FEBRUARY

  • Cut autumn raspberry canes down to ground level.
  • Apply a general-purpose fertiliser to to tree, bush and cane fruit and mulch with well-rotted manure or garden compost.
  • Protect blossom from frost with fleece.
  • Prepare asparagus beds by digging in a bucket of manure to each square metre. Order new crowns for planting.
  • There is still time to prune apples and pears.
  • Plant shallot sets 15-18cm apart with tips just under the soil surface.
  • Continue chitting seed potatoes.
  • Sow broad beans 5-7.5cm deep directly in the garden, or in pots of multi-purpose potting compost.

 

JANUARY

  • Start chitting early seed potatoes in egg boxes.
  • Force early rhubarb by covering the crowns with pots or buckets.
  • Prune apple and pear trees.
  • Dig over empty plots and cover with black plastic or fabric to keep weed-free until ready for planting in Spring.
  • Remove dead wood and low-lying shoots on gooseberries and redcurrants. Shorten branch tips by one quarter, cutting to a suitable outward-facing bud. Prune all sideshoots back to one to three buds from their bases.

 

DECEMBER

  • Prune apple and pear trees, currants and gooseberries. Also prune outdoor grapevines before Christmas to avoid bleeding sap.
  • Order seeds for the new season by picking up a catalogue from the shed.

 

NOVEMBER

  • Net brassicas against pigeons and stake tall ones such as Brussels sprouts.
  • Use up last year’s compost, but only if it is well-rotted, dark and crumbly.
  • Prune currants.
  • Sow broad beans and garlic.
  • Keep checking fruit that is stored and throw away any that show signs of rot.
  • Prune out shoots of apple trees infected with canker.
  • Prune apple and pear trees between now and March.
  • Prune grapevines after leaves have fallen but before December to avoid ‘bleeding’ of sap.
  • Plant raspberry canes in well-manured soil 45-60cm (18-24in)  apart.

 

OCTOBER

  • Cut pumpkins and winter squashes keeping a few inches of stalk on and leave to cure somewhere warm and dry for up to a fortnight before storing for winter.
  • Sow broad beans at the end of the month.
  • Cut down yellowed asparagus stems.
  • Plant garlic and finish planting autumn onion sets and shallots.
  • Cut out fruited canes of hybrid berries.
  • Cut the tops of Jerusalem artichokes off to avoid winds rocking the stems and exposing the roots. Leave about 45cm (18 in) of stalk to show where the tubers are.
  • Pick up diseased and fallen fruit and destroy those showing signs of fungus or brown rot.
  • Apply barrier glue or grease bands to apple and pear trees to prevent wingless winter moth females crawling up to lay eggs.
  • Finish picking apples and pears and store them.
  • Plant out spring cabbage and net to protect from pigeons.
  • Dig over fallow vegetable beds and cover with landscape fabric which allows rain in but prevents weeds.

 

SEPTEMBER

  • For summer raspberries, blackberries and hybrid berries such as loganberries and tayberries, cut out the canes which fruited this year down to the ground. Leave the new green canes for fruiting next year.
  • Sow parsley, coriander, oriental leaves, spinach and winter radish (up until the middle of the month).
  • Lift ripening squashes and pumpkins onto tiles, straw, wood or bricks.
  • Plant new strawberry plants for next year (beginning of the month).
  • Apply grease bands to fruit trees to impede winter moth (end of the month).
  • Plant autumn onion sets.
  • Begin adding well-rotted manure to beds that have become free.
  • Pick apples; test if they are ready by placing in the palm of the hand  and lifting slightly with a gentle twist.

