1 December 2020 Newsletter

Dear Plotters

October and November were busy months for welcoming new allotmenteers to Calico Field.  Our last empty plot (Plot 8), has now been taken over by Mark Binns. Although it’s the beginning of a quiet season for us all, the new arrivals have made a great start with their autumn digging!
This means we are now full with a waiting list. This is great news as it keeps our revenue at its maximum and ensures the viability of the allotments as a whole.

Thank you to all of you who made a donation for the manure that you used. I have been in contact with the local farmer and ordered another load, which should be coming soon. Please could you now empty the polytunnel of finished crops (other than those left there on purpose for overwintering). Disinfection and cleaning will be taking place soon.

In the meantime, maybe you’d like to think about how to encourage wildlife to your plot next Spring, in particular, bees and pollinating insects. Bev and Neil on Plot 3 have built an insect hotel with a living roof garden. You can see it as you walk down the central aisle on the right. They have kindly said that they will provide seed packets of bee-friendly flowers for plotters to take and plant in the Spring. These will be left, free of charge, in a box in the community shed, along with instructions, some time in December. They hope you will find a corner on your plot to sow them. Then we can all do our bit for the environment, especially helping to encourage the bee population to thrive. Many thanks to Bev and Neil for this lovely idea.

DECEMBER is not necessarily a month when nothing happens on Calico Field! Many of you have grown brassicas which are coming to their peak now: HARVEST Brussels, autumn and winter cabbages and the indestructible kale . Fresh root vegetables, such as parsnips, celeriac, swedes and turnips, should still be in good supply. Lift leeks carefully with a fork and use immediately. Harvest the last of your kohl rabi by the end of the year as their flavour does not improve if left in the ground too long. Similarly, lift carrots and store in sand in a shallow wooden box, taking care that the roots do not touch each other. Solid- headed winter cabbages can also be stored, hung up in nets or spread on wooded slats covered with straw. Maincrop potatoes should be stored in thick paper sacks, and pumpkins and squashes, having been ‘cured’ in the sun, should be dry enough to store well. They need good ventilation and should be placed on straw or shredded paper to keep until needed. Lay out any haricot and other beans to dry out completely before podding them and then storing in a screw top jar. String up onions and garlic once thoroughly dried, or stack them in single layers in wooden boxes or on slatted shelves. 

PLANT OUT garlic and rhubarb sets, but not if the ground is waterlogged. Bare rooted raspberries and blackberries can also be planted out now if you didn’t get round to it last month.

Divide rhubarb crowns, if your original plant has grown too big, by using a sharp spade to cut the root in two. Each section must have a bud. Replant each section, with the bud just showing, in a well manured spot.

Continue winter digging if the ground is not too waterlogged or frozen, and dig in your manure or compost.

Check your spring cabbage and Brussels, removing decaying or yellow leaves and earth up the sprout stalks against winter gales. Winter prune gooseberries and thin established blueberry bushes, removing about a third of older wood from blackcurrants. Prune grape vines now. Clean pots and trays ready for the new season!

The Committee wishes you all a very Happy Christmas!