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Thinking Of Winter And Next Season.

We had a couple of very cold nights recently, but as always at this time of year they were followed by a few milder days. While we are still getting these milder spells and the ground is not frozen, you can of course put in bare root plants such as fruit bushes that are freely available these days from internet companies. The types of fruit and the range of varieties offered for sale seem to be ever increasing, but there are plenty of other things on the Allotment that can be done as well.

If you havenít already planted your Garlic it can still go in. I finally got round to planting mine the other week and when I put it in I made sure that I planted it in a different place to last year to prevent problems. Remember that Garlic is a member of the Onion and Leek family and as such is susceptible to all the problems that Onions can get including Rust, Eelworm and rot. With this in mind it is always a good idea to plant freshly bought bulbs that should be healthy, but if you want to us your own bulbs you must use the biggest and healthiest that were harvested last season. Instinct tells you to use the best ones in the kitchen and replant whatís left, i.e. the smallest, but that is wrong. If you plant small Cloves you will get small bulbs as a result. Big Cloves will give big bulbs.
Along with Garlic it is time to plant the early Japanese Onions if you havenít already. I didnít put any in this time, although some of the other plot holders have and some have even done them from seed, which is very thrifty.

Normally I would be lifting my Forcing Chicory about this time to replant in my greenhouse at home under the staging in a specially prepared, blacked out bed, but this year I simply didnít grow any. I donít know why, I just forgot and it is one Winter vegetable that I will miss. They are ridiculously expensive to buy in the shops as well, if I decide I want some.

Another seasonal job for this time of year is to tidy up the old rhubarb leaves and divided the established plants removing the old centres - specially those that have flowered. This will always result in a few extra pieces of Rhubarb Crowns, i.e. rough pieces of root with a growing point. These can be potted up to give away, or planted elsewhere. It is always said that leaving Rhubarb exposed to frost for a few nights after it has been dug up before replanting will sweeten it for next year. It certainly wonít do any harm and won't suffer unlike most plants that need to be re-planted straight away to prevent them from drying out. When you do replant your Rhubarb though make sure that the crowns are raised up and arenít covered as this will cause them to rot and do spread a good layer of manure as a mulch round them at the same time to feed them and help suppress weeds.

My Strawberry Sticks Ė or Chenopodium proved interesting and I learned a lot more about how it grows this season. I tried blanching the stalks with buckets as suggested and they just rotted, but I did realise that they seem to like a bit of shade and damp conditions to give the best results. So, when I get round to digging up and weeding the patch I will replant them somewhere else for next year, somewhere on my plot that is more suitable, perhaps between, the fruit trees, or the rows of Raspberries so that they will not get the fiercest direct sunlight. Another thing that I discovered is that they have a terrible tendency to produce thousands of self-set seedlings from fallen berries! Thinning out is constantly necessary.

It will soon be time to cover my Sea Kale crowns with buckets for forcing to give the shoots, that taste like Asparagus, early next Spring. With this in mind I set to a few days ago and removed all the dead leaves, much as you would do for a bed of Rhubarb. The next job was to give it a thorough weeding and put fresh wood chips down to suppress further weed growth for a while. At the same time a layer of chips went down on the freshly laid paths between my new improved Strawberry beds and between my existing Currant bushes.
All of these jobs are part of settling things down and preparing the plots for the coming Winter.

 

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