Page 46 - Simply Vegetables Winter 2020/21
P. 46

                                  Seasonal Jobs
The most important job to do at this
time of year is to carry on preparing the ground for the coming season, providing the ground is neither too wet nor frozen. You will probably have started this in the autumn. Finished crops are cleared away and put on the compost heap. Do not, however, put diseased material on the compost heap. The vacant ground is then forked over and all weeds removed. I don’t put weeds on the compost pile either. I have enough other material without them. They go in my recycling bin at home or to the recycling centre if I have too many.
Apart from onions, leeks, runner beans and rhubarb, I grow all other crops in
beds with a four year rotation. Many plant diseases attack just one type of crop. Potato blight, and clubroot which attacks brassicas) are typical examples. The main reason for crop rotation is to prevent the spread of such diseases. My four beds are (1) Potatoes,
(2) other root crops, (3) Brassicas and (4) others besides those mentioned which include broad and French beans, sweet corn, peas, and courgettes. I plant marrows along the back edge of the potato bed. They are grouped together in this way so that all crops in the same bed get similar treatment.
I have a load of manure delivered in January each year and it is forked into all beds except bed (2) because root crops don’t need it and it could cause carrots to fork. I also test the pH value of all the beds. This measures acidity or alkalinity. pH 7
is neutral, below 7 is acid and above 7 is alkaline. Most crops favour a value between 6.5 and 7. Potatoes need it a bit lower to prevent scab disease and brassicas a bit higher to prevent clubroot. If the value is too low, lime or limestone is added. However, if a bed needs lime and also manure, the lime should be added first and left for about a month to do its job before manure is added.
Digging trenches for runner beans and sweet peas
For runner beans I dig out two parallel trenches, a metre apart, the width and depth of a spade, for over the base I then add a good layer of green material before replacing the soil then fork in some manure. The soil from the second trench is used to fill in the first one.
There are not many vegetable crops that can be sown or planted outside so early but rhubarb, broad beans, shallots and garlic can , providing the soil has been prepared and the weather is favourable. However,
I prefer to start broad beans, shallots and garlic off in small pots in the greenhouse. They don’t need extra heat so
just put them on the staging
or on a shelf. Rhubarb is a
permanent crop so prepare the
site well by digging in manure
or compost.
If you have a heated
greenhouse, preferably with
a propagator, you can sow
onions and leeks. Use a good
quality seed or multipurpose
compost in a seed tray. Space
the seeds out and cover with
a layer of the same compost
and water. Place the trays in
a propagator if you have one.
When the seedlings are large enough to handle they need transferring to small pots or cell trays and kept in the greenhouse. Later, they will need potting on into larger pots.
Fruit trees and bushes can be planted now if not done before provided the ground has been prepared and the soil is workable. If you haven’t ordered any from a supplier, they are widely available in garden centres. If they arrive from a supplier and the ground is too wet or frozen, just plant the temporarily till conditions improve. Fruit trees are grafted onto a rootstock which determines their
Plan of Allotment
eventual height. If you go to a garden centre, the labels should give you this information regarding the height so choose a dwarf form if you are short of room. You can see where the tree has been grafted onto the rootstock.
Plant your tree so that this union is at or just above ground level. Put a stake in the ground first and tie the tree to it.
Most fruit trees and bushes can be pruned now except plums and cherries which should only be done in summer. Apples can be either spur bearing where the fruit is formed on short spurs, or tip bearing where fruit is formed at the ends of the branches. With spur bearers remove dead or diseased wood, any crossing branches and any
crowding the centre of the crown, then prune the laterals to three buds. With tip bearers, cut back some branches that don’t have fruit buds. Pears are pruned like spur bearing apples. With gooseberries, red
and white currants, cut out any crossing branches then cut down new shoots by half and side shoots to 2 inches (5 cm.). With blackcurrants, cut out diseased or weak shoots then cut out a third of the branches that have fruited. Autumn fruiting raspberries should be cut to ground level.
Another job you can do in the fruit garden is to check that grease bands that have
    46 Simply Vegetables
Onion seeds germinated
Swedes harvested
If you have
a heated greenhouse, preferably with a propagator, you can sow onions and leeks

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