Nine and a half Top Tips for getting ahead with the ALLOTMENT

Today the garden has gone monochrome and dispelled itself in grisly fog.  So I have decided to cheer myself up with a colour blast before tramping down to the allotment.

With the soil so wet, it is not really gardening time of the year at all.  But here are some suggestions in order not get caught on the hop when spring rushes in.

1.  COMPOST:  Get yourself a small bucket with a lid and keep it outside your back door.  All raw vegetable peelings can go in and then on down to the plot when you next visit.  Have an area there where you can make a heap of organic refuse.

2.  MAKE PATHS:   Arm yourself with the following: tape measure, twine and short canes – pencil and paper too.  Visit the plot and divide it into strips 1.2ocm wide.  Peg each strip out with twine and leave a 30cm gap between each one.  These gaps will become your pathways.  You will be able to tramp up and down these to hoe and sow without treading on your vegetable beds and 1.20 is a perfect width to reach in from either side.

3.  MEASURE the whole allotment  and roughly mark  on paper.  (More of this below at 5 )

4.  CUTTING BACK.  If you have autumn raspberry canes, cut them down to the ground and put old stalks at bottom of your compost heap.  That is about it for housekeeping as as much rain has made the soil pretty unworkable.

5.  ALLOTMENT PLANNING.  Once home,  plot  the measurements onto paper marking up the beds.  (Photocopy  several times and keep extras for the future).  Work off one sheet to decide what you are going to grow where.  Remember to rotate crops to avoid soil pests and so on.

6.  NEW POTATOES – Get your skates on to order these.  The ones you want are called  first earlies and seed potatoes does NOT mean seeds it means small potatoes that are put to sprout in a cool place with some natural light.  The term for this is ‘chitting’.

7.  Skates on for ordering GARLIC and SHALLOTS  too.

7.  More on POTATOES – the only sort of parings NOT to put into your compost as they can regrow from the smallest scrap.

8.  PLOT your growing calender now and order your seeds  TOP TIP:  A Thompson and Morgan Vegetable Wheel is a brilliant aid for telling you when to sow.

9.  BABY LEAF SALADS cost a fortune – our tortoise has been crunching her way through shedloads.  Get a packet or two to sow on a sunny windowsill.