I’m a list maker. Not as bad as my mum who writes everything down on Post-it notes, which are stuck all over the house but a list maker non the less. Last year, however I didn’t have enough lists. It was my first year with an allotment and I spent most of my time feeling overwhelmed by the jobs to do. I always felt I was playing catchup. I would pick up a book or magazine and read that I should have pruned my gooseberries months ago or given my roses their high potash feed. It’s not that I’m short of information, far from it, my bookcase groans under the weight of gardening books offering tips and advice. The problem is finding the relevant bit when needed and having to wade through lots that I just don’t need for my own garden. So this year I decided to draw up month by month lists of tasks to do that were relevant to my own garden and allotment.
2012 will be the year my roses are pruned and fed at the right times, the year I don’t forget to sow the Antirrhinums in early March and the year I achieve some sort of successive sowing. Well that’s the theory anyway.
Confined indoors over the last week or so by the cold weather I went through my gardening books and created a tailor made to do list. I now have 2 sowing lists, one for the veg and the other for the cut flowers and a list of tasks to do, such as pruning and feeding. Suddenly everything seemed clearer and less daunting. Would it be taking it too far to get them laminated? Mmmm probably, although it won’t be long before they’re covered in muddy finger prints and water stains.
Buoyed by my feeling of organisation and the relatively mild weather I tackled the first job on my list for February, feeding fruit. Now is the time to give your blackcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries and strawberries a sprinkling of a balanced fertiliser. I use one from the Organic Gardening Catalogue.
Then it was time to prune the autumn fruiting raspberries cutting last year’s growth down to the ground. I can already see new growth at the base of the plants that will become this year’s stems and hopefully by August they will be groaning under the weight of fruit.
Back at home I filled a seed tray with 50:50 multipurpose compost and vermiculite and sowed some celeriac and Verbena bonariensis. You could use a special seed compost but I don’t really have the space to have different types of compost. I find a good quality multipurpose compost such as New Horizon mixed with some vermiculite works well for me. I haven’t grown Verbena from seed before, I normally buy them as small plants and once in the garden they do self seed but I find the plants you get from these seedlings are often quite spindly and never really bulk up like the ones that have been raised under cover. I collected some seed at the end of last year so I thought I’d see if I could get some earlier plants from starting them off indoors. I just used one half tray for both seed types. Dividing the tray in half and being careful where I sowed I find this works when space is limited. I only want 9 celeriac plants for the allotment and although I sowed more than 9 seeds in case some don’t germinate I couldn’t devote a whole tray, even a half tray to just celeriac.
Celeriac is another new addition to the allotment this year. Apparently I have to be patient because it is slow to germinate, up to 4 weeks I’ve read. Not really my kind of seed, I like French beans and courgettes which can be up within days of sowing but I love celeriac mashed in Bubble and Squeak so wanted to give growing it a try. It’s strange to think that I am already planning for this autumn by sowing seed for such long growing plants as celeriac but a whole spring and summer will have passed before I come to eat it.