Some winter tasks to do on your allotmentPosted By: rocket veg Category: Growing Veg, Seasonal Tips
Now is the best time of year to do some serious planning, preparing and pottering. Daylight may be in short supply and the weather fickle, but don’t let that keep you from your allotment as there are plenty of things to be getting on which will save time later when things get busy at the start of the growing season in early March.
Planning what to plant this year
If you haven’t already done so, make a plan of your precious plot of land, showing what crops you intend planting and where - bearing in mind your successes (and disappointments) last year. A simple drawing which can be referred to and amended if need be will prove invaluable as the season progresses and will also serve as a handy reminder in future years when it comes to rotating crops to avoid the build-up of soil-borne diseases. One of the most enjoyable bits of the planning process is looking through seed catalogues, a perfect task to do at home, and now is a good time to stock up before your favourite varieties have sold out when spring arrives and sowing begins in earnest.
Seed potatoes are on sale now and many allotment associations organise ‘Potato Days’ to showcase the varieties they have on sale. If you haven’t grown potatoes before, why not give it a go this year and you’ll be guaranteed a tasty crop. Potatoes eaten soon after being lifted from the ground are a simply delicious – unlike any ‘new’ potatoes you will have bought from a shop. I’ve written about growing potatoes before, so search out articles on our website which will provide advice and information about particular varieties which you might try.
Get those tools ready for action!
Of course, you keep your gardening tools in tip top condition…but if not, now’s the time to treat them to a good clean. Remove any dried on soil from spade blades and fork tines and then wipe with an oily rag. An old gardeners’ trick for getting rid of rust on steel tools was to rub the blades in a bucket of oily sand, kept in a corner of the shed. Linseed oil rubbed on with a rag is the traditional treatment for revitalising wooden handled tools. While you are at it, don’t forget to oil the springs and other working parts of secateurs and similar tools.
Things to sow now
If you want to grow sweet peas this year – a quintessential allotment flower with wonderful scent – now is the time to sow seed. Sweet peas put down long roots, so sowing in ‘root trainers’ will encourage sturdy growth, ready to harden off the young plants ready to plant out in late spring. I shall be sowing tomatoes, peppers and chillies by the end of the month and have bought the seed and have my heated propagator – an indispensable item when it comes to encouraging speedy germination.
Check your shed for vermin
Last but not least, clear away the cobwebs and check your shed for the droppings of vermin which have sought out a sheltered spot in which to spend the winter. Mice love horticultural fleece for a bed, nibbling their way into the centre of the bundle and ruining the material in the process.