Roehampton Garden Society


February jobs on your allotment

Maintaining soil and structures and planning ahead

  • Prepare for early vegetable crops by warming soil before sowing, covering seedbeds with polythene or cloches.
  • Keep off wet soils to avoid compaction. Use long boards as walkways, to spread your weight.
  • If the soil isn’t too wet, start to dig in overwintered green manures (e.g. Grazing Rye, Winter Tares or Overwinter Mix sown previous August to November) as the frost should have killed them off.
  • Continue to tidy up and re-cut grass path edges if the grass has encroached on your plot.
  • Continue to add layers of un-composted stable manure to your heap.
  • Apply 2” layer of well-rotted garden manure (Country Natural ) or garden compost around perennial crops such as Jerusalem artichokes and rhubarb.
  • Club root is a fungal infection that affects the roots of brassicas and is endemic on allotment sites. To reduce the risk of infection, apply lime to the soil at 270g per sq m, 8oz per sq yd. where brassicas are to be grown. Do not add composted manure at the same time. Calcified Seaweed can be used as a natural alternative to lime, fork it in 140g per sq yard / metre about a week before planting.
  • Apply general fertilizers such as Growmore, (inorganic) or fish, blood and bone or seaweed (organic). Poultry Manure pellets are a non-chemical alternative to Growmore. They are slower to release their nutrient content, some of which will not become available until the soil warms up.
  • Organic Rock Dust and Bio Char soil improvers replace minerals in the soil lost to leaching..
  • Top-dress all tree and soft fruit with sulphate of potash.
  • Clean pots and trays by scrubbing in hot, soapy water before starting to sow new seeds. Pests and diseases can overwinter in old potting compost, surviving to damage newly emerging seedlings.
  • Prepare a new asparagus bed by digging in well-rotted manure and order asparagus crowns

Sowing and growing

  • Chit potato tubers in a light, cool, frost- free place.
  • Outdoors, sow broad beans, spring garlic, peas and Jerusalem artichokes.
  • If mild, also sow spinach outdoors.
  • Sow sweet peas under cover in deep pots or Root-trainers.
  • Pot on and pinch out autumn-sown sweet peas to encourage side-shoots to form View on Gardener’s World
  • At the end of the month sow tomatoes under cover.
  • Sow sweet and chilli peppers from mid February in a heated propagator or sunny windowsill. (Chillies need 21 degrees to germinate.)
  • Sow radishes in cold frame or greenhouse beds.
  • Sow aubergines in a heated propagator or sunny windowsill.
  • Sow celeriac in deep modules in a heated propagator or sunny windowsill.
  • Sow cabbage under cover.
  • Sow early leeks in deep pots under cover.
  • Sow early lettuce and keep in cold frame or greenhouse for earlier harvest.
  • Sow hardy annuals for companion planting such as calendula and tagetes indoors for earlier blooms.
  • Sow mustard and cress in a small seed tray on a warm windowsill for pickings in just a few weeks.
  • Spray dormant fruit trees and bushes with plant oil-based winter tree wash to kill overwintering eggs of aphid pests.
  • Force rhubarb for sweeter, earlier stems by covering crowns with straw and then a container, such as an upside down bucket, to exclude light.

Harvesting

  • Purple sprouting broccoli and kale may be possible to harvest.

Pruning

  • This month, complete pruning of apple and pear trees, gooseberries, redcurrants and prune out a quarter of blackcurrants’ older growth at ground level.
  • Prune autumn raspberries, cutting all canes down to the ground.
  • If summer-fruiting raspberries have grown above their supports, cut back to one or two buds above the top wire.
  • After pruning, apply a general-purpose fertilizer to tree, bush and cane fruit and mulch with well-rotted manure or garden compost.
  • Start pruning bush roses at the end of the month.
  • Vine pruning must be completed by the middle of the month.

Gardening for wildlife

  • Continue to top up bird feeders. Avoid giving large foods, such as peanuts, as nesting time approaches.
  • Put up nesting boxes.
  • Avoid turning the compost heap until mid-spring as it could be sheltering hibernating frogs, small mammals and insects.


November jobs on your allotment

  • Continue to clear all plant debris from plots. Do not add blighted tomatoes to your compost, but burn or take to the dump.
  • Tidy up and re-cut grass path edges where the grass has encroached on your plot.
  • Empty compost heaps and use the well-rotted dark crumbly material.
  • Apply a 5cm layer of well-rotted compost or manure to bare plots or cover bare areas with brown cardboard weighed down with damp grass clippings. (Country Natural rotted stable manure available in store)
  • Add layers of the un-composted stable manure from the piles to your compost heaps and spread thinly on bare soil to rot down over winter.
  • Prepare a winter compost trench for next season’s moisture loving plants such as sweet peas, runner beans or squashes. Dig a trench a spade deep and fill with kitchen vegetable waste covering each additional layer with soil.
  • Continue to sow overwintering broad beans.
  • Sow hardy peas either straight into the ground under fleece or 3 to a 9”pot to be planted out when the roots reach the bottom.
  • Sow peas for pea shoots in a box or gutter in the green house or windowsill for salad or risotto at Christmas time.
  • Sow boxes of cut-and-come-again salads in the green house or a sheltered spot covered with fleece.
  • Finish planting onion sets and garlic.
  • Order bare root trees now for the best selection.
  • Fix grease bands to fruit trees to protect against winter moth. Start winter pruning of apples and pears.
  • Keep overwintering brassicas covered with netting to prevent pigeon damage. Stake tall brassicas against wind damage.
  • Start to harvest winter cabbage, Brussels sprouts and leeks.  Wait until after frosts for parsnips as they will be sweeter.
  • Clean the greenhouse to maximise light levels and before the water is turned off in December.


