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January: welcome to a new Gardening year.

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default January: welcome to a new Gardening year.

Post by Chilli-head on 5th January 2017, 4:02 pm

I know, not much happens in December or January in our growing spaces ...

But could something be growing ? Should it ?  I'm toying with cleaning the greenhouse ASAP (when it's not frozen) and setting up my big propagator from the off, and maybe getinng leeks, omions, and some trays of interesting early saladings going - not just lettuce, but baby leaf spinach, beetroot, pea shoots, red veined rocket, etc etc.  Good idea, or waste of electricity ?  The soil warming cable is pretty efficient, and it won't need much heat.

What I know NOT to try is getting tomatoes and peppers off to too eartly a start.  They just end up leggy, and needing planting out before it is warm enough for them to leave the propagator - about beginning of April is early enough to have them in final positions, unless you want to use a lot of heat.


Last edited by Chilli-head on 1st February 2017, 9:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Ploshkin on 5th January 2017, 5:06 pm

I've tried to keep some bits going in the polytunnel through the winter but the jury's out. I didn't do anything very special - I have been able to pick some lettuce, pak choi was a disaster (though the caterpillars & slugs don't think that) and I've got a good crop of turnips which is something we don't eat a lot of - we'll have to start. I've got fresh parsley on all but the frostiest days and some cabbages that should be good in about a month.
So not a complete dead loss.
What I have found is things like lettuces going mouldy where they are under the crop bars & the condensation drips on them. I should probably rig up a fleece cover.
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Post by Dandelion on 5th January 2017, 10:15 pm

I've got broad beans in pots, and winter varieties of spring onions and lettuce in troughs. The plan was to pop them all in the greenhouse when we had a cold snap, which I did before Christmas, but they are currently on the picnic table in the garden, looking very cold!!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Chilli-head on 6th January 2017, 10:58 am

Ploshkin wrote:
What I have found is things like lettuces going mouldy where they are under the crop bars & the condensation drips on them.  I should probably rig up a fleece cover.

You remind me of one of the many problems I had been forgetting.  I don't usually overwinter stuff for a variety of reasons:

- Need for heat and light for stuff to actually grow.  Some salads etc can sort of exist in stasis without much of either, but grow so slowly it's unnoticable.

- Damp / mound - even if you provide the heat, getting enough ventilation without losing the heat is a problem.

- Providing a host to overwinter the pests too !

Finally, I don't know about you, but in the middle of winter I rarely think "what do I want for lunch ... a nice green salad would be nice".  What I was thinking of though, is more about getting an early start on salad germination, so that come the first sunny days of spring when I do fancy a salad, I don't need to wait until June !  I still probably won't grow lettuce; that really does go mouldy very easily.  I was thinking more robust stuff. Thinking about it, some say broad bean tops are delicious; I wonder if they could be grown indoors just for that purpose - I have a lot of slightly dated broad bean seed.
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Post by Dandelion on 6th January 2017, 5:23 pm

I can never grow Broad beans without them getting blackfly. I suppose in these straitened times, it would at least add some protein...

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Ploshkin on 6th January 2017, 7:19 pm

I can't really get on with a lot of non lettuce salad leaves though I do like to have a variety of lettuce types.
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Post by Chilli-head on 9th January 2017, 10:26 am

I spent a little time tidying up in the garden. Topped up the compost heap with the remains of Christmas (shredded Christmas tree, cardbard boxes), kitchen waste and apple and vine prunings.

I also popped the the allotment to dig some leeks, to find that some clown has taken a van (presumably) down there to deliver a shed, lost it in the mud and flattened the posts and wires which are my raspberry supports. As if I don't have enough to do !
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Post by Dandelion on 10th January 2017, 10:27 pm

Oh no - what a pain. Is the ground reasonable enough to sort it out now, or will you have to wait for better weather?

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Chilli-head on 23rd January 2017, 12:30 pm

A phone call on Saturday morning changed my weekend plan a bit. A trailer load of manure on its way. I did order it in about October, I think - it would have been better then, but fortunately the sun was shining although it was frosty, so I set about sorting it out. The driver as ever managed to tip it over the path and on my fruit cage, so it had to be moved ...

Now, I have heard it said that you shouldn't apply a mulch when the ground is frozen. I paused for a while, thinking that I can sort of see the logic, but on the other hand it is a long time till I'm going to be planting in that soil and I'm pretty sure whatever I do it will be defrosted by then. And, if I don't spread it straight on the beds, I'll be moving it twice. So on it went. And how tidy it makes the plot look - it is nice and well rotted.

On the way out I passed a fellow plot holder who had had 3 (!) trailerloads delivered for one allotment. Crikey. He repeated exactly what I had been mulling on - "can't mulch frozen ground". I suspect that this is one of those things that sounds sort of sensible, so after generations of repetition becomes "fact" What do you think - right or wrong decision to ignore it ?
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Post by Ploshkin on 23rd January 2017, 2:35 pm

Definitely right to ignore it - were not talking permafrost just a bit of British winter weather. I doubt that the ground is frozen more than an inch deep ( though I know you've had some quite cold nights there) and it probably won't make a difference of more than a couple of days defrosting. Since I've lived here with its restrictive conditions I've largely ignored gardening dos and don't s with no detrimental effect. Anything I ignore is likely to be trumped by the excessive wet. Same goes for my beekeeping - one of the big no no s is keeping bees in a frost pocket with no winter sun. Mine have survived 7 winters in just such conditions with no losses. I just do what fits with prevailing conditions and my availability and inclination.
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Post by Chilli-head on 23rd January 2017, 2:39 pm

My 91 year old FIL is not the sort who is given to worrying (and I suspect that is part of the secret to his longevity), but even he has started worrying about his bees in this cold weather. I hope they are alright - we rely on his honey !
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Post by Ploshkin on 23rd January 2017, 5:56 pm

My very first winter with my bees had temperatures down to minus 24 on several nights and a 14 day period when it never rose above minus 6 day or night. My bees were just fine. So long as they are strong going into the winter and have plenty of food above their heads the cold doesn't bother them. I've learnt not to worry about them in the winter.
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Post by FloBear on 24th January 2017, 10:37 am

No inclination for anything gardeny here at the moment even planning doesn't appeal that much. Must get on and decide early-planted crops, though.

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Post by Dandelion on 28th January 2017, 10:08 am

Just going out to dust off the propagator, and sow a small number of early Buissonante tomatoes. I know it's a bit on the early side, but they did well early on in the greenhouse last year, and I'm trying to space tomatoes out a bit more this season, so that there is a constant supply. Let the growing commence!!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Chilli-head on 28th January 2017, 6:05 pm

I've made a start today too. Cleaned the greenhouse inside and out, and set up my big propagator. I've just sowed baby leaf salads so far - lettuce, spinach, beetroot and peas for shoots. I want to try an early start on leeks and onions this year.
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Post by Ploshkin on 28th January 2017, 7:11 pm

I'm determined to get some leeks this year - I'm going to start them as early as possible to hopefully get them past magic pencil thickness. I've just got to wait for my seeds to arrive.
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Post by Chilli-head on 28th January 2017, 7:26 pm

I asked about leeks on another forum. The suggestion I want to try is to sow them in a big pot - 12" deep, in the greenhouse, then move on outdoors. Then you empty them out to get bare root transplants as you would of grown in a seed bed. But hopefully bigger with good roots. We shall see.
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Post by Dandelion on 28th January 2017, 9:53 pm

That sounds interesting CH - I'd be up for trying that too. How early do you reckon you could sow them?

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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