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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




May saw the arrival of what is rapidly becoming our Annual Fund Raiser Plant Sale. As might be expected it seems to be getting better organised each year that goes by. For myself, I was certainly better prepared. Last Year I was still taking Plants up to the Allotment well after the Sale had started, but this year I started moving things at about 7am in the morning and by about 9-45am I had all of my Plants on the site and was more or less, ready. The others on the Committee had fetched and laid out the Tables by then as well with the plants broadly sorted into 3 Categories; - Flowers, Fruit and Vegetables. This year I did a different mix of Plants with no Brassicas and quite a bit of Flowering Plants like Chrysanthemums, Michaelmass Daisies, Alstroemerias, Ornamental Clovers, Dwarf Bamboo and a few Cannas. Although I think it is fair to say I did less Plants, there were more brought and donated by other Plot Holders, so overall we probably had as many as last year. I had potted up a number of small Trees to be sold, but as I had half expected, they weren’t ready for sale with the exception of a couple of lovely Red leafed Hazels that were in large Tubs and they both sold. Hopefully the other Trees can be sold at a later date. After all, it is “Plant A Tree For The Jubilee,” year.

The first year that we had a Sale we had howling Wind and last year we had some sharp Showers, so this year was the first time that we were blessed with good weather and we expected big things. However, it all seemed to be over in half-an-hour with hardly anybody coming in afterwards, whereas previous years the stragglers were still coming as late as 3pm. We were pleased to see quite a few strange faces though, so I guess we had a few more villagers rather than just Plot Holders and that is probably down to the fact that we had a bit more publicity. However, as previous years, there were quite a few after sales for days with money being put into the “Honesty Box.” Initially, we only did just over £200 on the day, but with everything totted up and a rather special £50 donation, we weren’t far off the same figure as last year of nearly £400 again.

The Fundraiser was done with a particular purpose in mind this time and not just to add to Allotment Funds. We intend to install a “Composting Toilet,” and Storage Shed on the site as the next step in developing the site. With the Money raised added to what we already have, we are well on our way to the Target figure and will start to make plans to proceed shortly. The development will be done in stages and we want to take our time so that we don’t do anything silly and we get it right first time. The Compost Storage area seemed to take a long time when that was being done, but everyone agrees that it was a good job well done.
In the aftermath of the Sale there were a number of Plants left as before, although there seemed to be less than previous years, and as before, a quantity were donated to another cause. This time Joe had arranged a Village Fundraiser for Hixon Community Association, or CHEF- the Pensioners Village Christmas Lunch. Their Plant Sale was held some 2 weeks later and itself raised over £200.

After the Sale I was left with a mess on my two Yards and in my Greenhouse, but I soon cleared it up and got things organised. It was mid May by then, so I took my Bubble Polythene down in the Green House and carefully packed it away in a Cupboard for another year being careful to save all of the little Clips in a Jar. There were no cold nights forecast for the foreseeable future so I felt safe, although, last year we did have a late Frost that did some damage to tender things.
After this, I potted my Cherrola Tomatoes into very big Pots with Canes in and Strings up to the Eaves of the Greenhouse to support them as they grow. Also I potted on 4 Aubergines into bigger pots. They like similar conditions to Tomatoes, but I will have to remember not to water the Sweet Peppers that I potted on, as much, because they like it a bit drier.

For my Yard, I decided to plant some Herbs into a very big pot and put Cape Gooseberries and Yacon into the 3 Bag Pots that I was given at Christmas. I realised that if the material Bag pots are left full of wet compost all over Winter they may well rot and have a shorter life. And, after all, most People grow Potatoes in their Bag Pots and Yacon are not that unlike Potatoes in as much as they are a root Crop which look very like Sweet Potatoes.

