My allotment continues to provide one of the best, socially-distanced activities there is. This year above all others, allotments have proved their worth, giving much more than just food production. That said, we didn’t need lockdown to tell us that did we?
Where else can you get the same physical and mental health benefits and feed your family at the same time? Saying hello to your allotment neighbour over the fence is deemed as being safe too!
It’s Time To Get Busy!
This can be a productive time of year on the plot. There is lots of food to harvest and plenty of tasks to get caught up on, given decent weather. Do try to keep off the soil when its wet or frozen to avoid damage to the soil structure.
Winter is the time of year when I do any larger jobs. These include path work, adding raised beds, changing the plot layout, clearing unkept areas and so on. There is always plenty to do and the tasks are invariably warming as they often include heavy work.
Improve Your Soil
It is a great time of year for single or double-digging too. Soil that has a pan or poor drainage can often be improved by getting air into the soil. If you are planting fruit trees or bushes, then good ground preparation is even more important.
One essential winter item in my shed that I never want to be without is frost protection fleece. It is so versatile and will afford protection from mild frosts. It has many uses between now and the end of spring, including wind protection for young plants. During summer I’ve been known to use it to protect carrots from carrot fly attack.
Check Your Shed
Talking of sheds, now is the time to check over your sheds, outbuildings, polytunnels and greenhouses for any weaknesses. Have a look at the roof, door and windows and make good any damaged areas in preparation for inclement weather. Applying a wood preserver on a winters day can be a pleasant job. It lengthens the life of wooden structures, if they are in good condition.
Recently, I’ve been scattering the seeds from the heads of a few wild poppies on the edge of my plot. These will germinate next year and provide a welcome site for plot holders and insects alike.
I’ve also been creating a new strawberry bed too. I enjoy this task as the runners are so easy to deal with and other than weeding the beds last for three years.
I’ve continued to sow seeds of Broad Beans ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ in trays in my cold greenhouse.
During midwinter, I also turn my attention to growing sprouting seeds on the windowsill.
Pea shoots ‘Twinkle’ are my favourite. They are perfect for a nutritious healthy snack or sandwich. They are so easy to grow in a shallow tray of compost on a well-lit windowsill. The shoots are ready to harvest in 21 days. There is the bonus of a second crop too, several weeks later. Pea shoots are expensive to buy in the shops. Growing your own is easy and very cost-effective.
Cress can also be grown to maturity on damp kitchen towel in just 6-8 days. To get it to mature with mustard sow the seed two days in advance. Mustard can also be grown on damp kitchen towel and is ready in just 4-6 days. The huge bonus is there is no risk of getting muddy boots with any of the windowsill crops!
On Christmas Day morning I’ll make my annual sojourn to my plot to harvest as much fresh veg as possible. At the moment, cabbage, sprouts, leeks, parsnips and Jerusalem Artichokes are showing promise. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed, that they deliver.
I wish all my readers a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.
Be sure to check out our December Newsletter for more helpful tips and tricks!