Plant Pots Direct Gardening Blog

Working with Lawns Park Primary School, Farnley, Leeds

Welcome to our blog!

Jamie Paul, the owner of Plant Pots Direct, is a very keen gardener, has two allotments of his own and works at Lawns Park Primary School two afternoons per week passing on his knowledge and experience to the next generation of gardeners. Our knowledge is no means the finished article, we read books, search the Internet, ask other gardeners all searching for the answer to grow the best potatoes or cabbages, but best of all we love to try!

This year we have decided to tell you the story of our experiments, methods, successes and failures (yes, we all get them). To help us we have enlisted the help of the pupils of the School to explain a few things, giving a view through their eyes, with drawings, photographs, lists and examples.

So sit back and enjoy or ride!

First sowing of the season - Garlic and Shallots

shallot-setsGarlic & Shallot sowing

When planning ahead for the garden the first thing I always look for is what needs to be in first and when will it need to be in by. Don't get me wrong there are no set rules but obviously some plants take longer than others to grow and develop, and then there is always the cold snaps to think about. The last thing we want is to put all the plants in the ground and then Mr frost comes along and kills them.

The first plants on my list are Garlic and Shallots. The ones we have planted today are, what will be, the second crop of the season, the first crop were planted in autumn and left in the ground over winter to get a head start when the weather turns warmer. Most onions, shallots and garlics are very hardy and it would take a very servier winter to kill them off.


Method - Planting Shallot & Garlic Sets

1. Prepare the beds - The first thing we need to do is get the growing area ready for the sets to be planted. With the crop rotation system that is have in place, the area for the 'Onion Family' (Allium) was used for the 'Root Family' (Umbelliferae) last year and the condition of the bed is quite good. There is still a little bit of work to do mind. First we remove all the weeds from the bed ensuring that all the roots are spotted and taken out. The bed is then turned over, and raked to make the soil level and as fine as it can be in a wet condition.

2. Feed the soil - Although the allotment is still very much new and the soil condition is quite good we still have to top up the nutrient levels to ensure we get a healthy crop. Through experience I find that the 'Onion Family' thrives off Blood, Fish and Bone mix. The mix comes in a powder form, something i would describe as sand like, we simply add this to the top of the soil covering the whole growing area where the sets are going to be planted. When the rain comes the mix simply dissolves into the water and the sets soak it up.

3. Arranging where to plant the sets - Before we put the sets into the ground we decide where we are going to plant them. We use a string line from one side of the bed to the other to ensure that the sets are planted in a straight line in the ground. We have two string lines, one for the shallots and one for the garlic.

Planted Shallot (Left) and Planted Garlic (Right)
4. Planting the sets - Finally we are ready to plant the sets. We place the sets on top of the soil along the string line, the sets have to be spaced out so when the plants start to grow there is enough room for them to grow without growing into each other, in addition to this if the plants are too close each bulb will be competing for water and nutrients, so the final crop will be much smaller. We place the shallots first leaving around 30cm between each set, we then repeat the process with the garlic leaving about 20cm between each set. When we are happy with the final positions the sets can be pushed firmly into the ground, just so you can see the tip of each set.

The full row of shallot sets and garlic sets
5. Review - In the end we planted 8 Shallot sets and 20 Garlic sets, i would imagine that it will be a couple of weeks before we see any changes but it won't be long before the shoots are popping up. We should get a healthy return for our would the Shallots will split into 6/8 individual bulbs and the garlic should give us 20 nice plump bulbs. Depending on the weather conditions in 4 months we should be harvesting the whole crop.


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