Saturday, 2 March 2013

Towards the busy time in the allotment



I have planted out the  broad beans, shallots and garlic that I  started in the greenhouse.  I was going to cover the broad beans with  plastic cloches but I don't think they need it.  The cloches are not doing anything at the moment  except  languishing in the  store  shed so I might  get them out to cover something.  I  will  want them for  the early lettuce and  they can  easily be moved.
Some good horse manure was delivered to the  allotment but I  wasn't going to  use  any.  After everyone had  had a share there  was still a big pile so I changed  my mind  and  took  some. Although  the potato bed had green manure on it,  it really needed a little more organic matter to bulk  it  up.   It was covered with a 4-6 cm layer  of manure  all over.  Together with the  green manure and  comfrey liquid,  I think that this will  be sufficient for the potatoes.  I will  be planting  them  with mychorrhizal fungi too but this  will  be later in  March.   I have a wide selection of early potatoes  this  year and  they will go in  this  bed while the second earlies, Kestrel, will go in the new allotment.  The  new allotment potato bed has been  triple dug, sieved and  pigeon  manure added.  This  ground  was also sown with  a rye tares green manure which will  be  dug in a week  or two  before I plant the potatoes.
I am hardening  off some of the onion seedlings and exhibition broad  beans and these  will  be  planted in the  old allotment until I run  out of space.  The  mammoth onions  and  the big  leeks have germinated  and need to be  pricked out into individual pots this  week.
The cabbage and cauliflower seedlings  are growing  well  but  they will  be kept in the  greenhouse until the  middle  of March and then  hardened off in the cold frame which  will  be repaired by then - hopefully.  
It is  all right  germinating  the seeds but keeping them alive  is  quite  difficult especially as the  night  temperatures regularly go down to just above  freezing.
I have tomato and peppers germinated and producing quite large seedlings  now but whether  they will  last until they  can  be put into the  allotment remains  to be seen.
I will be using my trusty little paraffin heater but that will only just  keep the temperature in the  greenhouse above freezing during very cold nights.
The cold does not seem to affect the sweet pea seedlings and they are germinating well.  I will have to pinch them out fairly soon.
On the new allotment I have planted out another apple tree "Discovery" on M9 rootstock, a plum "Opal"  and a pear - I forget the name but it is a French one.  
The Victoria plum has set off some  suckers  from the roots.  It is probably on St Julien root stock and these will make good root stocks for new trees.  They are just heeled in at  the moment but they will  be  planted and possibly budded during the summer.  
The new raspberries and gooseberries  are  just  heeled in  too and  will need to be  planted in  their  permanent  positions soon.   They  will  not fruit this year but they should grow away during  the  year  and be  big enough  for  fruit next year.   I am  still planting them in concentric semi circles around  the  established Victoria plum and the next line  of strawberries  has  gone in.  I have  enough strawberries for another  line but  I  don't  think  that I will  need them.  I  hate  putting good  plants on the compost  heap though.   
I have double dug and  sieved all the soil down to the shed  now.  There is  about 15 feet of digging still  to do.  As I go along the shed there is  less soil to  dig over so it is  taking  less time to do  a row.  Also I have run  out of things to bury or mix  in  so the digging  now  takes much less time.  The  thing that is taking the  time is  getting things  out  of  the  way so that I can have  a clear run.  The next thing I  will  have  to move is the makeshift compost heap.  I will move the  pallets up to the  front of the allotment and make  a new compost  heap there and  that  will  be right  out of the  way.  After that it is moving the stones to make  a really good foundation  for the  shed  and  finally moving the  shed.  
After that it  is back to the greenhouse and doing some  serious  seed sowing.  Middle  of March will be the sowing of the parsnips.  However, before I can do this I will have to dig in the green manure  on  the roots  bed. I will do  this  fairly soon because  a lot of the roots can  be  sown from the  middle  to the end of March.  
So, busy times ahead.

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