Allotment tips and Diary: Winter Solstice

Considerable in roads have been made in moving the wooden raised beds from one of my allotment plots to the other, as part of turning over one of the plots to a largely perennial permaculture system. over half of them have now been moved, the bigger beds will have to wait until the New Year when I can get someone to help me out with them.

Water harvesting

Gardeners everywhere should take advantage of all of the wet weather that we are having in this somewhat mild December of 2011. I have three very large water butts that were previously used at a joiners and builders merchant to store sawdust and paper in, each of these bins holds 25 gallons of water and the way I use them is  simply to leave the lids off them during winter so that they fill will up quite quickly and easily with the abundance of fallen rain water that we have in the North of England on a very regular basis. Our local council charges us five pounds a year for water and for the usage of some cheap tatty hose pipes that they provide, by saving water, and collecting water in the natural swales that both of my plots have, I should have enough of a water supply where I no longer have to pay and rely on using the Councils supply.

Crops

Due to quite a busy 2011 the main crops that I am picking and pulling during December are some huge Leeks that suddenly started growing really well towards the tail end of September, and believe it or not there are still some patches of Mediterranean herbs that I have been harvesting and some more carrots from the old green recycling boxes in which they are grown. I have also cut a few of the willows back that lost their leaves towards the end of November, these willow cuttings are part of my cash crop, where I sell most of them as cuttings and plant the remainder on neglected pieces of land around Bolton.

Using recycled plastic sheeting

It’s been a great year for finding and scavenging useful materials for my two allotment plots, I found a huge piece of thick black plastic sheeting in a skip that was situated almost directly outside the gates of our allotment site. This plastic has been put to good use as a covering for the area that has most dock leaves, the way this works is that the sheeting covers the area completley, and in the spring I will make tiny holes in the sheeting and grow vegetables through the holes for a season.

The plastic will then be removed the following season and a lot of mulch applied to the area, this area will then be OK to grow directly on top of as the docks will have largely died off due to the thick plastic sheeting stopping them from growing, by depriving them of light. The secret here is not to dig any of this area over after the plastic sheeting has been removed as this will just encourage dock seeds that are under the surface to germinate and thus the problem of docks begins all over again.

Fruit tree pruning

The leaves from my fruit trees fell a good few weeks ago and we have had a few good days of frost so I pruned some of the branches back on the trees as our moaning allotment officer doesn’t like the trees to be too tall, even though there is no danger of the roots affecting any structures. As a result of our allotment officer being so strict, and a stickler for following rules and regulations, most of the fruit trees on our site barely reach a height of over 6ft. Luckily for us allotment gardeners he is retiring next year, and we hope that he is replaced by someone who actually has knowledge of gardening and isn’t obsessed with everything being grown in symmetrical straight lines; we can only live in hope.

2 Comments

  1. Talking of fruit tree’s …… whats the rules of when and when not to prune them.

    Reply
    • Hi Karen, better to prune them when they are in their dormant period, which is over the winter, I usually do mine from the beginning of December through to about the end of February.

      cheers Steve

      Reply

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