Page 20 - ALG Issue 2 20202
P. 20

on the...
Kings plot
from December to the end February 2020
 I am so pleased I got the majority of my digging done in November, as much of December, January and February was a wash-out. I only have a small area, where my winter greens were planted still to dig. This will have to be done as soon as the ground is workable and would be completed within a couple of hours. In my part of East Anglia, the water table should be at its peak, which will certainly help with the retention of moisture in the ground for this year’s crops to tap into.
Allotment life, as I am sure you agree,
is very rewarding for 99% of the time. Unfortunately, one night in January changed this. We had over 20 sheds broken into on our site; some had padlocks cut off and others, like my shed, were broken into with a crowbar, damaging the door and surrounding timber. The crazy thing is the sheds were broken into and nothing was stolen except for one plotholder, who had a pressure washer in his shed. Like many plotholders, the tools in my shed have no great value to any thief, but many have great sentimental value to me, as they were handed down to me by my father. Plus a few would be difficult to replace as they are not made these days, so I was thankful all were left alone. The shed door and timber were repaired the following weekend with the help of my son and all is once again secure.
Then, February saw storms Ciara and Dennis arrive with a bang, but luckily my plot and greenhouses at home escaped any damage. Despite the poor weather, the Purple Sprouting Broccoli Rudolph on my plot has been producing at least half a carrier bag of spears a week from only six plants. This vegetable is loved by all the family and if picked regularly will keep on producing for many weeks. The last of my Eskimo Carrots will
be lifted soon and still have fantastic flavour. That just leaves some winter
cauliflowers that are still to mature. Although we have not been able to get on outside, there are always plenty of jobs to do under glass. Seed Potatoes have been laid out to start chitting and placed in a cool light frost-free place so that they produce short green shoots. Large Exhibition Onion Globo were sown at Christmas and pricked out
into modular trays to grow on. These will remain in the greenhouse along with my exhibition leeks grown from pips until they can be moved to a cold frame in April and planted out in early May. Peppers and aubergines require a long growing season and were sown in the heated propagator in February, and once germinated will be pricked out and grown on with some gentle heat until ready for planting in the polytunnel later in the year.
With the soil so wet outside and time ticking away, I am sowing and planting a few vegetables early under glass to save time. My shallots have been planted into large modular cell trays and grown on in a cold greenhouse; these can then
be planted out as soon as the weather and soil conditions allow and I won’t have lost any growing time. The same can be done with onion sets which I
am planning to plant in trays in March, as the soil is unlikely to be workable until much later than normal this year. Other vegetables I am sowing under glass so they are ready for planting out later are beetroot sown in modules; 2-3 seeds per module. These require no thinning and can be planted out as
a single module and will produce some baby beets for early salads before those sown direct in the plot in April will be ready. I do the same with spring onions, again planting out and harvesting
later as a cluster. In March I will be sowing my summer brassicas and Brussels sprouts and the first sowing of lettuce; these germinate quickly and will grow on well on the shelves of the
don’t forget, if any NAS member has a seed problem and needs some free advice, the team at Kings Seeds are always at the end of a phone to help
greenhouse where there is maximum light until large enough for planting out.
I love early peas and I have just sown
at the end of February 2-3 seeds per module in trays or root trainers in a cold greenhouse. These will grow slowly
but again will be ready to plant out as soon as the weather improves and
will provide an early crop. See my Pea Masterclass offering tips to success.
Hopefully soon the soil will be more workable and the weather improved to start work on the plot this year. But, as always, it is best to wait until the soil has warmed up before you get started to ensure success. Despite the late start with a bit of luck 2020 will be another good growing year. Plus, don’t forget, if any NAS member has a seed problem and needs some free advice, the team at Kings Seeds are always at the end of a phone to help.
Happy Gardening!
Andrew Tokely, Horticultural Director for Kings Seeds
           20 Allotment and Leisure Gardener

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