What tasks await me this month? I was frustrated earlier on when promised deliveries of leaves did not arrive, so my mulching plan was thrown into disarray. They finally came and I have been setting out to cover the ground. I like to mulch with leaves for several reasons. I have fruit trees, and as the natural surface of the ground under deciduous trees is a leaf mulch, I want to garden with nature as much as possible. Permaculture believes in keeping ground mulched, and I believe that this is correct. Leaves suppress weeds, and as the worms drag them into the soil they are converted into soil matter.
Pruning the apple trees is over. I did it at the end of January. My son, well-experienced in fruit tree cultivation, was going to do it, but family pressures [of a happy nature] have to take priority. Part of this pruning was to prevent them overgrowing the path between them,
Planting time is still ahead, but I must prepare the soil for the planting of onions. First early potatoes go into the ground in February, and I will do it about mid month. This is the North of England and the climate, though quite benign here in South Lancashire, is cooler than further south. My allotment is an exposed site, not through height but through lack of protection from wind. But I get early potatoes by using two large rubble sacks. As these are above ground level they are not as cold as the earth is and so can give potatoes a head start. I have to prepare these sacks in the next few days. They take much filling at first, but after that you can just add pelleted manure to maintain the soil fertility.
Talking of fertility, the first early rhubarb is showing. Timperley early seems to dominate round here, mainly because Timperley is about three miles away. The rhubarb beds will need some pelleted manure, lots of it. I have cleared some ground near the beds, and will have to dig it over. It is near the compost heaps, and it benefited from a bit of re-arrangement of space. But what to grow there? My problem is that the back of my plot is overshadowed by large mature trees, which drain the soil at that end of water and nutrients. They belong to the council, so there is nothing that I can do, though the council officer in charge gave me permission to trim overhanging branches. I have done some, need to do more, and feel a bonfire coming on. The raised beds need pelleted manure added, and probably some compost. I need to make an effort to fill my black bin, which I drained to fill the raised beds.
Karen's damaged greenhouse needs taking down. Its frame buckled in the strong winds recently, and is now beyond help. As a committee member and a semi-retired person I will help. She is struggling to extract the bolts, but Jeff and I have tools that can do the job. We also have a job to do on the vandalized greenhouse on the plot next to mine. Jeff has the glass to repair it, but wants to wait until the council repairs the weak fence near my plot, which is the spot where intruders have climbed over.
I am thinking of getting a walk-in wonderwall, which is a mesh tunnel. I am sick of wood pigeons attacking crops.
Some early peas will be set in my grow house at home some time this month. Letting them germinate in a safe place will protect against mice. We had a bad year with peas last year, and I am not letting it happen again.