Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a courtyard garden. Which edibles will tolerate less than ideal growing conditions. Discovering how veggies can grow in partial shade.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cold is Good!

Here in England we have been below freezing for most of the time for the past few weeks. As gardeners we should be glad of it! Frost and freezing are a crucial part of the gardening calendar and have beneficial results for your plants and your soil. Many British fruit varieties need a period of hard frost in order to develop fruit buds for the following year. At the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale I learnt that apple trees for example need a certain number of days when the temperature falls below freezing in order to properly develop the buds for next year. Raspberries grow best when they are exposed to a hard frost during Winter (just think why they grow so well in Scotland). Blackcurrants are another fruit which needs a good hard frost to develop fruit for next year.
Some of the best strawberries I have ever tasted were from Norway! Strawberry crowns too need to be exposed to the frost, as do rhubarb crowns.
Just think of your soil as well! Water crystals in the soil will expand and break up your clods of earth and hard soil and will vastly improve its texture. You will notice this if you have dug and turned over your soil already and leave it to the elements over Winter.
So enjoy the cold! Wrap up warm and go down the garden and if you are unable to dig or work, then just think of all the good that freezing weather will do to your plants and to your soil. And besides which... it is much easier to see a black dog in the garden when it is covered in snow!


At 9:52 PM, Blogger RHIANNON said...

Ok I can see the benefits of frost that you have outlined, but what I really want to know is.... will it kill slugs? I would love to think that there army will be depleated for the summer invasion

At 5:30 AM, Blogger Petunia's Gardener said...

I hope it does in a few bugs & slugs too! Love the photos. You should see my chard, though, after being buried in snow. It is flat to the ground and looks overcooked! There is a little sign of life in the lettuce under one of the window cloches. But it is also snowing again right now!

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Tattyanne said...

Matron, I do get a certain amount of satisfaction while it is so cold at the moment. It is nature doing her job! We haven't had any snow yet unfortunately, but a few hard frosts have certainly been most welcome. Tell me is that tulips I see around your birdbath? Isn't it way too early for tulips?

At 11:26 PM, Blogger Matron said...

Rhiannon & Petunia - I wish it did kill slugs! the slug eggs are way down in the soil and most will survive.

Tattyanne . er..well spotted about the tulips! snow photo from last Spring!

At 3:38 PM, Blogger Anna said...

I am afraid that I am hibernating at the moment - too icy out there for me so I am indoor gardening at the moment studying the seed catalogues. I hope that this cold spell will see off some of the pests or at least reduce their numbers come the summer.

At 4:17 PM, Anonymous easygardener said...

I have been hoping for the decimation of slugs from this cold weather - you have shattered my dreams (lol)

At 5:49 PM, Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Ah, but if you turned your soil and exposed the slug eggs like those of us on clay did, you can hope that many of them will have died of slug hypothermia!


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