October jobs on your allotment

  

Maintaining soil and structures and planning ahead

  • Continue to clear the ground of this summer’s growth, weeding as you go.
  • Turn the compost heap to speed its decomposition.
  • Compost fallen leaves in hessian bags. Compost pea and bean foliage,but leave the roots in the ground as they contain nitrogen.
  • Plan where you will grow brassicas next year. Manure the area now and lime in the spring if the ph level is below 7.
  • To maximise light levels and reduce harbouring of bugs, clean the green house with eco-friendly detergent. Garden disinfectant such as Jeyes Fluid can be used in a greenhouse or a sulphur candle if resident bugs are suspected.
  • Make a last cut on grass paths and reinstate beds where grass has encroached.
  • Apply grease bands around the trunks of fruit trees as a barrier to winter moths.
  • Order bare-rooted fruit trees to be delivered November onwards. (See guidance on website and contact Site Secretary)
  • Check that the bird netting on brassicas is secure in preparation for more wintry weather.
  • Collect seeds of plants that have not been harvested. Peas and beans save well. Collect directly from the plant on a dry day to avoid fungal rot and put straight into paper bags.

Sowing and planting

  • Winter salads and oriental greens can be sown in the green house or cold frame.
  • Sow over-wintering broad beans either directly or start under cover in pots or root-trainers.
  • Sow green manures such as rye, vetches or ryegrass to be dug in next February.
  • Plant overwintering onion sets and garlic. Soil must be well drained. Onion sets should just peep above the surface. If the ph is lower than 7 add a little calicified seaweed. Plant garlic planted 1.5- 2”deep, spaced 7” apart. Both benefit from onion fertilizer.
  • Plant daffodils, alliums and other spring bulbs for early spring flowering. (Hold off planting tulips till November.)
  • Sow sweet peas in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse for early summer flowering and showing. Sow in root trainers or 3” pots.
  • Plant out spring cabbage 6” apart.
  • Take hardwood cuttings, 1ft long, from gooseberries and currants. Plant in pots of compost.

Harvesting

  • Harvest winter squashes. Cut the squash carefully leaving a 2-3” stem. ‘Cure’ in a warm, dry place for 10-14 days, then in a cool, light place at around 50-55F until ready to eat. Many squash can be stored for up to 6 months.
  • Store disease-free apples, pears and potatoes in a cool, dry place.
  • Ensure carrots are protected with insect mesh as carrot flies are most damaging in late summer and autumn. Leave in the ground to harvest as needed.
  • Harvest maincrop potatoes. Check each tuber for disease or damage and do not store damaged tubers. Store in a cool, dry place. Let the tubers dry off before storing in jute, hessian or paper bags in a dark frost-free place.

Pruning

  • Lift and divide rhubarb plants that have been in situ for more than 5 years or are less productive. Keep and replant the newer outside growth and discard the centre.
  • Cut down asparagus stems as they turn yellow and mulch with well-rotted manure.
  • Clear away strawberry foliage to prevent build-up of pests and diseases.

Gardening for wildlife

  • Leave decorative perennial seed heads as food and habitats for wildlife
  • Build an insect hotel or install a log pile.

 

 

 


July jobs on your allotment

  • Hoe off weeds on bare soil, water well then cover with mulches to prevent moisture loss, for instance, pile grass clippings onto layers of newspaper.
  • Add material to compost heaps, mix greens (nitrogen rich) with browns (carbon rich) at 50/50 ratio.
  • Water heaps if dry and turn to speed up decomposition.
  • In early July continue to sow beetroot, chard, perennial spinach, kohl rabi and turnips for autumn harvesting.
  • Sow dwarf French beans.
  • Sow kale for early spring harvesting and rocket for autumn harvesting.
  • Sow beetroots Choggia or Burpees Golden for autumn eating.
  • Plant specially prepared potato tubers for Christmas crop.
  • Finish planting out leeks.
  • Remove the main shoot on cordon tomatoes where they hit the greenhouse roof, or a leaf or two above the seventh flower truss.
  • Water soft fruit and fruit trees during dry spells to encourage good fruit development.
  • Water courgettes consistently so they continue to flower and crop.
  • Mulch brassicas after rain to lock in moisture and nutrients and lessen the effect of club root.
  • Prune cherries and plums after fruiting.  Remove weak, damaged and crossing branches.
  • Pinch out climbing beans once they reach the top of supports.
  • Once harvesting of summer fruited raspberries is finished, cut old fruited canes to ground level and tie in new, healthy canes to supports.
  • Summer-prune red and white currants and gooseberries. For gooseberries trim back all side shoots to 3 or 4 buds from their point of growth and cut out shoots that cross into the middle f the bush.