Allotment tasks – December

This is the month to start forcing rhubarb. The simple way to do it is to set a large bucket or dustbin over the hibernating crown to encourage the fresh, pink shoots to form – they do this better in darkness. A good mulch of straw or well rotted manure or compost cast over the crown before covering creates extra warmth to speed up the process further. As we now have a greenhouse (hurrah) and we’ve dug up and transplanted some crowns this year, we took one good root home, left it out in the frost for a couple of nights (this apparently accelerates the new growth. I am not convinced, as all the other advice is to protect crowns from frost but hey, it’s an experiment!) and then potted it up in a large pot with good compost, covered the pot with a black box, and set it in the greenhouse. The box exclude the light while the heat in the greenhouse should drive the forcing process so that we end up with slim, pink rhubarb as early as March!

If the weather is mild and expected to continue so for a couple of days, you can sow broad beans in a sheltered spot. The advantage of this, assuming you can keep the mice away from what they always view as an early Christmas feast, is that aphids find the tops of overwintered broad beans much less attractive than spring sown ones, because the overwintered leaves are much tougher.

this is also the ideal time to lay new paths, as can be seen in the proud example of the new plotholders on plot 254. And if the soil is neither frozen or waterlogged, you can always dig, and dig and dig

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

I put my rhubarb plants - I eat it for breakfast - in two years ago and have been able to crop them constantly ever since. We don't get frosts by the sea and the plants never seem to die back.

Although I thought I had made a mistake because I planted them in a corner of a flower garden on our middle terrace, and where they hang over the grass they have killed all the lawn. But that is of course good, I don't have to mow it.

Can you grow citrus where you are?

December 10, 2008 at 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

That is another very fine path you have there!

Thanks for the excellent descriptions of how to do things, I followed your instructions and sorted out my raspberries at the weekend. Now I just have to sort out the rhubarb.

December 11, 2008 at 2:11 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Wow Mark, rhubarb for breakfast! Stewed I assume? Sounds rather nice. And certainly a good crown should crop for 20 years in the right conditions, so you've got plenty of breakfasts ahead of you!

We can't grow citrus outside all year round, it has to be brought into a heated place for winter.

Thanks Amy, glad you got to it with the raspberries - rhubarb really is a doddle and I have a wonderful recipe for rhubarb cake that I'll post in spring.

December 13, 2008 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

Yes, rhubarb stewed, with a bit of sugar added while cooking, and then eaten on top of cereal with milk.

It's great.

December 14, 2008 at 11:21 AM  

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