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the

Green Bean

N e w s l e t t e r o f t h e Wi c k h a m R o a d A l l o t m e n t

Happy New Year everyone. We hope this year will bring you happiness and success in life, not least

on your allotment. Now is a good time to be thinking about what you want to achieve on your patch in the coming year. The committee hopes that we will all keep up the high standards of the Wickham Road Allotment. Please make sure that your own patch is in fine fettle. Pathways between the patches also need regular maintenance. Strimmers and mowers are available. Just ask for a key. Key holders are listed in the trading shed. We also intend, where possible, to have more working parties to improve general tidiness and to help more infirm plot holders. New volunteers to join the regular band will be most welcome. An email will be sent out when a working party is planned. Please also look out for notices on the gates and in the trading shed.

!

Jan/Feb 2014

Water, Water, Everywhere!

This is how the site looked at the height of the New Year deluge. Below is the water channel dug by Dave, the secretary, to drain away some of the water on his plot. Has anyone ever seen anything like this here before? Pete, the chairman, says it’s the worst rainfall that he’s seen in over 10 years on the site. Hopefully it will drain away quite soon, but the lower end of the site could well remain water-logged for some time. Walking on saturated soil can damage its structure, considerably lessening the chances of having a good crop. If you have any excess stones please spread them around the lower car park. We want to strengthen it. Hopefully the next time there is a downpour cars will be able to park without churning the ground. PAGE 1


A few Tips for January Digging: Not a good idea till the water is thoroughly drained. Digging will impact waterlogged soil. Planning: Now is a good time to plan ahead what you’d like to grow through the coming year. Seeds: Now is also a good time to order seeds & anything else you intend to plant. Cleaning/ sterilizing: Pots, seed trays & cloches need cleaning to get rid of any potentially harmful diseases or viruses that could be passed onto your new plants. This is a useful job at this time of the year. Fumigating green houses with a sulphur candle. is also a good idea, to !

kill off any unwanted bugs etc. Don’t breath in the fumes! Jeyes fluid (usually available at all garden centres) is useful for cleaning windows & inside. Jeyes fluid can also be used for sterilizing soil, to eliminate diseases that harm onions and garlic. Stored Crops: check and remove any rotting and mouldy ones. Rhubarb crowns: You can lift & divide old unproductive rhubarb crowns & then replant with plenty of added wellrotted manure. Rhubarb will survive the cold but doesn’t like being waterlogged.

The Sunday Shop is closed at present. If you need anything just ask Pete, Dave or one of the committee members.

and a few tips for February Chitting: You can begin chitting seed potatoes. Sowing outdoors: Few seeds will germinate if sown outdoors now, but seeds can be planted indoors to produce seedlings that can be planted out in the spring. Planting outdoors: Shallots and garlic can be planted now if the soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged. Early varieties of turnip can be sown under cover. Also broad beans, but sow these in pots indoors if the ground is still very cold. Peas can also be sown outdoors under cloches if the ground has been warmed up beforehand by being covered. Sowing indoors: Any/all of: brussels sprouts, broad beans, globe artichokes, kohl rabi, leeks, lettuces, onions, radishes, salad leaves, spinach, sprouting broccoli and tomatoes. Digging: If the ground is not frozen or too wet then (unless you are a no-digging gardener) why not dig over your plot? Rhubarb: You can cover rhubarb with bins or special pots to force through new shoots. Swedes: lift any swedes still in the ground or they could become too coarse and woody to eat. March /April edition Please let us have contributions for the next edition by the last Monday in February. This could be a piece you’ve written, a question that you would like discussed, or a photograph, or two.

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Pruning Time is Here The dormant period for trees and bushes is between November and February, so this

is the time for pruning. If you have nets around fruit cages and you haven’t taken them down yet, you ought to do so. The weight of any snow on the nets might buckle your frame. Also birds entering the area will now be beneficial. They gobble up lurking insects and their eggs. Weed thoroughly around the tress and bushes, and spread mulch around the base of the plants. Where branches are rubbing together, cut out the weaker ones. Also cut out dead, diseased and damaged branches. For heavy branches, either cut in stages or ask for some help.

On gooseberry and currant bushes, cut out shoots that cross over the centre of the bush. For blackcurrant bushes remove

between a quarter and a third of the oldest stems cutting back to just 1inch above the soil. Also take away any weak or crowded branches. This will allow light in and stimulate new growth. If you have a fig tree, remove all unripened fruit but leave the small embryo

figs in place. They should fruit in the coming year. If you have any apple or pear trees, cut back to the main stem branches that are growing inwards to the centre of the tree. Shorten by a half or a third any branches that have grown too long. Make saw cuts at an angle sloping gently downwards so that rain runs off, reducing the risk of rotting. Cut out new shoots from around the cuts of previous pruning: they are unlikely to bear fruit. Don’t over prune or the tree could put more energy into producing new foliage than fruit. For cherries, peaches, and apricots, use a wound seal whenever you cut in order to seal the cut and avoid infection.

Please, when you take council mulch, don’t leave the larger bits of twigs and branches that you don’t want. When you’ve taken your mulch please take the unwanted bigger pieces to the burning area. Thank you. Please also always put wheelbarrows back where you find them. Lately many wheelbarrows have been left on allotments. This creates a problem for those who cannot find a spare wheelbarrow to use. Thank you. !

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Ants climbing your trees? Now is a good time to apply grease bands or paint near the base of your trees to protect them. If you have a stake tied to the tree make sure that the grease is above the stake. Spraying apple and pear trees Apple and pear trees can benefit from a winter wash spray. It should be be applied every month, beginning now. It’s available from garden centres.

Forthcoming Events The AGM takes place in March. We also hope to have at least three cook-yourown-food barbecues this year, with prizes, including ‘best plot’, at the July one (more about this in the next edition). In November there’ll be a bonfire. Please look out for emails and notices on gates and in the trading shed. Below is a photo of this year’s really successful bonfire.

Ever Tried Grafted Plants? Grafted vegetable have been around commercially for some-time. Now amateurs like us can buy our own grafted stock. It’s available for aubergines, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, sweet potato, melons, and squashes. One dealer, Suttons, says that gardeners can expect up to 75% more crop! All areas of the plants' growing lifecycle are improved. There are big increases in yield, from larger, more vigorous plants that have the ability to grow in greenhouses or outdoor with little or no heating required. They are resistant to soil-borne pests and diseases and you could start cropping earlier in spring and continue later into autumn, giving you a much longer picking time. Grafted vegetables are particularly recommended for greenhouse growing, where they will fulfil their full potential, but they also perform well in sunny, sheltered spots outside. If you do buy grafted vegetables, please let us know how you get on with them.

And finally... did you know...

Contacting the Chairman & Secretary Chairman - Pete Marsh, 077 468 12234 Secretary - Dave Arnott, 020 8658 8411 dave.arnott@davearnott.co.uk !

Basil is a great source of magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamin A. Basil oil is a traditional treatment for insect bites & bee stings. The Ancient Greeks & Romans thought basil would only grow if you screamed wild curses and shouted while sowing the seeds. John Keats wrote a narrative poem, published in 1820 entitled: “Isabella, or The Pot of Basil.” To grow basil in London you’d need to do so indoors, especially in the cold wet days of January or February.

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The Green Bean Newsletter jan feb 2014  

Wickham Road Allotment Newsletter

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