You've been automatically redirected - this is the new home for our blog posts - please update your bookmarks to hub.suttons.co.uk/blog

Top December Allotment Tips

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.

The heavyweight champ of winter fleece is the 30g-winter weight insulation RHS Envirofleece. This is designed to offer protection in more severe conditions. It is even suitable for greenhouse insulation.

A fleece tunnel is also a good option for salad crops such as winter lettuce and spring onions.

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.

December Sowing

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!

Share this post

PinIt
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 “Top December Allotment Tips”

  1. Katie Brunt Katie Brunt says:

    Hi Diana, we think this might not be the best idea as it can strangle the plant as it grows. What you can do is put a barrier at ground level where the plant meets the soil, such as a cabbage collar. Netting that’s blowing around or not tightly secured can become a problem for wildlife getting tangled, so it’s best to just use it for barriers like keeping carrot fly or butterflies off crops. We hope this is helpful to you.
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  2. Avatar Diana Tidd says:

    Hello

    I live in lovely Caithness. However have to cope with many gales. Brought on super strong young Brussels Sprout and Broccoly plants last year only to find that the winds loosened them enough in the soil for the cabbage root fly to make her way in. I
    inherited from previous owners lots of tatty wind break green netting. Have collected this and my thought is to wrap a strip of this netting arouynd the stem of each brassica as I plant it. Do you thik this will overcome the cabbage root fly problem.
    Also this netting proved excellent this year to keep my carrotts attack free from Carrot Fly.

    Beste wishes and Happy Christmas (in the allotment!)

    Diana

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *