Winter is a great time of year to get things done ready for the new season. Here are a few things that I’ll be doing…

  1. Fixing the roof on my greenhouse – the greenhouse has a solid roof on one side which is rotting due to water ingress. I’m going to replace this with clear plastic corrugated roof panels from B&Q at a cost of around £20.
  2. Digging up dahlia’s, lillies and gladioli bulbs to store for next year. Lillie’s and gladioli form small bulbs which can be planted out next year. You’ll probably not get flowers as it takes a couple of years to form a full sized bulb.
  3. I want to clear an area at the back of my allotment to make room for an apple tree and possibly a pear and plum too. Winter is the best time to plant dormant fruit trees.
  4. Continuing to make compost by turning the heap every four or five days. Keep at it throughout the winter months.
  5. It’s surprising just how many dry and sunny days we get here in Winter. I’ll be using these days to rotovate chicken pellets and spent beer grains into the soil ready for the spring. Feed the soil not the plant.
  6. I’m cutting the foliage off my strawberry plants and potting any runners to leave in the greenhouse over winter.
  7. My allotment has a mass of overgrown hedges and bushes at the back and I really need to get on top of this. Now growth has stopped it’s the best time to get stuck in.
  8. I’ve just ordered a soil PH tester, so I’m going to be using that around the allotment. Costs about a fiver on ebay.
  9. Collecting sunflower seeds from the flower heads.
  10. Painting the greenhouse and cold frame on dry sunny days.

Well, Winter is here and I have to say that this is my favourite time of year. If you shut down for Winter and think, that’s it till next Spring, then you’re really missing a trick.

There are so many things to do. We’ve had quite a lot of wind damage over the last few months and now is the time to fix all that. I’m also considering a new layout for the allotment and Winter is a great time to plan and implement the changes necessary. I took over my allotment about ten years ago and I’ve never really made the space my own. I’ve stuck with the original layout and (dull) colour scheme and I’ve come to realise that this is not what I want at all.

So, in Winter, I can sit down and have a good think about what I really want from my allotment. I want a place to relax and take in the beauty of Nature. I’m thinking about a lawned area to sit out on surrounded by flowers and vegetables. As to the vegetables themselves, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a waste of time trying to be “self sufficient”. Space is limited and I want to grow some fantastic flowers as well as unusual and delicious veg. For example, hop shoots are one of the most delicious (and expensive) vegetables and I’d like to have a go at growing them. I also brew my own beer, so I may be able to use the hops for that too. Also, I used to eat white Asparagus when I lived in Germany, and I’m going to plant out an Asparagus bed (I’ve actually been meaning to do this for the last couple of years but have never got round to it). I’ll grow new potatoes in largish pots, but I’ll grow several varieties instead of just one or two. I’m looking for quality, not quantity in 2018.

I’m mulling the idea of having a centre circle of lawn with lawned paths extending from it. Beds can be planted with low planting at the front and with taller planting to the rear to create a privacy screen for the central area. I’m definitely going to take up the concrete paving slabs on the allotment and replace them with turf. It looks so much better and I have recently bought a push mower which will keep the grass looking good. An arch with sweet pea climbers would look good too. What do you think? 2017 has been the first year that I’ve grown cut flowers on the allotment. Lillies, Gladioli and also Sunflowers have worked really well and I intend to grow a lot more in 2018. I grew quite a few good carrots (Early Nantes), this year so I’ll try to repeat my success, and I’m going to get some Scorzonera seeds. Scorzonera is a root vegetable which is not available in the shops in my area so it could be worth growing. As always, I’ll be growing onions, leeks and spring onions, simply because they’re so easy to grow and useful in the kitchen. Last year, I wanted to grow pumpkins for the grand kids. I managed to grow three smallish ones, which were used and I hope, appreciated. I’ll try to grow some bigger ones for next year.

I’ve had chickens on the allotment for years now, but, I don’t think I’ll continue to keep them. Eggs are cheap to buy and quality is easy to obtain so I can’t see the point anymore, especially when I have to buy feed when they’re not laying. My chickens have quite a large area to play in and this space can be used for a more productive purpose, namely, making compost. I started a small gardening business this year so I have plenty of grass cuttings and leaves to compost. I’ve already started making large piles in the chicken run and I can see that my method is starting to work. Rich compost is the key to a productive allotment, and the more I can make, the better.

So, take my advice and get cracking this Winter. Make your plans and start to work on them now. What are you planning to do on your allotment this Winter?