The Allotment in December – what’s happenin?

frozen_allotmentIt’s a bit grim up north

Last week we had freezing rain and a day that never seemed to get light, 9am seemed more like midnight, it was dreary. During this spell I visited the allotment before work to check that I’d properly fleeced everything in the greenhouse.

frozen_plot

It was foggy on the plot and as I looked around all I saw was mess and all the jobs that need doing. I also saw that the frost was killing off my flowers, which have been very confused until now. I love frosty mornings but I must admit that morning was quite grim!
allotment_december_thawedIt’s still a bit grim up north

Only a few days later and the big freeze has gone! Today was much milder and it seems strange to think that we’re only a week away from Christmas. I wanted to take these photos of the allotment so I can start recording it through the months ahead. So much of it is really untidy and I have a lot of general chores to do. To be perfectly honest, I could be growing more but I prefer to grow just enough and then clear out the veg beds over winter and concentrate on bulbs and planning for the following year. Today I noticed a lot of rotting vegetables in the other plots and I’m glad I’m not in that position. However, I really do wish that I’d grown kale and I wish I still had leeks and broccoli left but I’ve eaten it, leaving me with only three sprout plants, just enough for Christmas dinner!

plot_sunday

the_plot_sunday

the_plot_on_sunday
Rather embarrassingly untidy plot

my_sproutsThese are up next for the chop

I aim to start January with a bang and aside from sowing leeks for the giant leek competition I’ve got involved in, I will also start sowing peppers. The best peppers I had this year were ones that fellow allotmenteer Michaela gave me. I know she starts sowing them early at home and I think that’s why she is such a rock star at growing veg. She doesn’t wait until the spring, she gets a good head start. I’ll definitely have my leeks in a heated propagator to get them going for the competition. If you have any tips for growing ‘mammoths’ I would be most grateful. I usually grow them close together to keep them small so this is going to be a real challenge!

What do you do this time of year and what are your thoughts on starting off seeds at home before the spring?

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26 Responses to “The Allotment in December – what’s happenin?”

  1. gardeninacity December 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    We’re having a mild December here as well. I don’t do much in the garden except read garden books and think about what to order for spring. I am planning to start my annual flowers from seed this year, which I haven’t done before – zinnias, sunflowers, impatiens, marigolds.

    • Anna B December 16, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

      My old boss visited from Chicago last week and she said it was unusually mild out there, it made me think of you in your garden! The mildness certainly makes it more pleasant and it’s nicer to have a few flowers still growing that would usually be zapped by now. I love thinking about spring too and each year my growing list gets bigger. I often grow sunflowers from seed and last year I had a whole bed dedicated to marigolds! I set them off in the greenhouse from seed and they did really well. I’ve often just sowed sunflowers straight into the ground too and they’ve been successful. I grew some big dark orange ones a few years back and they looked really cool! Ah roll on spring time hey :)

  2. Cathy December 17, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    Your allotment doesn’t strike me as being untidy at all! Since I only grow container veg and don’t have a greenhouse, my seeds will not be sown before April. Before then it’s simply too cold, and they get leggy indoors. But I do find the later plants always catch up with those sown earlier indoors – have had this experience with flowers, tomatoes and squash. I look forward to following the progress of your leeks!

    • Anna B December 17, 2012 at 9:35 am #

      Hello Cathy! Nature definitely finds a way doesn’t it and catches up! Every year I forget to sow something but you’re right, even sowing them later they do catch up. I am excited and nervous about the leeks! I think they will be the biggest I’ve ever grown but I don’t think I’ll win, I’m far to used to stunting their growth than encouraging it!! Thanks so much for dropping by again :)

  3. Kim December 17, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    Like you i’ve put my plot to sleep over the winter and theres just lots of maintenance to be done really.
    I’m so looking forward to the new growing season and will probably be starting a lot of my seeds on the kitchen window sill, but was thinking i’d start mid to end of feb but after reading your blog i may just start 1 or 2 seeds mid jan.
    I’ll be watching your blog closely as i’m going to try leeks for the first time next season.
    :-) my plot is quite small and at the top of my garden but my list of things i want to grow is growing…….

    • Anna B December 17, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      Hi Kim! Interesting that you normally start mid/end of Feb. What do you sow? I find leeks very easy to grow to be honest, but I normally sow them later and really close together so they don’t grow into beasts so I am just as intrigued this year! I’ll have to do a leek diary series! Thanks for your comment :)

  4. Nadezda December 17, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    Anna, I’m sorry to see your flowers frozen and in the fog. We all are reading books and preparing to spring now.

    • Anna B December 17, 2012 at 9:47 am #

      Hello Nadezda! I guess it was inevitable at some point! Now it has gone mild again at least I can get out and do a few chores in the garden before it freezes again! It’s nice to start thinking about the spring isn’t it :) Thanks so much for dropping by!

  5. djdfr December 17, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    I keep thinking about tidying and getting everything in order but actually spend time inside doing other things. I usually start some seeds inside in February or March, especially tomatoes which I grow on in our bedroom under a Velux.
    Your allotment looks like a fair-sized piece of ground.

