Vegetable garden calendar week no.7
Although the weather is not always the best at this time of year for getting out into the garden. This is a key time of years for the vegetable garden and the success of many of the years later crops will depend on your efforts at this time of year.
Chitting Early Potatoes
Chit your potatoes for approximately one month. Place them in a cold but frost free place with good light. At planting time the shoots should be green and purple, sturdy and strong. Ideal length is about 1 to 2 cm. Avoid long, thin, straggly, blanched shoots, caused by high temperatures and poor light. Reducing the amount of shoots at planting time isn't essential, although seed potatoes with a lot of shoots can be cut in half lengthways. 3 to 4 shoots is enough.
Create cloches for early veg sowing
The key to growing early veg at this time of year is to help the soil warm up as quickly as possible. By creating cloches at this time of year a few weeks before the first sowings of vegetable such as carrots the soil is warmed up by the winter sun and so aids the production of early crops. In your newly created cloches its a good idea to add a few old clay bricks to act as a kind or night storage heater. heating up in during the day with the action of the sun and releasing the heat at night as the air cools down so evening out the temperature helping the seedlings.
Getting your Greenhouse Clean
Thoroughly clean your entire greenhouse - glass and framework, do it now before the season really gets going. Sterilize with Jeyes Fluid. Cleanliness gives max light and helps prevent pest and disease.
As the days get longer its a good idea to kick start your compost heap into action by adding a couple of handfuls of high nitrogen feed such as ammonium sulphate. This helps to feed the bacteria which in turn helps to break down the contents of your compost heap. If your compost heap is dry its a good idea to add some water, do not over water just enough to keep it moist.
Preparing Cold Frames and Sowing Seeds in Greenhouse
Gardener's with cold frames can begin preparing the soil by forking over and fertilizing (preferably after a soil test. If no testing is planned, use a balanced general purpose fertilizer) ready for early sowings. After doing this put the lights (lids/tops - not grow lamps) onto the frames to allow the soil to dry and warm up. Anyone with a greenhouse that has a little heating in it, can sow some early crops of Broad Beans (suggested variety - The Sutton), either into small pots or module trays. Use a soil-less multi purpose compost or soil-based John Innes No1. Providing that weather and soil conditions are suitable, continue with any outdoor digging. Those plots or beds requiring manure (Stable manure is best, Farmyard manure is next best) should be completed as soon as possible. Plots and beds requiring lime (Know your soil ! Get it tested ! See Soil Testing, also on todays calendar) should also be completed. However do not lime the plots that are having manure incorporated, as lime coming into contact with manure produces Ammonia gas, which is toxic to plants. Do half with manure this year and half with lime (if needed) and next year do the process the other way around.
At this time of year soil testing can provide the information to help you create the perfect feeding schedule for your vegetables.
Sow Tomato seed for greenhouse production
Sow seeds in small peat pots under glass with some heat and frost protection.