Skip to main content

From Val's Plot

Autumn 2023

Late October 2023- the last of the root crops are being harvested to stop the rats / slugs and other wildlife from eating them; the apples are nearly all picked and what isn’t needed is going to the Share your Spare scheme with the local food pantries and community kitchens, which our allotments have joined. It’s been great to have an easy outlet for gluts of produce this year. Beans canes and pea supports have been pulled out and the plants jumped on to squash them down a bit and then covered in cardboard and left to the worms to work their magic.

February Growing Tips

This is the month where I plan to catch up with all the structural work that I haven’t got around to yet. I have been examining my raised beds and repairing or replacing the rotten edge boards, mending the shed from the rat attack, topping up the wood chippings on the paths and cleaning the greenhouse glass. I have been picking different types of Kale – black, curly and Uncle Bert’s (a heritage variety), savoy cabbages and parsnips. My leeks were a disaster last year as many bolted and then the later ones didn’t take off.

March Growing Tips

I am starting to uncover some of my beds from their cardboard coats, removing the slugs that have nestled under them as I do so. I dig out any nasty weeds such as ground elder and bind weed, but try not to disturb the soil too much, and put on bags of Dalesfoot compost where it is needed. I use raised beds and so mend any rotten boards or put back bricks that have wandered over the year. I have now planted my onions, shallot and broad beans out onto the beds. Next up is preparing the pea beds, making new cages to take the netting which is the only way to stop the wood pigeons from devouring them. Modules of peas and beetroot are in my greenhouse. I have a box of seeds ready to start sowing later in the month.

April Growing Tips

This is the month when we start seeing brighter sunnier days and can get fooled into planting things out too soon. The soil needs to warm up a bit more first and drain after all the heavy rain we have had recently. Seeds planted in cold wet soil will simply rot. So, as you get your beds ready don’t forget to add in as much compost as you can get and maybe add some pelleted fertiliser to scatter on prior to planting; I use the plant based one Viano and I have also bought some seaweed feed for giving everything a boost once they have started growing.

Winter on the Plot

At the beginning of December I stood on the plot and it was still very green. The green manures were still growing and the mustard had flowers that insects and bees were visiting. There were still rasperries on the canes and the brambles had green and red berries. So some of my usual jobs would have to wait. I merged some of my compost bins to give me more space and also to try and keep some heat in them so they would continue to rot down. I harvested sprouts, parsnips, black kale, autumn radishes and some white turnips. I started to clear some of the cabbage beds, collecting the last of the small heads and then covered the beds with cardboard weighted down with some bricks.

Growing Tips: Green Manure

It’s the middle of April and its still quite cold, it’s not yet warm enough to transplant the seedlings grown at home nor for direct sowings. I have been slowly uncovering my beds, lilting the cardboard coverings and despatching the slugs, spot weeding of couch grass and ground elder. I set up beer traps on the beds I plan to sow in the next couple if week. I have been emptying all my ready compost bins onto the beds.

May Growing Tips

Well, after a few weeks of really cold nights I suspect that the rest of the month will be spent moving plants from our windowsills, cold frames and greenhouses out into our plots and garden. Be careful though a some plants, like squashes and courgettes are not ready to go out in case we get some more cold evenings.
It’s time to sow beans, the second lot of peas, outdoor tomatoes and the later cabbages such as kale and purple sprouting.
Successional planting of salad seeds can continue. Carrots might need thinning.
On my plot, most plants need netting to keep off the pigeons and discourage other wildlife from enjoying my nice new plants!

August Growing Tips

As beds get cleared when crops are harvested, if you don’t have another crop ready to drop into them, then try a green manure. Some of the summer ones can be sown until the end of August – like clover, mustard and phacelia, and others can be sown in September and October – like field beans, yellow trefoil and grazing rye. Green manures can play a big part in preventing the winter heavy rain from washing out all the nutrients and damaging the soil structure. Covering exposed soil with cardboard over the winter can also help prevent soil damage and can be dug in before planting next spring.