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Week three

Standard Fuchsias kept inside away from frost can be pruned now and repotted. If the weather is favourable first sowings outside can begin under cloches. If the ground is frozen it's a good time to barrow farmyard manure to strategic locations in the vegetable garden ready for digging in after the sprouts and leeks are over and the ground becomes available for another crop.

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Gardening diary week three Jan 14 - Jan 21

Links to weeks throughout the year
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Thursday 19th January 2016 Digging, digging, digging, weeding, weeding, weeding. I'm getting seeds beds ready for this year's carrots. As my apple grafting was a success last year so I have cut some more scion wood ready for grafting later this year. The twigs are now in the fridge wrapped in a plastic bag.


I have been working on the corner of the plot digging up the remaining Jerusalem Artichokes and cleaning the area up ready for a delivery of muck that I must get on the phone and order.

Although it is still winter there are plenty of jobs to do now. All the fruit trees and bushes need pruning and weeding, and when the muck arrives, feeding. I have also begun to prepare some ground for the new potatoes. New potatoes will soon be for sale in the allotment shed.

Moving the little pond hasn't gone quite to plan as it appears to now have a leak.

The first of the snowdrops and aconites are bravely trying to bloom but so far none of the bees have found them I fear, because although we have had some sunny days the air has still been quite cold. The queen starts to lay eggs again now so fresh pollen will be needed to feed the brood soon.


Saturday January 19th 2008 A warm damp day that turned to a steady rain by the time it got dark. Much to the head gardeners annoyance I weeded the bed of Aconites that I planted under the small apple tree last year. I have some more plants to move there in a week or so when the plants have grown a little bigger.
I planted a few Jerusalem Artichokes back along the edge of the plot in front of the muck heap. They have done really well there in the last couple of years and provide a usefull screen in the summer months..
Continued pruning the apple trees. Today's photographs

January 16th 2008 It was the first warm sunny day of the year and the bees were out and about. There is a lot of pruning to do in the allotment and I'm working on the apple trees and all of the soft fruit (apart from the summer raspberries) is still yet to be done. Every year I cut what seems to be large amounts from the bigger apple trees and yet by the time the next year comes around there is still plenty to be removed.
The aconites are flowering. The early snowdrops are flowering as some of the later varieties are just beginning to emerge from under the ground.

Picture gallery 16-1-08


Monday 22nd January 2007 There was a stiff breeze coming from the north-east but the ground isn't frozen and needs digging. I've made a start on the head gardener's plot.

For a short respite from the wind I 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 and I guess it’s got it’s roots well down in the soil now. It certainly gave it’s best crop ever last year.

Last years snowdrop seed has begun to sprout.

Sunday 21st January 2007 I moved the first of the snowdrops into the new bed that I spent much of last year preparing and (followed tip from the BBC today) potted up some strawberries plants and put them into the greenhouse.

I made a start on cleaning up and feeding the asparagus bed.

Saturday 20th January 2007 The big apple tree that gave us such a tremendous crop this year hasn't had much pruning since I took the plot 5 or 6 years ago. A couple years back (2005) I did take one major branch from near the bottom of the tree, but most of the tree hasn't been pruned for years. So today I took a step ladder up to the plot and have started cutting out some of the branches. Where branch cross each other they tend to rub in the wind and over time the rubbing can cause a wound. Gradually as the branches grow bigger the wounds get worse that not only weakens the branch at that point but also lets in disease. I am cutting out some of the branches and in particular those that are already dead, cross one another and touch, or are just week and feeble and in the wrong place.

I’am still moving aconites from under the big apple tree to a new plantation under a smaller one. I’m a little concerned that I may be planting them too closely together. They look like quite small plants at the moment but they have only just started into growth again and when full grown I may find that they are overcrowded.

I planted more shallots this time in my plot not far from the aconites. When I come to crop the shallots the aconites will be just a memory with their corms sitting under the surface of the soil waiting for winter and the beginning of 2008.

gale damage Friday January 19 2007 Gales
We have had gale force winds this week and as today was calm, warm, and sunny it was a chance to check out the damage. The spare supers that had been stacked up like a tower block was blown over and was covered in bees that had found honey in some of the frames. All of the five hives on the allotment had flying bees today.

Planted the first of this years shallots.


Saturday 14th January 2006

I'm beginning to clear up around the old gooseberry bushes as they need weeding, pruning, and feeding now.

