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Allotment Diary

Frost damage

We’ve had a bit of a cold spell so I thought I’d check out the damage incurred

It’s so lovely to look at the plot when it’s covered in snow, however, in my experience, it’s the frost and the ice which can prove to be much more damaging.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed shoots in January, only for them to be decimated by a thick frost a few weeks later. That trend, along with the the colder temperatures in general, is one of the reasons why I tend to not do much growing, outside of hardy plants and fruits that can withstand the frost like conditions.

Blackcurrants and
alpine strawberries

I recently transplanted black currants and red currants from the back of the plot to a bed nearby.

With that I also planted some alphine strawberries, to act as ground cover. Alpine strawberries tend to grow pretty rampantly, so I’m hoping they’ll keep the weeds down.

The currents themselves, at this time of year, don’t tend to show much life, and they’re kind of twiggy anyway. The alpine strawberries however, have taken a bit of a pounding. The leaves were a little bit frost bitten and burned.

I’m hoping that they can recover, it’s only because I’ve transplanted them from elsewhere which makes me slightly uneasy about their survival.

Plum tree

The plum tree is always a delight to look at, and it’s pretty hardy too.

Because this is currently dormant, like the blackcurrants, this does look very twiggy – but if you look more closely, you’ll see very tiny shoots that are holding off from sprouting.

In the spring, I’ll give this the annual prune, and now it’s a mature tree, I’ll need to think hard about which direction I want the tree to grow in, and how high I want the tree to grow.

I’ll need to do some research on how to do this, much more properly.

Garlic

A couple of weeks ago, the boredom of lockdown and the need to garden led me to plant brown and red onions, along with casablanca garlic bulbs.

I know I was way too early and probably a bit too keen, but just thought… why not. With that in mind, I planted everything just that little bit deeper to withstand the cold that little bit longer.

That said, it didn’t seem to deter the garlic, which has poked through unhindered.

Rhubarb

Now, in the past – the rhubarb has seen a lot of damage due to frost. What I’ve noticed happen previously is, new shoots will sprout, only to be struck down, and those damages shoots rot into the crown, damaging the plant as a whole.

This results in stunted growth of the plant, and ultimately not as much rhubarb.

These shoots have indeed only just sprouted – but I’m hoping that they’re small and innocuous enough to not get damaged.

I’ll keep you posted on how well they grow as the year trundles on.

Strawberries

Overall I think they faired fairly well – the older, outside leaves were frost bitten and scorched, but the strawberry plants themselves looked pretty good and strong.

In my experience, strawberry plants are quite resilient and I’m hoping the cold temperatures we’ve won’t cause too much damage. I’m not too sure what varieties these are, but they are terrific croppers and crop both in the early summer and in the autumn.

I’ll be cultivating these and filling in any gaps of where these plants reside.

Generally speaking, I think I’m fairing quite well during these cold spells – how’s everything on your plot thus far? I’d love to know in the comments below.

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Allotment Diary

Autumn Allotmenting

Everywhere you look, the temperature is falling, the leaves are changing colour and the allotment is no different.

Visits to and from allotment really do dwindle heading into the autumn and winter, so as the darker evenings move on in, the allotment really does offer a great place to walk to stretch legs and get a breath of fresh air.

Time there at the weekends is also more treasured, probably now this year than in the summer – mainly because we can’t do much else, for obvious reasons at the moment.

On first glance, a good majority of beds are covered and so it looks like not a lot is happening – however, if you look closely, it’s quite the contrary.

Strawberries

These strawberry plants were gifted to us by some very dear friends, and they have taken root superbly – and the fruits taste fantastic. These were planted into some raised beds which were made up of predominantly leaf mould. You can see how I made these raised beds here. I’ve managed to cultivate some more strawberry plants from these and I can’t wait to pick some more in the spring.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts often feel like they take such a long time to grow, baring in mind that I first sowed these seeds back in April – so you can imagine how satisfying it must be to see actual Brussels sprouts on the stem. They are being eaten by slugs and they’ve been congregating on the heads of the plant, so I really do need to address that. The sprouts reside in a brassica cage,

Last of the fruits

A good 50% of the plot is made up fruits and this is a great tactic with helping keeping on top things, mainly because the fruits look after themselves. The autumn raspberries have done really well and I’ve decided to not prune these like I did this time last year. Instead, I’ll be pruning these in the early spring. The Spring raspberries have not done that well – and I need to find out why. The rhubarb winding down now, and these generated a plentiful outcome. The blackberries… have served their time. They’re very lovely, but their pruning has become (and excuse the pun) a bind. New plans await for these – stay tuned!

