January has finally delivered a spell of cold weather – essential for helping apple and pear trees to break dormancy and set blossom at the right time, and for killing off slugs and other pests – and as this photo shows, Plot #59 is hunkered down and riding it out.
The ground, when not frozen solid, is sodden and so shouldn’t even be walked on, never mind worked. Compacting the soil at this time of year will lead to all sorts of problems with poor aeration later in the growing season. Best to keep off and bide your time for now.
That said, there’s still work to be done, when the weather does allow it. Here’s what we’re hoping to push ahead with in February:
Jobs On Plot #59 (main plot)
Looking back at the jobs for January, I’m pleased to say we got a couple of them done: the willow has been coppiced, the raspberry and strawberry beds grubbed up ready for re-planting (if our order of plants ever arrives…) and the shallots are potted up in the greenhouse, putting down roots before they’re planted out later in the year.
- Soft fruit section re-planting – half the rhubarb crowns need to be lifted, divided and re-planted. The new plants will go in as soon as they’re here and it’s feasible to plant them out.
- Greenhouse deep clean – I like to give both of our greenhouses – the 10’x8′ at home and the 6’x6′ on the plot = a thorough citrox-spray and rinse in February, in advance of the start of the growing season.
- Central path laying – (as per January) there are another 7 or 8 3×2′ industrial-grade concrete slabs waiting to be bedded down, but the base needs digging out first and sand spreading.
- Clearing grass – (as per January) a lack of time at the plot last year has led to a resurgence of grass in a few places. I plan to scrape it back and use the rough turf in a…
- Hugelkultur-style growing mound – we’ve set one up at work, using logs, woody prunings and lifted turf. I’m planning the same sort of thing on a smaller scale using the material from the old log / branch pile at the plot.
Jobs On Plot #79 (orchard)
Nothing happened in January. I did speak to fellow plot-holder Mike about the annual pruning, but the weather has been against us ever since. The to-do list therefore remains:
- Formative Pruning – it’s the right time of year, as long as no heavy frosts are forecast – to carefully prune the still-very-young apple, pear, medlar and quince trees on our orchard plot. They were only planted last winter, so they’re still very much at the structural shaping stage.
- Path repair – the flag path between plot #79 and the next-door neighbour is in a pretty poor state of repair. It needs lifting, digging out, re-sanding and re-laying.
Jobs at Home
Both our Vitopod propagators have been set up and the lights kit for the smaller unit has been set up and is helping our chilli, potato onion and goji berry seedlings grow strongly. Due to a stock shortage of the correct light tubes and unsuitable substitute being sent out (sorted out with minimum fuss by the supplier and as quickly as stock of the replacement light tubes would allow, I have to say) some of the seedlings ended up etiolated and leggy despite my best efforts to keep turning them, so we lost a few. But what’s left seems to be enjoying a 12 hour cycle of good growing light.
On the rest of the list for this month:
- Sowing: early / hardy herbs – I’m planning to establish a small herb / tea plantation outside the back door this year. I’ll have a look at the seed stocks and see what can be started off early, get them in the Vitopod whilst the lights are on.
- Shed sort-out – we’re having new fencing installed right around our boundary in a few weeks, so there’s going to be a lot of rubbish heading for the skip. Now’s a good time to have a clear out in the shed, see what else can join it. And to make room for all the pots, trays and assorted stuff that needs to come out of the greenhouse ready for the aforementioned deep-clean.
- Sowing: windowsill herbs – (as per January) I’ve had a couple of packets of veg meant to be suitable for ‘microgreens’ in the seed-box for a while now, so I might give them a go.
- Pot and label cleaning – (as per January) if the weather deteriorates it’ll be time to get out the scrubbing brush and mild detergent to clean up a batch of seed trays, pots and plant labels, ready for Spring.
That lot should definitely keep the pair of us busy. How about you? What are you up to this month? Let us know via the Comments…