Keeping warm – allotment style!

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.

Barrowing manure

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.

Digging out the gage

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

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Sex and the single Gaultheria

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.

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Lunch in the sunshine.

Red cabbage, yellow chard, blue leeks

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

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New shed for the Allotment.

Dwarf Green Kale

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.

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Late flower shows

…….are becoming  rare but are  the places to see and admire the giant exhibition chrysanths traditionally known as ‘Japs’ . This fine entry of six blooms was staged by Dave Scott  at the Grangemouth Hort Soc late show today.

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It is time for winter veg on the allotment.

It was time to tackle the couch grass that had found a home along the north edge of the plot.  A slow job but a satisfying one as the roots are tracked down and eased out. Couch grass had also got in among the Welsh onions so it was taken out and they were thinned, and some general weeding about was done.

Welsh onions earlier this year

The ‘playpen’ where we keep the wire netting and wood and canes was emptied; interesting how things collect that we don’t need immediately but may do some day but does that day ever come? Some of the wood will go to new edgings for the raised beds but the pile for the next bonfire got quite a few additions.

The last of the beetroot and carrots were dug out today so from now on it is the winter veg.


Jobs for next week
Continue weeding round north edge
Start repairing the raised bed

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Hard work on the Allotment

Beetroot mainly Barbietola di Chioggia

Beetroot – mainly ‘Barbabietola di Chioggia’

There is still plenty to do on the allotment even as autumn progresses. The clearing of the ground under the old dead hedge was hard work for three people since it was infested with couch grass and other pernicious weeds some very deeply rooted.

The shoots on the soft fruit are still growing so these were trimmed back a little and tied into the wire.

It is getting colder so time to plant the garlic and this year it is a variety new to us called ‘Marco’ which has a strong flavour and is softneck – a type that is better for long term storage.

The leaves on the Jerusalem artichokes are dying back. These plants grow to almost 8 feet in height, so we cut down the stalks to about a foot to stop any windrock. Artichokes are a hardy winter veg but are better for having had a frost, so we generally start digging them up in the middle of December.

We use green manures a lot, but not all overwinter for us.  This year we are giving field beans a try.  The germination has been almost 100% and they are growing well.

Field beans as green manure - excellent germination

We had a picking of beetroot, carrots, cabbage and there are still a few raspberries.

Jobs for next week
Plant the daffodil bulbs
General hoeing about
Continue tidying the compost area

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