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Week 4

Things you can do this week
The herbaceous border can be prepared for further planting. Plants can be temporarily lifted and kept in clumps for some time, if given some protection, allowing you to revitalise the bed (Compost, manure, bone meal or a dressing of blood fish and bone would be appreciated) before they return to a re-planned colour and planting scheme.
Plant more shallots.

Links to weeks throughout the year
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Gardening diary week 4 - beekeeping blog

January 22nd to January 28th

Monday January 25th 2009 I have been cleaning up under the dwarf cooking apple at the end of the plot behind the water tap. I haven't this year dug up all the Star Of Bethlehem that grow under the tree but I have pulled out a lot of spear grass and yellow root stinging nettle and dug all around the edge of the patch. Next to the tree are four relatively new black current bushes that I also been weeding and feeding. It's amazing just much weed gets in amongst their roots and how hard it is to get it out. Two done two to go. I haven't pruned any of these new bushes yet. I will next year by cutting out some of the old wood as opposed to new wood as I do with gooseberries and red currents.

The stinging nettles have also run riot under the greengage tree amongst the snowdrops and I can still feel my hands tingling from the stings those nettles inflicted on me some four of five hours ago.

The snowdrops seem to be on short stems this year. Maybe that is as results of the hard frosts at the start of the year.

Sunday 24th January 2009 It was raining again today. But a trip to the allotment was required as the allotment shed was open today for the first time this year. I bought four bags of potatoes, Maris Bard (early) Wilja (mid season or second early) Picasso and Desiree (a white and a red main crop). I also bought a small bag of shallots and a packet of early leek seed. Despite the drizzle I pruned the apple tree in the back garden as the head gardeners instruction.
Sunday January 28th 2007 It was a nice day to be out in the allotment and now increasingly there is plenty to get done. The fruit trees still need more pruning and there is a lot ground left to dig.

The allotment shop opened for the first time this year in the shed and a frenzy of seed potato purchasing commenced. I bought my usual Maris Bard earlies and a new one to me called Winston and I sold another red gooseberry bush.

Saturday January 26th 2007 After a week of frost and snow today was a nice day and we took a trip out to the country to buy some new trellace. In order to match those we already have we will now have to have them made to measure. Whilst we were out we dropped into Peter Beales roses.

Saturday January 27th 2007
We bought three roses at Peter Beales this Saturday. Ghislaine de Féligonde, Rambling Rector and City of York. The Rambling Rector is going to replace the Mary Wallace along the south fence and the other go along the south facing border the new trellace when it has been constructed. I couldn't resist buying a couple of perennials as well - a white Aster 'Snowcushion' and a Coreopsis Grandiflora Illico.

Monday 22nd January 2007 There was a stiff breeze coming from the north-east but the ground wasn't frozen and needed digging.

I took a little respite from the wind and finished pruning the grape vine that is supported along the south and west facing sides of the shed. I planted this vine many years ago now so I guess itís got itís roots well down in the soil. It certainly gave itís best crop ever last year.


We have had a few mild and sunny days in the week leading up to this weekend. It has been warm enough for the very first of the aconites to flower pushing their brave little yellow flowers up above the ground before any of their leaves appear. The snowdrops are trying hard to flower as well, but finding it slow going so far.

I split my large perennial poppy last year and planted them out under the apple tree. They did well and I have moved three plants back into the garden where they were when we bought the house 25 years ago. Once established they grow well and flower every year without needing any help in particular save to occasional light general feed of some sort.


Saturday January 22nd and Sunday January 23rd 2005 The weekend was cold but not frozen enough to stop the moving of Snowdrops and aconites to under the central Worcester Pearman apple tree. I gave the tree another hard prune this year although there isn't much hard pruning of large branches left to do now. I hope the tree provides enough shade to keep the snowdrops happy. I also cut a large branch of the big old cooking apple tree in No84. That tree will take many years of hard pruning from now on to get it into shape.

My peas sown at the beginning of december are getting stolen as they come through the ground and it looks like I will have to sow some more.,

I also split up a big perennial red poppy into pieces and planted them out in a row hoping that I will have ten plants instead of one by this time next year.

There is plenty of clearing up and digging to do right now and all the the gooseberries still need pruning. As I left the plot on Sunday a cold sleety rain started coming down. Snow is forecast for the next day or two.


