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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


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Allotment Tree & Plant Sale.

After a vote at the AGM this year, the Allotments Committee, decided to start the next stage of developing our Allotment Site by giving it a few more facilities. A storage Shed has long been wanted to keep things in that belong to the site be it a roll of Membrane, Environmesh, or Packets of Seeds to swap. Apart from this there have been numerous requests to have a Toilet for the Site, so this year, the decision was made to take steps towards installing these two things. Obviously a good deal of money would be required, some of which we already had, but it was decided to have some Fundraisers to support the cause. With this in mind we had a big plant sale in May and other ideas were suggested to follow on.
Every year I germinate a few Tree Seeds, and take a number of Tree Cuttings, all of which I grow on and then take to the charity where I work. These they pot up and eventually offer for sale along with other plants that they produce. With the 2 years of Lockdown and subsequent restrictions on the Charity, they haven’t sold very many plants, or trees, in the last 3 years. Consequently, my Manager told me not to take in any more young trees this year.

So, in early Summer, I suggested having a Tree Sale as a Fundraiser. After all it was the year of “Plant A Tree For The Jubilee.” There were some doubts about how viable the idea would be, but after the success of the last 3 Spring Plant Sales that I was heavily involved with, the Committee decided to let me run with the idea. To boost the potential sales I suggested adding pots of Herbaceous Perennials that could be grown from offsets that would be largely taken from plants in my Garden. The idea was accepted, again with some doubts. However, I got busy potting and growing as much as was reasonable. The Trees were potted in either 10, or 12 inch pots using Compost from our own Compost Bin mixed with a little more fibrous material to lighten it and the Perennials were potted in 4, or 5 inch Pots. By the time September came and the day of the Sale on the 10th most of the Trees were about 4, or 5 Feet tall and they included a mixture of Edible Figs, Ornamental Figs, Corkscrew Willow, Red Leafed Hazel, Ordinary Willow, Elderberry, Paulownia, Asian Pear, Lemon Scented Eucalyptus and some lovely Rowans that had been donated by a very kind Lady on a nearby housing estate. There was some debate as to how much to sell everything for and we settled on an easy pricing of five Pounds each for the trees, with one, or two special ones at a tenner, and just a pound each for the Perennials. There was a little joking about, “Would there be any Cannabis Plants on sale?” in light of a recent Cannabis raid on an industrial estate in the village a few weeks earlier. Apparently, hundreds of Plants had been discovered growing in a Warehouse and there had been much Police activity for days.
I remember seeing a live gardening item on TV a few years ago that featured some Allotments in Birmingham when the presenter spotted a few plants growing that looked suspicious. He asked the Council Official guiding him around, if they were Cannabis Plants and the Official agreed that they were saying that he would have to report the matter straight away. This was all on a live TV show and then the item was cut short before they switched to something else! So, who knows with our warming Summers, we will have to keep an eye on our site!
Anyway, joking aside, our Sales Day was a success although it was held for only 2 hours and it was just 2 days after the Queen died. The day before our sale I feared that it would be cancelled with the big Ceremony planned for Charles’s accession to the Throne at exactly the time of the start of our sale. I believe it did cut down the numbers attending, but I think we still had a good result.
We had some 40 Trees to offer as well as over 100 Herbaceous Perennials and I guess we sold nearly half of the Trees. Having said that, nearly half of those sold, were Figs including a couple of the lovely ornamental “Ice Crystal,” variety, but we also sold a few big, twisted willow and an assortment of others. Perhaps not as many Trees sold as I would have liked, but we made up the Sales with most of the Herbaceous Perennials being sold. If anyone had asked me beforehand for a Target figure, I would have said £200 plus, which was what we got.
There were a number of Perennials left over that were donated to another Village Fundraiser so that he could have a sale at a later date and some were to go to a Railway Memorial Garden, at the local Church, that is supported by the Allotments.

No sooner was the Autumn Tree and Plant Sale over and I started thinking about next year’s Spring Plant Sale that we have been holding in May for the last few years. With this in mind, early Autumn is a good time to think about multiplying Plants by dividing them. Most Herbaceous Plants can simply be dug up and roughly split with two small hand forks held back to back, or for larger clumps, two border forks. You don’t need to worry too much about damage to the Plants as long as each clump has some roots on. When doing this though, it does help the plants recover, if you cut the foliage down quite hard at the same time that you pot, or replant the pieces. This reduces the strain on the Plants and gives the roots a better chance to cope until they re-grow.

