Like most gardeners, I yearn for the warmer Spring weather as this is a time when we can start to get productive in the garden or the allotment. Perhaps though I am a fair-weather gardener because really there should be no excuse for not working on the allotment even in the depths of the winter as there is always something to do. Tasks such as digging are great to do in the winter as this is vital prep for Spring seed sowing. So, if you haven’t got out into your veg patch yet, now is the time to dig it over. Don’t forget though to spread a good layer of Wonderpost on the ground and as you turn over the soil with your spade you will be incorporate valuable organic matter into your veg patch, a process that will give your veg a super-powered growing environment this year.…
Very hard work
Now that Summer is over and our thoughts turn to Christmas shopping, and whether we really want the mother-in-law (or father-in-law, for that matter) for Christmas lunch, we mustn’t forget our gardens, because we are parent, guardian, and mother-in-law to a piece of land that is not going to go on holiday, or gives us a break by having it’s own Christmas lunch. Your garden needs all the love it can get, and we can help by undertaking the following 5 best soil improvement tasks.…
Firstly, a little story about ignorance…
We’ve got a neighbour who had a beautiful little apple tree in their garden. It wasn’t very old, maybe ten years, but it gave a little fruit every year that was passable. What was very nice is that some branches hung over our back fence and we’d eat the apples that dropped into our garden. Very neighbourly as we’d bring the woman who lived there a bottle of wine every now and again.
Anyway, we got home one day to witness the son chopping it down. Charlotte was very upset because the tree was like a family member and she decided to displace her rage by planting a couple of apple trees in our garden, which is not big. Her mum, Jane, left her a couple of really beautiful Italianate terra cotta’s that just seemed ideal. We, of course, used Wonderpost to help the trees feel comfortable in their new home.
So not really a tale of the allotment, but perhaps in the spirit of the allotment, and a tale of hope in the face of ignorance. I mean, chop down an apple tree, really!!!
Can it get any easier?
When I first discovered horticulture at the tender age of 17 I was interested in getting some ‘easy wins’ in the garden. Well, it doesn’t come much easier than Rhubarb. This fantastic plant is so easy to grow and yields edible red stalks – and by the way, the redder the stalks, the sweeter the flavour.
As a keen amateur cook I often use Rhubarb in my recipes and have recently taken to making some Rhubarb vodka too. So it seemed only right that we should plant some Rhubarb crowns in the Wonderpost allotment. I choose the variety ‘Red Champagne’ which is a sweet tasting early fruiting variety. This variety is readily available in most garden centres and is typically sold as an unpotted ‘crown’. If you miss the chance to buy the crowns this autumn then don’t worry because most garden centres sell potted varieties of Rhubarb in the Spring.
Rhubarb likes to be planted in an open, sunny position and needs soil that is well drained. Just as well, really, as our
Ideally we do not want to harvest the stalks next Spring as we need to allow the newly planted crowns to establish a root system but in March 2020 what, I’m going to put an upturned bucket over the crowns – this will encourage the stalks to grow as they are searching for light and will produce some delicious fresh stalks. I’ve then got two choices – either make more vodka or some Rhubarb and ginger jam.
I’ve gone garlic mad!
As a vegetarian I find onions an essential ingredient in a savoury dish and of course they are fantastically versatile. Onions for me are a natural choice to plant in the Wonderpost allotment and so after several weeks of travelling I was able to get on to the allotment this week and start to do some gardening. It felt fantastic to be outside with the sun on my back and breathing in the Suffolk air (carry on like this and I’m in danger of getting poetically!). Tuesday was a great day for gardening, so I packed up my tools in the car and drove over to Roger’s. In my absence he has been working hard on the allotment, putting in rabbit fencing and even a scarecrow!
I have planted two types of onions. The variety called Electric has pink tinged flesh and the other variety, Troy is a white onion with good resistance to disease. To thrive onions require a well prepared bed with soil that is free draining that’s fine for us as that is exactly what we have in Hasketon at the allotment.
I planted the onion sets in two rows 25 of each went into the half of the plot that has been prepared with our brilliant Wonderpost soil improver, the other 25 went in the half that we have left untreated. I did put an application of Fast Grow Seaweed fertiliser on to both sides of the plot and used an application rate of 150 grams per sq metre.
In true management style I delegated the watering to Roger but they also got a good soak on Wednesday night when it rained a bit. I’ve also delegated to Roger the task of looking at the new planting to make sure that birds have not disturbed the sets. He is going to need to do this until growth starts (I haven’t told him that yet!).
The onions will be ready to harvest in mid Summer when the leaves begin to die down.
If you lived in Woodbridge during the 1980’s you might remember a fancy restaurant called La Provencal up on Market Hill? They used to make a wonderful French onion soup and I would love to recreate this recipe with our Wonderpost fuelled onions but there’s a problem I don’t eat any meat products and this recipe requires a decent beef stock!
Ah well, I will have to try and think of another signature onion dish.
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