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January Allotment Tips

Allotment in the snow

Allotment in the snow

If you are anything like me you will have probably over indulged on food and drink over the Christmas and New Year celebrations. During which time, any lingering thoughts about the allotment may have temporarily been pushed to the back of our minds!

All that will soon change as we now welcome in a brand new year and look forward to a bumper harvest from our trusty and faithful plots in 2014.

January may often be cold but it is far from being a wasted month down on the allotment. There is plenty to do particularly in the confines of a heated greenhouse or a polytunnel. The windowsill at home can also be your friend, providing heat to germinate early seeds, through the use of a heated propagator such as the Garland Super 7 propagator or the Big 3 propagator

This month is the time to sow maincrop onion seeds that will grow on and develop, for harvesting during late summer. Shallots too can be grown from seed sown now in a similar way. Provide gentle heat, good light and frost-free conditions.

If you are growing exhibition onions on your allotment they are also invariably grown from seed, sown in late December or early January. A long season is needed for larger sized onions.

Alternatively if you prefer, both onions and shallots can be grown from sets started off later in spring.

If the weather closes in and the ground becomes frozen solid, this can provide a chance to do some manual work on the plot. During a deep freeze, wet or claggy paths can suddenly become hard wearing and quite user friendly until it starts to thaw. Use these moments to do some heavy-duty work.  Manure can be stacked, or moved around to a new location. Compost bins can be erected. Wheelbarrows can also be used far easier to bring materials on to your plot for the forthcoming season. There is always something to do on the allotment!

It is generally better to keep off the soil itself if it is either very wet or frozen as you are likely to do more harm than good in these situations.

There are plenty of fresh vegetables still in season; Jerusalem
Artichokes, leeks, kale parsnips, savoy cabbage, sprouts and swede should all be in plentiful supply.

In store many of us will still have a good supply of maincrop potatoes, onions, shallots and garlic to fall back on too.

Allotments are well and truly productive for twelve months of the year and no month typifies this better than January.

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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.

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