February 2014

Wednesday 26th February

greenhouse ground dug over

I started to thin out my seeds that were sown in modules ( brassicas, Lettuce, beetroot, spinach and marigolds ) to one seedling per module, once they are ready I will take them to the greenhouse at the allotment to stop the seedlings getting too leggy at home on the windowsill. I am still waiting for my tomatoes and peppers to show, they were sown at the same time. I visited the allotment this afternoon after purchasing some more compost which I added to the grow beds that are situated outside between the plots. I managed to dig over my green manure in bed two, where I will be growing my main crop potatoes this year. I will use my tiller on the soil before planting my main crop potatoes in April. I also made another poly-tunnel in the greenhouse to protect my next lot of seedlings that will be transferred there from home. The image on the left shows bed two after digging in the green manure.

Tuesday 25th February

greenhouse ground dug over

Made a short visit to the allotment this afternoon. I took some compostibles from home to the allotment and some more onion seedlings, I gave them a water and all are doing well. I did some more work on the compost containers and composted and marked out where my Comfrey plants are going to go. It was rather cold and windy so I called it a day and went home for a nice cup of tea. (Comfrey bed marked out and composted illustrated by the image on the right).

Monday 24th

Extra protection from cold nights

Had a great morning at the allotment the weather was sunny and rather warm with very little wind. I took my leek and onion modules down to the greenhouse on the allotment and made an extra poly-tunnel within the greenhouse to protect them from the overnight cold temperatures. ( see image on the left) I also placed my potatoes in the greenhouse to continue chitting. I then sorted out my compost bins, by moving them and sorting out the well composted material from the non-composted material. I had enough good compost to compost my Asparagus, Raspberry and Rhubarb bed. I also had sufficient to prepare the bed ready for planting Comfrey later in April. I also filled three more "Plant beds" I purchased from Marshals which are placed between beds (2 and 3), (3 and 4), and (5 and 6), which extends my outdoor growing area. I have also 1/3rd of a bin with ready to use compost.

Saturday 22nd

 Garlic and shallots planted

A nice bright day today so I went to the allotment. The first job was to plant my garlic and shallots. I decided to give them a bit more space this year as the plants suffered from "white root rot" last year, so I spaced them four per square foot. I placed a net over them to stop the birds thinking that they are worms, and pulling them out of the ground. I then cleared the dried asparagus stems and placed them in the compost bin. The next job was to dig up some Comfrey from my neighbours plot. I then took root cutting from the plant and placed into pots in the greenhouse to encourage growth. Finally I collected some more modules, toilet rolls and guttering ready to do some more sowing at home. If you are wondering what the guttering is for see sowing peas, the toilet rolls are to be used for any early sowing of parsnips.

Friday 21st

 My leeks picked out into moduals

I spent the morning at home pricking out my leeks that were sown earlier this month, It is best to transplant them before the green shoots unfold, as the roots are not so long and they are easier to handle. I also finished sowing my brassicas, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, spinach, and beetroot seeds into modules. I will plant shallots, garlic, and sow radishes in the greenhouse and start the parsnips off in toilet rolls.

Wednesday 19th

 Grow beds filled with compost

It was a very nice morning, so I went to the allotment. The main job I did was to set out my Greenhouse grow beds, and fill with compost. I used hanging basket compost, as it contains water retention gel. I put 120lt of compost in each of the three beds. See image on the left. I then planted some "swift" early potatoes ( 5 per bag) into two of my potato grow bags. to give us some extra early potatoes. These potatoes are started off in the greenhouse and, once the weather warms up out side, the bags will be transferred outside to continue growing, until harvest time. In about 3 weeks time I will plant up another two bags of early potatoes in the greenhouse. My last job was to cut back my green manure, I also covered one section which will be the first manure to be dug in, once it breaks down a bit more. On my next visit I will cover the rest of my green manure, and plant my garlic and shallots.

Sunday 16th

 Cleared Brassicas BedAfter the fantastic weather we have been having! I thought I had better visit the allotment. Luckily there was no wind damage except for my greenhouse insulation plastic floating all around the allotment plots, I did manage to find most of it, and put it in the shed out of the way. I spent my time clearing the rest of my Brussels sprouts plants and the very small cabbages from the brassicas bed ready to start planting garlic and shallots in the area where the ground is free from green manure, which I will do on my next visit to the allotment. In the week I managed to sow my onion and leek seed at home on the windowsill. The image on the right shows the brassicas bed cleared.

Tuesday 4th

 My Seed potatoes chitting My potatoes arrived yesterday afternoon from "Kings Seeds". Today my "Potato Grow bags" and "Greenhouse grow beds" arrived from "Marshall's". So I took the delivery from Marshall's down the allotment to keep in the shed until I add the compost to them. As I was there, I bought back my chitting trays that were in the greenhouse, so that I can start to chit my potatoes in the garage. The image on the left shows my potatoes in their trays ready to start chitting.

