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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



Autumn - October.

I had tried to save an Apple Tree that came from my mothers house a few years ago, but the variety of the Apple was not what I thought it was and the tree undoubtedly had a Canker on it, so a few weeks ago, I decided to remove it and bin it, replacing it with both a better variety and a healthier tree. I could have waited for Autumn to come to an end and the leaves had dropped, at which time I would probably have been able to buy a tree a little cheaper by buying it “Bare Root,” but as usual I couldn’t wait, so I treated myself to a pot grown plant. “Bare Root,” trees can only be bought and planted in the Winter months and in early Spring, but pot grown specimens can be planted at any time, although it is never a good idea to plant anything when there is a dry spell. The instructions said that it would take a couple of years to produce any fruit at all and it would be a few years after that before it was producing a really good crop of Apples. However, this may be delayed as I intend to train it Espalier style, (with it’s arms stretched out) so that it fits in with my other trees. The tree should settle in a bit quicker and start to grow faster than a “Bare Root,” tree would, but it will still need watering during dry weather for a while to come.

Most years I don’t give my Chrysanthemums enough attention and as the plants grow they topple over. Left like this the flowers try to straighten themselves up and you get stems that are almost “L” shaped. These are obviously no good as cut flowers, because you need the stems to be as long and straight as possible. This year however, I put in lots of canes and tied them up securely with soft string before they flopped too badly from the winds. The plants have also grown very well this season, and as I put in a lot of young plants that I grew from cuttings taken off the old plants this Spring, I have about twice as many plants as normal. Next Spring though, I might buy some rooted cuttings online and make the effort to get a few more different colours, but I will keep the old “Stools,” this Winter as I normally do. However, I will take a bit more care in labelling the colour of each plant when I dig them up at the end of the Season. Usually, I do the silly trick of cutting off all the flowers and then when I want to label them I don’t know what colour they are!

I finally got round to digging out my Compost Bin that was full of lovely, rich, fibrous material. Most of the Compost was barrowed around my plot and used as a “rough,” mulch. My Strawberries had long since finished and as a lot of people cut back their foliage at this time of year, I decided that if they got a bit of compost on them, their new leaves would grow through it, so all 3 Strawberry beds had a good covering. The beds had been given a thin covering earlier in the Season, but needed some more to bring the soil level back up to where it should be and the fresh Mulch would also act as a feed. TV Gardeners always say that you should aim for a 3 inch layer of mulch to be effective and they certainly had that this time as did the large “U” shaped bed that has my Bay Tree Hedge, Gooseberries and Twisted Hazel in.
Some of the Compost was also bagged up and saved for later use in potting up my Rhubarb. Every year I dig out one Rhubarb Crown and divide it up to give me a number of small plants that I donate to the charity where I work. This time though, I will pot some up for our planned Spring Plant sale as well. Last year when I divided a particularly big and old Crown, I had a lot of bits left over that I chopped up thoroughly in an attempt to kill them and then I buried them. However, I now have several new plants growing very well in the spot where I buried the bits! Obviously I did not manage to stop the bits from propagating themselves. It just goes to show how Rhubarb will cling to life however badly you treat it!

Late Summer and Autumn is a good time to collect your own Seeds of all sorts of things. On the Allotment it is a great idea to allow a few Bean Pods on your plants to fully develop and dry out as these seeds in particular are easy to save from one year to the next and they will have good germination success. Beans will not Cross Pollinate easily so their seeds will always come true unlike the F1 seeds of some vegetables that almost certainly will not as they are a “First Cross.” However, most seeds of most things will produce some plants like their parents with a few variations, but it does depend on how “Stable,” the variety is genetically and how much “Cross Pollination,” there is with other plants. Older varieties of plants are likely to breed truer to type as long as there is no “Cross Pollination,” so many Heritage varieties are good to save. This year I made a determined effort to save some seeds of my Dwarf and Runner Beans along with my Heritage Borlottie beans. In fact the last couple of years I have harvested my Borlotti Beans as dried beans anyway. This year they dried beautifully on the plants so all I had to do was finish drying them on a big Gravel Tray, in the Sun, in my Greenhouse. Most were then put in storage tubs to be used in cooking with a few put in a paper bag which was labelled and then put in the bottom of my Fridge. My Brother also saved some flowers seeds from his Garden and dried them off before storing them in Paper Bags. If you have only one variety of a particular plant in your Garden it is less likely that the seed will be “Cross Pollinated,” unless a nearby Neighbour has a different colour or variety of the same plant in flower at the same time. Some seed of Perennials like Thalictrum and Biennials like Foxgloves, that can be collected now, can be sown straight away, whereas others like Poppies and Calendula should be Labelled and kept over Winter in Paper Bags, in a tin somewhere cool like the bottom of a Fridge, a Shed or a Garage.

As we started to go through October I began tidying up my Greenhouse at home ready for the coming Winter. The first things to be sorted out were my old Tomato and Aubergines Plants that had finished fruiting and were of no further use. The large Pots were saved, of course, and the spent compost did not go to waste as it was bagged up to be used in potting some of the Fruit Bushes for the Spring Plant Sale. (When I reuse it I will add some food Pellets and top dress the pots with fresh Compost.) The old Tomato and Aubergine plants were added to my Compost heap on my Allotment. A lot of people don’t like Tomato plants and old Potato Haulms put onto Compost heaps as they can harbour and encourage the spread of Blight. However, my argument is that, so long as you don’t use the compost where you are going to grow Potatoes or Tomatoes, it doesn’t really matter. The Blight spores will disappear given a few years anyway and a good temperature in a hot compost Heap will kill them as well.

I took advantage of the extra space in the Greenhouse and gave it a bit of a clean before Winter comes to get rid of some of the pests and diseases that might have been lurking. The Glass had a clean as well, especially the outside where I had painted the white shading. (Any plants over wintering in the Greenhouse will appreciate the increased light levels.) Also I started bringing in my tender plants with the Cannas, Bananas and Palms among the first. A little later I will bring in my Oranges and Lemons as well as the Chrysanthemums and Gladiola from my Allotment. I don’t do Dahlias, but those would also need bringing in as soon as the first frosts come. I won’t need any heat on for a while yet in my Greenhouse, but I did check that the heater still worked and I do close the windows and door at night now. As we go further through October I will put the pieces of Bubble Polythene insulation, that I had saved from last year, back up, with those little green clips.
With November nearly upon us things will really slow down now so it will be more a case of getting things tidy and keeping them tidy with the exception of a little late planting of things like Broad Beans, Garlic, Onions, Jerusalem Artichokes, Bare Root Trees and Fruit Bushes, and some last minute planting of Spring Flowering Bulbs like Daffodils, Crocuses and Tulips. Obviously things like Leeks, Winter Cabbage, Chard and Brussels Sprouts can be harvested for weeks yet, but not much else.
Then if it gets cold enough in the Winter, everything will shut down until February comes around again, except for sowing Onion Seed at Christmas, and then things will start to happen with some early Seed sowing.


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