Page 12 - ALG Issue 4 2019
P. 12

seasonal jobs to do...
 This is the month when many will really feel the onset of winter, with cold short days and long cold nights, which can make finding time to get on the plot more difficult.
However, it is always prudent to try and keepaheadofwinterjobs,especially the winter digging. If the soil is neither frozen nor wet enough to stick to the boots, digging can continue. Small regular bursts are much better than prolongedirregularsessions.Some slightly tender crops, such as celery still in the ground, will benefit from protection such as a covering of straw topreventtoomuchdamage.Although crops such as swedes and parsnips benefit from a few hard frosts to convert starchesintosugars,thussweetening
them, it is generally good practice to have a few lifted and dry stored in case the ground becomes too frozen to be able to lift as required.
You can also use the time to turn compost heaps, move manure into heapsabouttheplotreadyfordigging in, clean out water barrels or collect pea-sticks and such – many of the jobs that we generally don’t get time for through the rest of the year!
• Check all stored crops and remove any that show signs of decay.
• Ifseakaleisgrown,cleararoundthe crowns of debris and lightly prick over the soil in readiness for forcing.
• Ifchicoryisgrown,liftsomeroots
          the onset of winter, with cold short days and long cold nights
and take into a warm dark place for
• Checkovertallgrowingbrassicas,
such as Brussels sprouts, kale and sprouting broccoli; they may require re-firming in with the boot, or staking if not already done.
• Wheneverthesoilisdry enough, carefully hoe through rows of overwintering
onions, garlic
The start of another year! However,
this month is generally one of the most frustrating to the gardener; so keen
to be out and starting, but often kept indoors by inclement weather.
It is a great time to start to look over tools and equipment. Any cutting implements should be sharpened, cleaned and oiled, and any spades, forks, hoes etc should be given a similar treatment. Wooden shafted tools will also benefit from a clean, light sand and thorough rub over with linseed oil to give them many more years’ service. A general tidy through of sheds and stores
is always a good idea, and often a good way of finding otherwise ‘lost’ items! Check over supplies of canes, nets and so on, and repair or place as necessary. Greenhouses, polytunnels, cold frames and cloches should be checked and cleaned if you have not done so already. Clean glass allows much better light penetration, and the reasons for destroying pests, diseases and fungus are obvious. If heaters, propagators etc are used, this should also be checked over and all pots and trays should be washed in readiness. Stock up on seed labels and so on.
Catalogues will no doubt be falling through letterboxes now, so on a particularly cold or wet day, sit down with these and start to make lists for required seeds, bulbs, tubers and whatever else you intend to grow throughout the year.
All winter digging should be completed by the end of the month.
• Sowonionsandleeksundercover, especially if required for exhibition/ showing.
• Ifgrown,seakalecannowbeforced, covering crowns with large pots, buckets or proper forcing pots if available, then fresh manure heaped around to provide heat.
For many, this month can be one of the coldest of the year, but any remaining sorting and organising jobs not completed last month can be finished. Where a heated greenhouse, polytunnel, conservatory or even a good sunny windowsill is available, some of the earliest sowings can be made, although generally slightly later sowings will soon catch up. Light levels are still low, and young seedlings can easily get drawn and leggy. Whereclochesareavailable,thesecan be put onto vacant prepared ground
to start and warm the soil for early sowings in a few weeks’ time. Early peas, beetroot, carrots and lettuce are ideal candidates. Choose varieties that are quick maturing, suitable for early sowing, or in the case of root crops, varieties that produce small, tender roots.
• Where soil is free draining and the plot very sheltered, broad beans
can be sown directly under cloches. Where the soil is heavier and naturally wetter and colder, sow under cover, but do not give too much warmth or the young plants will quickly become drawn and leggy.
• Earlycauliflowerscanbesownunder cover.
• Plant Jerusalem artichokes into well- prepared soil.
• Lift remainder of last year’s parsnips, swede etc if not already done so.
• Sow a self-blanching celery under cover for an early crop.
• Plant more early potatoes in pots in colder districts. In milder areas, the earliest planting can be made outside under cloches.
• Sow early tomatoes if good conditions can be provided to germinated seedlings.
• Keep overwintering onions, garlic and spring cabbage weeded.
• Completeplantingofnewtrees, bushes, canes etc.
      12 Allotment and Leisure Gardener

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