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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

Gardening Tips
By Mrs FM

Unusual & Old
Fashioned Fruit

Herbs & Other
Edible Plants.

Environmental Issues And Going Green.

Vines And Other Climbing Plants.

Fish Ponds

Books By
Alan J Hartley




As November settled in we had a few nights of Frost that took the tops on my Yacon. However, because the Frosts were only light and not penetrating, the tops died, but they still protected the Crowns from any damage. So, I decided just to dig the odd one up one at a time as I wanted them. As each one was dug, I carefully washed the soil off the Crown and then chopped them up on my Work Bench at home. In some ways they can be handled the same as you might Rhubarb Crowns. You can be as rough as you like with them and they don’t need to have any roots on each piece as you divide them. You can use a Spade, a sharp Trowel, or even a Chisel to cut them up. As long as each piece has some “Eyes,” or Buds on and is at least a 2 inch cube, they will be fine. They need to be potted with their Buds just below the surface of the Compost and kept frost free, but cool until Spring comes. They should be kept fairly dry as well and then, as Winter passes, start watering them a bit to encourage them into growth. Each piece of Crown will need to be put into a pot about 5 inches across to give it room to grow until the Frosts have passed after which time it can be planted out - usually in about May.

The Frosts killed off the tops on the Cape Gooseberries as well, but the Berries will keep on ripening, protected in their paper cases, (see picture,) for weeks yet. Indeed, as long as the Frosts are not too hard I will be able to go on picking and one year, some years ago, I even picked ripe berries on Christmas Day. In theory the plants can be dug up and over wintered somewhere Frost Free, but they grow so fast and so easily from seed each year that I don’t bother. They put on so much growth so quickly that they easily mature into a bush the size of a Black Currant bush before fruiting in just one season. This year the Cape Gooseberry’s seemed to fruit a little earlier than usual, because, I started picking ripe Berries back at the end of September.

My Medlar Crop has been a waste of time this year yielding only a handful of ripe fruits. I think the reason was quite simply that I gave the tree a hard Pruning last year, even so, I had expected a bit more fruit because there was some Blossom at the start of the season.

There are a few other things that I have been harvesting although it is getting much colder now. The leaves and foliage on my Squashes died some time ago, but I left the Squash themselves to ripen as long as possible. I did take them in though before the first sharp frost was forecast as it might have spoiled them.
On the other hand they always say that the flavour of Parsnips improves with a good frost on them. Apparently, it helps make some of the Starch convert to Sugar making them taste sweeter. Indeed, I will go on harvesting them until I run out, however cold it gets, as long as the ground is not actually frozen.

My Radish Mooli, or giant, white, Radish (Pictured) are something else that will harvest into Winter, although, they can get attacked by Slugs and may rot if left too long into the bad weather.

Now that the cold is coming, with Winter just round the corner, things are starting to go dormant including all Herbaceous Perennials. And, as my Liquorice plant is really an Herbaceous Perennial, the time has come to sort that out as well. When I originally planted it, I lined the planting hole with a cheap membrane which was a mistake as the roots have started to penetrate it and pop up everywhere. (They are every bit as bad as Raspberries, but go down deeper) Consequently, I will have to dig the whole lot out and re-line the hole with some of the better quality membrane that I had left over from re-doing the paths in my front garden. It is time to harvest the Roots anyway, so I can happily do the 2 jobs at the same time. When I remove some of the thicker roots, I will cut a few up into 6 inch lengths to make into root cuttings. If they are kept in a frost free greenhouse over winter they will slowly root in a shallow tray of potting compost and I will be able to pot them up in Spring to give me a few more plants for the Spring Plant Sale.

Another thing that dies down and goes dormant at this time of year is of course Rhubarb, so I finally got round to digging that up and potting the unwanted Rhubarb Crowns that had grown from bits of root that I had discarded and buried when doing last years divisions. Recently, there was plenty of Manure available, so I gave the remaining Crowns a good helping, making sure not to actually get it on the Crowns, but spreading it liberally around them for the roots to feed on and build up the plants for next years harvesting.

Now that the Leaves have dropped you can see the shape of, and the branches of, trees in more detail making it much easier to work on them. One thing that needs doing is checking all of the existing tree ties to see if any are strangling the Trees as branches have grown and swollen. Obviously new ties will also be needed to tie in young branches to encourage them to grow in the right shape. The odd post may also need replacing and new ones may need to be added. Some pruning of things like Apple Trees can be done as well so long as no hard frosts are forecast for a few days after pruning. With that in mind I decided to take some hardwood Cuttings from my Figs, Cornus, Kerria, Etc which I trimmed and put in my Cold Frame. One fruitful Fig in particular, is very good for Cuttings from around its base and I managed to get some 40 cuttings from it this time. A few cuttings even had roots already starting to develop on them, so they were potted up straight away. The rest will root very slowly and probably won’t be ready for potting, or planting out, until later next Summer.

On a recent visit to an elderly friend of my mothers I was asked if I could prune a big Magnolia that was slowly being blown over by the prevailing wind coming across her neighbour’s garden. It had just about lost its leaves when I did the job, so it was an opportune time to do it. Basically, I took the top off it and reduced it in size. I cut the thicker branches up into short lengths and added them to the little log pile in my garden to encourage Beetles and such like and then put what I could through my little, domestic, electric powered, Shredder. The resulting shreddings then went on my Garden as a Mulch. The lady will lose most of the Flowers for the coming year on her Magnolia and the tree will look a bit sad for a while, but when Spring comes and it starts shooting again, it shouldn’t really be obvious that it was cut back.
If the homemade Wood Chippings hadn’t had so many leaves in them, I could have used them on the Paths on my Allotment as their chippings need renewing, but instead I will have to wait until we get a full load delivered by a friendly Tree Surgeon.
Other maintenance jobs that I have been getting stuck into are skimming the weedy surface off the Stone Chipped Paths around my Plot and renewing some of the Pegs for the edging boards on my Beds. Manuring and Mulching are more seasonal jobs for a cold day as is turning the Compost heap which is fuller than it has ever been before at this time of year. That is because I have been trying to get as much of the rubbish cleared from my plot as I could so that the Compost heap could be put to bed for the Winter without more fresh stuff being continually added to it. I am hoping that by the time we get round to April/May, when I want to plant out my dvarious Beans, the Compost will be ready to dig into my bean Bed as I have done so for the last couple of years.

December is a quiet month as far as growing is concerned, but I have been busy potting things for our coming sale in the Spring. Apart from Rhubarb, Yacon and Raspberries, along with a few divisions of flowering Plants, I have potted some Jerusalem Artichokes and Oca.
At the end of December I will sow some Onion Seeds which I have never done before. Normally I grow Onions from Sets, but they seem to be getting more and more expensive, so I thought I would try some from Seed and compare how I get on. I suppose they will stay in Trays until I plant them out in early Spring when things start to wake up again and we start all over again.


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