Friday, 5 February 2016

Rooko's February Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1. If like me you haven't visited your plot for a while during the Winter it may be prudent to check things out there, to ensure this Winters weather hasn't caused any damage.

2. If you have any large perennial plants in your flower garden this month is a good time to divide/split and replant them, weather permitting.

3. Start chitting your seed potatoes this month.

4. Snip side shoots back to 1 or 2 buds and remove the tips of mature red and white currants this month, but beware if frost is likely.

5. Keep feeding the birds and in cold areas make sure they have un-frozen water to drink.

6. Check over your garden tools and repair any damaged ones. Ensure cutting tools are correctly sharpened. Any petrol left in petrol driven machinery is likely to have gone "stale" over Winter, making starting the machinery difficult or impossible.

7.  Ventilate greenhouses on warm February days?

8.  Put cloches/fleece over strawberry plants to aid earlier fruiting?

9.  Grapevines can be pruned in February.

1. Sow winter greens (under cloches or tunnels).
2. Sow round seeded peas (probably best in pots or trays).
3.  Sow tomatoes seeds early Feb (heated greenhouse) late Feb (unheated greenhouse).
4. Depending on conditions, sow broadbeans, early peas for harvesting in May/June.
5. Parsnips can be sown in Feb but sowing in March may give better germination.
6. Try planting shallots under cloches.
7. Lettuce, radish and rocket can be started early under cloches or in the greenhouse.
8. Spinach, turnips and Summer cabbbage can be sown under cover.
9. Sow onion seeds indoors (15degC).
10. Cane fruits can still be planted in Feb.
1. Cover over unused areas of the plot with cloches or black plastic sheeting to warm the soil earlier.
2. Clean out pots and trays.
3. Repair or replace any broken/damaged tools.
4. Feed the birds.


I made the first visit to my plot this morning for about the past 2 months expecting it to be in a derelict state, after the wet and windy Winter weather conditions since November last. Surprisingly my plot was relatively tidy, mostly weed free and showing no signs of damage from the continuing high winds we've been experiencing here for many weeks now. Although the grass lawns around my bungalow have continued to grow considerably, over the Winter, due to the mainly mild temperatures, the grass paths & borders around my plot appeared to have died back, saving me the job of mowing them, which I had expected to have to do today.

My old runner bean plants were still entwined around their supporting canes on the L-shaped bed so I set about removing the dead foliage from the canes, dispatching it onto my nearby compost heap. Despite the deluges of rain since last Autumn No 1 bed was relatively dry with little stickiness of the soil. No 2 bed was wetter and the soil/clay claggy to walk on.

After I had finished removing the runner bean plants I lifted a few parsnips and carrots from No 1 bed. I expected these to be rotting down by now, due to the very wet Winter weather but they were still in good condition, ideal for freezing.

I then removed a few weeds from various areas of the plot, the usual ones making a head start at this time of year, like creeping buttercups, shepherds purse and clover, when the drizzly rain returned, drifting in across the allotments, so I loaded a few items of gardening equipment into my trusty old Astra and spuddled off home, mid afternoon. With no other allotment holders to be seen around the plots it was a quiet, drab afternoon. The only real highlight being the masses of bluebells, currently well established along the lower end of my plot on top of the drainage ditch bank.

Harvest 5/2/16
Todays Harvest 05/02/16

There's Always Tomorrow!!

Friday, 1 January 2016

Rooko's January Top 10 Tips & Tryouts!! (Not)

 With the current Winter weather conditions here in U.K. being what they are, if anyone is outside doing any gardening they are either a true gardening fanatic, a paddy field owner or a few sandwiches short of a picnic. I've decided not to post my top 10 tips for January in sympathy with all the people currently affected by flooding in various parts of the country at the moment. My sympathy and best wishes for the new year go to them all.
This area of the back garden was an old overgrown rockery by the back gate.
 Christmas is already a long forgotten event, (in my book anyway), with time already seeming to be flying by, accompanied by the usual stream of seed catalogues and other gardening related literature popping through my letterbox. Many thanks to Sally Nex for sending me the free vegetable seeds she was advertising on her blog, a few weeks ago. Speaking of Christmas, a little while before it, I decided to buy myself an early present, consisting of one of those touch screen all in one computer thingies. My old "wind up" one, was well out of date and slower than a garden snail moving through super glue. I've finally got the new one working how I want it to, so for future blog posting and other uses, it should be much easier to use now. I'm not sure about the touch screen bit, lots of finger marks all over the screen, colourful though, paint, putty, adhesive, undercoats etc. saves messing about with screensavers. Should have got a self cleaning one??    Quite honestly I stopped working in my garden a few weeks back, due to the extremely wet, windy and rainy conditions. Only about one tenth of my originally planned re-designing of the garden has been completed so far. I must have a word with my project manager, trouble is I can never remember my new phone number, yet. With only 1 visit to my plots a couple of weeks ago, to collect some equipment for use in the garden and to drop off a lawnmower grass box, for Chris one of my allotment friends, any outside work is currently out of the question until the weather improves, (a lot).

