Not long ago nobody talked about winter bedding. Plants like wallflower were planted in the autumn along with bulbs to flower in spring. Milder winters have encouraged garden centres to sell plants such as pansies in flower as suitable for winter. But however good they look under cover once out of doors – hard spells can knock them back,though they do bounce back into bloom as spring approaches. To speed this up dead head the damaged flowers.
The hard frost most of Scotland had just before and after Christmas will have tested ‘hardy’ fuchsias and other borderline perennials. However sad they look leave them until spring then cut back to where new growth emerges.
The shed fairies paid a visit to the allotment last week and left behind a very nice tool shed for us. The fairies in question (Richard & Pam Whittle), did an excellent job on the shed, ensuring that it was level and secure, with the back posts going into the ground around 24″ deep.
It took a bit of effort to make sure the base was level (slabs and sleepers were involved) but it was worth all of the hard work to have such lovely tool storage.
Many thanks to the shed fairies – your efforts are much appreciated.
Another very cold but brilliant day, though a cloud hung over the allotment for most of the morning.
The frosts of the past few days have not caused any damage to the winter crops although the field beans grown as a green manure had wilted but by lunchtime the plants were perky once more.
We kept warm by barrowing a new delivery of manure over to the bin area and hammering in posts for the new raspberries.
One of the two plum trees on the plot – a gage called Denniston’s Superb – has rarely fruited and has had little blossom. It is well named since the occasional gage we have had from it tastes quite superb.
It was planted in 2007 but the site is obviously too cold and exposed for it so we are calling time on it and dug it up today. Once it was out of the ground we could see the roots had not developed well and the soil was poor and stony, as was the whole plot at the beginning so it has had a hard life.
We shall replace it with a damson which is hardy and should do better.
There is a large heap of soil in the car park but with a lot of couch grass and plastic rubbish in it but good once it has been riddled so that is warming work too and helps fill the raised beds.
Jobs for next week
Wiring up the new posts for the raspberries
Repairing/replacing the pallets round the bins
Continuing the weeding round the hazels
Small bushes of Gaultheria (was Pernettya) mucronata are now in garden centres for use in winter planting schemes. They often prove to be disappointing purchases as they produce few berries in later years and also grow quite a bit taller. Most on sale are female plants and you need to get a male to get pollination in future. These are hard to come by as they don’t look so attractive so don’t sell well. The taller plant in the photo is a male and will be needed to pollinate the two red ones which will soon get taller. The small white plant ‘Pearls’ is one of a few that are self-fertile; it also stays quite small. These are easy plants to grow provided they have acid conditions and don’t dry out. They originate from the south of South America where they are known as prickly heath.
Last week we started on repairing the raised beds and weeding along the north edge of the plot and we carried on with that today. Fortunately, the dark rain clouds disappeared, and we had our lunch in brilliant sunshine.
The radiccio has been frosted so the remaining plants were taken out. The brokali has stopped producing so it was removed too. It has cropping has been good, but it does need very regular picking over since the stems quickly go to flower.
Jobs for next week
Continue repairs on raised beds and weeding
Dig out the gage
It is getting chilly now even with the sun shining so we need to stay on the move to keep warm. We have been offered a small shed and the area it is going to has been cleared, levelled and slabs put down. The ground needs to settle for a few days and next week we shall check the foundations are still level and then look forward to its delivery.
It was a good day for a bonfire and the ash will be spread around the fruit bushes in due course and be a useful source of potash. And the weeding keeps on.
Jobs for next week.
Repairing the raised beds.
Weeding along the north edge.