Posts Tagged ‘allotment planning’

February Gardening Advice

February 1st, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

Hearts beat a little faster this month with the arrival of Valentine’s Day. Likewise, for gardeners, pulses begin to race with the prospect of spring on the horizon.

Whether you’re working on the allotment, or in the garden, the jobs list is beginning to increase as we start to prepare for the arrival of a new season. However, don’t be seduced into thinking you should immediately start sowing outside. Jack Frost is a cunning cad, and is always seeking the opportunity to break hearts. Whether it’s a severe frost, or a late flurry of snow, gardening plans can be quickly scuppered. Right now, in this unpredictable month, patience is the key.

So, why not take a moment to enjoy what February has to offer. Hellebores, crocuses, even an early daffodil, can be just what’s needed to get you in the mood for spring.


In the flower garden

DIVIDE

Most snowdrops have now bloomed and will start to fade before returning to their green form. Now’s the time to lift, divide and re-plant. Over the years, they will naturally increase and spread. However, a gardener’s intervention can result in larger displays, without such a lengthy wait.

This process can also be applied to the perennial plants in your herbaceous borders. Quite often a sharp spade is the best way to divide them. Think about how you want your border to look this summer, and re-plant accordingly.

BORDERS

At the moment, borders aren’t looking at their best, but this is the time to get them ready for the growing season ahead. Remove all weeds and fallen debris, and cut away last season’s dead perennial foliage. Finally, mulch the area, ideally to the depth of six inches, as this will help suppress weeds. Be careful not to cover perennials, shrubs or protruding bulb shoots as this will prevent the sunlight and warmth reaching them, and could encourage rot.

GRASSES

Ornamental grasses in winter can add wonderful structure to a vacant gardening space. But as winter wanes, they will start to look a little ragged. Deciduous varieties will benefit from being cut back hard with a pair of shears. This may seem drastic, but don’t worry, they will thank you for it. Varieties such as Stipa, need nothing more than a good comb. By using your hands and a sensible pair of gloves to prevent cuts, simply drag your fingers through the clump, removing old growth.

GREENHOUSE

Despite the cold month, if you’re lucky enough to own a heated greenhouse, polytunnel, or a well-lit, warm, windowsill, you could think about sowing hardy annual and perennial seeds. Whether it’s Cornflower, Cosmos, French marigolds or Echinacea, these can be sown now. Overfill a small pot or tray with either seed or multi-purpose compost. Tap the container gently, and brush the excess soil from the rim. Sow your seeds thinly over the surface, and then cover over with a thin layer of compost, or vermiculite. Once labelled, place your container in a couple of inches of water. It’s preferable to let the pot draw the water from the bottom, leaving the seeds undisturbed, as watering from above can easily scatter the seeds, disrupting their growing environment and hampering germination. Finally, place in a bright and warm spot.

PANSIES AND VIOLIAS

Pansies can provide well-needed colour during the solemn winter months. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep them in check if you want them to continue providing colour. Deadheading is key. Remove any fading or diseased blooms, making the cut just above a lower pair of leaves. Do not let your plants go to seed, as they will stop producing blooms. If you’re growing them in pots or containers, ensure they don’t dry out, but don’t overwater. If you have them in the ground, keep an eye out for pests, such as slugs and snails.

PRUNING

This is the month to prune late flowering Clematis, Prune Group 3 (For definitions of each group, go to https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=109 ). They flower from mid to late summer, and on newly grown stems. Therefore, you can cut back a lot of last year’s growth, down to a strong pair of buds, about 30 cm above the ground. Ensure you spread out the stems, tie them into a support frame, and mulch around the base of the plant. As soon as the temperature starts to rise, they will quickly put on growth.

Similarly, you can prune shrubs that have just finished flowering such as Witch Hazel, and prune hard on shrubs such as Cornus, Buddleia and Salix. Also, prune Wisteria by cutting back to three buds.

GARDEN WILDLIFE

Continue to keep bird-feeding stations supplied with food and fresh water. If the weather is too bad to work in, then this might be the time to retreat to the shed, and think about building a nest box. Garden birds will soon be looking for nests to hatch their chicks. So why not help bring birdlife into your garden, and install a nest box.


On the veg patch

RASPBERRIES

Cut all autumn fruiting varieties down to an inch above the ground. Mulch around the raspberry stalks, ensuring you don’t cover them over. If you want a longer growing season, cut only half of your stock down to above the ground. The untouched canes will provide fruit earlier in the season.