This year I grew King Edward potatoes, which I’ve grown before once upon a time…

These were the only potatoes I grew this year. I usually do first early potatoes and mains, but this year I just grew mains.

I’ve been happy with the spud outcome this year, in the fact that I’ve ended up with more than I started with – but it’s worth noting that the jacket potato style spud has been far and few between, but I’ll be honest, I’m fine with that.

They’ve still been great for mashing and roasting 🙂

I’ve still got some potatoes to dig up, but in the meantime I’m storing them in the ground for… even more rainy days.

How is your autumn going so far? I’d love to know in the comments below! (Also, I’ve given the blog a new look – I’d love to know your thoughts on that as well 🙂 )

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Autumn Bliss Malling Promise Raspberries

Pruning Raspberry plants

Autumn is well and truly here, and it’s time to clear the decks for the winter days that sit on the horizon.

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Allotment Diary Travels

National Gardening Week: Celebrating all things edible with Charles Dowding

National Gardening Week has passed us by again this year and aims to be a celebration of all things gardening headed up by the RHS.

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Allotment Diary Travels

RHS Glow 2018 at Wisley

This week I was lucky enough to visit the Glow are RHS Wisley in Surrey.

RHS Wisley is the flagship garden for the Royal Horticulture Society and for someone who grows their own veg, it’s a real treat to go there – I simply don’t go there often enough. The great thing about Wisley is that it changes with the seasons, which means that each time you go – you really do see something new, and the best of the season.

The Glow is no exception. I’d never been to a garden whereby the combination of lighting and plants were the focus. It’s a great idea entice footfall to the gardens during the colder winter months – and it also breaks up the time between Christmas and New Year fantastically.

Categories
Allotment Diary

Picking out a Christmas tree that will last

Christmas! Love it or hate it, one of the big highlights of every season needs hardly an introduction – the Christmas tree!

In the world that we live in, picking out a good tree is crucial to enjoying the festive season with your loved ones and there’s nothing worse than waking up on a snowy Christmas morning to a bald, dried out tree.

Something to bare in mind is that your Christmas tree is slowly drying out after being cut – so the key is to keep it moist or at least pick out a tree that is as fresh as possible.

It’s placement within the family home, exposed to gas and central heating only accelerates the drying out process, and is made even worse when you start adding lights, which also generate a certain amount of heat.

This in mind, I called upon Squires Garden Centres for some advice on what to look for when buying that all important Christmas tree:

  • Look for a tree with a good shape, evenly spaced branches and one strong leader at the top for your star or angel to perch upon.
  • Your tree should have lovely deep green needles (rather than paler green) and should not be shedding too many needles when you move it.
  • Nordmann and Fraser Firs will naturally have better needle retention than Spruce.
  • To really help needle retention cut a few inches off the base when you get your tree home and plunge the trunk in to a bucket of water ( as if it were a bunch of flowers) and keep your tree in a cool place until it is time to bring it in the house.
  • When you do bring it inside avoid placing it too near a radiator or other source of direct heat.
  • Above all enjoy the scent, colour and movement of a real Christmas tree this festive season

Questions you should ask when picking out a good Christmas tree:

  • Are the branches stiff?
  • Do the needles fall off when you shake it?
  • Is it a big tree – but actually quite light when you pick it up? A light tree will indicate, a dried out tree
  • Is the top bald or lacking needles?
  • As above, how green is the tree?

Luckily – it’s  been a good growing season for trees this year with enough wet weather during the year to promote good growth and good needle retention, so chances are, in our year 2014, you’ll be okay in whatever tree you pick out.

If you have any other Christmas tree tips, be sure to comment and let us know!

Merry Christmas!