Winters limits are behind us and the growing season is beginning again, says Barry Cuff – who has been for his annual potato shop
We continued to harvest fresh vegetables from our plot throughout January. They all survived the week of hard frosts (15th-20th) as well as the temperature dropping to -7ºC on the 19th. We double-fleeced the more tender plants: celeriac, radicchio, mustards and Chinese cabbage.
Freshly harvested from the plot as required through the month were leeks, parsnips, carrots, sprouts, red cabbage, cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli, plus the salad plants we had protected with the fleece. We dug a supply of leeks, carrots and parsnips before the hard frosts arrived, as it would have been impossible to remove them from the frozen soil.
Thankfully we did not have any damage from the gales. In previous years we have lost panes of glass from the greenhouse.
It has either been too wet or too frosty to carry out much work on the plot, but as any crops were harvested and cleared it was possible to mulch these areas with manure.
The old raspberry canes were cut down and we also cut back our hazel bushes where they hang over the gooseberries, to give them more light. All these prunings will be burned on a still day.
On the 13th we made our annual visit to Mill House Nurseries at Owermoigne to buy our seed potatoes – they stock more than 80 varieties and all are sold loose so that you can buy exactly what you wish. We came away with eight varieties for 14 rows. The price per tuber is much less than those bought from garden centres and seed companies and of course the range of varieties is far greater. These are now stood up in trays in a frost free room.
Our first sowings of the year have been made!
Sweet peppers – 12 varieties sown on the 11th and placed in a propagator.
Sweet peas on the 22nd.
From store and freezer we continue to use last year’s vegetables – potatoes, onions, winter squash, sweetcorn, peas and broad beans.
We have a great range of seeds to sow over the coming months, both direct and in modules. Most were bought back in September at a 50 per cent discount from Kings Seeds (we get the discount as we are members of The South West Counties Allotment Association).
Hopefully, February will be a drier month enabling digging and cultivations to take place.
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