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October Allotment Tips


Rhubarb Young Crowns

Rhubarb is one of the mainstays of the allotment. October is perfect for dividing large oversized crowns. If established plants are left indefinitely, they do eventually produce less each year. Cut up and divide the crowns into good sized pieces, making sure each has signs of dormant buds, which will start to grow early next spring. Rhubarb is not a particularly fussy plant. Almost all allotment plots have somewhere such as a difficult corner or patch of ground not suitable for more demanding crops. In these situations the easy growing rhubarb is ideal. It will grow just about anywhere, apart from waterlogged soil. One of the secrets of good allotment gardening is putting the right crop in the right part of the plot.

A sowing of the hardy Broad bean “Aqualdulce Claudia” towards the end of October, in root modules or pots will give an earlier crop next year. Grow the beans on, in a cold frame till spring, or plant out in well-drained soil, in sheltered areas.

Hardy winter lettuce varieties “Valdor” or “Winter Density” can be sown now, in pots or even old growbags containing spent tomato compost in the greenhouse. They can be left there to grow on over winter. They should also survive outside, covered with a cloche, though I prefer the protection of a greenhouse or polytunnel. On the warmer winter days the plants will then grow a little further.

This time of year is perfect for moving or planting new fruit bushes and trees. Bare –rooted trees will benefit from the warmth still in the soil, to aid root development before winter frosts. It is the same with fruit bushes. Gooseberries, blueberries, red and blackcurrants can all be planted out this month or next, weather permitting.

Blueberries need lime-free soil to give their best. Try a soil testing kit if you are unsure of the PH content of your soil. Even in soils containing lime, blueberries can be grown in ericaceous (lime-free) proprietary compost.

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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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