Monthly Growing Guide By Alan J Hartley For
Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Seed Sowing.
Most vegetable seeds that haven’t already been started off can go in now including; Brussels Sprouts, Leeks, Kale, Chives, Early Peas and Carrots. Apart from Carrots these are all best started off in Modular Trays under cover to give them the best start before planting out. They won’t really want any heat to germinate now, but Tomatoes, both the Red and Yellow varieties, will still need a little heat on a cold night to get them growing. Mid March is about the right time to start Tomato plants that are going to be planted outside later on. They reckon it is about 6-8 weeks from seed for them to reach a decent size ready for planting. If you are going to buy your young vegetable plants, don’t be too keen to buy tender plants from Garden Centres, especially things like Tomatoes unless you have a heated Green House to put them in as they don’t like the cold.
Another job you can do is to start planting Potatoes beginning with First Earlies. However, planting early Potatoes you will need to “Earth them up,” as soon as shoots start to appear to protect them against frost and it also encourages better cropping anyway. By “Earthing them up,” you elongate the stems under the soil level that in turn makes the growing plant produce more young Potatoes all the way up the stem.
Onion sets can go in now and it is still not too late to plant Shallots as well. Remember, when planting any members of the Onion family to plant in a different place to the previous year – in other words “Rotate,” your crops as this will help to prevent problems building up. All members of the Onion family are susceptible to several nasty pests and problems including Rust, Eel Worm, Rot and Allium Leaf Miner.

Pests And Problems.
As the weather starts to warm up it is not just Plants that are coming back to life, but so are various Pests. If you are starting things off in your Green House, it will become an ideal breeding ground for various Green Fly, White Fly and Black Fly type insects. One way to combat them is to hang Greenfly Traps in your Greenhouse as soon as possible and before the insects become active so that they are ready to protect your seedlings and Tomato plants.
Another area that needs protecting from pests is the Orchard. It is time to hang Pheromone - Codling Moth Traps. Lot of people don’t bother though as they usually only affect a few fruit on the trees at once. The insects bore like a maggot into the embryo fruit and then, when they are big enough, they eat their way back out again only to drop to the ground where they pupate ready for the next season. If you have a healthy and diverse plot you may well find that the birds will deal with most of the insects for you and you can live with the small problem that they cause.
Of course Slugs don’t need much encouragement and the weather will be plenty warm enough for them to be active, so don’t forget to sprinkle Slug Pellets round any young plants that you are putting in. For Organic gardeners you can buy suitably approved pellets that are slightly more expensive, because they are based on a different active chemical called Ferric Phosphate, instead of Metaldeyhide. This makes them safer though, for animals, birds and children.
All members of the Brassica family including, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflowers and Cabbages are susceptible to Club Root. This fungal infection causes the roots of diseased plants to swell and grow to look a bit like clubs – hence the name. Once you have an infection it will stay in the soil for years preventing the growing of Brassicas in that patch again. Good plot hygiene and maintenance is probably the best way to prevent this problem. There is little that you can do with chemicals to either treat infected plants, or treat the soil, but Spreading Lime on the soil periodically is another simple measure that is quite effective at prevention as is improving drainage.
If you are planting Brassicas in particular, you might like to cover them with some of the clear, very fine mesh, that is available, to keep off things like Cabbage White Butterflies that love the young plants so much. Indeed, the mesh will protect any young plants from Pigeons and Pheasants as well. In fact the same fine mesh can be used to keep Carrot Root Fly from making an infestation and spoiling your Carrots. If you don’t want to cover them completely it is said that the fly only flies low to the ground, so a “Fence,” made out of fine mesh, or fleece, no more than 2 feet high, should keep them out. Another method is to use “Companion Planting.” That is where you use one plant to deter the pest of another. Onions and Carrots are said to go well together.

Other Jobs.
Frosts will still be about on the occasional night, so some of the early flowering fruit trees might need “Fleecing,” to protect them from damage. The Blossom of Peaches and Apricots in particular are susceptible to frost.
Garden Centres have now got their slightly smaller range of Summer/Autumn flowering bulbs in stock. These include things like Kaffir Lilies, Crocosmia and Alstroemerias. All make excellent cut flowers, but flower later in the Summer and onwards. This is usually a smaller display of bulbs than for the Spring flowering Bulbs that are on sale in the Autumn which include things like Daffodils, Tulips, Crocuses, Snowdrops, etc. Speaking of Daffodils, if you have any already growing you should leave 6 weeks after they have finished flowering before cutting down the leaves. This will let the plant re-energize itself and create the embryo flower inside the bulb ready for next year. If you cut off the leaves too soon you may not get any flowers. Another reason for them coming up “Blind,” and not flowering can be that bunches need dividing which should be done every few years.


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