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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

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By Mrs FM

Unusual & Old
Fashioned Fruit

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Vines And Other Climbing Plants.

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Alan J Hartley



Late October.

The season hasnít been bad although it got off to a shaky start being so dry early on with a lot of newly planted things not really getting started and just going straight to seed. The Chard in particular was a failure at first, but later plantings did very well as did the Beetroot. Too well really, as the Beetroot quickly got a bit too big, if they werenít watched. Bigger than a Cricket Ball and they can be difficult to cook as they wonít fit into the average Saucepan! However, I found that if they are cooked for an hour on one side and then rolled over for the same again, they cook through properly.
The Parsnips were a bit irregular in their germination with gaps in the rows, but they are looking good now, although, the rows are still not full. However, they should be a decent size by the time they are dug up. Parsnips are notorious for being a bit erratic in their germination and seed must be fresh. It is no good sowing the previous yearís seeds.
My Leeks were very late going in after the Broad Beans came out, but they had been started off in trays earlier to get them going and now they too are looking good and starting to bulk up. By the time that New Year comes around they should be ready to dig up as well.
The giant Radish Mooli have done well with them pushing themselves several inches out of the ground. The only problem with these is that if you are not careful when you dig them up it is easy to break off the bottom few inches in the ground as they are brittle and go down so deep! They are much bigger than the average Parsnip! They do keep well in the Fridge for a week or two though, so you do have chance to use them before they go soft especially as you can cut off a piece one day and go back to the rest of it again and again. You can eat them like a normal Radish or use them in cooking in things like a Stir Fry.

With colder weather coming at the beginning of this Month, (October) all of the different types of Beans finished flowering and then it was just a case of picking the last few pods as the plants were pulled up, the canes taken down and the Foliage chopped up before it was added to the compost Heap. Of course I used soft string, which rots easily, to tie them up in Early Summer when they were planted. If you use Nylon, or any type of Plastic String you will need to fish out all of the bits before composting the waste.

The Autumn Frosts took the Leaves on the Jerusalem Artichokes as well, although by that time they had flowered with their bright yellow, mini Sunflower like flowers, which was a sign that they had finished growing and were ready for harvesting anyway. They werenít dug up straight away though as they will happily stay in the ground all Winter until wanted, unlike most other vegetables. Then as the Spring comes round it is just a case of spreading some fertilizer over the Patch and a new crop will grow, usually without the need for re-sowing, as there will be enough ďBits,Ē of Tubers left in to start them off. They have few pests or problems so the same crop can be grown year after year in the same spot unlike just about every other Vegetable.
The foliage on Jerusalem Artichokes is quite spectacular at some 8 feet plus in height and looks very like Bamboo stems. It is segmented and quite woody like Bamboo as well and often needs mini loppers to chop up the thicker stems, but the stems do make good, fibrous compost and they rot surprisingly easily.

With more things starting to be removed it is time to think about re-planting ready for next season. One thing that should go in before Winter starts is Garlic and I have already put mine in. It is said that it needs a spell of real cold, winter weather to make it develop properly and form the individual Cloves, or else it may end up as one big solid lump.
Another thing that I started in trays and have now planted out is the Aqua Dulce variety of Broad Beans. These, like Garlic, and Japanese Onions (that I havenít bothered with,) will all over Winter quite happily outside. Ideally, they will have had a bit of growing time to get them started into growth before the cold hits them and then they will just sit there, in the ground, until the weather starts to warm up again in Spring.

Other things that can make use of some of the empty space that starts to appear on plots at this time of year, are Hardwood Cuttings of many fruit bushes like Black Currant and Gooseberry. You can take these as soon the leaves fall. They need to be pieces of stem trimmed to about 8-12 inches in length and stripped of any leaves. I am doing some that will be potted up in Spring and added to the selection of plants for our Allotments fundraiser in the new season. Another type of fruit bush that I will be adding to the range are Raspberry Canes. At this time of year they have all gone dormant, or will be shortly, both the Summer and Autumn varieties, so any excess canes that are growing where they are not wanted can be cut down and carefully dug up and potted. If they donít come up with much root donít discard them as you will be surprised how, with a little care, they can be encouraged to root properly into the pots. A shady place for the pots and regular watering will help the process as Raspberries like damp conditions.

Soon it will be too late to plant anything much in the way of vegetables and it will be just a case of more tidying up and preparing for the coming Winter. Some jobs will still go on such as turning the Compost Heap, checking that edging boards and support posts are OK along with tidying up Paths.
Some people like to cover their plots with a thin layer of Manure for a few weeks during Winter before digging it in later, while others cover their bare plots with a Tarpaulin. Few people grow Green Manure on their empty Plots, but that is another option and it will help to suppress weeds throughout the dormant times.


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