Welcome 2018

December 22 2017

Firstly, we would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year! And we as plot-holders look forward to the weeks ahead with optimism. Although the weather in January is generally against us and daylight is still in short supply there will be signs that it is steadily increasing.

Firstly, we would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year! And we as plot-holders look forward to the weeks ahead with optimism. Although the weather in January is generally against us and daylight is still in short supply there will be signs that it is steadily increasing.

For those that have already bought seeds and are eager to plant them, the general advice is hold on yet even if you have a greenhouse. Sweet peas that were planted under glass in late autumn will be developing their root system during winter months even if there is only slight growth above the surface, but these will have an advantage over those planted in the spring and reward you with longer stems that will flower longer.

From 14 February is an ideal time to break open selected packets of seeds such as onions and early brassicas as daylight will start to increase, but they may still need inside warmth to help them germinate. Try planting the onion seed in six cell trays, three to five seeds per cell. When a couple of inches tall, gently lift them from their cell, do not separate but plant them as a clump and allow them to reach maturity. This method will result in slightly smaller onions but considerably saves space.

Two weeks later, if under cover, Boltardy Beetroot could also be sown. Try these as with onions just described but three seeds per cell. During March as light and temperatures improve these will show steady growth. When large enough to handle gently lift them from their cell as a cluster and transplant them to their final growing bed. When large enough to harvest, simply twist away the biggest from each cluster so the others can grow further until you need them.

But before we get carried away with planting, back to the present. Early December saw snowfall albeit that Bristol mainly got off with a dusting. Even this however can be troublesome if you have cages over brassicas or fruit. Our picture, although not taken recently shows the damage snow can cause to netting suspended over a framework. One suggestion, if possible to avoid the near collapse of the cage, is to remove the roof netting and replace it with pea netting. This will stop birds, particularly pigeons that will do most damage, from entering the cage but at the same time allow snow to pass through it.

Unfortunately, for those that have draped net over cabbages or similar, replacing this with pea net will be of little use as the offending birds will still have access to your crop. The net that has served its purpose for now in protecting the crop is actually best left in place. Snow will collect on the net and its weight will inevitably flatten the plants underneath particularly if they are tall such as sprouts or broccoli. Your instincts may be to remove the snow and net, but actually the snow will form a blanket protection, so leave it. When the snow melts, the plants will regain their former stature without too much trouble.

We appreciate that some regular readers of our column may not have an allotment and as the writer I wonder how many of those will make New Year Resolutions? Most of us will agree that many of these promises are generally forgotten within a few days. So here’s a resolution you may like to consider, /‘I want to grow my own fresh vegetables’. /It sounds a bit daunting perhaps, particularly if you’ve never grown anything before. But could we invite you to call in and ask us about renting your own plot?

Our Association extends to seven sites in the St. George area and vacant plots vary in size for all capabilities. We’ll be pleased to answer all your questions, and after your visit you may just be convinced this is one resolution that will grow on you! We’re open every Saturday and Sunday from 9.00am to 12.30pm or see our contact details at the end of this report. And who knows, by mid-summer you could be gathering your very first crops. Our picture shows the first harvest last summer of a couple who took on a rather overgrown plot at Hillside Allotments about a year ago. Within six months of starting they had picked seven different fruit and vegetables. Pleased with their success, they tell us they’ve since invested in a greenhouse.

In this report as in many others we write, we often talk about protecting our crops from birds. We obviously have nothing against our feathered friends; generally we don’t mind sharing with them. In fact, along with lots of other wildlife they all help us plot-holders immensely. To this end it is actually in everyone’s interest to encourage wild birds to our plots and gardens, so please, particularly at this time of year spare a thought for them. Put out some seeds, nuts or fat balls and fresh water or whatever you can spare, and in not so many words we’re sure, they’ll thank you for your help.

Finally, thanks for keeping up with us in 2017 and do call in and see us soon at the Allotment Shop, we’ll be delighted to meet you.

 

Email: beaanews@gmail.com/ or call 0117-932-5852.

www.bristoleastallotments.com.