AUGUST – SUMMER ON THE PLOTS 

Work on the plots. Late summer 

  • Lift early potatoes, leave them to dry out for an hour or so before using or store somewhere dark and cool.
  • Garlic, onions and shallots that were sown in Spring can be lifted from the soil. Let the bulbs dry in the sun for a couple of weeks and then store in a cool place.
  • Plant out leeks under vegetable mesh to protect from Allium Mite
  • Grow and tie cucumbers up to a frame-work of canes to ensure long straight cucumbers.
  • Sow carrots for late autumn (small but sweet carrots) protect from Carrot Fly with a vegetable mesh.
  • New strawberry plants, either as bought plants or detached runners
  • Prune out fruited canes of summer raspberries
  • Collect seeds from annuals and perennials, for example poppies, to store over Winter for sowing next Spring.
  • Harvest herbs for drying or freezing so you have plenty of supplies to last throughout Winter.
  • Once your outdoor tomatoes have four trusses (a cluster of small stems with growing fruit) remove the growing tip of the main stem of the plant.

Also sow: 

  • Chicory and Endive
  • Flat-leaved Parsley, Black Spanish Radish ( very hot for a winter crop)
  • A late crop of turnips, Pak Choi (watch out for slugs), Lettuce such as “Winter Density” or “Arctic King” (they will need protection from the winter cold),
  • Cabbage “Durham Early”, Corn Salad and Landcress
  • Florence Fennel (will need protection from late frost but less likely to bolt

Pests and Diseases:

  • Apples and Pears: “Bitter Rot”

Brown saucer-like depressions appear on fruit sometimes while still on the tree, the depressions may have concentric rings of white to yellow-brown glistening pustules oozing minute pink, worm-like tendrils.

Treatment: Remove any rotting fruit from the tree, thin out fruit so that there is more air circulating around crop and affected fruit is not touching healthy fruit.

  • Apples and Pears: “Brown Rot”

Soft brown patches form sometimes round a wound and spread to any fruit they touch. Yellow-white pustules can form, the fruit may go shrivel up and go black while on the tree.

Treatment as above.

  • “Potato and Tomato Blight”

Potato and tomato blight usually appear in warm humid and wet weather. Up to last week it had been very dry so no signs of Blight but with the rain of this week keep an eye out for the signs of Blight which are:

On Potatoes, damp, brown patches appear on the edges of the leaves which spread over the whole leaf and will move down into the potato tuber.

On tomatoes, dark streaks and patches appear on the stems and dark brown to black blotches appear at the edges and tips of the leaves.

Treatment: Spray with “Bordeaux Mix” in the early morning or late afternoon (not when hot at Mid-day) and not when there is a chance of rain.

If the infection is bad on potato leaves remove all foliage and bin or burn. With tomatoes remove affected foliage to give tomatoes more air circulation and a chance to ripen more quickly though you may find fruits that look healthy will develop Blight symptoms when picked with the tomatoes going brown and rotten. Always bin or burn any affected foliage or crops never put on the compost heap.

What to do for wildlife

  • Make sure birds don’t get injured in netting protecting fruit bushes and other crops by securing it and checking for damage regularly.
  • Try to keep a bird bath filled with water as fresh sources of water can be hard for birds and mammals to find when the weather is hot and dry.
  • If you have a pond on your plot keep it topped up with rainwater.

 

JULY

  • Water! Although there has been some rain recently make sure plants are regularly watered in dry spells.
  • If you haven’t already done so, stop harvesting asparagus so the plants can recover their strength for next year.
  • Traditionally, rhubarb should not be pulled after St Swithun’s day (15th July).
  • Finish thinning out apples
  • Sow chard and perennial spinach
  • Stone fruit trees such as plums and cherries can be pruned now as the risk of silver leaf disease is low. Aim for an open centred tree with good airflow. Remove weak, damaged and crossing branches.
  • Remove the main shoot on cordon tomatoes either where they hit the greenhouse roof or a leaf or two above the seventh flower truss.
  • Orange spots on the upper surface of pear leaves is pear rust. Pick off and destroy affected leaves.
  • Treat woolly aphid on apples by scrubbing off their white protective ‘wool’ with a stiff-bristled brush.

