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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 Harvest Continues.

It has been a bit of a strange season this year with all of the exceptional weather. Spring in particular was very mild with no late frosts at all. This meant that although I was early putting quite a few things in, as always, I got away with it in spades. Pink Fir Apple Potatoes are supposed to be a “Main Crop,” but mine went in before other plot holders were even planting their “Earlies!” Needless to say the

Tops went down and shrivelled up very early as well, but they were ready. After removing what remained of the Tops I left the Potatoes in the ground for a couple of weeks before harvesting them because it is said that doing this helps the skins to thicken and makes the Potatoes keep better. When I did actually dig them up they were a bit on the small side and fewer in number, but they weren’t too bad. Because the months of June and July were so dry we had no sign of Potato Blight at all, (Blight likes warm, damp and wet conditions to thrive,) although it normally runs rampant through our site infecting all of the non resistant patches of Potatoes and Tomatoes that people have put in. We try to discourage re-infection from one year to the next by telling plot holders not to compost their infected Potato and Tomato Tops, and this does help, but it doesn’t completely prevent re-infection. Apparently, once infected, Soil will remain contaminated for several years and Blight will always be blowing about in the wind from other patches of land and gardens around the village anyway.

Enduring the second driest Summer on record, after that memorable one of ’76, we started getting the odd shower from the last week of August onwards and the Runner Beans responded. As usual I ended up giving a lot of Beans away to neighbours and friends, but my Borlotti weren’t so prolific. However, I did manage to harvest quite a few letting them dry on the vines before picking and shelling them. (See Picture.) I can then store the dried Beans in plastic tubs and use them, either in cooking, or as Seeds for next year. (Apparently, freezing the dried Beans shortens the cooking time) I picked some dried pods off my French Beans that had finished some time ago so that I will have some “Free” seed of those as well and will do the same with my Runners when they eventually finish.

Elsewhere on my Plot, my old Chrysanthemum Stools, that I replanted, did well as they don’t mind it being a bit on the dry side, but although the young plants that I had from this Spring’s cuttings grew, they didn’t put on much of a show. The resulting plants were quite small and not very bushy, but they did flower. However, I had plenty to cut from the older Stools and they went on flowering for quite some time enabling me to be generous, to various people that I knew, with lots of bunches.
At home, I continued cutting back more of my herbaceous perennials and a few bushes including, my tall clump of bright yellow Achillea, the old flower stalks on the ground cover Stachys and my rampant Escalonia bush that had not only finished flowering, but was in need of cutting hard back before it completely smothered everything else. Not knowing when we were going to get some proper rain, I put most of the resulting shreddings on my garden as a green mulch. I also did a bit of general tidying up by pulling up a few odd weeds and I dealt with a few Dandelions and Nettles that were getting established in hidden corners of the Garden. The Tomatoes in my Greenhouse had finished early, so with no more Flowers coming, and no more Trusses growing, I cut them down and chopped them up for the compost Heap. When I emptied the large 12inch Pots, I re-used the spent compost in topping up some of the many pots on my yard where the soil level was dropping, due in part to weeding and in part from the constant watering and compacting of the soil.

A few weeks ago I trimmed the established Eucalyptus Gunnii that is in my Garden at Home and it seemed a shame to waste it, so I put a “Post,” on the village FaceBook page. As a result of that, an old friend, who had an Allotment some years ago, got in touch and collected it for Flower arranging which she now does quite seriously. While looking around my Garden she saw all of the Herbaceous Perennials that I had growing on, my yard, ready for the Plant Sale and asked if she could buy some. As a result of that she went away with quite a number and asked if she could have some more tree prunings some time, to which I agreed.
A day or two before the Plant Sale, to which I knew my friend would be going, I decided that my lovely, Red Leafed, Twisted Hazel, on my Allotment, needed to be cut back. I was going to do it in the Winter months which is generally a better time to do most pruning, but it was spreading everywhere and covering up a couple of my Paths and other bushes, so it got the Chop. I thought that my friend might like it which she did and she collected it just before the sale. She was also pleased with the little bunch of Twisted Willow that I trimmed from the Tree in my Garden. In fact she ended up buying one of the young Twisted Willow Trees that were on offer at the sale.
When I cut back the Corkscrew Hazel, (Another name for it,) on my Allotment, there were a few Hazel Nuts on the tree, but there were a lot more on the ordinary Red Leafed Hazel that I have in my Garden at Home. Every year I try to beat the Squirrel to the Nuts and some years I win, some years he wins! One year I picked them too early and although the Nuts looked good, the Shells were empty as the Nuts hadn’t had time to develop, but I got the timing spot on this year and I had quite a haul. I gave a few nut clusters to a couple of my neighbours to try because “Green,” Hazel Nuts are nothing at all like the normal Shop bought nuts. They are sweet and juicy instead of drying your mouth when you eat them.

Talking of the Squirrel and Wildlife, the Wasps have still not been dealt with on my Allotment, or in my Garden and I am learning to live with them. They are enjoying my fallen Apples though, so I have to be careful when I am clearing them up, which I do every few days. Some of the better, but small, fallen Apples, are being given to the Lady who keeps the Horses in the adjacent field. The Horses love them, but Allotmenteers are not supposed to feed them with anything so she has the Apples in a Bucket and rations them out as a treat for the Horses. At the beginning of September I started picking the first of my Apple trees in earnest. The different varieties all seem to ripen at different times, even if it is only a week or two later than each other. This of course means that a lot of them don’t even have to be stored as they get eaten straight away and it is especially useful in enabling me to use up the spoilt, grubby ones, before they go off and the next variety is ready.

The Wasps have also started on my Figs which I began picking at the start of September as well. However, they seem to go for damaged ones first rather than actually eating into good fruit. So I deliberately left one, or two, that they had started on, in the hopes that they would leave the others alone, and it seems to be working. As of the middle of September, I must have picked a dozen or more fruit already from just the one tree. My Chelsea Fig seems to be a little later than the Brown Turkey and a third tree that I have is starting to fruit for the first time although I don’t know the variety. My Ice Crystal and Panachee are both supposed to produce edible fruit, but the trees are only just getting established and I never had any off their parents before I moved. The fruits on my Medlar are looking good, but it will be a few weeks yet before they are ready as they need to be frosted to make them edible. Elsewhere on my Plot I haven’t even started to pick any Cape Gooseberries yet, so I have those to look forwards to as well.
There are plenty of Vegetables still to come including my Red Cabbages that are still a bit small and Kohl Rabi of which I have picked a few. I am still working my way through my Beetroot and Turnips, picking the best and leaving the rest that are a bit small for later. A few had gone to seed as it was so dry and I had started watering, but the occasional shower has now improved things. My Leeks won’t be ready for quite a while yet, but both batches are settling in nicely, although here again I was watering them until quite recently. Hopefully, the rain will continue for a while yet and even into the Winter to replenish supplies. I am sure that we have used a lot more on the Allotments this year than we usually do. We don’t want wet Summers, but on the other hand we don’t want them quite so dry!


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