Allotment, Gardening on a budget, Grow Your Own

GYO – First Sowings 2019

Today is a day I have looked forward to for ages, I have been itching to plant something to add into our allotment for this year. I find the garlic cloves in the supermarket are my first purchase, occasionally I add them to cook with but more often than not to grow on in small containers before planting into the plot.

This job is a family tradition, the first large bulbs to be sown by the children in spring it is regularly their first introduction to planting, along with peas, beans, cucumbers, sweetcorn and Cucurbits. So today as my daughter is nursing I have decided to share my plans for later today! Later today may mean after 11pm it really depends on how much time is available.

For 80 pence I have two packs of garlic to break and divide into cloves which should provide around 60 plants. I have a tray which are already set from September so they will go straight in this week, whilst the new batch I will put in our small greenhouse until the shoots appear.

The key is to keep the bulbs dry, using your hands separate the cloves from the basal plate, this is the small area covered in old roots. The cloves can then be planted straight into the soil as required, whether into a raise bed, container or ground they should grow well over the next few months.

The cost of plants would be three pounds for around six established cloves, which I find an un-necessary expense as cloves grow on well enough. So when I get a few moments the trays I stored for my pears will be used to start off our little project, allowing my daughter a little messy play time. As a plant it can be set around 15cm intervals in rows or a grid pattern, it is great to grow next to carrots to deter carrot fly. As a crop it takes months to mature to full cloves so ensure it is planted somewhere that will not be needed for anything else.

Although it is early the mild weather is making me feel adventurous, so today I plan to plant a few pots of leeks, cauliflower and broccoli in a few different colours to ensure a winter crop this year. The reality is if I can keep them in a relatively consistent temperature, I can have established seedlings in late winter, early spring as Brassica do not require warmth or high light levels.

As I look outside the weather is sunny and mild, rather unusual for this time of year and as I hear the tuts from the gardening generations about early sowings I am reminded of the few strong plants that I would not have had to plant last year, especially my first successful pepper plants.

I have plenty to prepare this month, my paths and lawns require work, finally my trench manuring for the pumpkin bed is to be completed when I have sourced the manure from a local farm. Luckily, it will take a few hours per task which I will work on as my daughter allows, I cant wait to start preparing the new long bed, as this will be its first year to be planted!

This year I plan to plant three times the crops, ensuring spaces can be overwintered where possible and making the most of the seeds I purchased in Autumn last year.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

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