Parts of the country have been battered by storms this week and my heart goes out to the people that have had to be evacuated from their homes due to flooding.
I have also seen some pictures this week of allotments that have flooded around the country. I really feel for the people this has happened to, as I know I would be devastated if this happened to mine. I also can’t imagine how the farmers in Somerset must be feeling as some of their fields have been under water for weeks now.
Thankfully, it hasn’t been quite so bad here. The ground is very wet but we don’t have any major flooding and our families, homes and gardens are safe. In fact despite the wet, the garden is beginning to wake up and I have noticed it is a little bit lighter in the morning and it stays lighter in the late afternoon now too…so hopefully Spring will be on it’s way soon.
The Snowdrops at my allotment are flowering beautifully now and I am really pleased with them. Hopefully they will spread in a few years around my woodland area.
And so too are my primroses
The ground underneath my old plum tree, in my woodland area isn’t too soggy, so I have been transferring some ‘For-get-me-nots’ around the tree. Again, this will remind me not to forget my good friend that died a year ago this month. Hopefully they will self-seed this year and I will have more next year.
I keep transplanting as many plants as possible into this area, as the more ground cover I have, the less weeding I will have to do in the warmer months.
The Poached egg plants (Limnanthes douglasii) that line my central path, self seed like mad. You can see in the photgraph below how they spread. So at this time of the year I always dig in the plants that I don’t want, as it acts like a green manure. But before I do that I transplant some of the plants to other areas on my allotment.
This year I have started to transplant some of them into my woodland area too.
I have so much of this plant growing at my allotment, as it is great for attracting Bees and other beneficial insects to my plot. The bees will pollinate my crops and also insects like hoverflies and ladybirds that are attracted to the plants, will then eat the blackflies that are attracted to my crops too.
And not forgetting they also look pretty when they are in flower.
At home my seeds are beginning to show. The broad beans that I planted on the 28th January are already showing, but unfortunately the ones I planted on the 21st January aren’t for some reason. Even though they are all a variety called ‘Aquadulce’, I used a different packet of seed for each tray so I’m wondering if I have a bad pack?…I’ll have to wait and see.
The leeks I planted on the 21st January are also showing now:
The garlic that I sowed in modules in my greenhouse on the 21st January is now also racing away. I will plant these out as soon as the ground is workable at my allotment:
The onions that I sowed on the 28th January are just showing through now too. They have been kept in my house where it is warm:
I planted these cauliflowers last year and they have overwintered well. They will hopefully give me a good early crop of cauliflowers in April/May this year and if I sow my new seeds in Spring, then I will hopefully get a good crop again next year.
Don’t forget the humble packet of ‘Cress’ seeds.
Last week I sowed some ‘Cress’ seeds. I remember doing this as a child in an old margarine pot. I did it exactly the same way now. It’s easy to forget about this really easy seed to grow.
All I did was line the pot with a folded tissue and wet it (pouring away any excess water) and I sprinkled the cress seed thickly on top of the tissue. I put the pot in a cupboard (so it’s dark) and waited for the seeds to germinate, being careful to not let them dry out.
As soon as they germinated, I put the pot on the window sill and I just watered them when they needed it.
In a couple of weeks I have lovely cress to add to my salads or egg sandwiches:
I also picked up a bargain this week. I wanted to buy an oregano plant as it’s a herb we eat a lot of it in our house and I was lucky enough to spot a bargain, healthy plant at Wilkinsons this week. I only paid £3 for it which I was really pleased with. I will leave the plant inside for a while yet though.
I don’t know if you remember, but back in the autumn we moved my shed from one place at my allotment to better place. I have been left with a bare bit of ground that is sheltered and very sunny and I have spent the winter wondering what to plant there.
I finally decided to buy and plant a bare-rooted Quince tree. Bare-rooted trees are perfect to plant at this time of year (unless your ground is soggy of course). The advantage of bare-rooted trees is that they are usually cheaper than pot grown trees, but they can only be planted while the tree is dormant.
A couple of years ago, Rob Carter (the head gardener at Eco House in Leicester), gave me some Quinces to try and I made Quince jelly and it was wonderful. So this was my inspiration for buying the tree.
I actually bought the tree on Ebay from ‘Beechwood Nurseries’ for £19.99. I had recently been selling one or two things on ebay and I decided to treat myself with the proceeds.
The tree arrived and when I had finally unwrapped it (I have never seen so much wrapping in all my life), the tree appeared to have a good root system.
For those that have never planted a bare-rooted tree before, this is how to do it:
Planting a bare-rooted tree
It’s important not to let the roots dry out, so as soon as I unwrapped the tree, I then soaked the roots for a few hours in water.
I dug a hole large enough to spread the roots out and deep enough so the soil sits just below the ‘bulge’ where the top part of the tree (the scion) was grafed onto the rootstock.
I then made holes with my fork, all over the area at the bottom of the holes to help with drainage.
At this stage you can coat your tree roots with ‘mycorrhizal fungi’ which you can buy from most garden centres. This helps the tree roots to establish better, but I’ve got to say I never bother with it.
I then put the tree in the hole and positioned the tree stake. I find it better to put the stake in now, so I don’t damage the roots by hammering it in later.
I then fill the hole with a mixture of the soil I had taken out of the hole and lots of my homemade compost.
After half filling the hole, I tread all around the tree to make sure there are no air pockets
Then I continue to fill the hole and repeat with my foot when it is full.
I then give the tree a good watering to allow the compost/soil to settle around the tree
I then use a tree tie to secure the tree to the stake.
And then I gave it a quick prune.
There is some really good advice about ‘formative pruning’ here on the RHS website.
Please remember, you can’t prune plum or cherries at this time of year.
And now I look forward to lots of Quinces in a few years.
Thank you for reading my blog today.
I will be back on Monday at my usual time.