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Winter planting, winter harvest, testing the greenhouses

My last post about sweet potatoes went on a bit longer than I intended so this is the rest of the catch-up from the plot.

vegetable beds

Swedes, parsnips and leeks in raised beds.

Onions and Garlic

I’d planted some garlic and onion sets in the polytunnel just before my back went and I’d still some left. These have now been planted in one of the raised beds. Before they went in raked some fertiliser into the top soil. This was just basic Growmore with additional potash and a little sulphur. A lot of the flavour in onions and garlic comes from sulphur so making sure there is some available makes sense.

Winter Harvesting

Some of the leeks are ready now although they are smaller than I’d like. Still, a crop is a crop. I watched a video the other day where a market gardener was planting leeks through holes melted in landscape fabric. This obviously saved time weeding as there were no weeds growing through the fabric.

There was a lot of talk about organic, bio-dynamic permaculture principles and how they didn’t use artificial fertilisers or pesticides. The way they went on you’d have thought they were preaching a religion, very ‘holier than thou’. All well and good, but I couldn’t help thinking that, at the end of the day, they were growing through woven, semi-permeable plastic.

Harvested a couple of parsnips and a small swede. Last year’s parsnips were like strange alien monsters with tentacles. This year’s are parsnip shaped – phew! I’ve always felt swedes to be under rated. They’re not a glamorous vegetable but they are useful and quite versatile.

A winter stew

After a night and most of a day with cold high winds driving rain near horizontal at times, we felt the need for some comforting winter food. Val produced a variant on lobby & dumplings – a potteries version of Lobscouse I suppose. We’re from the potteries originally. Diced stewing beef with onions, garlic, carrots, swede, leek, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes and suet dumplings.

Rib sticking good. The sweet potatoes aren’t traditional though. May have had our ‘five a day’ in one meal but it can only help you lose weight in your dreams!

Greenhouse Border

Greenhouse Border – just a few lettuce left in there

Greenhouse Testing

Tabasco Chilli Pepper

Tabasco Chilli Pepper – most are still yellow but a few ripe red ones.

The Vitavia greenhouse is nearly clear now. There’s just a Tabasco chilli in a Chilligrow and a few lettuce in the border. Once clear, it needs a good clean down. There’s a lot of algae on the glass.

The recent stormy weather was a worry – especially as the wind was gusting from the sea facing side, which is very exposed. This was the first real test for the new Eden greenhouse.

Happily the Eden was not even shivering, although the windbreak fence was flexing with the wind. It would be just my luck for the windbreak to break in the wind and take out the greenhouse! The Vitavia was beyond shivering, it was flexing in the wind.

Since by all accounts we’re likely to see more and more storms, it may well be wise putting a windbreak fence up on the partly exposed seaward side. Another job for the very long list!

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
6 comments on “Winter planting, winter harvest, testing the greenhouses
  1. Richard Wells says:

    Hi. Any idea why your parsnips were a bunch of weirdness one year and OK the next? Also on parsnips, this year I sowed a row in February and another end of March and not one came up; two separate packets of seeds and two different suppliers.

    • John Harrison says:

      Hi Richard. Last year I started in root trainers but was a little slow to plant out so the roots were disturbed. This year I started in toilet rolls and it seems to have worked.
      A commercial grower reckons to sow in paper pots,give them 7 days at 17ºC then plant out even if nothing is visible. I may well try that next year.
      Parsnips can be really hard to germinate outdoors – their optimum temp to germinate is 17 but we rarely get the soil at that even in high summer. They will germinate at lower temperatures but take longer and are more at risk of problems

    • Peter Jefferies says:

      My commiserations,I have the same problems but after sowing two
      rows I do have FIVE parsnips. I have tried all different methods
      but not one seems to produce the right results.

  2. Rowland Wells says:

    I think growing leeks through landscape fabric is a good idea and really worth trying I’m tempted to use breathable ground cover because I have a spare roll something to put on my list to do next season

    as far as using chemicals yes I use chemical sprays fertilizer and pesticides sparingly but I’m coming across to using more organic products that do the job as good if not better than using chemicals

    I agree with you John swedes do seem to be under rated but it could be a more versatile veg used for cooking not only for stews but grated and mixed with a cold salad or mashed with potatoes

    parsnips I’ve tried toilet rolls paper pots but I always seem to leave them so the tap root grows out the pot hence forking but we tried sowing parsnips in a drill on my daughters allotment pouring hot water on the seed and it worked good sized parsnips may be worth a try?

    and finally winter stew you can’t beat it all those lovely vegetables and diced meat cooking in that stew pot with an oxo or other gravy powders and not forgetting the suet dumplings something to die for

    I really wish you luck with that new greenhouse John because you really have had some bad luck with the last one but you’ve obviously made provision this time to combat that inclement weather so fingers crossed

  3. Richard Wells says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’ve always sown direct into the ground in the past and always had a good showing but I’m now on a plot on the side of a hill that does get quite cold Feb/March, never thought of starting them off first in bog rolls or something. Can’t wait ’til next year now to try it out.

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