The National Allotment Society - National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Ltd

January on the plot

Happy New Year to everyone for 2018. Dylan turned up to serenade us out of 2017 and Eleanor was waiting to welcome us into 2018. The winter storms show no sign of letting up on us. The weather pattern all around the world seems to be becoming ever more extreme and unpredictable. The advice this month is the same as last month’s; check over the plots for loose or damaged glass and plastic sheets. Roofs on sheds may also pose a risk of flying off or losing sections. This introduces the worry of water damage to the contents of any sheds and greenhouses. Water will soften the ground around trees and there is always the potential for branches to break away or even worse the tree toppling over causing further damage. Don’t be tempted to become a ‘storm chaser’ and go over the site during bad weather, but, try and get over as soon as it is safe to do so after the storm. Fruit trees and bushes that have suffered can be tidied up next month. Check for signs of wind rock around the bases of brassicas and the trunks / stems of fruit trees and bushes. A crater will have been formed where the wind has swung the plant about and just like potholes on the road these will fill up with water that will freeze damaging the bark layer. If left the puddle could also set off rot on the root systems. Re- fill the depressions gently, firming the soil with your heel.

The weather conditions will have an impact on working on the plot but don’t be in too much of a hurry to get on with digging. Wait until the excess water in the ground has drained away and the surface of the soil has dried out enough on walk on without any earth sticking to the sole of your boots. On the subject of footwear now is a good time to make sure that your wellies don’t leak and that your best digging boots are in a fit enough condition to last the season. Laces are their weakest point. Bit of lateral thinking here- make sure that your tetanus jabs are up to date.

If you buy your seed potatoes this month and don’t want to chit/sprout them. Take them out of the packaging and store them at 4C. At this temperature the tubers should remain dormant until the end of the month. You can set them up ready for chitting or simply lay them in a tray or box. The bad weather may interrupt supplies reaching the seed companies and garden centres but don’t panic (as Corporal Jones would say) they will get through in plenty of time. Look out for a Potato Day event being held near you. They are a great way to start the gardening year, to meet up with other gardeners swap a few yarns. You can hand pick your tubers and there is always the opportunity to buy some of the more obscure or heritage cultivars.