Sunday 25th January 2004

The allotment shed was open for the first time this year and doing a great trade in new potatoes, shallots, onions sets and seed. I bought some Maris Bard early potatoes, some onion sets, two packets of carrot seed and a packet of onion seed. I planted out four rows of onion sets and lightly covered them with soil to hide them from the birds. I have quite a crop of self sown lettuce on my raised bed and have planted out a few under glass and a row in the open - whether they with survive the weather remains to be seen. If the weather turns really harsh there is little point in sowing carrot seed yet - but I did anyway. Carrot seed seems to be able to just sit and wait until conditions are right for germination.

Saturday 24th January 2004

A bright fine sunny day found me in the apiary for the first time this year and the snowdrops were out, the aconites were out and for a while the bees were also out - so that hive has survived so far. Indeed, there were live bees in all of the the hives, so with a bit of luck they will all get through the winter OK. The winter, so the weather forecast says, is about to arrive in the next week. Cold conditions and snow are forecast. My apiary is in a clearing at the edge of small wood that was once one large patch of stinging nettles and rubbish and although the rubbish was cleared up and remove and the whole area dug over relatively easily the nettles are not as easily removed and keep creeping in from the edges or from any areas that I don't keep on top of. So I am gradually moving into the wood removing the nettles around the edges and planting snowdrops and aconites as I go.


Sunday 26th January 2003

The warm weather continued today although it wasn't as sunny as it was yesterday, it was dead still and unseasonable warm. I watched eight noisy magpies sorting out who was flying with whom in the large beach tree at the far end of the allotment site.

Half a row of potatoes that I covered with a layer of weeds (collected whilst digging the adjacent rows that I will burn later) survived the few weeks of frost that we have had so far this winter and were the last of the 2002 crop to dig (with the exception of another half row of Pink Fir Apple).

I bought five three kilo bags of seed potatoes from the allotment shed. Concord (early) Wilja (mid season) Kestrel (mid to late) and Romano (pink and late). Romano is the only one that I hadn't bought before. Concord was new to me last year and although I tended to dig it in mid season it came up very clean and was easy to prepare in the kitchen. I have grown Kestrel for the last two years (on Bernie's advice) and found it to be a heavy cropping variety. Wilja I have grown for many years and although it is doesn't produce the same size of potato as Kestrel it is a clean well shaped summer crop with a thin skin that is welcomed in the kitchen

I also bought two half kilo bags of onion sets one red one yellow and a packet of carrot seed. I planted out three rows of the red onions sets and still have plenty left.

I still have lots of pruning to do.

Saturday 25th January 2003

Today was mixed bright and sunny with showers and rainbows. In the allotment the bees were getting out and about, although only one hive was really buzzing with activity. All four of the hives in the two allotments have survived so far but the two hives in the apiary has succumbed to the winter and will have to started again later this year. I gave two of the hives some food and put a super on the busy hive. That hive has the oldest queen that I have got. She started laying in 2001 so this will her third a probably final year. This hive will be the first to be split in two this year.

I cleaned the soil from around the shallots that I planted on the shortest day last year and planted another four rows. Last years shallots planted on the traditional shortest day bolted almost down the last plant so I don't think putting them in month later will do much harm. I have three lots of broad beans growing and two of peas. They needed hoeing, and in the case of some the beans the gaps filling where the bean had been stolen. Those left were sown twice as close together as they should be so there will be plenty of plants to move around later as broad beans don't seem to mind being moved when just a few inches high.


Saturday 22nd digging the allotment has to begin, even though the cold North wind kept bringing squally rain.

Sunday 23rd The year in the allotment has now really begun for me. The spring cabbages planted out last October needed hoeing. The first row of shallots that have been hanging in a bag since early last summer are now sitting under small heaps of soil 9 or ten inches apart hidden from the black birds who would pull half of them up if they could see them. Once they have established a root structure to hold them in place I will uncover them.

Today was a much nicer day for digging and I have plenty of rough digging to do. The day ended with the unexpected unearthing of the bean robbers who's cozy nest I had dug up. One mouse first running in one direction and then the second running in the other. Will they find each other again? Or will the cat get them first? One thing is for sure, if they do get back together they will have to make a new home, however, in my chaotic, wild life friendly plot, that shouldn't prove too difficult.


Week four Jan 21st - Jan 28th

Still planting shallots and pruning.

Winter's effect on my waistband is taking some time to be redressed and my digging activities are need of some considerable increase. That's the reason I'm still planting shallots.

My soil is very sandy and doesn't need digging in the Autumn. I leave digging until the spring, or in fact, to any time of the year when I need the ground.

My sprout bed doesn't get dug at all but very frequently hoed. I believe my light soil when compacted helps to prevent the sprouts from 'blowing'. I can also lime it more heavily than if it was in rotation in order to keep club root at bay. I've begun pruning and mulching the Gooseberries.

UK Gardening Weekly tips.

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