Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
Things Are Still Happening.
With winter just around the
corner there aren’t that many flowers in my front garden at the moment
and just a few things like the Penstemons and Alstroemerias are putting
on a show. However, my Dwarf Bamboo looks good at any time of the year
and a very large Grass that I planted some time ago is now coming into
its own as well. I have never really been a fan of Grasses, perhaps
because my Mother wasn’t, but I have always been impressed when I have
seen any stands of Pampas Grass growing in front gardens. There are
several gardens around my village with them growing in and, in the right
place, they do look spectacular providing a real feature in the garden.
When I planted the grass I didn’t know that it actually was a Pampas
Grass and it wasn’t until I saw its giant plume start to develop that I
realised what it was. Against the corner of my Bungalow and at this time
of year, it looks really good. Hopefully, next year it will have more
Plumes on it as the clump develops. The Latin name for it is Cortaderia
and there are several different types of varying sizes with one even
having pretty pink plumes. They do seem to grow quite quickly though, so
you don’t need to spend a fortune on buying a large specimen. When I
planted mine it was only in a small pot and that would only have been a
couple of years ago. Now it certainly fills the corner of my garden
There are many other different grasses available to gardeners these days
and indeed at the moment they seem to be very fashionable. I do have
another one in my back garden that has also bulked up nicely, but it is
more of a ground cover plant being only about a foot high. It has green
and white variegation and I have just dug up and divided a large piece
of it to give me some more plants for the Allotments Spring Plant Sale.
I called it a grass, but I think it is actually Carex which is a type of
Perhaps I should have done it earlier, but as it has not got very cold
yet, I have also divided up some Herbaceous Perennials,.
It is tempting to use a Spade to cut through the roots to get out a
clump of Herbaceous Plants, but it is far better to use a Fork. This
tends to separate the roots and pull them apart without doing so much
damage. Indeed when you have removed a clump and you want to break it up
further, you should insert 2 forks, back to back, and prize the pieces
apart. If the pieces are smallish you could use 2 little hand forks. The
resulting, separated pieces will grow away far more quickly if treated
Things that I dug up and divided include; a lovely, relatively short
stemmed, red, Achillea, a large clump of the giant, creamy yellow,
Syserinchum, a clump of short stemmed, blue Asters, some of the large,
bright yellow, Lysimachia and some Perennial Rudbeckia. I also managed
to dig down deep enough to get out some roots of Alstroemeria and I
potted up an assortment of self set Ferns that I found growing in a
shady spot by the walls of my house. None of these will really grow much
now it is starting to get a bit colder, but I am hoping they will put on
a bit more root. I also potted a batch of Stachys cuttings that were
just about ready and some Biennial Fox Glove seedlings that I dug up out
of the Asparagus bed on my Allotment. How they got there I don’t know,
but I guess the seed arrived in some of the Mulch that I put on a while
Back in the Spring my Brother gave me a tray of perennial Thallictrum
seedlings that he had grown, but decided he didn’t want after all. I
used some of them in the Spring Plant Sale, but had kept many of the
smaller ones back, to grow on. When I looked at them the other week they
had developed quite well, so I potted those up. Thallictrums have what
look like Aquilegia Leaves, but the flowers are more like a fluffy
Other things that I have recently potted include 10 Twisted Willow
Cuttings that I managed to root in just a jar of water on my Kitchen
Windowsill, and 20 odd Fig Cuttings that had been in my Cold Frame all
Summer after being put there last Winter as “Hardwood Cuttings.” I
decided that the Kiwi Vine cuttings, which I had taken at the same time,
were still not ready.
I should have done it earlier, but I put a tray of Passion Flower Seeds
in that I took from one of the bright orange fruits on my Brother’s
plant in his back garden. It was the middle of October when they went in
and after a couple of weeks they were coming up well. By mid November we
started having a few cooler days and the odd night when I needed to
scrape the car windscreen first thing in the morning. So, it was the
wrong time to have seedlings up, but I put the tray in a Propagator, in
my Greenhouse for them to get a bit more light, grow on and harden up a
bit. Generally though, it was too mild and wet through October and into
November throwing all sorts of things into confusion.