    • Anna B December 17, 2012 at 9:53 am #

      Hello there! Interesting that you start pretty early too and make use of your velux. My allotment is a full size plot, in many ways it’s more like a garden with raised beds though than a typical allotment. I think it’s the trees and positioning of the trees which give it that kind of feel. I miss being able to nip to the allotment in the evening after work at this time of year and so when I do get time to visit there’s always too much to do! Thanks for your comment :)

  6. Sue@GLAllotments December 17, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    You think that’s untidy? We have loads to catch up on but it is still far too soggy. The only thing we’re doing plot wise at the moment is collecting vegetables/

    • Anna B December 17, 2012 at 10:25 am #

      I miss my vegetables Sue! There’s nothing to tend to and nothing to eat. Just the sprouts who are going to be chopped down in a few days. All I see is dead flowers, piles of pots, more piles of bark chippings that Adam keeps bringing, odd bits of wood lying around and windows?!!! What veggies are you harvesting?

      • Sue@GLAllotments December 17, 2012 at 10:28 am #

        Carrots, cabbage, sprouts, leeks and parsnips.

        • Anna B December 17, 2012 at 10:50 am #

          That’s a nice harvest :) my parsnips didn’t germinate this year. I skipped on the cabbage in favour of cauliflower, which all rotted away in the wet weather. I’ve eaten my carrots and leeks. Next year I must grow more (or maybe eat less?!!)

  7. Sue Andrews December 17, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    ooh, I have entered that comp as well! got my seeds and waiting for the off…..
    This is the time of year I clear out the beds- but I have one left with brassicas in, kale, ps brocc, cabbage,brussels and spring greens, order my spuds and seeds and plan for next year- I must say my garden doesnt look anything near as tidy as your lottie though!
    this year I am wrestling with how many more raised beds can I add- or do I need them….. and how many more fruit trees can I elbow in ( am sure I can add a quince and a cherry, maybe a damson and plum, I need to plant that Walnut..oh god it goes on)

    • Anna B December 17, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      Hello Sue! Awesome news about the competition!! It’s going to be interesting! Ah, those fruit trees sound excellent. I must admit I would also like more fruit. It was exceptional this year. I’m definitely growing Kale too – baked kale chips are a revelation! Thanks so much for your comment :)

      • Sue Andrews December 17, 2012 at 11:07 am #

        any chance of the recipe of the baked kale chips? heard of it, never found a recipe yet

        • Anna B December 17, 2012 at 11:54 am #

          Absolutely! I’d love to share the recipe. I’ll post it later :)

  8. Jo December 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    I think your allotment looks really tidy. I try not to sow my seeds too early as they end up getting leggy due to lack of light, but it’s really a case of how long I’m able to resist, it’s so tempting to start sowing again once the new year arrives.

    • Anna B December 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

      Hello Jo! This is the problem, it’s far too tempting! There’s nothing worse than when they go leggy though. I always feel bad, like I’ve done them an injustice!!! Thanks so much for your comment :)

  9. croftgarden December 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    I start peppers and tomatoes in a heated propagator in January and they sit on the windowsills before they go to the polytunnel. Our biggest problem is low light levels rather than cold so I can gamble and get things going early.
    I’m definitely not a champion leek grower but I seem to remember that giant leeks were grown in drainpipes or was that parsnips?

    • Anna B December 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

      Drainpipes?! I will google this immediately!! Thanks for the tip! I am definitely sowing peppers in January based on your comment. I have chilies germinating all year round but am 100% convinced that Michaela’s peppers are awesome because she starts them early. Right then, I’m off to google champion leeks in drainpipes! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  10. wellywoman December 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I had grand plans for winter veg this year. But the leeks were got by leek moth caterpillars and my spring greens by slugs. My sprouting broccoli plants are looking good for the spring though. Even my kale hasn’t faired too well. I’m not too bothered though as it’ll soon be a new growing season with lots of new plans and plants. Yey!

    • Anna B December 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

      Yey indeed! I’m really looking forward to it. Interestingly I had a really good year for broccoli too and I wasn’t even really wanting to grow it because it normally doesn’t do too well for me! Just shows you never can tell what will happen.

  11. Ricki Grady December 18, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    I have promised myself I’ll start some unusual annual flowers and a few veg in Feb this year. It’s always a challenge to find shelf space, but worth it in the end. My greatest successes last year were Amaranth (Love Lies Bleeding), Zinnia ‘Envy’, Castor Bean and cucumbers, but I started them much too late.

    • Anna B December 18, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

      Hi Ricki! The castor bean is a really unusual plant isn’t it? What an awesome thing to grow! I grew some unusual flowers this year too but have no photos and no real idea what they were. They were given to me as a gift. I’m sure with a bit of research I could find them out and grow them again this year. I think I started those late too but despite that they were fantastic. It is hard finding shelf space, I was eying up my kitchen window earlier, trying to work out if Adam can make some form of shelf half way up! I’ll be really interested to know more about what you will sow in Feb. Thanks so much for your comment :)

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