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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

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By Mrs FM

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Alan J Hartley



May & The Fundraiser.

Parsnip Seeds can be a bit hit and miss, so I am pleased to say that this years sowing seems to be coming up very nicely. Most years I don’t water things very much and usually only water things immediately after planting. But, as this April proved to be the driest on record, I thought I ought to water my Parsnip seeds as well as a few other things including my Strawberries and it certainly seems to be paying off.
However, I didn’t water my first planting of Broad Beans that went in way back, before the Winter set in, nor my second planting that went in some weeks ago. Both batches are still growing very well, so it goes to show that once most things are established they don’t need molly coddling. Now we are going through May though, the weather seems to be getting wetter and we appear to be having April Showers this month. Perhaps things will balance out as often happens with nature. I don’t normally make a second sowing of Broad Beans in late spring, so it will be interesting to, see how they do with a lot more rain falling on them now and, see how the two batches compare. The second planting are likely to suffer from Black Fly though, for which, I will have to pinch out their tips.
It has also been the frostiest April for decades, but because the days were colder than normal as well, most of the more delicate plants, like the Kiwi and Grape Vines, along with the Fig trees, did not leaf up, so they haven’t suffered. On the other hand my Broad Bean plants always flagged badly after sharp night frosts, however, a few hours later, as the sun came out, they invariably stood up again and looked fine without any losses.

Another patch that I watered regularly was that containing my cuttings. The Fig Cuttings haven’t started leafing up yet and are therefore unlikely to be rooted, but the Black Currant bush cuttings were developing lots of new growth so I dug them up to find some good roots. The Sea Kale “Slips,” or stem cuttings, had started to leaf up as well, so they were potted, although they could have been left a bit longer as they were only just about rooted. Hopefully, these will all settle down a bit in time for the fundraiser sale later in the month.
The actual date set for the sale is quite late for the start of planting some things such as Brassicas and root crops, but the date was decided to coincide with the approximate opening of the Allotments 10 years ago and to fit in with the next phase of the easing of Covid restrictions that we all seem to have been living under for so long. Of course the date is fine for planting more tender things like all of the different beans including Runners, French, Soya, Kidney and Harricot except of course Broad Beans that could have been planted much earlier as well. Other tender things ideal for planting in late May include Squash, outdoor Cucumbers, Courgettes, outdoor Tomatoes, Sweet Corn, Yacon, Oca, etc.
I have grown a lot of these things for the sale as well as a lot of fruit bushes of one sort or another. Undoubtedly, I have grown far too much of everything, but it is planned that some of the excess will be donated to another village fundraiser that the “Green and Clean Team,” are having immediately after our sale. Then to make the most of the remainder and not waste it, more will be donated to the Allotments in the next village to ours for them to dispose of with their members. We are hoping that they may make a small donation for the plants, but we are really trying to build a bridge of friendship and cooperation with their site.

They are about a mile away from us and have maybe twice as many plot holders on a more traditional layout with buildings higgly-de-piggldy and each plot individually fenced for rabbits. Whereas, our site is open plan and fenced round the perimeter with rabbit fencing. We also have a much stricter control on the erection of buildings. Their site has many greenhouses of both glass and polythene whereas ours has none. We haven’t actually banned them, but the site is on a hillside and very exposed to the winds so it is very unlikely that any would stay intact. Indeed, whenever we have gales there are usually several sheds blown over. Plot-holders try everything to stop them going over including bracing them to the perimeter fence and covering the floor inside with heavy slabs to weigh their sheds down, but they have mixed success and some keep blowing down.

Now on a different note entirely - a few years ago, the charity where I do some voluntary work, installed a Willow Weaving out building that was in fact a large shed made from boarding consisting of recycled plastic. It was fully equipped with shelving, workbench and above all, electricity for lighting and some heating. The chap who runs it managed to get lengths of different coloured Willow as well as a few other types of material to weave with. Lots of basket ware was made and there were plans to make larger things like “Willow Hurdles,” that are basically old fashioned fence panels. With this in mind we “Coppiced,” some small, but established Willow trees and planted a lot more that are now starting to develop quite nicely. So, it was with great interest that I spotted a display of pots of various sizes containing woven, living, willow, sculptures on sale at my local garden centre on a recent visit. The picture doesn’t do the original display justice because most had been sold before I could get back to the centre with my camera to take a picture. I know Willow roots quite readily, but was still fascinated by how they had woven the willow and got every shoot to root and produce a little bundle of leaves on top of the sculptures. They really were very attractive, which, I suppose, is why they sold so rapidly. It did make me wonder if it was something that we could replicate at the Charity though and as I am involved with growing plants there, I think it is something I will be trying in the near future!


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