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January Top Allotment Tips

Wow, It has been a while since I picked frozen sprouts directly from the plant! That was the wonderfully festive experience I enjoyed on Christmas Day morning and on a number of days since.

Brussels Sprouts

We have had plenty of fairly hard frosts here in the north, with some snow flurries at times. I do enjoy seeing the allotment in a winter wonderland it adds a whole new dimension.

Parsnips

Unfortunately, one of the padlocks on my shed seized with the weather and had to be changed. This meant no access to any tools. This in turn lead to great hilarity when trying to harvest parsnips from the frozen ground. Note to myself, that a trowel is no use as an auxiliary spade! I got there in the end, though it may have been sensible to come back another day. The superb flavour of both the sprouts and parsnips was certainly worth it. Frost really does seem to bring out the flavour in winter veg.

The weather has put a stop to the remainder of my winter digging. However, this does not mean keen allotmenteers are deterred from their very own allotment fix for too long. I’ve been spending some time getting my greenhouse and shed into shape for spring.

Clean the Greenhouse

Winter is a great time of year to give the greenhouse a good clean. A greenhouse disinfectant is perfect for dealing with this. Unfortunately, pests and diseases can linger in those nooks and crannies, giving them an unwanted head start when the weather warms up. Equally, I have also removed all traces of last years summer plants and removed the compost and pots.

I’ll re-use some of the spent compost for sowing broad beans and early peas. They really don’t mind this. The pots will be washed and disinfected. It is amazing how there are always slugs and snails hiding under them. Hopefully, the birds will be able to mop them up if you put them outside on the soil.

A greenhouse heater is a good investment if you are keen to start seed sowing early. Keeping the greenhouse frost-free great expands the range of seeds you can sow between now and April.

January AllotmentSeeds to Sow

On the January allotment, Aubergine ‘black beauty’, broad bean varieties ’aquadulce claudia’ and ‘the sutton’, Leek ‘lyon’ the new early pea ‘proval’ and Shallot ‘simiane’ can all be sown.

Supplies & Materials

My shed is benefiting from a tidy up too. There is always clutter to remove and it is amazing how much bigger the shed looks when I’ve finished.

It is not uncommon for the shed to be home for all manner of insects. Last year, I discovered a queen wasp. This year for the first time ever, I found one overwintering in the greenhouse.

I like to do an audit on what supplies and materials I need for the forthcoming year. Essentials include; garden canes, cloches, frost protection fleece, slug protection, labels, twine and many more.

Order Your Seed Potatoes

January on the allotment is the ideal month for ordering seed potatoes. For this reason, when they arrive, do begin the chitting process as soon as possible. In addition, First and Second early varieties, in particular, produce heavier yields from chitted tubers. I use a frost-free windowsill and even a heated greenhouse if space is tight.

Towards the end of the month, I will be covering one of my rhubarb crowns with a forcing pot, to exclude light. Even a heavy old dustbin will do. This long established practise is known as “forcing”. The rhubarb is blanched and is ready to pick very early in the season. The rhubarb crowns are best discarded after this treatment as it does weaken them.

I wish all my readers a peaceful and safe New Year as we all look forward to better times ahead.

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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.

2 thoughts on “January Top Allotment Tips”

  1. Katie Brunt Katie Brunt says:

    Thanks Harry, glad they are helpful to you!
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  2. Avatar Harry says:

    Love All The round seasonal tips for allotment holders

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