This is the last opportunity to plant bare root varieties. Once summer varieties are planted and mulched, cut canes down to ten inches. Again, with autumn fruiting varieties, mulch and cut-down to an inch above the ground.

FRUIT TREES

There’s still time to prune your fruit trees and soft fruit, such as gooseberries, as they’re still dormant. Beyond this, tree sap will be on the rise, so pruning too late might create a seeping wound, thus damaging the tree. Consider buying bare rootstock varieties, and rhubarb crowns, and plant out.

 CHITTING

Up and down the land right now, windowsills are dominated by seeding potatoes sat on eggbox thrones, with their eyes looking skyward. However, if you haven’t bought your tubers yet, it’s still not too late. Get them chitting as soon as possible, and six weeks from now you could be sitting them in the warming soil of your allotment, or in growing bags.

SOW

If you have a cold frame or greenhouse, ideally with a heat source, then you might consider sowing into plugs the following; onions, beetroot, cabbage, leeks, spring onion, lettuce, radishes, and tomatoes. If you sow into large plugs, and thin your seedlings out accordingly, then your young plants can continue to grow on until you’re ready to plant out. This method will not only give you the time to prepare the plot, but give the soil an opportunity to warm up in the early spring weather. Bear in mind, it’s still a low winter sun, so light levels can make plants leggy.

If you’re hoping to sow seeds, such as carrot, straight into the ground, wait until at least the end of the month. Ideally, warm the allocated plot, by covering the soil for few weeks with either a cloche, or plastic sheeting. This extra warmth is precious when trying to germinate seeds, such as carrots and parsnips. Remember to stagger your sowing, otherwise months from now you may find yourself with a glut.

PEAS AND BEANS

You can begin sowing early varieties indoors. As these legumes have a deep root system, ideally you want to sow them in root trainers as they don’t like their roots disturbed. Not only are you providing the best opportunity to grow strong plants, but when you plant out, the roots won’t suffer from stress.

PARSNIPS

If you still have parsnips growing, lift and store them. Beyond February, these tapered beauties will sprout. Place carefully into a box, cover with dry sand, and store somewhere cool and out of sunlight.

STORAGE

Check regularly for any damage or decay on any fruit or veg you having been storing over winter. Anything spoilt, remove at once and destroy. Ensure remaining produce is individually spaced to prevent further contamination, and to encourage a good airflow.

Indoors

BULBS

Any remaining bulb plants that have finished blooming can be taken outside, or kept in a greenhouse, to let the foliage dieback. However, continue to water and feed any Amaryllis bulbs, as this may encourage the flower to return late next autumn, or winter.

How to Plan a Bigger, Better Garden

March 28th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Garden Planning for a Better GardenPlanning at the start of the growing season is important – you must consider what you’re going to grow, where you are going to grow it and when you’re going to sow or plant it. This post is going to help you plan for your most successful growing season yet!

  • It’s important to get to know your garden – observing where the shade falls, this way you can plant in the appropriate area. Tender crops like tomatoes, peppers and squash will thrive in the sunny area of the garden. Leafy greens, herbs and salads prefer a part-shaded area.
  • Knowing the windy areas of your garden is also handy – climbing beans can get damaged in a windy area of the garden. Corn, on the other hand is preferable in the wind.
  • Keep track of what you plan to grow where, this will make crop rotation a lot simpler. Rotating crops from the same family to a new bed each year reduces the chances for pests and disease to build up in the soil. As a bonus it keeps the soil in great condition!
  • Varying crops place different demands on the soil. Cabbage is a very hungry plant so it’s a good idea to grow it after beans or peas – this will also help to enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen. Once you’ve harvested cabbages the soil will be less rich so you could replant with root crops such as carrots which don’t need high fertility to thrive.
  • Once you’ve chosen what you’d like to grow it will help to know when everything can be sown, planted and harvested – a good garden plan will include key dates of these activities. This plan will ensure that nothing is missed out or forgotten as the season gets busier.
  • Planning your garden means you can buy just the right number of seed containers, seeds, potting soil and plant supports.
  • Proper planning means you can keep your plot as productive as possible, for as long as possible, so as one crops finished, another is waiting in the wings to replace it.

Planning your garden can save you time, money and unnecessary disappointment. We hope these tips have helped you plan your garden! If you have any top tips for garden planning then please let us know in the comments or on our social media.

How to Plan a Bigger, Better Garden – Easy Vegetable Garden Planning