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Week 51

Things you can do this week
The traditional time for planting shallots is the shortest day December 21st - harvesting on the longest day June 21st although these dates don't appear to be critical and are often impossible due to winter weather conditions. It's more important to plant in frost free soil, starting as early as November if you wish, and harvesting when the bulbs are totally dry. The best time for harvesting seems to depend on variety as much as planting time.
Plant more garlic.

Gardening diary week 51 - bee blog

December 16th to December 23rd

Links to weeks throughout the year
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December 20th. Today wasn't cold for the the time of year but it was very damp with a very slow constant gentle rain coming down all afternoon. I did get steadily wet as I worked in the allotment but not drenched. I have nearly finished cleaning up under the peach tree and did a little more work on the small pond that I have re-sited there. I have put sacking around the edge of the pond to cover the exposed plastic and hopefully that will give a base for something like moss or grass to grow on. The pond is there for the bees and the frogs and has native flag Iris growing in it. The uncultivated soil all around looks neat enough now but by the middle of next summer the whole area could be totaly overgrown. I not sure what attitude to have towards the stinging nettles that although I have dug them out I'm sure I will have left enough behind so that they will almost certainly re-colonise the area again by the time the summer comes.
As it was raining it was also a perfect opportunity to feed tha Japanese Onions, Leeks and Spring Cabbage with a heavy un-diluted liquid feed.
I cleaned up the asparagus bed cutting the old dry tops down and hoeing the bed over. And as the asparagus bed is near the compost heap it was easy to give it a good mulch of compost too. The compost came out of the first of the new pallet bins that I turned out earlier in the year.
Asparagus with berries on Asparagus with berries on before the cleanup
Asparagus is one of the most rewarding crops to grow in the allotment. It has it's own permanent site and needs little specialist care. It gives a reliable return for being fed and watered and once well established even suppresses many of the weeds itself. It can be grown from bought in roots (called crowns) or from seed sown early in April.
In the foreground of this photograph are Leamington cauliflowers that should crop next spring. They were planted where the 2008 Maris Bard new potatoes were growing this year. In fact there is still one row of the two rows of potatoes I planted there yet to dig up. Asparagus chat
Friday December 19th muck Delivered. Cleared up around small cooking apple tree. Planted out more small tulip bulbs. Click here to see the pictures - view in IE
The autumn sown broad beans are looking a little too good. A hard frost anytime now could do a lot of damage to such lush, soft, growth.

Our beans 2008 are nowhere near this big this week.

Sunday the 21 December 2003. As forecast the wind direction has moved around towards the North and snow is expected overnight. I spent some time in the allotment digging over the site where I will plant out next years shallots. In past years I would have made an effort to get some planted today - as the saying goes 'plant on the shortest day and harvest on the longest'. However those planted on the shortest day in the last few years have bolted so I am going to start planting a little later this year.

Saturday 20th December The weather today was coming from the west with strong winds and rain, although there was a useful break in the rain this Saturday pm.

My experiment of growing potatoes and runner beans in the same place has had mixed results this year. I grew two rows of runners one on each plot. One row was started early with the beans sown on the the 15th of March and another some weeks later. Each had newly purchased Romano seed potatoes planted in the with muck and compost with runners sown on top and down the sides.

The earliest row produced less of both runners and potatoes - although I thought earlier in year, and judging by the size of the potato plants, that I was going to get good potatoes at the beans expense. Not the case, the potatoes plants swamped the the runners but produced a small crop of small potatoes.

The later row had both better beans and bigger potatoes. The beans were better because they grew quickly enough to get up the canes before the potatoes had a chance to swamp them. And although the potatoes had a shorter growing season it was apparently plenty of time for them to produce potatoes of a reasonable size.

It is all a bit of a riddle really - I guess the answer must lie in the soil.

Next year I will sow my earliest runner beans in the traditional way - without potatoes. The later ones, however will have spuds under them again as getting a clean crop of non sprouting potatoes at this time of year is still very useful and it means that I dig the soil over. Not only that, I now have all of the poles and canes stored away before any more winter weather gets to them.


The shallots that I planted out at this time last year got off to a great start and looked wonderful for the first few months of the year last year --- but shock horror --- they bolted. Hardly a single clump in the row didn't have at least one bulb that had run up to seed.

This year I have changed the variety for early and only planted two rows. I will endeavour to plant some shallots each week now for the next few weeks.

For the first time ever I have completely cleared and dug over the ground where I have been growing runner beans for the last few years before Christmas. This is because I had the extra incentive of digging up the potatoes that had been growing in the middle of the of the two rows of runner beans. This year I will select a main crop variety and sow them first before growing the beans up over them.


21st December

Planted out shallots in freshly double dug allotment.

Urban Jungle Sell exotic and jungle plants including cannas, gingers, bananas, tree ferns, palms, bamboos and aroids by mail order and from their nursery in Norfolk.

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J&S Email Patrick for further information or telephone 01603 617632