 

JUNE

  • Take out flower stems of Onions and garlic.
  • To deter Black-Fly attacking your Broad Beans, pinch out the top shoots of the plants, and cover with netting to stop the beans from being eaten by Jays and squirrels.
  • When planting out leek plants, put into 15cm/6″ deep holes and water well.
  • Sow direct carrots, radishes, lettuce, French beans, runner beans, borlotti beans, salad leaves, Florence fennel and herbs.
  • Plant out leek seedlings when as thick as a pencil.
  • Put straw around strawberry plants to prevent rain splash and encourage ripening.
  • Net gooseberry plants. Check for sawfly larvae and if present pick off or spray with insecticide.
  • Keep top fruit well watered. Some fruitlets will shed naturally in the ‘June drop’.
  • Hang pheromone traps in apple trees to monitor codling moth numbers.
  • Use gaps between brassicas to sow quick maturing radishes or salad leaf crops.
  • Water tomatoes in containers thoroughly and regularly to help prevent blossom end rot.
  • Water potato plants to improve the size of the tubers and help avoid scab.

 

MAY

Runner and French Beans, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Courgettes, Peppers and Aubergines all come from warm climates and can suffer if not die if the temperature falls below 10 degrees C.(50 F).Delay planting out unil the end of May. If you have already planted out any of the above, listen to the weather forecast, and if there is any hint of frost or easterly winds, protect your plants with fleece (sold in the Shed).
The same goes for potatoes, cover with fleece or earth-up over the young foliage. Black or withered potato leaves at this time of the year are usually caused by frost or cold winds.

  • Allium Mites have become a major problem on the allotments in the last few years. This tiny insect lays its eggs on the leaves of vegetables like onions and leeks as soon as the temperature rises. The little caterpillar that hatches eats its way through the middle of the plant causing the leaves to distort and rot. Cover with a cage of fleece or insect mesh, now.
  • Carrot Fly attacks carrot seedlings, the grub that hatches causes the foliage to turn red and stunted, the carrots will be small and riddled with black furrows. Protect as for leeks and onions.Insect mesh is expensive but is much tougher than fleece and should last for several years. Not available at The Trading Shed or Adrian Hall. Look on line.
  • Hang pheromone traps in apple trees to reduce codling moth caterpillars entering and damaging fruit.
  • Earth up potatoes once the foliage gets to 23cm (9in) to stop tubers going green.
  • Net edible cherries to stop birds eating them.
  • Sow carrots, radishes, beetroot, lettuce and spring onions successionally.
  • Towards the end of the month French beans, squash and pumpkins can be sown outdoors.
  • Start harvesting asparagus, rhubarb, spinach and the last of the purple sprouting broccoli.
  • Pinch out the tops of overwintered broad beans as the flowers start to turn to pods
  • At the end of the month plant out sweetcorn plants
  • Weed and mulch.

 

APRIL

  • Sow undercover: pumpkins, squash, sweetcorn, basil.
  • Direct sow hardy annual salad leaves, lettuce, carrots, beetroot, peas, chard, perpetual spinach, radish, turnip, spring onions & leeks.
  • Plant second early potatoes.
  • Pot on tomato seedlings when they have their first true leaves.
  • Cover brassicas and carrots with horticultural fleece to avoid attacks from pests. Secure the edges well so they can’t be lifted by wind.
  • Sow late maturing brassicas such as Brussels sprouts for transplanting in June or July.
  • Finish planting shallot & onion sets and seed-grown onions.

 

MARCH

  • Prune blueberries by removing a few older stems at their point of origin.
  • Cover seed beds with fleece or polythene to warm the soil.
  • Plant rhubarb and asparagus.
  • Sow parsnips
  • Prepare trenches for runner beans with well-rotted manure and shredded paper at their base.
  • Some varieties of garlic can be sown now if not done in Autumn. Plant with the pointed end up 15cm/6 in apart and 2cm/1 in deep.
  • Half-hardy vegetables such as tomatoes, courgettes and chillies can be sown indoors.