Garden And Gardener

Everything for the Gardener and their Garden

Planning for the next year

by Diane - December 31st, 2014.
Filed under: allotment.

I’ve made a list of all the seeds I have. It’s a big list! I wouldn’t be able to grow all of these seeds even if I had an acre of land! I need to par down the list and decide exactly what I’ll be growing.

I’ve got tons of tomato seeds, including a favourite sun gold and some new ones that are also cherry tomatoes that should produce good crops. As I have a greenhouse at home as well as on the allotment I could grow lots of different sorts. I’ve tried a lot of outdoor tomatoes last year and was disappointed, only the sun gold ripened and didn’t get blighted.
I think I’ll grow sun gold outdoors as usual and then grow a few indoor ones in both greenhouses. I’ve got some baby plum tomatoes in different colours – think that one is called Rainbow mix. They’re excellent!
I will be growing directly into the greenhouse border on the allotment. I will be bagging up some of the heap of horse muck that I have got, ready for topping up the borders later in the spring. Currently I have some winter lettuces in the greenhouse and they’re delicious! Even though we’ve had some hard frosts there are still plenty of leaves available. I will be growing some of them again!

I want to sow a few carrots in the greenhouse border. Nantes should give me a small crop in only two months, so I will have a look through my carrot seed list and see whether I have some, or if I have some other carrots that might grow in a cold greenhouse border in early spring. I have some very tiny round ones, suspect they’ll be really good.

I am going to do my best to get brussels sprouts for this next year too. Mine got eaten by slugs as I was hardening them off, so I need to take more care whilst doing that in future. I’m going to try and have as long a season as possible, which will mean a mix of plants. I have one called brussels sprouts f1 Continuity mix which I hope will be really good. I will also plant some kale and some purple sprouting. Having green vegetables over winter means you can pick something everyday.

I’ve been reading Charles Dowding’s books about growing winter vegetables and feel quite inspired. He counts a lot of early spring vegetables as winter veggies which is an interesting idea. It’s mostly got to be ocncentrating on sowing in August and September for over winter salads, but much earlier in the year for sprouts and that sort of winter vegetables. I will of course grow a few extra plants for spares. They can either be insurance against slug damage or be given away to other plot holders when it’s time to plant out. It takes only one seed and a bit of compost to create a plug plant that can be planted on. That’s something elde Charles goes on about is planting in module trays so you can grow lots of plants easily and you’re growing them with their own root block. For salads it’s easy – sow and plant out into rows. He also recommends wider spacings for preference as the extra bare soil means it’s further for the slugs to go. As well as keeping the beds very tidy to ensure there’s no hiding places. That’s something I’d noticed with the wooden bed edges, that the slugs love living down the sides in the grass. I will aim to deal with this as a long term problem – I think wood makes an ideal home for slugs so might move away from this as edging and have bare sides. It won’t look as tidy but in theory it’ll mean fewer slug hiding places.

My other thoughts on the upcoming year will be to find a way of having all my plant pots so they don’t act as a slug house either. I am not sure what to do with them all. I probably don’t need all the hundreds of them I’ve got, but I’ve got some nice size pots that I am reluctant to get rid of. I am sure I can find a use for them even if it’s potting up plants for people.

I will hopefully get organised enough now I’ve got plenty of plant labels. Each packet has a pencil in to use to write on them with. This should mean I have no excuse for anything not having a label.

I want to remove the gooseberry from my fruit patch on the allotment. I’ve also got one in the front garden. We don’t eat the fruit from it – although I have used it in mixed fruit jam, where it was nice, I don’t really have enough space for something we don’t enjoy eating on it’s own, so they have to go.

I have a goji berry that hasn’t fruited yet, and my blackberry plants need sorting out as they are a bit wild. I need to read up on training and pruning them.
I’m hopeful of a good rhubarb crop as I have three well established plants now and a couple of additional ones that I can crop from this year. I grew some from seed and gave away quite a few plants but kept some for my plot. I did mean to do some rhubarb wine this year but didn’t get round to it. It is supposed to be a mild wine that can be used as a mixer with other wines to give balance.

I’ve given away a couple of crowns in the last few weeks. I gave one to Janet who has a plot on another site and one to a children’s home where they are hoping to grow loads of vegetables and fruit. I also gave away raspberries and a blackcurrant bush.

If you have blackcurrants then you can make new plants very easily. Take cuttings and put them in a bucket of water and ignore for a few months. Then pot them up or plant them out and they’ll grow like mad. It’s an easy way of getting more fruit bushes. It is very simple to do. In theory it works for redcurrants and white currants too.

So on my plot I need to finish moving muck, fill all the plastic sacks I have available and then any remaining muck I will let Tracey and John have. I’m a firm believer in the value of adding manure to the plot to raise the soil level up as well as feeding the worms and soil. The organic material is useful on a clay rich plot and by building the soil level up I hope to have a drier plot to plant in. Bits that are low are very soggy when it’s wet. My paths are made from bark chippings which help soak up moisture too. When they rot down they can be thrown onto the beds as soil too and replaced with more bark chippings.
You can make soil by layering bark chippings and manure and letting it break down. This can help very much if you have a shallow top soil. Don’t worry about the bark robbing nitrogen from the soil – there is plenty in the muck! You can grow potatoes as a first crop in this and feed them a bit too and you’ll get an amazing crop and next year the soil will look like proper soil!

Some people think it’s ok to just use chemicals to feed plants. I do think that adding manure adds to the soil itself – so you’re not just feeding the plants, but feeding the entire microcosm of the soil and all the organisms that live within in.