Looking at the patio from the eastern end of the back garden. Borders cleared of weeds and ivy.
 Recently I have been concentrating my efforts on the seemingly endless decorating and updating of my bungalow. Well lets face it you can never get plumbers, electricians or other tradesmen these days, they all seem to be busy elsewhere when you require a job doing. Anyway if you want a job done properly, D.I.Y. Not sure if that's flooding in my lounge or I just whacked a nail into a hidden water pipe? I am currently sanding down walls and door frames and prepping them ready for re-painting. I gave up todays efforts about 15 minutes ago when the last light bulb in my hallway popped its clogs, closely followed by darkening skies, gusting high winds and yet another torrential downpour of rain, making it too difficult to see what I was doing (mainly lack of light, that is, the roofs not leaking, yet)!! Anyway sanding paintwork down is about as interesting as watching grass grow, which come to think of it, the grass in my garden and down my plot is still growing due to the unseasonably mild weather, (along with the daffodils on my plot flowering, at the beginning of November). I suppose the sceptics think global warming/climate change still isn't happening. It won't register until they are up the creek without a paddle.

The old garden shed was dismantled some time ago and having had some repairs done it was re-assembled. After 2 coats of paint it still needed more adding. 3 coats later I await an improvement in the weather to complete its painting.

Do I miss not being able to work down my allotment due to the bad weather, yes to that!! it looks like a late start to 2016's growing season.

This area of the back garden will eventually be decking and a strawberry bed


There's always tomorrow!!!

Friday, 27 November 2015

2015 In A Flash

Where's this year gone (and what the heck was I really doing) would sum up my allotment and gardening efforts for 2015. As my readers will already know, I put my house up for sale early this year and prior to that, from about November 2014 until the first week of February this year I was concentrating on preparing that house for sale. The rear garden was re-designed somewhat and various D.I.Y. and decorating jobs done, prior to its sale, so very little "Winter work" got done down my plots. I made the first visit to the plots during the first week of February just after several frosts had abated. One of the first jobs I remember doing was to replace my poly tunnel, damaged by high winds during January. After that a start was made on sowing various seeds into pots and getting them settled into the new poly tunnel. A period of early hot dry weather then did little to aid the germination of some of the seeds, especially 2 different types of tomato seeds. Several weeks later the said seeds still hadn't germinated, so thinking I had used a bad batch of compost, the pots had their contents emptied onto my compost heap. Whilst doing some weeding around my asparagus plants on N1's No1 bed earlier this month I came across a couple of dozen tomato plants about 2 inches in height, happily growing away among the weeds (November???). I had mulched the asparagus with sieved compost earlier. That's what I call "sods law", perhaps an apt term in the gardening world.

 About the second week into March temperatures dropped somewhat, accompanied by heavy rain, which caused me more delays in working the ground down the plots. Frosts persisted into April, despite them, various crops such as, potatoes, beetroot, cabbage, broad beans, spring onions and lettuce were developing well from seed sown earlier. Parsnips also germinated very well this year. By the end of April more brassicas had been planted out, pea plants were doing very well on N2 Plots No 3 bed. Sweetcorn plants were being kept back in the poly tunnel for a later planting out than I usually attempt. Most beds were sown/planted by the end of May after a few weeks of dry weather. The persistently cold North Westerly wind continued, keeping temperatures down. Rainwater stocks were running low. The cold wind continued into June. Runner beans germinated. First tomato plants germinated in the poly tunnel, slow and late. No rain for several weeks again, up until almost the end of July, with the dry conditions adversely affecting oriental greens, turnips, swedes and my water harvesting containers. First sweetcorn harvested 29th July. House sale still not completed.  The usual sowing planting and harvesting continued during most of August and September. Some rain came by the end of August and the first few days of September. Temperatures were dropping noticeably overnight by the first week of September. My house sale concluded on the 1st of October and the move to my new abode went well. Six days later was a family wedding followed, next day, by my bonfire night down the plot. I think that was my last visit to the plot due to various work that requires doing on my current house and garden. With a hospital operation yesterday and another due before Christmas, i think it will be 2016 before I get anything more achieved down my plot. Oh! and the planned breakdown of my lawnmower just prior to Black Friday was a stroke of luck??

Guy Fawkes
Who's This Guy?? (Nov 8th 2015)
Bonfire Night
Starting the Bonfire (8th Nov 2015)
Well lit
Well Lit  (8th Nov 2015)
November Harvest
November Harvest 2015

Summing up: based upon a combination of quality, quantity, ease of growing, cost effectiveness of each crop.

Apples - excellent crop 10 out of 10
Pears - 5/10
Plums - 4/10
Cherries - 5/10 (Good quality, lost most of them during the June drop)
Red currants - 10/10
Black currants - 10/10
White currants - 9/10
Blackberries - 0/10 (1st year)
Blueberries - 4/10
Grapes - 10/10
Grapes white - 3/10 (needed late sun, didn't get any)
Rhubarb - 10/10
Strawberries - 7/10
Raspberries - 4/10
Asparagus - 8/10
Carrots - 15/10
Beetroot - 9/10
Swede - 0/10
Turnips - 2/10
Parsnips - 10/10
Potatoes - 8/10 (Would have been 10 but for high starch content and some blight).
Spring onions - 10/10
Broad beans - 10/10
Sweetcorn - 8/10
Bridgwater beans - 6/10
Runner beans - 5/10
Oriental greens (all) - 0/10
Sprouts - 9/10
Cabbage - 8/10
Lettuce -10/10
Onions - 10/10
Tomatoes - 4/10
Cauliflower - 7/10
Marrows - 8/10
Squashes - 8/10
Courgettes - 8/10
Calabrese - 6/10

There's Always Tomorrow!!