Harvesting and Planting

With the abundance of red berries about this year, if folklore stands the test, then we may well be in for a very cold winter.  Frosts have already occurred in parts of the country, with several light ones even in the south of England. The winter harvest should now start before the very hard frosts arrive, so it may be best to pick your cauliflowers and winter cabbages now. Brussel sprouts are beginning to be ready for picking – remember, you can eat them on days other than Christmas day!

Leeks should be ready, but only pick those you need and leave the rest to stand until you want them for dinner. Carrots can be stored and dahlia tubers stored in peat or sand ready for next season’s flower display.  Garlic has become very popular and should be planted now in well-drained soil, as can onion sets. Spring onions can also be planted now and White Lisbon Winter Hardy a good variety.

My wife, Sarah, has practised stringing the onions and has made an excellent job of this!

Pruning can now be done – getting currant and gooseberry bushes into shape. Cuttings of these can also be taken at the same time. Raspberries will also need pruning, but certainly in parts of the south of England, they are still fruiting fairly well.

Rhubarb can be lifted and divided, if they have become too large. Rhubarb benefits from not developing into too large a clump. The easiest way to divide them is to lift them from the ground and cut through with a sharp spade.
Ground Preparation for Next Spring

Clear the ground from as many perennial weeds as possible and rake up any fallen leaves. The leaves can be composted, but make sure that you do not compost any that may be diseased.
Compost needs to be incorporated into the ground and double digging is the favourite method but can be quite energetic and time consuming.

There are 3 options for ground preparation

  1. Double digging – 2 spits (2 spade depths) down adding the compost at the bottom of the trench.
  2. Turning the soil adding the compost as you go along.
  3. Spreading the compost on the top of the ground and letting the worms do the job for you!!

The best compost to use is well rotted Horse or Farmyard Manure or Spent Mushroom Compost. A 75-litre bag is sufficient for an area of 1.5m². Many allotment holder will often share a pallet of 36 bags or a bulk load so that they get the full value for their money.