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December 2020 - Start Of Winter

Updated: Dec 18, 2020


December is proving to be a fairly quiet month on the allotment. Even the weeds don’t seem to be growing with much enthusiasm. However, with only a few cold days and it being a relatively mild month so far, my broad beans (or fava beans) are actually a little further advanced than I would’ve expected. I may have to protect them with garden fleece if we do get any sub-zero days. One other unfortunate consequence of all this new growth is that it’s making them appear appetising to the local bird population. I’ve had to cover the beans up with my expensive green netting in order to stop them from being a free meal. I’m not totally mean, though, I am letting the birds have what’s left of the spinach crop that’s been so good over the last few months.


One plant the birds don’t appear to like is garlic. Unfortunately, it hasn’t stopped them from trying to pull the seeds out. Usually, they can’t and break the growing tips off, leaving them on the ground next to the damaged plant just to rub it in. Garlic is probably too disgusting for their palette. These very British Birds clearly don’t like the idea of French cuisine!


Looking at the long-range forecast for January and February, it doesn’t appear that the temperatures will be dipping that much. The forecasters are predicting that it will be much windier and wetter than we usually get (what, even more than last winter?) so I’ll need to make sure that shed of mine is very well secured. That applies to the netting as well. I don’t fancy any of it flying over my garden when storm whatever hits (I live quite close to the allotment).


Wetter is another worry. The clue is in the name of the Town, Tunbridge Wells. We have a lot of springs appearing when the rain persistently falls over a period of a few months. That coupled with a clay soil means the ground can become absolutely saturated and boggy very quickly. Young plants don’t like sitting in soil that’s soggy but, luckily, the previous tenant double dug the plot to a depth of 4 feet (just over a metre) so I am hoping it’ll drain quite well. Thankfully, though, at least we don’t suffer the serious flooding that some poor householders living near rivers do.


December and January are a good time of year to plan out what seeds I want to sow in the spring. Surprisingly, next month (January) is a time when you can start planting certain seeds. For example, Geraniums/Pelargoniums and Tomatoes can be sown. I shall be waiting a little longer though.


I have ordered several packets already – cauliflowers, sweetcorn, leeks and dahlias to name a few. I’m still waiting for my seed potatoes but they should be arriving very soon. My spare room is going to be stuffed full of seed trays. I just need to make sure that the door is shut in case my cat sees them as an alternative to his litter tray.


To accommodate all of these trays, I may have to bite the bullet and invest in an electric greenhouse heater in order to help alleviate the space problem. I have a paraffin one at the moment but it’s not very effective. Also, it creates an awful smell in the greenhouse and probably isn’t doing the plants that much good. It’s certainly not doing me much good when I go into the greenhouse to attend to it and the plants.


Lots to look forward to in the next few months, not least being able to pursue my other hobby of watching Charlton Athletic play live at The Valley again. I’m hoping that in March fans can watch games live again. Vaccinations against this nasty little pathogen have started in the UK so, fingers crossed, we’ll be back to some semblance of normal very soon.


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