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December Allotment Tips

Sprouts and Leeks on the allotment

The allotment is the ideal place to produce a large amount of vegetables for Christmas dinner. This is a realistic aim.

It is a good target for beginners taking a plot on at this time of year-to plan ahead for next years Christmas dinner! It is not as daunting as it sounds…

Last year from my plot, I contributed either fresh from the ground on Christmas morning or from storage, a combination of; cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, onions, parsnips, Christmas potatoes, swede and of course the inevitable sprouts. There is something to be very proud about with that little lot. Maybe we can even allow ourselves a few self-congratulatory thoughts as we sit around the table with our party hats on!

December may be the month of merriment and celebration, yet as always there are plenty of things to do down on the allotment, whatever the weather.

I like to go to the plot regularly, throughout winter, though admittedly not always necessarily to work the land.

It is nice to potter around, take stock, while catching up on maintenance and to check what needs doing other than tending the soil, which can often wait until spring.

Recently I’ve spent a couple of enjoyable late afternoon’s enjoying the watery wintery sunshine, happily staining my shed. A satisfying job, which both helps lengthen the life of the shed and transforms the look of your plot at the same time! A relatively old decrepit looking shed can soon have years taken off it in this fashion.

Back on the land and when the leaves have stopped falling, it is a good idea to inspect and clean your guttering on sheds and greenhouses before the leaves start to build up and cause problems.

Winter is also a great time to give your tools some TLC. After use and before storage I like to dip the blades in a bucket containing sharp sand mixed with some oil. This will clean them and help prevent rust.

Finally, admittedly while pottering around on our beloved plots, Christmas can seem like an age away. However, we must remember to drop some subtle hints, to our loved ones, about potential Christmas pressies that we would like. Well it would be rude not to. Although, allotment holders are traditionally a make do and mend bunch and rightly so.

Fair is fair though, even we should allow ourselves some indulgences now and again.

The top of my wish list is an organic barrier method for controlling slugs. Flexi copper tape anyone, or copper slug rings? Closely followed by a plum tree and finally some enviromesh to stop the dreaded carrot fly. Yes, we allotment holders are easily pleased!

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Lee Senior

About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and horticultural consultant. 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 two daughters, one who is 8 years old and the other who is 5 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 two books; 'Pennine Way, The Highs and Lows' which is a humorous, personal account of walking this momentous iconic walk. His second book 'Walking in the Aire', features 14 short walks in Yorkshire.

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