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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



The End & The Beginning.

The leaves were late falling this year on most trees with some things especially late and I was still clearing up leaves well into December. Most people simply Bin the leaves they have from their gardens, but on the Allotment especially, there is a much better use for them as they make excellent Leaf Mould if Composted properly. It is always recommended to Compost Leaves separately, because they take much longer to break down than normal garden waste, but this year, I mixed mine in with all of the other rubbish in my Compost heap. I have a number of fruit trees on my Allotment so I get quite a lot of leaves, consequently, there might be enough to compost them separately, but they do produce very little Leaf Mould from a lot of leaves. I could simply put them into an old Compost Bag for a year, or so though, as that is quite effective as well.

The Leaves were very late falling from my last Cooking Apple tree, so as the Apples were on the small side, I had delayed picking them as long as I could. However, as Frosts and several snowy days were forecast at the end of November and beginning of December, I was worried about them being spoilt, so I finally picked them. The Tree is always very prolific and always has loads of Apples on it even though it is trained in the Espalier style. It has been planted for a number of years though and is well established. I actually picked 7 Crates of Apples and as I say they were still a bit small as I hadn’t thinned them properly at the embryo fruit stage. (See Picture) However, they should keep well, because there were very few grubs in them because I put Grease Bands around the Trunks at the end of the Autumn, last year. I am pleased to say that I remembered to do all my Fruit Trees again this year before the end of November. It was a bit late, but as the leaves were late dropping they should be alright, hopefully. You can still put Grease Bands on your Trees with some effect if you do them before March and Spring as well, if you didn’t do them before the Winter.

The leaves on both the Hazel, or should I say Cob Nut, as that is what the cultivated Hazels really are, in my garden and the one on my Allotment, both kept their Leaves on until the start of December and then they suddenly fell in one night. I did pick a few Handfuls of Nuts from the small Tree in my Garden even though I have a visiting Squirrel that comes regularly and can be seen running around my Fences. This year I definitely beat him to the nuts. One year though, when I was still at my Mothers House, I thought I would be clever and pick all of the nuts, before the Squirrel there, got them. I gleefully, picked masses of Nuts, but when I got inside the house and started to shell them, I found that all the shell cases were empty. The nuts had not developed inside. Indeed there was not even a trace of Nuts. No tiny, embryo Nuts, nothing, just empty Shells! If I hadn’t been so greedy and tried to stop the Squirrel from getting any, I might have had a good harvest, even if he had had a few!

Apart Leaf clearing, I cleared the last of my Rubbish and finally cut down the Asparagus Tops chopping them up before adding them to my leafy Compost Heap along with the masses of foliage from my Sea Kale.
The leaves on my Figs were among the first to drop, as were the Kiwi Vines, which I also gave a bit of a trim cutting off some of the wilder growing shoots. I think they should really be pruned hard back, like a Grape Vine, along with Figs and Autumn Raspberries, at the end of February though.

My maturing Compost Heap has now had a couple of months cooking away nicely, so recently I turned it from the left hand side into the right hand side giving it a good mix in the process before covering it back up with some small, scrap pieces, of Landscaping Membrane. I will leave this heap a bit longer before I dig it all out and use it in my Bean Bed. Gardeners always recommend digging trenches that should be filled with partly composted vegetation before the various, different types, of Bean Plants, are planted in them, in late Spring. Apparently, Beans really appreciate the high water retaining ability of such material. The growing heap of fresh Rubbish was dug out onto the surrounding slabs while turning the mature heap, before being put back into the now empty left hand bin. This will be added to, and turned occasionally, as time goes by, but will need to be left until the end of next Summer to give all the Leaves in it a bit of a chance to break down.

As crops have been cleared it has left open patches on most of my Beds with nothing in them. There are some Onions. Leeks and a few other bits, but large sections are completely devoid of anything. I could grow Green Manure to be dug in, in the Spring, or I could cover my Beds with Tarpaulins, but as I don’t do either I take the opportunity to liberally manure my Plots. Many Plot Holders do their Plots in the Spring as the weather is improving and they start going up to their plots again, but some, like myself, do them earlier. With this in mind, some of the Committee decided to fill up the Manure Compartment in our Storage area. We do get fairly regular deliveries of Manure in Bags, but with many of us wanting it all at once, we arranged to fetch a large quantity by getting a few Trailer Loads of “Pony Poo,” from a local Stables. Most Stables are only too pleased to get rid of it as they generate so much of it. It should have been stored for a while before use though and should not be used fresh, but other than that there are no problems in getting it from just about anywhere. (In the picture you can see some of the bags that we have delivered from another local Stables.) The Stables that bring Manure in Bags have to regularly replace some of the Plastic Bags that they use as they get torn and start to break up, so recently a couple of Plot Holders and myself, sorted through our Stashes of old Compost Bags and presented the “Horse Manure Man,” with a few dozen of our better Bags. Some of the Bags that I added to the collection came from the many bags of Stone Chippings that I had for my Front Garden. I am a firm believer in trying to recycle as much Plastic as I can, so I am keeping most of the more damaged Compost bags that I had, and instead of just discarding them, I intend to recycle them as well, by using them for bagging up Rubbish to go into my Wheely Bin. That will save using new, bought, Bin Bags. If they are not too damaged though, I use the old Compost Bags to take rubbish backwards and forwards to my Allotment so that I can Shred and Compost it. Just occasionally, I use them to take rubbish to the council waste centre, again instead of using Bin Bags.

My Mother always told me that it was traditional for keen Gardeners to sow their Onion and Shallot Seeds just after Christmas, so, towards the end of December I will sow some in a seed tray in my greenhouse where they should come up quite quickly, hopefully. Then, going into the new Year, perhaps at the end January, or maybe in February, as they grow a little, I will be able to prick them out into Modular Trays and give them a little more space. They should be OK then until it warms up a bit and they can go out into my Allotment where they will be spaced out properly, a good few inches apart, to grow on to maturity in the Summer. They may be a little later than the “Sets,” that I put in a few weeks ago, but hopefully they will not be far behind the “Sets,” that I will be planting in early Spring.
As we go into January, I will go through the old Biscuit Tins, that are stored in the bottom of my Fridge, where I keep my Seeds. I can never remember what seeds are to be sown when, but these days, nearly all seed packets have the Sowing times clearly printed on the back of each packet which makes life much easier.
I am fairly sure though, that at the end of January, going into February, I should be sowing Parsley and Cape Gooseberries to name but two. Then other Seeds will follow as we start the new Season and life returns to our Allotments.


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