Yorkshire gardeners who are keen to stay on top of their allotments this winter have been urged to follow nine top tips.
Researchers from gardening specialists GardenBuildingsDirect.co.uk have rooted out some handy advice to help green-fingered residents maintain a productive plot during the colder months.
From general maintenance tasks to getting ready for the new year, the guidance will help gardeners to make the best of their allotment in spite of the worst of the weather.
A spokesman for GardenBuildingsDirect.co.uk said: “British allotment holders can’t afford to simply down tools during the winter.
“Every keen gardener knows that the colder months are hardly peak growing season, but there are still many ways to maintain productivity on your plot when the days get shorter.
“It’s crucial to make the best of limited time on allotments whilst the weather is at its worst or else gardeners could start the growing season in the new year on the wrong foot. Simply put, green-fingered Brits need make sure they are tidy, well organised and proactive on their plots this winter.”
Here are the nine winter allotment top tips courtesy of GardenBuildingsDirect.co.uk:
1. Clear up: Wait for a dry day to weed, rake fallen leaves and remove the remains of summer crops in preparation for next year; leaving them to rot will only invite disease or pests.
2. Help crops: Apply a layer of compost or manure wherever possible to give allotment beds a winter nutritional boost, spread mulch to keep weak crops warm and move any particularly vulnerable species into safe storage before the worst of the weather.
3. Harvest well: Pluck Brussels sprouts from the bottom up and only pick parsnips only after the first frost or two because the drop in temperature gives them their sweet flavour by turning starches into sugars.
4. Take a flask: Nothing warms a gardener’s body better on a cold winter plot than taking a break with a hot and convenient flask of tea, coffee or soup – so don’t leave it on the kitchen table at home.
5. Check equipment: With the lack of heat and daylight preventing much growing on the allotment over the winter, it is the perfect time to give everything a once-over. Do any tools need fixing or replacing? Is the wheelbarrow wheel wobbly? Do metal or wooden items need oiling? Are the mouse traps working? Are the shed door locks and window latches secure?
6. Keep off the grass: Try not to walk on frozen grass wherever possible as it could severely damage brittle strands and any footprints could remain until regrowth in warmer spring conditions.
7. Dress warm: Make sure to always wear thick socks, a couple of jumpers and appropriate gardening gloves during the winter so being outdoors for a prolonged period doesn’t become unpleasant; also keep a spare woolly hat on the allotment for particularly chilly days.
8. Organise for spring: Down-time on the allotment during a bleak winter day is the perfect opportunity to do some planning for when the weather improves and flick through seed catalogues.
9. Water: Don’t neglect the watering needs of your soil and any winter plants just because the temperature is low – several consecutive dry days could be just as devastating in the winter as in the summer, so take the watering can around the plot if it hasn’t rained for a while.