Another slightly exotic crop for this time of year is Asparagus. It is very expensive to buy in the shops which I think this is down to the time and the trouble it takes farmers to both grow and harvest it. However, as an Allotment Crop it is quite easy as once planted and established there is little to do each year and once there it should last and come up each year, for something like 20 years, or more, unless it is killed by a wet Winter when it can rot underground.
Some people think it has a strong flavour and others don’t really know what to do with it.
The best tip I saw on the Telly as to how to prepare it was simply to place it on a Chopping Board and to slide a Sharp Knife from the cut end towards the Bud end whilst gently pressing with the Blade. When the Knife slips easily through the Stalk – that is where to cut and Trim it. Others prefer the Snap method believing that where the Stalk Snaps is the spot to trim it. Another tip that I heard is that with very thick stalks like those of the variety called “Connover’s Colossal,” you can actually peel the waste Stalk to give a little more Edible Asparagus. It is only the outside of the Stalk that gets tough with the inside, fleshy stem, being tender and just as tasty.
When prepared, people often still don’t know how to cook and use Asparagus. The main thing is that whatever you do, it doesn’t take much cooking. A couple of minutes in boiling water, or a little longer in a Steamer, until it starts to go limp, is all that it needs. Some people like to char it on a Griddle though, as an alternative method of cooking, believing that it gives it a bit more flavour.
As to serving it up – you can artistically use it to decorate things like a Warm Quiche, or serve it in a plain White Sauce with a Boiled Egg, Fish Cake, piece of Black Pudding or whatever, as a starter. Another sauce that goes well with it is a Butter Sauce, or Roux, and of course you could simply drop a couple of small knobs of melted Butter on to it. In the peak Season, I just use my Asparagus as another vegetable though, to go with my main meals.
The Asparagus Season started On St Georges Day and will go on well into June finishing on the Summer Solstice of 21st June. This year has produced a fantastic amount of “Stalks,” with no lost plants this Winter, as it was quite dry and that suits Asparagus.

Before we got to the end of May I also started harvesting my Globe Artichokes which have been much more promising so far this year than last year’s washout of a harvest. Actually, the poor harvest was not due to a “Washout,” but in fact was quite the opposite as I think that it was in part due to a dry Spring. It has been quite dry this Spring as well, but we have had a few Showers when it counted making the Artichoke Plants grow well, because they like wetter conditions than Asparagus.

My first sowing of Broad Beans, that I put in when Autumn was coming to a close, just before Winter arrived last year, were almost ready to harvest as we started into June, with the Second, Spring Sowing, to follow on later in the Month. I think the Plants weren’t as bulky as they sometimes are, but the first Harvest was still quite reasonable when I did pick them.
After my Broad Beans are all out I intend to replant straight away with several things, so while they were waiting I potted on my Squash, Outdoor Cucumbers and I also pricked out my Leeks, individually, into trays with large cells.

Elsewhere on my Plot I resorted to putting some Horticultural Fleece over my Kohl Rabi and Red Cabbages as they were being severely eaten by Pigeons, or maybe the culprit was the occasional visiting Pheasant that can be a real problem as well. I know it wasn’t Rabbits because we are Rabbit Fenced on our site, but it could have been a Hare as they can jump over the Rabbit Fencing.

The weather hasn’t really been a problem so far this season, but it has been quite dry. When I have been planting anything I have filled the Planting Holes with Water before planting and then watered the Plants in as well afterwards, but then not really watered them in the following weeks. This seems to encourage the Plants to send their Roots downwards looking for water instead of staying on the surface and means that they can cope much better with dry conditions. Even my Runner Beans haven’t needed watering so far as they had a thick layer of Mulch put on their bed which was then covered with a couple of inches of Soil drawn back over it. The Mulch has helped to retain moisture and even now feels quite damp under the surface.
We haven’t had any late Frosts this year either. The other year we had one, or two that badly burned the Grape Vine and Kiwi Vine leaves. The Grape Vine never really recovered properly from it, although I did have my first Embryo Fruit on the Kiwi Vine last year. However, this year, after a kinder start to the Season, my Grape Vines look good and I have lots of Flowers on both of my Kiwi Vines. So, maybe I will get my first Harvest of Kiwis and, as long as we get some Rain occasionally with not too many Strong Winds, we might have a good Season.


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