The Fruit on my Medlar Tree, by the Shed on my Allotment, started
falling before the Leaves had come off, whereas normally, we have had
several sharp frosts before it starts to drop, so I picked them finding
just a few were starting to turn colour. However, it was a very good
crop this year following a couple of poor years after carrying out some
heavy pruning some time ago. I will store the fruit in a cool damp place
to Blet them, or let them get over ripe. The ripening process is very
much like when a Pear, or Apple, gets too ripe and goes soft and brown.
However, with Apples and Pears, the brown, mushy fruit then has an
unpleasant tang to it, whereas, Medlars become sweet and sticky with a
fudge like texture making them quite an unusual and tasty treat. I had
far too many for myself, so I gave a Punnet to a fellow Plot Holder and
then took a Crate Full to another friend, at a local pub. This chap
knows a lady who is into jam making, so they should be well received.
The Tree does need some attention, which means I will have to prune it a
little bit taking off some of the top branches that are going up too
high and I will also remove a few that are growing over my Path. I don’t
want to take off too many though, otherwise it will be a couple of years
before I get a good crop of Fruit again. I will also get some more,
long, straight, logs from work to form a bit of a surround to the area
that the tree is in so that I can build up the ground level. I will do
this by letting the Leaves and wood chip form a thick mulch that will
suppress the Couch grass which is running through the area. The Daffodil
bulbs should still come through the additional depth with no problem
My Cape Gooseberry Plants have grown massive this year and were fruiting
well at the time of writing this in mid November. They will stand some
cold and the fruit will go on ripening even after the plants have
succumbed to the colder nights, as long as the frosts aren’t too severe.
I have even picked fruit on Christmas Day on my Allotment in the past. I
had so many ripe berries the other week, that for a bit of fun, I took a
punnet of berries to the Pub for the regular Customers to try. Needless
to say some were more impressed than others, but I think there was at
least one convert who asked me where to get the seed from!
I am still digging up Beetroot and now I am also cutting a few lovely,
Red Cabbages that have come on well after a very poor start when they
got badly eaten by Pigeons. I didn’t cover them at first and then I did
so only for a while until the plants were getting established. I was
once told that Animals always attack the weakest prey and that even goes
for Plants and Birds to some extent with the Birds going for the weakest
growing Plants and not bothering so much with the strong, healthy ones.
I think that the slightly bitter taste of Red Cabbage may have something
to do with it as well.
I also started harvesting and then dividing the Crowns of my Yacons. I
grew quite a few plants on my Plot in several different places and they
all did well including the 2 that I grew in a couple of Potato Bags on
my Yard at home. I had so many tubers that as with the Medlars, I
decided to take a crate full to the Pub for bit of fun. I cleaned them
up and put them on the Bar with a sign on saying, “Free to a good
Tummy!” as their sweetness comes from an indigestible Sugar that makes
them have virtually no Calories.
Elsewhere on my Plot I picked my first Harvest of mini Kiwi Fruits from
my vine called “Kiwi Issai.” Its Latin name is actually Actinidia
This year was the first year that I have ever seen it flower although it
was planted some 9, or 10 years ago. There were not many of its small,
almost Grape sized, fruits, but they did tast like a normal Kiwi. Apart
from the size difference to normal Kiwi Fruits, you have no need to peel
them. I had certainly never seen any before.
Other things that I still have to Harvest include my Parsnips and Leeks
that both seem to be coming on well. Both are vegetables of the Winter
months that are best picked when it gets really cold and used in warming
things like Soups and Stews. This year I haven’t grown any Brussels
Sprouts, but that is another traditional winter Vegetable. After those
have all gone it will be a case of waiting until the Sea Kale and early
Cabbages are ready in the Spring.