Thursday, 28 March 2013

Snow damage

I went up to the old allotment today to get the last two hundredweight bags of potatoes out of the store shed.     I don't think there were many duff ones.  There are more than enough to last through April and with the cold weather they are much less likely to sprout and get all wrinkly.   I might sort them when the weather is a little warmer but it was a maximum of four degrees today.

The green manure seems to have died due to the cold weather so I can dig this in as soon as possible.  I will use the new Mantis Tiller to do this because I will not have much time.

The snow has squashed down the enviromesh barrier that I constructed for the alliums. The garlic, which had grown quite large, will have suffered the most.  The mesh still had about 4 or 5 inches of snow over  it as did the rest of the allotment so there was no point in trying to clear it off. I will just wait until it thaws and reconstruct it. If the garlic or shallots are damaged I will replace them with the ones I was going to grow on the new allotment as a later crop.

The cloches have been a little more robust although this does not seemed to have helped the broad beans. They are looking decidedly sorry for themselves.  I will leave the broad beans until it is obvious they will not come to anything then replace them with the exhibition ones in the greenhouse.   What ever happens I will have some broad beans.

I had a look at the hot bed manure pile and really it needs turning again.  It is warming up because there was no snow on it.  The bed really needs to be made now so that the cauliflowers can be planted out.  I might make this a priority.

Everything has stopped growing in the greenhouse.  I thought that I had lost all the peppers and tomatoes but they seem to be hanging on.  If the weather changes and we get more normal April weather then I may just be lucky and they will survive.

Lots of seedlings need pricking out and lots of seeds need to be sown but the greenhouse is bulging at the seams and I cannot fit anything else in there.  Once the weather changes I can get the potatoes and the sweet peas planted out and that will give me a great deal more space.  This will be my second priority.

I am really getting a little frustrated now because the winter digging should have been finished by now.  There is still quite a bit to do but I will not rush it.  My thoughts were to plant later crops on the new allotment and the delay due to the weather will make that the only thing I can do now.

Two things that I am catching up on while the weather is so bad are late grafting and pot washing.  I use a prodigious number of three and a half inch pots and the turnover means that I need to wash quite regularly.  I have done all the plant labels but I still have quite a few pots to do.

When the pots are dry, I brush out the dry soil.  The pots are then washed in warm soapy water, using an old rag, and left to dry.  This keeps the likelihood of pest and diseases becoming established a little less likely.  The plant labels are washed and then cleaned with white spirit.  The white spirit will remove both indelible ink and pencil which is useful because I use both.

I have everything ready for grafting except the weather.  I was very reluctant to containerize the St Julien A suckers while the weather was just hovering above freezing and there was 6 inches of snow covering the ground.  Now there is a very slow thaw it is a little more acceptable. Once they are containerized I will graft straight away and put them in the greenhouse.

 Hopefully by next week the snow will have gone and I will be able to get on.

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