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February Allotment Tips

Seed potatoes in a chitting tray

It is fair to say the last few weeks haven’t been allotment gardening weather! Pleasingly now the days are lengthening and the gardening calendar is moving on.

Despite the cold I had a pleasant surprise at the end of January, when I unexpectedly harvested some beetroot directly out of the ground. From a July sowing the variety “Moneta” has been a revelation. The frost and bad weather hasn’t bothered it at all, here in the north of England. This variety also has the big plus point of not needing to be thinned as young plants.

Beetroot Seeds MonetaThis bonus crop in the dead of winter, reminds us again that our allotments throw up welcome surprises from time to time. Usually these are good surprises, occasionally they are less good. However, success like this just drives allotmenteers on to achieve bigger and better things the following year. We never truly know everything about our topic and I do find that rather humbling.

This week at home I’ve started to chit my first early seed potatoes on a cool windowsill. Chitting, the early and second early varieties, really does make a positive difference to yields in my experience.Lady Christl seed potatoes

My first early favourites I’ll be growing this year are “Winston” and “Foremost” Both are excellent. My preferred second early types are:” Lady Christl” and the Albert Bartlett variety “Vivaldi”. While mentioning potatoes, I can’t resist giving “Lady Christl” a big fanfare. This is one of the best potatoes I have ever grown with a truly delightful flavour.

As space allows I will also chit my maincrop variety which will be “Sarpo Mira” This variety is famed for its potato blight resistance and rightly so. Last year on my plot it was still growing strongly at the beginning of October. And yes okay I’ll hold my hands up; we clearly like potatoes in our household!

That is what everyone’s allotment ethos should be- simply to concentrate on growing what you and your family want to eat the most.

As we are in February, that means it is time to dust down the heated propagator and make plans to sow some of the longer season seeds that need heat for germination. In this category are: peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines. If you have the frost –free conditions to grow these on, then an early start is welcome. If you haven’t then the seeds will germinate, though perhaps more erratically on a warm windowsill.

Finally it is worth remembering there are still plentiful supplies of produce to pick this month from your all year round allotment, namely; Brussels Sprouts, winter cabbage, kale, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and swede.

 

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Lee Senior

About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and part time horticultural manager. He has also had an allotment for over 25 years. After, initially spurning horticulture as a career option, to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a train driver, Lee soon realised he couldn't resist getting his hands dirty to make a living. Horticultural College training led, to getting an allotment at the tender age of 18 (in the days when you could actually get a plot quickly). My gardening hero, is Geoff Hamilton" says Lee. "It was Geoff who convinced me that you didn't have to spray everything that moved in the garden. Watching him on Gardeners’ World in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was a revelation. I was lucky enough to meet Geoff and I’ve also more recently had the pleasure of meeting Joe Swift. Now over two decades of practical experience has taught me to work with mother-nature, not to fight against her and don't try to tame her, as so many gardeners seem to be on a mission to do. Small scale food growing is my passion and I can't wait for my my two daughters, one who is 5 years old and the other who is 3 to hopefully pick up the baton in the future. Nothing beats the flavour and satisfaction of growing your own food. You simply cannot buy the same quality and freshness. Everyone can have a go at growing something says Lee, no matter where they live. Lee has also written his first book entitled "Walking on the Aire".The book is based on another of his keen interests which is walking. The book features 14 short family style, walks in Airedale, Yorkshire.

2 thoughts on “February Allotment Tips”

  1. Lee Senior Lee Senior says:

    Hello Jeff,
    Thank you for your comments. I agree with you- trying to temper enthusiasm is the key at this time of year. Cold weather in late March or during April can be a disaster. Let’s hope we get a settled and warm spring-to nurture our seedlings along without any checks to growth.

  2. Jeff says:

    Winter on the allotment looks bleak on dull cloudy days and I dont spend very long there, just enough to pick lush frosty sprouts and leeks.

    The lengthening daylight temps one to get going but I have to temper my enthusiasm. It’s too early .I always take leave during the first week in March ,which can be warm. However, often the weather can turn bad again and ruin early efforts. This year I have erected a Wonderwall net tunnel and hope to grow lovely Cauliflowers. I try every year but fail to get them past seedlings. I will learn and try again.

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