Roehampton Garden Society


December jobs on your allotment

  • Clear away any remaining plant debris from plots and compost if disease-free.
  • Earth up and check stakes on Brussels sprouts and other tall brassicas to prevent wind rock.
  • Prune grape vines before the end of the month, when dormant, to avoid sap bleeding.
  • Continue to plant fruit trees and bushes if soil is not frozen.
  • Divide and replant rhubarb.
  • Ventilate green houses on mild days to reduce diseases.
  • Plant blackcurrants 5cm below the soil to encourage new shoots.
  • Your last opportunities – 3 and 10 December – to shop for seeds in the Store for stocking fillers – sweet peas and herbs etc.
  • Protect autumn-sown broad beans with cloches during extended periods of frost.
  • For early tender stems, ‘force’ rhubarb by covering crowns with a dark-coloured bucket.
  • Plant fruit trees trained as cordons or espaliers to make good use of limited space. Check RGS website for guidance on permitted trees.
  • Plant blueberries in pots of ericaceous compost. (Ericaceous compost available in store)


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.


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.


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.


January jobs on your allotment

Maintaining soil and structures and planning ahead

  • As crops are harvested clear debris and cover cleared soil with weed suppressant.
  • Plan a crop system for vegetables- leaving a minimum of two years before replanting crops in the same place.
  • Complete winter digging of bare beds and cover the ground to warm beds for early crops.
  • Open greenhouse vents on mild days
  • Clean greenhouses, staging, pots and seed-trays for the coming growing season.

Sowing and growing

  • Apply winter washes to fruit trees to control overwintering pests.
  • Start ‘chitting’ tubers of early potatoes in trays in a cool, light, frost-free location.
  • Sow broad beans in pots under cover.
  • Sow winter salads in a greenhouse or windowsill.
  • Sow summer brassicas and spinach on a windowsill to plant out in late February.
  • Aubergines can be sown under cover on a sunny windowsill from late January.
  • Bring potted runners of strawberries under glass for forcing.
  • Sow later sweet peas now and pot on autumn-sown sweet peas, pinching out the tip after 4 pairs of leaves have developed or when plants have reached 3.5 cms. Place on a sunny windowsill, in a cold frame or greenhouse.
  • Ensure brassicas are protected against pigeons by netting.
  • Begin forcing rhubarb for an early crop by placing a bucket or forcing jar over the crop.

Harvesting

  • Harvest parsnip, swede, sprouting broccoli, Brussels sprouts, leek and turnip.

Pruning

  • Prune overgrown blackcurrant bushes- remove a third of the old, weak or unproductive stems to ground level to encourage new basal shoots.
  • Prune freestanding apples and pears, maintaining an open centre. Do not remove more than 20% of the crown in one winter
  • Prune gooseberries, redcurrants and whitecurrants by removing dead wood and low lying shoots. Prune last year’s growth of the main stems by about a half. Prune all side-shoots back to one to three buds from their bases.
  • Prune grapevines before mid January.

Gardening for wildlife

  • Regularly replenish bird feeders.
  • Clear out bird boxes by removing old nests and rinse out boxes.


February 2017 Bulletin

Download  february-2017-bulletin

  • Planting trees on an allotment – which rootstock?
  • Minimising health risks in the garden –  things you should know
  • Recipe of the month – Sweet Potato Cakes
  • In the Store: Special Composts –  from seed ready to wool!  Seed potatoes, all £2 per kilo – buy just what you need.
Foremost: First Early; plant mid-February to April, harvest June to July.
Kestrel:  Second Early; plant March to May, harvest June to July.
Charlotte: Salad; plant March to May, harvest from end of June.