Allotment Associations & Horticultural Groups in Harrow, Middlesex
previous month month next

The work that can be done will depend on the weather. But there will be some clearing up jobs that have to be done. Those lovely trees will be shedding all their leaves, not all at once but daily to provide a continuous chore. The leaves can be gathered and put into separate compost heap to provide leaf mould for top dressing in the spring. Oak and beech leaves are the best: holly and rhododendron leaves, and pine needles should not be placed on the compost heap.

Fruit the ones in store must be checked just in case a bad one is spoiling its neighbours. And, we must not forget to give the fruit trees a Christmas present - a feed. Every year sprinkle one ounce of nitrogen (in the form of Sulphate of ammonia or Nitro-chalk) per square yard. Feed all trees every other year with one ounce of sulphate of potash and every third year with two ounces of super phosphate. If the ground conditions are good, with no frost or water-logging, then trees and shrubs can be planted during this dormant period. You may like to grow your own apples and not rely on the tough skinned fruit sold in supermarkets and here some unique advice pruned from Allotment and Leisure Gardener published by the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners. The writer, Andrew Ross, went to an apple fair where he could appraise 5000 different varieties and ask for advice. He did not say how many apples he tried for taste. Of course, some trees are self pollinating, most are not. A few, such as Bramley’s Seedling are triploids - i.e. they need two pollinators. Each tree is labelled with a pollinating number from 1 to 7 indicating the time of flowering. Blossoming periods must overlap for pollination to take place, so the numbers have to be adjacent. Apple trees from nearby gardens within about 50 yards might act as pollinator for your tree.

A mystery a puzzling, but not a very welcome one is the disappearance of bulbs and autumn sown peas. Guilty mice are often to blame. They will burrow under cloches and take their pick of fruit in store. At the first sign of damage or mouse droppings set traps or encourage a neighbour’s cat to do some useful visiting.

House plants. Continue to keep the plants on the dry side. Yellowing and dropping off of leaves can signify over or under watering. This is the month when lots of plants are given as presents; some plants are grown especially for the Christmas trade. Some require special care: the Solanun capsicastrum {winter cherry) and Azalea indica both need extra humidity. They can be sprayed with tepid water (rain water if possible). Cyclamens are very popular presents and they too need plenty of moisture. But do not let the moisture settle on top off the corm or it may result in rotting. And no mention of the plant that is a must for most homes at this time of the year - the poinsettia? Are they specially designed just over the Christmas period? Perhaps they are best suited to a warm centrally heated home and perhaps, like the cyclamen, they do best in a cool room or hall where the temperature does not often rise above16 degree centigrade (61 Fahrenheit).

End of the year: the successes, failures and emissions can be considered. But no, wait until January (no leaves to be turned over - they are all composting). Now will be time to study the catalogues and plan the wonderful, fresh, healthy vegetables to be grown and range of brilliant colours and perfumes of the flowers to be grown.

Ralph of the Roxbourne Society

•   December events.

© 2013 Harrow in LEAF. All rights reserved. home | contact us