I had my first fire of the year today. The old oil drum is looking a little worse for wear and I doubt I will get another season out of it after this one. It will be just another piece of non-organic rubbish to get rid of.

I am determined that this year I'm going to get my plot completely clear of non organic rubbish. Plastic pots and recycled plastic containers from the kitchen that I used to take to the allotment years ago. Odd bits of metal used by previous tenants. Empty plastic compost bags etc. etc. If the spare pots can't go into the shed they will have to go. Rubbish gives a great home to wildlife but in my case I have too much of the wrong kind of wildlife.

I gave the small pear trees a good thick mulch of old farmyard manure from what is left of last years delivery. I must give the asparagus bed some as well and I must get on with pruning the apple trees, gooseberries, blackberries and the tayberry. Tayberry

Sunday 15th Jan 2006

We are in a mild spell at the moment with Southerly/Westerly winds. The ground in the allotment is in perfect condition for digging. There is stretch of ground next to my asparagus bed where I have grown celeriac in the last couple of years. Although the celeriac did really well last I generally think that growing the same thing in same place year in year out is not a good plan (runner beans excepted) so I have planted shallots there instead this year. I might be able to sneak in some garlic or carrots as well.

The asparagus bed looks better now as I have cleaned it up and removed all of last years old stalks. I have put several barrow loads of muck on the bed but it will need several more to cover it all completely.

I started to clean up the area under the mirabelle plum tree for the snowdrop seedlings.


Pruned the old apple tree in the back garden for the first time in years and it looks quite sparse now. Planted three rows of shallots in Geoff's end apiary plot. Moved more Snowdrops and aconites from the old apiary to the allotment.


Saturday 16th Sunday 17th 2004
Saturday was not so dry and I spent the day on a visit to the bee equipment supplier and Reads nursery and later in the garage making up a new bee hive. I have to give a talk on beekeeping after the allotment committee meeting and thought that showing how a complete hive is put together maybe worth doing. Sunday was a bright sunny day and we had to agree on a site for our new green house.

At this time of the year it is easy not only to see which broad beans are missing in a row but to transplant new ones to replace those that have been stolen by rodents or birds.

My hedge of blackberries gets pruned and cleaned up once a year. It is in fact not just blackberries but also Mirabelle or Cherry plums (I'm not sure you can strictly call mine Mirabelle) planted along the row plus a peach and a couple of dog roses for the wildlife. Underneath it's the most shaded spot in my plot.

The old blackberry canes burn well and will in turn get spread as ash on the ground one rainy day in the future.

Planted out a few lettuce under Geoff's warm south facing fence.


Saturday the 15th sees my first visit to the apiary this year. A sad sight. The apiary is surrounded by sweet chestnut trees who's wet soggy fallen leaves are everywhere smothering all kinds of over wintering herbs and 'bee' plants. I uncovered the hollows in the rock garden before setting to work on weeding

The first brave flowers of the year. The yellow winter aconites have been planted with the bees in mind. If there are any nice warm sunny days in the next few weeks some of the bees will be out looking for early flowers.


Week three Jan 15th - Jan 21st

Pruning and planting more shallots.

My allotment has three old apple trees. The middle tree is a Worcester Pearman. Although a bright red apple I don't find it a particularly pleasant eating apple and it doesn't keep. It also won't stay on the tree for long when it's ripe, one gale at the wrong time and the floor is carpeted with windfalls. This particular tree suffers quite badly from canker, as in fact do all my old trees. But it crops organic fruit reliably every year and I understand is a great pollinator for the other varieties, so I won't remove it, as one may be tempted to do.

I am pruning it hard however, removing all the branches below head height in order to grow as much underneath it as possible. I'm trying to find the right combination of plants so that the ground is clear when the apples begin to drop. This year I'm growing tulips (looking back this wasn't a great success and I won't grow them there again - currently I'm growing broad beans there and moving some to fill in the gaps in rows elsewhere).
Note 2007: For the last two years it has had snowdrops growing there, but they are all about to be moved and the ground is going to be cleaned out, weeded and kept empty until late in the autumn. There has been some bindweed moving in over the years and I'm going to get it all out before it becomes too big a problem. Maybe this time next year (2008) I may put snowdrops there again.

Hard pruning an old apple tree is a matter of patience cutting one or two large branches off each year. After several years the job on this tree is nearly done.


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