May I take this opportunity to wish you a belated ‘happy new year’ and hope 2020 will be a productive one.
January is usually a cold month so you can be excused for not wanting to venture out. The allotment can be a place of solitude with only the hardiest soles to keep you company.
On the other hand, after all the eating and merriment it could be just the tonic to blow away those cobwebs and to start the new campaign.
So far, we have experienced a mild start to the year. This being evident by the variety of weeds which are thriving, especially Hairy bittercress – a persistent weed which colonises bare ground and spreads by shooting seeds up to 1 metre away.
Regular hoeing and hand weeding will reduce numbers although make sure you remove all parts of the plant as stem fragments are capable of re-rooting.
Hairy bittercress is in fact edible and has a taste similar to cress crossed with rocket. Something different to add to your plate.
Over the Christmas period we were blessed with some dry weather. This allowed me to start emptying the compost heap.
I always cover my heap in the winter with a waterproof cover as it prevents the compost becoming too wet.
Homemade compost will inevitably have pieces of woody material, stones and the odd plant label in it. For this reason, I always like to pass it through a riddle. A job for a cold, frosty morning.
Riddling homemade compost.
The one drawback with homemade compost is that it will contain weed seeds. A small price to pay for such a nutritious medium.
Try sowing a few subjects undercover such as Broad bean ‘The Sutton’, Pea ‘Douce Provence’ and various salad crops. Direct sow Carrots ‘Amsterdam Forcing 3’ into raised beds or large pots.
If dry enough continue to prepare outdoor beds with a 15cm layer of well-rotted farmyard manure. Worms and the rain will assist in working it in.
Keep a check on stored crops for vermin damage and anything which may be starting to rot. Finally, check that brassica nets have not been dislodged by the wind.