There’s much to be done at the allotment and February is storming along at a fast pace.
I have to admit to neglecting mine for the last few weeks while we’ve been busy moving house, but with only a 10 minute walk from the new place, I’m hoping to spend more time there.
I made a long over-due visit the other day to check everything, pick the last of the sprouts and dig up some leeks. Thank goodness for these plucky vegetables that have soldiered on over the winter.
The kale has been scoffed by the pigeons, right back to the stem, I’m not sure why I thought the sprouts needed netting but the kale didn’t.
On a happier note, the garlic is coming along nicely, ready to be dug up in the summer.
These are the main tasks at the allotment this month:
Cover as much of the soil as possible with a thick layer of home-made compost to keep it healthy and improve its’ structure, there’ll be a better chance of growing productive, healthy plants when they’ve had a good start in decent soil.
If you’re lucky enough to get hold of well-rotted manure, make sure it really is well rotted or it’ll do more harm than good. The test is that it should look an even, dark brown colour without any smell. The stable manure delivered to my plot a few weeks ago was too fresh, without much thought I spread it over some of the raised beds, but I’m going to move it to a heap and let it rot down until next year. Another lesson learned the hard way.
I’ll be covering empty beds with horticultural fleece to warm them up ready for sowing, germination will be much quicker and more successful. Plastic sheeting can also be used, but fleece is easy to store.
There’s pruning to be done to maximise the amount of fruit and promote healthy growth on my two apple trees, the ideal time is mid to late winter, so I’ve just about got time.
They’ve been dwarfed by the enormous hazel tree on the right, and grown away from it to reach the light.
They were like this when I took on the plot, the plan is to renovate them over three years so as not to give them too much of a shock.
The plan for this year is to
- remove all the dead
- damaged branches
- also any that cross-over and rub against other branches or are too crowded.
The hazel tree will have to be pruned too.
Pruning the plum tree will have to wait until the summer, there’s a risk of canker and silver leaf getting into the wounds if it’s pruned in winter.
The autumn fruiting raspberries will be cut down to ground level, so they’ll have space and energy to flower on the new stems that grow this year.
It’s seed-sowing month too, though plenty of people will already have started, but I’m holding off sowing sprouts, cabbage and purple sprouting broccoli until next month, without a greenhouse I won’t have anywhere to keep them until it’s warm enough for them to go outside.
I’ll be sowing broad bean seeds though, they can either be sown directly into the ground or be started off in pots indoors. I’m going to hedge my bets and do both.
I haven’t bought any seed potatoes yet, best get them soon while there’s still plenty of choice.
The Dahlias will be removed from their hibernation at the end of the month, potted up in individual pots, and watered sparingly to start them into growth, too much water and the tubers are likely to rot. If your dahlias are still in the garden they can be dug up and planted. Keep them in a greenhouse, cool porch or similar, plant them in the garden again when there’s no risk of frost, this is usually mid-May where I live.
If you haven’t grown Dahlias before please have a go, just a couple of plants will supply you with masses of flowers for cutting later in the summer, and they look lovely at the allotment too.
all photos: Jill Anderson