks with my garden line. Then I dig out a trench a spade deep by two spades wide and put the spent soil into one or two wheelbarrows. Then as I move across the plot I chip any weeds and mushroom compost into the base of the trench and then turn over the soil. When I reach the end the last trench is filled with the soil from the barrows. I was taught to dig in this way at college and by my father, and once completed the plot looks neat and tidy especially after I have edged up the paths. I am about half way through at the moment but hopefully weather permitting I will be finished before the end of this year.
Pigeons have become a real pain on the allotment site, the other day I went up to do some digging and one was sitting on top of my Brussels sprouts merrily feeding. I don’t usually eat the tops, but whilst eating pigeons also tend to deposit what they have eaten before, which can drop down onto the buttons that I do want to eat below. To solve this problem I have now removed the tops from my plants, as the stalks are fully grown. The pigeons will now move onto neighbouring plots.
The vegetables for Christmas lunch will have to be harvested in the coming weeks. The Brussels sprouts have really got some flavour this year and all the family are enjoying these, parsnips are waiting to be lifted, the last of my leeks will be pulled, carrots and potatoes will be taken from store in the garage along with peas from the freezer. Growing your own really can reduce the food bill and the flavour is far superior, all I need to buy is a little salad and the turkey nearer to the day.
I recently had a new patio laid, so now this has settled I took advantage of a dry day to dig out some new borders, removing the turf alongside it, these have had the last of my violas and polyanthus planted into them to give a little spring colour.
In the greenhouse the geranium cuttings are ready to pot on, which will be done on a wet day. The begonia corms have now dried out and have been packed away in paper bags and put in the spare room until they are required next year.
I have a few tree lily bulbs that have just arrived that I am going to pot up into containers and keep in the cold glasshouse. Potting now will help them produce a good root system and they will flower earlier next summer.
My show leek pips taken in November have rooted and these have been potted up into square pots and returned to the heated propagation mat for a little bottom heat, lets hope they produce some winners like this years.
Another job that will require doing before Christmas is sowing my large exhibition onions. I sow Bunton’s Showstopper on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day depending on time over the festive season. The seeds are sown into small trays on the surface of moist multipurpose compost and then covered with vermiculite. The trays are then put in the heated propagator and germination should start in 14-21 days, so seedlings are ready for pricking out in the New Year.
As one year comes to a close, I am always looking ahead to the next year, when we all dream of a good growing season; well surely it can’t be any worse than 2012?
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Gardening New Year.