January: Miles Ferrante

Miles’ allotment jobs for January

Only the mildest days are likely to draw you out to the allotment in January, but it’s the axiom of gardening that the early digger gets the crops.  So dig all available ground if the ground if it’s not too heavy and wet, if too much soil sticks to the spade then it’s too wet.  And if you can get hold of well-rotted manure, spread it over the surface of any empty beds and let the worms take it down, if there’s any left on top, dig it in around march time.

Spread lime over your soil (except where you plant potatoes or where you have spread manure) to sweeten the soil.  We have been led to believe that this may also deter mares tail, and we will actually be carrying out tests on an unrented plot to see if this is true.  We will advise on the results once the testing is complete.

Sow: 

  • Onions – you can sow these later, but the earlier you sow them the bigger they will be.  You can also buy onion sets from the allotment shop ready to plant out in February and March.
  • Tomatoes – for an early greenhouse crop.
  • Broad beans – available in shop.
  • Chilli
  • Aubergines
  • Radish
  • Peas – available in shop.
  • Winter salad leaves or winter lettuce.

 Veg:  

  • Order seed potatoes from shop and chit them before planting out in march.
  • Mulch asparagus beds with 2” of well-rotted manure.
  • Remove dead leaves from Brussel sprouts and other brassicas.

 Fruit:

  • Prune raspberries if not already done.
  • Complete fruit pruning (not stone fruits)
  • Force rhubarb for sweeter sticks.
  • Prune grapevines.
  • Plant fruit bushes and trees.
  • Renew grease bands around fruit trees.

 Harvest: 

  • Dig up and leave leeks and parsnips on top of the soil on a frosty night and the frost will sweeten them.

 Other jobs: 

  • Plan your crop rotation for 2017
  • Order seeds or buy them from the allotment shop, we have a good selection.
  • Tidy up shed.
  • Wash all pots and seed trays.
  • Clean greenhouse.
  • It’s a good time to look for slugs and snails under pots, wooden boards etc.
  • Start a compost heap.
  • Invest in a wormery.
  • Test your soil. You can test the Ph by using a kit, or send a sample away and have it tested properly.
  • Clean and sharpen tools.
  • Warm up beds for planting by covering them with sheets of polythene or cardboard.
  • Keep a diary.

A good tip for sowing onions is by sowing them in cells.  Then in the bottom put a good quality compost that has fertiliser included (such as the Vitax Q4 that is sold in the shop) then on top use a John Innes seed compost.  The seed will germinate in the John Innes compost, then once the roots start growing they will reach the good compost which will actually give them a huge boost.

If you haven’t done so already, check out the seeds, fertilisers, string, slug pellets, compost etc. in the allotment shop before buying in a garden centre or online, we are in general cheaper and all profit goes back into the society and helps to keep the rent lower.