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.


July jobs on your allotment

Maintaining soil structures and planning ahead

  • 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.
  • Do not leave soil bare for any length of time. Green manures, Crimson Clover, White clover, Phacelia, Summer Quick Fix can all be sown now.
  • 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.

Sowing and Growing

  • 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 basil under cover until the middle of the month.
  • 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 and continue feeding once a week.
  • 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 with composted stable manure to lock in moisture and nutrients and lessen the effect of club root.
  • At end of month chop back perennial herbs such as chives, sorrel, marjoram to encourage fresher leaves within a few weeks. If left to flower they may lose flavour.
  • Pinch out climbing beans once they reach the top of supports.
  • Prune cherries and plums after fruiting. Remove weak, damaged and crossing branches.
  • Thin overcrowded apples, pears and plums to get larger and better quality fruit.

Harvesting

  • Pick black, red and white currants and summer-fruiting raspberries.
  • Courgettes, spinach, cucumbers, beetroot , French beans, salad crops and greenhouse tomatoes can be harvested.
  • Continue digging second early potatoes.
  • Once harvesting of summer fruited raspberries is finished, cut old fruited canes to ground level and tie in new, healthy canes to supports.
  • After harvesting, summer-prune red and white currants and gooseberries. Trim back all gooseberry side shoots to 3 or 4 buds from their point of growth and cut out shoots that cross into the middle of the bush.

Gardening for Wildlife

  • Thin out vigorous oxygenating plants in ponds, leaving them on the side to allow pondlife to crawl back into water. Keep around 30% of the surface free of weed.


June jobs on your allotment

June Foxgloves

Maintaining soil structures and planning ahead

  • Continue to hand-weed or hoe regularly to keep on top of weeds.
  • Dig deep to remove highly invasive bind weed as it appears.
  • Continue to mow or clip grass paths weekly.
  • If you have sown green manure, dig it in this month to fix the nitrogen in the soil.
  • In the greenhouse ensure adequate shading. Check night time temperatures and close door on cold nights. On hot days keep greenhouse temperatures down by using maximum ventilation and damp down greenhouse floors to increase humidity.
  • Use insect-proof mesh over carrots to prevent carrot fly attacking carrots. Ensure it is well-pegged down, not leaving any gaps.
  • Use insect-proof mesh over leeks to prevent leek moth damaging leeks. Ensure it is well-pegged down, not leaving any gaps.

Sowing and Growing

  • Direct-sow courgettes.
  • Sow radicchio in drills for autumn salad leaves.
  • Sow fennel and oriental greens such as mizuna and pak choi. June sowings reduce the risk of bolting.
  • Successionally sow salads, rocket and basil etc every two to three weeks for continuous picking.
  • Make a late sowing of peas for an autumn crop.
  • Sow overwintering carrots such as Autumn King or Chantenay.
  • Quick-maturing radishes or salad leaf crops can be sown between brassica rows.
  • Quick-germinating annuals, such as cosmos, that attract insect pollinators can still be sown.
    Sow wallflowers for next year.
  • Water potatoes well for good-sized tubers and reduced problems with scab. (Remember to target-water, not spray, to avoid water wastage.)
  • Water tomatoes regularly and evenly. Uneven watering can cause cracked fruit and blossom end rot. Regularly pinch outside shoots on cordon tomatoes and tie in plants to supports.
    Feed every 10-14 days with a liquid fertilizer, changing to a high potash fertilizer once the first fruits begin to set.
  • Plant out sweet corn 16” apart in blocks, not rows, to aid wind pollination.
  • Continue planting out or direct-sow runner and French beans.
  • Transplant pencil-thick leeks now into 6” deep holes.
  • Plant out pumpkins, squashes in well manured ground. Plant out outdoor cucumbers and peppers. Protect with fleece on cold nights.
  • Keep fruit bushes well-watered. (Target-water, not spray, to avoid water wastage.) Protect soft fruit from bird attack by netting securely and tie in new raspberry and blackberry canes.
  • Continue to check for sawfly larvae on gooseberries. Hand pick off.
  • Remove strawberry runners during the early part of summer, to avoid energy being diverted from the developing fruit.
  • On plum trees, after the ‘June drop’ of excess developing fruits, thin the fruits to prevent overladen branches breaking.

Harvesting

  • Continue to regularly harvest established asparagus – mid April to mid June. If asparagus growth is weak, apply a general fertilizer of fish, blood and bone.
  • First, second and salad potatoes may be ready for harvesting. Tubers should be ready when plants begin to flower.
  • Harvest broad beans from the bottom of the plant up. Once the plant is harvested, cut off the stems and dig the roots back into the soil to make use of the captured nitrogen.
  • Harvest early peas. Put unused pea pods and foliage into the compost heap or dig into the soil to provide nitrogen rich nutrients to the soil.

Gardening for Wildlife

  • If broad beans are affected by blackfly, rub off or spray with a jet of water to remove them rather than using insecticides.
  • Create a cool, damp spot for amphibians and their prey to take shelter in by building a log pile in a shady corner. Half bury the bottom logs and fill nooks and crannies with leaves.
  • Add a bee house to your plot or garden, placing it in a south-facing spot but not in direct sunlight.
  • Select single forms of annual flowers as these provide more pollen for bees. Integrate annual flowers into the vegetable beds to attract beneficial insects such as bees and hoverflies.
  • Reduce the use of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides if possible.