A friend had a large clump of Yellow Flag Irises that she didn’t want, so I dug those up to be potted. The ground was Clay and had compacted very badly over time, so I had to use a Pick to get them out. The soil in the patch that they came from was extremely impoverished so she will need to work in some Compost or Manure before she thinks about planting anything else there. I also decided to divide and pot two of my ornamental Clovers - one that is fully hardy - Oxalis Triangularis, and one that is not - Oxalis Tatraphylla, Iron Cross.
(Link) http://www.the-site.name/allotments/articlehixon174.htm
They both make unusual Pot Plants and are always popular. I have been a fan since discovering them some years ago.
Farmers use Clover sometimes to enrich their Soil with Nitrogen and some Allotment Holders use it as a Green Manure, but I think it is an undervalued plant. There is even an edible variety for use in Salads.
It is a bit late, but I took some “Soft,” Hebe and Euphorbia cuttings to add to the variety. Hopefully, there is enough growing time left for them to root before they shutdown for Winter. Soft Wood Cuttings will normally root in a few weeks. Hardwood Cuttings, on the other hand are best taken at the end of the Season and left to root over Winter and even into the following Summer and beyond as they take much longer. I did take some more woody cuttings of the Twisted Willow as those sold well and some Variegated Cornus. Last years Fig and Kiwi Vine cuttings that have been in my Cold Frame since last Autumn, should be ready to pot up when they have dropped their leaves and then I will take a new batch of cuttings. I usually put some Red Leafed Hazel cuttings in as well that I take from underground shoots which seem to sprout around the Tree in my Garden every year.

Every year I put in a few packets of Seeds to try different things, but on a budget. A packet of Seeds is usually only a couple of Pounds and you can easily get a number of Plants to grow from it. Where as, if you were to buy the same number of Plants from a Garden Centre, they would cost you a small fortune these days. To really do things on the cheap though, you can collect your own seed. I did this with some Hawthorn Berries which I put in for work, some Rowans, Elderberry and Euonymus, or Spindle Tree. To germinate, many Native Tree Seeds need a cold spell that they get naturally during winter.
Apart from the Tree Seeds I put in a Packet of Lythrum Salicaria, or Purple Loosestrife, that I bought last Winter. They didn’t seem to germinate in the Spring, so I threw the Compost away. Much to my delight I recently found several plants growing in various places. They materialised in odd corners and had even started flowering when I discovered them. They can be invasive, and although they are very tough, they prefer damp places. The Lythrum should bulk up quite quickly, so next summer I might be able to divide one or two of them for something different to add to the collection, if we have another late Summer Plant Sale as this is when they flower.

At Work I came across another cheap and cheerful plant that can also be a bit invasive as it spreads readily. Flowering with a bright yellow flower, again late in the Season, it is really quite pretty. Golden Rod is the common name, or Solidago it’s Latin Name and it is good for insects, in particular butterflies, and although it is considered poisonous to people and Horses, it is used in Herbal Medicine and is non toxic to dogs.

Elsewhere on my Plot the Early Summer Raspberries have already been cut down and in a few weeks the Leaves will fall from the Autumn Raspberries as they finish and the colder weather comes and then they can be cut down and tidied up. As the Raspberries get sorted I will dig up any stray Canes, that have a habit of popping up everywhere that they are not wanted, and they will get Potted. They will need all Winter to settle into the Pots, but they should then shoot in the Spring and will be added to the collection of Plants for sale. I recently tidied up one of my Gooseberry Bushes cutting it back to shape it up to give better air flow around the plant that will help it prosper. Several shoots had rooted down so those were cut off and dug out before potting. Black Currant Bushes also have a tendency to root down as they bulk up giving the opportunity for some more plants when they are given their seasonal tidy up, although cuttings root easily enough. Rhubarb plants need completely digging up and dividing every 3 or 4 years to re-invigorate them as well, so that will be a source of a few more plants “For Free.”
As we go through Winter and get nearer to the Sale date I will start thinking about what vegetables I will want to grow as most vegetables will have to be grown from Seed in the Spring ready for the Sale.


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