Monday 3rd

 My Green Manure cut backAnother visit to the allotment and a nice bright day again, so I might as well make hay while the sun is shining. I spent the morning cutting back my green manure, to allow the green leaves to wilt before digging into the beds. It is best to dig the green manure into the ground at least two to three weeks before sowing and planting, because if the green manure is still breaking down when you sow or plant it can stop or retard the seed germination or plant growth. A friend of mine on the allotment had a fire going so he let me add my old wood I removed from the greenhouse, to his fire. The image on the right shows my green manure cut down and starting to wilt, ready for digging in.

Sunday 2nd

 Marshalls Grow BedsA nice bright and windy morning again, so I finished clearing the greenhouse, ready for my greenhouse grow beds to arrive. I also managed to make a wire framed bench/shelf that can be folded away in the summer when growing in the greenhouse beds. I spent some time doing a bit more in the shed, although I have still to finish that job. Finally I removed all the wire from the outside beds that mark out the square foot sections, ready for cutting down the green manure, that will be my next job. The image on the left shows the cleared greenhouse.

Saturday 1st

 Marshalls Grow BedsA nice bright and windy morning so I decided to start cleaning out my shed and greenhouse. I managed to fill two sacks with rubbish from the shed and greenhouse. I then cleared some space in the shed to move my pots and sowing equipment from the greenhouse too the shed. I was then able to remove the bench from the right-hand side of the greenhouse, breaking it up ready to burn later. The shed and greenhouse still need more work so I hope to finish the job tomorrow. I will then add a new growing area on the right-hand side of the greenhouse using re-usable "greenhouse grow beds" that can be purchased from Marshall’s. see image on the right. I may also use some dotted around my allotment, to give a little more growing area with mobility i.e. not fixed to one place.

February

What needs doing this month

Fruit:

  • continue planting if soil conditions are suitable
  • check stakes, ties, framework supports and wires and replace or repair, if required
  • Continue pruning trees and bushes
  • cover strawberries with cloches planted for early fruiting

 

Vegetables:

  • Transplant Autumn sown onions to their final place.
  • Continue to plant Shallots.
  • Plant Garlic bulbs.
  • Check soil pH and add lime, if needed, to the Brassicas bed.
  • If the soil is not too wet sow Parsnip seeds.
  • In milder areas, Sow Broad beans under cloches for an early crop.
  • Ensure that Autumn sown Onions are kept free of weeds.
  • Feed Asparagus plants with a general fertiliser at the rate of 2oz per Sq. Yd.
  • Lift any remaining Parsnips still in the ground from last year.
  • In sheltered areas plant Shallots.
  • Check spring cabbage and firm the soil around any that have been loosened by movement. Dress with a quick acting Nitrogenous fertiliser such as Nitrate of Soda to help increase growth.
  • Clean established Asparagus beds ready for spring growth. Top dress with well rotted manure or compost.
  • Plant out Jerusalem Artichokes.
  • Put Early Potato tubers to chit.
  • Sow early cabbage.
  • Sow Lettuce and Radish (under cloches if necessary).
  • Sow Broads beans.
  • Sow peas in a sheltered border.
  • Plant out shallots.
  • In sheltered areas, Peas, Onions, Carrots, radish and early lettuce can be sown. In less
    sheltered areas they can be planted under cloches.
  • Now is the time to prepare new Asparagus beds. As this is a permanent crop the ground must be well prepared. This means removing all weeds and digging the bed to a spades depth. Incorporate plenty of manure or compost in the bottom and a dressing of Bone meal. Three year old crowns are usually advised but you can use 1 year old crowns if you are prepared to wait a bit longer before cropping.
  • Lift and divide Rhubarb if it is getting congested.

 

Greenhouse:

  • Keep on top of greenhouse hygiene: wash and sterilize seed trays and pots
  • Continue careful heating, watering and ventilation
  • Check insulation
  • Sow early melons and cucumbers for raising in a heated greenhouse
  • Sow early broad beans and early peas if not done in autumn
  • Sow early lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts

 

Herbs:

  • prepare soil for new herb bed by digging and incorporate peat and compost to lighten the soil
  • sow parsley if the weather is dry and not to cold
  • propagate mint by runners
  • Divide herbs such as Sage and Thyme and cut back any excess growth to encourage new fresh growth.
  • Divide and replant Chive Plants.

General:

  • Keep an eye out for slugs on early sowing in cloches.
  • Pre-warm the soil by covering with cloches or black polythene.
  • Have you cleaned your shed yet?
  • Is your equipment working ready for the spring?