Come the period of March and April, a new allotment may become available as old plot holders find that they no longer have the time or perhaps health to keep a plot in good condition.
The Royal Horticultural Society gives good basic advice for getting to know your new allotment and getting it into shape for the growing season.
There are things to consider when you plan your new allotment – good advice is given here.
There’s excellent advice here on choosing crops that are cheap and easy to grow but do make sure that you are growing things that you actually like to eat!
But remember – you need to actually have the time and energy to run an allotment – the idea may appeal but it does require a certain amount of physical work to produce anything other than a splendid crop of weeds (which will make you unpopular with your fellow plot holders and attract the attention of the inspection committee adversely).
Problem-solver -slugs-and-snails is a most useful information sheet from the Royal Horticultural Society. To read this document you may need to download a copy of Adobe Reader if you do not already have it installed on your computer.
The RHS says that we will never be able to eradicate slugs and snails completely from our gardens and allotments sadly. But there is a good selection of tried and tested, simple and practical methods to help the gardener – all legal and using accepted means to at least help to control the pests.
The worst case for gardeners has to be where there a run of good spring weather and a real cold snap suddenly descends. It’s surprising how a few lengths of horticultural fleece can save the day if you have them available. But a major problem with fleece is the wind blowing it away.
Putting stakes through it to hold it down just doesn’t work, the wind rips it loose. Weighing it down with bricks isn’t much betteras the rough edges of the brick tear the fleece and once again you have a kite flying away.
However there is an answer. Fill some plastic 2 litre milk cartons with sand or soil and use them as bricks to hold it down.
It may not be that fleece is expensive, more a case of keeping some available. And even inexpensive fleece can be put through the washing machine on a cold wash (use something like a silk wash where there is no spin and then let it drip dry on the washing line) for reuse.
Now that we are starting preparations for the growing season, it’s time to consider a little planning for the annual Prudhoe Town Show.
OK so the biggest leek and heaviest onion showers will already have matters well in hand. But there are other vegetable classes to consider as well as the flowers.
Gluts of various produce can be made into chutney and jams for entry in the home baking section.
The committee is already working on the organisation for this year and look forward to seeing you at the show.
The Prudhoe Town Show 2014 will be held on 6th and 7th September in the Prudhoe and District United Services Club (The Legion), Front Street, Prudhoe. Full details of times for entries and viewing will come later along with the schedule.
Prudhoe has been remarkably lucky this winter as we have not suffered the exceptional floods and rainfall seen in other parts of the country. However it is always worth knowing what to do in case your allotment or garden before these are flooded, what to do afterwards and what you can do to help your soil when there is heavy rainfall.
This document, issued by the Environment Agency, gives much detailed advice in dealing with floods in gardens and allotments.
There is advice on unplugging electrical items such as pond pumps and decorative features, removing ornaments and garden machinery to higher points where possible and draining mowers and similar to prevent fuel being contaminated by water when exceptional rain is forecast.
There is also advice on recreating your garden or allotment after the event. For instance, as a precaution throw away any vegetable crops that have been covered by floodwater as these may be contaminated by the water. Remove silt and other debris in case it is contaminated. These need to be removed from your plot.
There is an excellent section on improving drainage where you have slow draining soils. In Prudhoe this is relevant as we are on clay based soil which is known to be slow draining. Not only is there information on drainage but there is also the suggestion about raised beds to help plants and vegetables that cannot cope with water logging.
In the case of flooding, you will not be able to claim on your household insurance unless you have added specific details of your garden.