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Top December Allotment Tips

brussels sprouts

As I write there is a wonderful hoar frost this morning.The foliage and grass are glistening white and the soil is frozen enough to easily break a spade. Frost is good for the allotment of course, and there have been a healthy number already this winter.  This has provided a lovely spectacle and certainly focused our minds towards the onslaught of winter.

frost

It feels more seasonal too, with Christmas now only just around the corner. There are plenty of gifts for keen allotmenteers, to suit all budgets and tastes. Perhaps the ultimate gift is a greenhouse or polytunnel, wouldn’t we all like one of those?  For something a little more modest, a heated propagator will come into its own in the New Year and is a timely gift. Thinking of practical things, I really wouldn’t want to be without my secateurs. Fitting handily in my pocket they are a boon. Finally a gift voucher is a safe bet and is something I rely on, when unsure what to buy.

Tradition has it that Brussels Sprouts taste better after a good frost or two and I can’t disagree. Modern varieties such as F1 “Content” and F1 “Brigitte” are sweet and taste especially delicious. One of the best for Christmas dinner is F1 “Brenden”. This is a late season variety that holds particularly well. Gone are the days of bitter tasting sprouts. As a bonus my kids willingly eat them without bribes!

brussels sprouts

This week, I’ve been harvesting parsnips (which also taste nicer after frost), leeks, swede and Jerusalem artichokes. All are as tough as old boots and can be left in the ground until late March to pick when required. It is always good to take something home with you after a visit to the plot. These four stalwarts fit the bill nicely.

parsnips

My winter cabbage is ready too, though the heads are a little smaller than I’d like. We can’t complain though. In the end we are fortunate to be able to grow our own food, even if it isn’t always perfect.

If the land dries out a little, I intend to hunt down a particular patch of those residual black, bootlace style roots belonging to horsetail/ marestail. This prehistoric weed is slowly colonising. Any dry winter weather gives a perfect chance to redress the balance.

During inclement weather, the shed is a valuable sanctuary. It is the perfect spot to escape the throng of the Christmas High Street, with all the retail mayhem that entails. A flask of hot coffee, gives me the encouragement and impetus to repair, tidy and clean this often neglected aspect of my plot. It is amazing just what accumulates in there, dead wasps, woodlice, dead spiders (and live ones), junk and more junk. Luckily there are no mice in my wellies, or indeed anywhere else for that matter.

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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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