Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
Most of December was quite
mild, but wet until just after Christmas when it suddenly turned much
colder with regular frosty nights followed by cold and often grey,
overcast days. Indeed, the beginning of January had quite a snowy little
spell that gave everything a proper post card type, picturesque, wintry
look with the bare trees white from the frosts and sprinkles of snow.
With the ground often frozen and covered the birds started looking for
different sources of food and in my back garden the Blackbirds found the
small, bright red Crab Apples on the young tree in front of my Kitchen
window. I was fascinated by them and often spent some happy minutes
watching their antics from the warmth of my house. I think Black Birds
prefer berries normally, but the cold had driven them to eat the very
ripe, but sour, tiny apples. The red apples did look very decorative and
colourful like little jewels hanging on the branches with the snow round
and about, but the picture was soon spoilt with the crab apples
gradually disappearing as they were eaten.
The cold prevented me from doing very much on my Allotment so I was
pleased when the group order of seeds came from the seed company that
specialises in sales to Allotments. Every year the Allotments place a
large order made up of lots of individual orders from many plot holders.
Each Plot Holder’s seeds are individually packaged, but ordered by, and
delivered to, the Allotment Treasurer, who deals with the bulk order.
Generally speaking the seeds are cheaper than normal online suppliers
and a lot cheaper than buying them from the likes of garden Centres.
Quantities of seeds in packets do vary though, so it is often difficult
to compare like with like. However, the company does offer a good
selection of vegetables, but not so many flower seeds as you might find
in other ranges. There again, they also offer a good range of culinary
herbs to grow. Their range even includes a few of the less well known
and more exotic varieties of Vegetables like Radish Mooli, Cape
Gooseberries (A Fruit!) Good King Henry, Sea Kale, Cucamelon, Kohl Rabi
and even Mushrooms this year. I often find something new to me that I
think will be fun to try and if I had seen the Mushroom listings earlier
I would have given them a try. Apparently, the Mushroom spores are
delivered impregnated into wooden plugs that you have to insert into
holes drilled in logs. The Spores will then grow and develop a crop of
Mushrooms for some 3 to 5 years. From time to time we do get logs
included in our delivery of Wood Chip to the Allotments, but the
catalogue does specify that the logs should not be Pine and as we
usually have Wood Chip made from Pine trees those are the logs we get.
In the middle of writing this piece I had a parcel arrive as the rest of
my Christmas Present from a friend and she had sent me a Mushroom Kit !
! ! The kit I actually received grows Oyster Mushrooms on Straw, which
was included with the Kit, so I don’t even need to find the right logs
for them ! ! ! It does need a little warmth unlike the other kit from
the Allotment Seed Company, but at this time of year everything needs a
little protection to make it grow anyway and I do have a Greenhouse as
well as a light, but cool Utility Room that may be even better for them.
The kit was one of the most thoughtful presents that I have ever had and
came as a lovely surprise because my friend hadn’t told me it was
One thing that I did spot in the catalogue and decide to try this coming
year was American Land Cress. Some companies say that it is a Perennial
and some say an Annual, but I guess I will find out. It may well be that
it is a bit tender in our Winters and so will survive some years and not
others. From the picture I found though, it looks to me more like a
regular WEED than a cultivated vegetable! The Catalogue states that the
cress is a “Pick and come again,” salad crop that likes a damp spot, so
I have decided that a suitable place for it would be by my Rhubarb.
On some of the remaining days of Winter that are too miserable to get
out on my Allotment, or in my garden, I think I will try browsing
through a few of the many on-line seed catalogues that are easily
accessible these days and see if there are any other unusual vegetables
that I can try in the coming season.