Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
With January and February still
to come we can probably expect a few cold nights, although in most
recent Winters we have not had so many. We did have a bit of a cold
spell at the start of December, but it was nothing to worry about as far
as keeping the temperature up in a Cold or unheated Green House. The
Frost was hard enough to Ice over car windscreens and looked very
impressive, but was actually only relatively light and short lasting,
not penetrating. Glass and Bubble Polythene will keep out a few degrees
of Frost and this has proved more than enough so far, although an added
wrap of Horticultural Fleece over plants will keep out a bit more cold.
However, for those really cold nights that may still come, a heater of
some sort is a good investment. Things like Citrus Plants, Bananas and
tender Palms can be very expensive to replace so will justify both the
outlay for a heater and any running costs incurred if it is used
sensibly with a thermostatic control.
Some things like over Wintering Chrysanthemums, Bananas and Palms need
to be kept on the dry side without letting them turn to dust, but Citrus
and Cannas on the other hand must not be allowed to get too dry and need
a little dampness in the soil at all times. So, as Winter sets in, don’t
just shut up your Green House and forget all about it until Spring, but
go in there regularly to check up on things. Many over wintering plants
are very prone to rotting and fungal infections so do open the door for
ventilation on sunny days and don’t forget to close it again before
evening comes and the cold night sets in.
On a different and surprising note both of my Olive trees, the tender
one in my green house at home, and the hardier one outside on my
Allotment, have a few tiny Olives on that are actually ripening and
turning black. They won’t be much use to eat, but I guess it proves that
as the trees grow I can expect to get more Olives on both of them and as
they get bigger I suppose the Olives will as well. Who knows in years to
come they may produce enough to make a worthwhile picking! On a good
year I already pick up to a bucket full of Grapes from my outdoor Vines
on my Allotment and have picked many, lovely, juicy, ripe Figs over the
years. Maybe, my Orange and Lemon will do something more than produce
the odd flower in the not too distant future as well!
The cold and wet has already started to cause some problems for my
lovely big Chard plants and I had to tidy up the leaves in December by
removing a lot of the outside ones that had spoilt and were starting to
rot. If not given good air space round them Chard will usually rot like
this and if not dealt with you can easily lose the whole plant. Given a
bit of care though, it is often possible to go on picking a few leaves
throughout much of the Winter.
Other things that I can go on harvesting for some weeks yet are my
Parsnips, and although the tops went down by the beginning of December,
it is still easy to find them to dig them up as they were sown in neat
rows. They weren’t very full rows after their usual erratic germination,
but being erratically spaced out some are enormous and some, as always,
are misshapen being more the shape of a ball with thin legs on.
My first few Leeks to be harvested back at the start of December had
developed early and made good growth, but there will be many more to
come as the weeks of Winter go by.
The Beetroot had really stopped growing by mid December and it was just
a case of pulling up the last few that had got to a usable size, but my
Jerusalem Artichokes should give me another root vegetable to harvest
right through the winter until they start shooting again in the early
I didn’t grow any Brussels Sprouts this year after last years
appallingly small “Buttons,” but a fellow plot holder proudly walked by
me the other week with a full Stalk of Sprouts that was really very
impressive, so he had obviously done something right!
My last few remaining Red Cabbages came out in mid December and were a
bit spoilt, but some were usable, although the Mice had been eating
them. I suppose they made a change for them from eating my Beetroot that
they left alone this year!
One more salad vegetable that I was able to harvest quite late into
December was my Radish Mooli. The packet said they were supposed to be
for winter harvesting and that seemed to be true, but there was a
certain amount of rotting in the middle of some of the biggest ones that
were absolutely enormous. The biggest must have been over 2 feet long
although it was difficult to get all of the roots out without breaking
them off in the ground as they are so brittle. They are rather odd for a
root vegetable because not only do the roots go down, but they push
their way out of the ground making the white flesh protrude by some 6
-12 inches with the leaves on top of that. They are useful though as
there aren’t many “true winter salad,” crops like these that you can
grow without protection.
With January now upon us it won’t be long before we can think about the
coming season and we can start seed sowing again with things like
Parsley, Parsnips, Cape Gooseberries and some of the hardier Brassicas
being amongst the first.