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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



Lost Crops and Late Sowing.

The late frosts in the middle of May hit some of my fruit trees and bushes very hard. Indeed the Grape vines are only now recovering properly as we approach July and some of the Fig Trees still have hardly any leaves on them. In fact the growth is so late that I doubt if either will do much good this season and they may well not produce any fruit at all. The Kiwi vines, Jenny and Issai, as well as my Bay Trees, were also hit hard with all of their young, fresh leaves taken, but they have recovered much more quickly. My Dioscorea Batatas (Cinnamon Vine) and the berried Magnolia Vine (Schissandra Chinensis) were not affected at all as they weren’t in leaf and hadn’t even started shooting by then. The Sausage Vine, (Akebia Quinata) is semi evergreen and was able to withstand the light, but destructive, frosts. “Normal,” fruit trees weren’t really touched, although any that were actually in flower then would have lost their blossom and subsequent fruit which is always a problem with late frosts.
I almost expected an odd, frost, or two in June with the freakish weather we have had this year, but we didn’t, although, we did have one, or two cold nights. Indeed, the weather was much kinder in June with plenty of heat, but also some wet days to balance things out and make things grow. The wet came too late for my Early Broad Beans though and they cropped very poorly from stunted plants, but my later sowing that were put in, in the Spring, weren’t so bad.
As I removed the Broad Bean plants at the end of June I replaced them with Leeks that I had sown much earlier and had been keeping in modular trays until they were wanted. I also have some Kale seedlings along with more trays of Turnips, Beetroot, Kohl Rabi, Swede and Red Cabbage that I have just sown. Hopefully, these will go into my plot as the Potatoes start to come out. Radish Mooli being a true “Root Vegetable,” shouldn’t be transplanted, but I will sow some of these as well to harvest in the Winter months along with the Kale, Cabbage, Swede and Leeks. The Turnips, Kohl Rabi and Beetroot will harvest much more quickly and should be ready in the Autumn.

The May frosts also took my Potato tops and set them back very badly. Normally, by the end of June/July the “Earlies,” are starting to flower and are almost ready, but this year they are going to be much later than usual. This early Harvesting would normally mean that they avoid getting Potato Blight which usually starts in late June. Wet, humid weather does encourage Blight, but if the tops have flowered you can remove them altogether to avoid damage to the Potatoes underground. Indeed they say that if you take the tops off Potatoes and leave them in the ground for a further week, or two, the skins thicken and then they handle and store better.

During the long dry spell that we had earlier on I did lots of hoeing which is always the best way to deal with weeds in dry weather. If you try digging weeds out properly you end up drying out the exposed soil, destroying the “Crumb Structure” and you turn it into so much dust. Hoeing only affects the shallow surface layer leaving the deeper soil undisturbed. In fact this is really a better way to deal with young weeds anyway and enables you to cover a bigger area much more quickly with the sunshine soon burning them up to nothing. It also means any soil on the weeds stays on the beds instead of going into your compost heap!

My mother always loved to grow Tomatoes as do most people who have their own Greenhouses, but I have never been very good with them. I think the main problem is that I don’t water them regularly enough. However, this year I had some plants in large pots left over from the vegetable plants that I grew for other people, so I decided to give them another try. 6 plants were put in my Allotment at the beginning of June, which was a bit early, but I got away with it as far as cold nights were concerned. Then, I had 4 plants left over that I put into even bigger pots for my greenhouse. When using big pots it is always a good idea to part-fill the bottom of the pots with some “Spent Compost” and then use fresh Compost to top up the pots. Spent compost is from pots that have been tipped out because, the seeds, cuttings, or whatever didn’t take. If plants have died from anything suspicious then don’t re-use that Compost, but instead put it on your Garden, or the Compost Heap. Most of the goodness will have gone from Spent Compost, but you will be feeding Tomatoes regularly anyway so that doesn’t really matter. (This is a good way of filling very large Patio Tubs as well instead of buying huge quantities of new compost to fill them.)
As Tomatoes start to grow you need to pinch out the side shoots before they develop and put canes in firmly to tie the plants to. The canes in the pots can then usually be tied with long strings to crop headed bolts placed in the roof framework of most metal greenhouses.
Bolts used to construct most domestic greenhouses have normal square heads and you can slide them around the framework as you build it, but after construction, all the ends of the metal channels of the framework fasten together and are inaccessible, so you need to use “Crop Headed Bolts.” Basically these have 2 of the corners on the heads of the bolts removed enabling you to insert them into a channel. Then you twist them to secure them and tighten them up as normal even though half of the head of the bolt is missing.
On the Allotment, growing Tomatoes is slightly different to in the Greenhouse as you want shorter, bushier plants that can stand up to the weather. Here you may need to tie the plants to 4, or 5 foot canes, but you don’t pinch out the side shoots. Then the wind and weather will naturally stunt the plants somewhat. They may still crop bountifully, at least in a good Summer, but they will ripen a lot later than in the Greenhouse and cropping is a lot more hit and miss with some years giving practically nothing except green tomatoes suitable only for Chutney. Indeed many people grow the smaller tomatoes like “Cherry,” varieties outside, because they naturally ripen earlier and so are more reliable to crop.

Last year I tried growing some Aubergines for the first time with some success, so I have potted on a couple of plants that I grew from seed earlier in the season. They were slow developing for a long time, but are coming on nicely now. I think they crop later in the season than most things and seem to remember that the fruits were still ripening as the colder nights of Autumn were approaching last year. However, last year I must admit that I bought the plants a bit later than I might and that could have been part of the problem. I do think they want a long growing season though, so hopefully, this year they will get that and reward me with some of their expensive fruit, or should I say vegetables?

Back on my plot the Sea Kale, Asparagus, Globe Artichokes and Rhubarb all finished cropping earlier, but in late June I started harvesting some lovely Turnips that had been planted out this Spring. My Beetroot are not far behind them with the Cabbages and everything else to follow on as well as fruit including Gooseberries, Raspberries and Black Currants. Talking of Fruit, there will be a natural dropping of fruit about now, but “Thinning,” the Apples and Pears will need to be done anyway to remove any sub standard, or excess fruit and encourage the remaining Fruit to develop into better, bigger Fruit.
Some pruning of Trees can also be done, but you will have to be careful not to cut away the fruiting branches. Stoned fruit like Plums, Peaches and Cherries should definitely be pruned in the Summer rather than the Winter. Even so, you only want to be tidying up this type of fruit tree now as they don’t respond well to a lot of pruning.
Other than these jobs it is just a case of staying on top of the Weeds until it is time for Autumn planting and Harvesting in a few weeks.


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