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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

Gardening Tips
By Mrs FM

Unusual & Old
Fashioned Fruit

Herbs & Other
Edible Plants.

Environmental Issues And Going Green.

Vines And Other Climbing Plants.

Fish Ponds

Books By
Alan J Hartley



January and Seed Sowing.

With January now upon us and more bad weather settling in perhaps it is time to think in earnest about the coming spring and when I am going to sow and indeed what seeds I am going to sow. Every year I do a bed plan of everything on my Computer, to try and ensure a good rotation of my crops, but I hardly ever stick to it.
I do keep a lot of part packets of seeds from one year to the next, but do have to buy some fresh each year. Most Garden Centres stock a good range and the DIY places generally stock a cheaper, but more limited range. Of course Mail Order companies stock the biggest ranges as do Internet companies, but prices everywhere vary enormously as do the number of seeds that you get in a packet. Many Vegetables have several hundred seeds in the packets and most just end up going to waste as there are far too many seeds for the average Gardener to usefully use. Of course on an Allotment, passing part packets of seeds on to others is an easy way to make friends! 
Most seeds will keep fresh for quite a while and don’t have to be sown straight away. Indeed many will germinate after storing for several years, especially if you keep them dry, but cold, and in a fridge. The success rate for germination does slowly drop after time though, with only a few seeds needing to be sown almost immediately when they are still very fresh. Parsnips are a good example of this, because it is a total waste of time sowing old seed from the previous year as they just will not germinate.
I have found that although most of our native tree seeds need to be over-wintered stratified before they will germinate, some foreign seeds, such as Asian seeds, that come from warmer climates, also seem to need to be sown fresh. I often grow a few Asian Pear seeds from shop bought fruit, but after germination it is then a problem keeping the seedlings going through the rest of the winter. Recently I was given a handful of seed from another Asian Tree and that was called “Golden Rain,” or Koelreuteria Paniculata. This is a smallish, but very attractive tree with decorative leaves, bright yellow flowers and colourful seed-pods.
The seeds germinated quite quickly and well, but I will have to keep the seedlings warm and growing until next Spring as they are far too small now to go dormant and drop their leaves. Next Winter, when they are much bigger, they can be allowed to drop their leaves like other Deciduous trees that they are, do, and be left outside to fend for themselves. Other trees that I often sow at this time of year are shop bought Sweet Chestnuts and Quince seeds from the last of the fruit. Medlar seeds are another seasonal seed that is available at this time, but I have not had much success in the past with these.
Many Autumn sown Herbaceous Perennials seeds will need to be over-winter stratified, although here again, some seed will have germinated back in the Autumn at the time of sowing, and those need to be kept going through the winter as any such seedlings will still be too small to go dormant this first year and so need to be kept frost free. Most of the Bi-annuals that were sown and germinated in the Autumn such as Wallflowers, Sweet Williams, Forget-me-nots and Fox Gloves will be hardy enough though to be grown on outside.
Even though we are into the Winter now, some plants are still growing outside and my Broad Bean seeds that I sowed directly into the ground are shooting well at the moment. My Garlic Cloves are also starting to sprout a little bit and my young Chard and Chicory plants are also looking good. However, I think the Chicory are still too small to do any good this year as I should now be picking them. If the Chard doesn’t go to seed in the spring, they will be good for an early picking as the seasons change and they burst into growth.

Other propagation that I have been busy with recently includes cutting up my last surviving Yacon plant and managing to get 5 buds out of the root mass. The trouble is that they are supposed to be kept dormant by keeping them cool until Spring comes, but my recently renovated garage, where they are being kept, is too warm and they are shooting already with long, soft growth. Consequently, I have been meticulously putting the pots outside on the milder days and nights to slow them down and then bringing them back inside when a frost has been forecast.
Liqorice is yet another plant that I have recently been propagating after harvesting some of the thicker roots to be used in cooking. It can be grown from seed, but it does not germinate easily and I have found that propagation by root cuttings is quite easy. A couple of weeks ago I put in a tray of root cuttings and there are several white shoots poking through the compost from the chopped up pieces of root already that will develop into new plants very quickly. It is really too early for them to be shooting yet, but the warmth of my garage has brought them into growth very quickly. So, I will also have to continue giving these protection and warmth until the Spring comes. 

Being into January now and with Christmas well and truly over, Gardening bits and bobs are starting to be put back on the shelves in all the retailers in place of decorations. It won’t be long before the seed racks are all stocked up ready for the flood of gardening customers eager to get their favourite vegetable and flower seeds. Me, I am going to stay in the warm and browse the catalogues on the Internet for new things to try having already bought most of my seeds from a specialist, Allotment grower’s, seed company.


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