(This post is not sponsored - just advice).
I was down in Dublin today and had a quick look in Woodies DIY. They have some good deals on bulbs and seeds. They are selling off their bulb range at 50% off (including onion sets). It is not too late to plant them - especially as it is so mild at the moment. I got a large bag of Daffs with orange centres for five euro. Not bad at all.
(This post is not sponsored - just advice).
I didn't spend long at the plot today, nor did I do any gardening - except in my mind!
I leant on the fence that surrounds all of our plots and just had a think. I thought about my successes this year - particularly a few nice red cabbages, strawberries and kale. I also thought about some things that I have learnt over the last couple of years. The most important thing was to work with the soil and site that you have - not against it. Think about the plants that like the conditions you have.
I also had a quick look around the other plots. Some were covered for the winter, some dug over, some left to fend for themselves.
There is a certain feeling, though, that "planning the plot for next year" feeling, the anticipation of the spring, dreaming about being able to grow all sorts of flowers and veg. That is what December is for!
Sometimes, you only need a few minutes at the plot.
The sun was low and clear. It was cool but not cold. I tidied up a little, then gathered a few things. All around, the birds were singing.
Allotments offer far, far more than meets the eye. Yes vegetables and even flowers, but peace, quiet and an incredible store for nature. Many allotments are a last refuge for nature in an increasingly urban world.
Visit this site - they need support:
- an allotment site in Watford with over 100 years of history.
On a lighter note, I picked this selection of fresh greens from the plot today.
It struck me, that in the days before fridges, people would leave hardy veg like this kale and cabbage standing out during the winter to harvest as needed. It is no accident that there are at least three traditional dishes from Ireland/Northern Ireland with cabbage or kale as a main ingredient.
Today I managed to get to the plot after work for 45 minutes, before darkness descended.
I rooted out some couch grass that had taken hold here and there. That is my weed enemy no. 1.
A cheerful robin kept me company. I suspect it was not my conversation he was after!
I also got the chance to take a snap or two. This is a red cabbage grown from seed. Unfortunately I cannot remember the variety. I managed to get a few cabbages all the way to the head stage this year - delighted with that!
I also have some curly Kale standing out. This is Black Kale, possibly a Tuscan variety... I bought these as young plants - six of them - and all six are doing fine.
You can see the dew gathered thickly on this leaf. Elsewhere on the plot, the frost never melted at all today.
This allotment and the allotment holders are under serious threat of closure
from their own council. The allotment site is 100 years old. Support them.
Visit their website to read about their problems.
It looks like a nice,big allotment site on google maps:
I have been busy with some of the less obvious tasks that can be done around the garden during winter. These are Calendula (pot marigold) seeds. They have been drying on the plant. You can collect a huge number of seeds completely for free. I also intend to keep some mallow seeds this year. I like both calendula and mallow - they are not difficult to grow here and they provide a lot of beautiful, unashamed colour for many months. All I do is wait until the seed heads have dried on the plants. You can also cut and hang them to dry. I store the seeds in cheap brown envelopes with the name of the plant and a date of when I collected them. I then keep them in a cool spot indoors in a large plastic container.
An added bonus of the Calendula is that the seed can produce all sorts of different flowers - from yellows to oranges, and even different shapes and sizes of flower. You never know what you will get!
According to my car thermometer, the temperature barely made it above zero degrees today in County Antrim. Tonight it will be very cold indeed.
As much as it can be trouble and even worrying, I like a good spell of frost. It reminds us of the cycle of nature and the changing seasons. For gardeners, it breaks the soil up into a fine, crumbly texture.
I also enjoy the look of those crisp, frosty mornings. ..
Well it seems that I haven't updated the blog in a while!
I went to the allotment today to find a deserted site with abandoned bean poles everywhere. People have bedded down for the winter, with little sign of any ongoing work.
Today, I cleared up a load of leaves and added them to my compost bin. They will make a fine compost in time. I also weeded an area that had been dug over. I covered another large bed with thick black sheeting. I did this last year and it gave me lovely weed-free soil by spring.
I was also pleased - I have several brussell sprouts still coming along and I managed to grow some red cabbage this year. They have small, but nice heads.
Other successes this year:
My comfrey eventually came on well.
It was a very poor year for potatoes. Only very small and sparse tubers.
I will post again soon...
I planted out my Brussels Sprouts - nine plants, and three Green Kale plants. I raised them all from seed, potted them up a while back. Now they must fend for themselves... almost... this year I made them a brassica net from net, old metal chair legs and bamboo. I hope it keeps them safe. Cutworm seems to be my worst enemy - two years in a row I lost every single brassica to these little grubs. This year I wrapped the lower parts of the cabbage stems in tin foil. Might work.
I didn't wrap the kale or sprouts. I might not - and see it as an experiment in cutworm deterrent this year.
The weather has finally warmed up a bit. Weed seeds are germinating everywhere now. Time to get the hoe busy!
It really has been unusually cold.
Not much growth from anything really. The peas and beans are just sitting there waiting. I have two 14 foot rows of peas in now. The two short rows with an earlier vriety called meteor are coming along slowly. I have some Milan Purple Top turnips that made an appearance and then stopped growing. Same with the lettuce and even the radishes.
I am going to put out some red cabbage this weekend. I really hope not to lose them to cutworm this year. I also have three nice Kale plants to go out. They should be fine - sturdy things!
The garlic I planted back in February is doing well. There are also some raspberry plants coming along nicely that made their own way in from another plot - nothing like free plants!
My neighbour is a very generous man too - and he gave me more strawberry runners than I could use. He is a really decent man!