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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton


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By Mrs FM


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The Last Of The Harvesting

Another month has gone by and we have started to get frosts in a little more earnest. As yet the Cape Gooseberries are still standing up to it, but the Oca have succumbed where they were not grown under the shelter of a cloche. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I dug up the roots as just those few weeks made the world of difference to the tuber development. From less than a dozen self sets I harvested the best part of a small bucket of tubers some of which were small and some the size of oblong new potatoes. The smaller ones will be scrubbed and eaten raw like Radishes and we will try cooking the bigger ones.

The harvesting of my Jerusalem Artichokes has also begun in earnest. Although I have dug the crop up each year they have always been immediately re-sown in the same patch. This year however, I planted a few of the new Fuseau variety elsewhere and they have cropped remarkably well. The tubers are more torpedo shaped and much more regular in both shape and size than the older variety. The old type also tends to form a big ball shaped mass of tubers the size of a football around the bottom of the main stems that is quite hard to break apart. The new type, on the other hand, seems to radiate out from the stem in a star shape making them easier to harvest. They are also much easier to clean because of their regular shape. We have never seen any flowers on Artichokes before, but the Fuseau variety flowered this time and produced some very pretty yellow flowers that were almost good enough to use as cut flowers!

I havenít planted any early Japanese Onions this year as I did so well with the cheaper ordinary ones, but I have actually bought some fresh Garlic bulbs instead of trying to use the old ones like last year that were a total waste of time. The little patch where I want to plant them isnít clear at the moment so I have started them off in pots at home to give them a head start on Winter.

Every year I am surprised at how well the parsnips do. They really like the deeply dug soil and produce very long roots that gradually fill out as the Winter comes. We have started to dig a few already and although they are a little thin they arenít too bad and are very tender needing only a bit of a scrub before cooking. Kale is another Winter vegetable that we have started on and some people have started on their Brussels Sprouts as well, although mine are still too small. Hopefully, they will develop a little more in time for Christmas. Mom is one of those people who canít stand them, but I am happy to have a few and it will be interesting to see if, like most purple vegetables, the colour comes out in the water when they are boiled turning them an ordinary green.

Next year I am determined to do even better with cut flowers for the house. The Dahlias have been dug up and although the tubers put on some size they were the wrong types for cut flowers so will be given away, but both the Gladiola and Monarda did well as did the Sweat Peas, although they finished far too early. I did give several of the Monarda away, but after keeping the best colours and taking some cuttings I should have an even better display of them. I wasnít sure the Monarda would root as they were hollow stems, but the pot-full of cuttings seemed to root well sealed inside a plastic bag.
I did no good with the few bulbs of Alstroemeraia, or Ligtu that I planted so have bought a packet of seed to try. They will take longer to flower, but will work out much cheaper in the long run. I did this with some Perennial Sweat Peas and have a tray full that are ready to plant out for next season. With mature plants costing well over £5 each it is a much more cost effective, alternative way, to make a display of plants. The Chrysanthemum cuttings that were taken from bunches of cut flowers have done O.K. and made nice stools as well. They will be dug up and stored in a cold greenhouse as the Winter sets in. There wonít be a lot to do on the allotment then until the Spring gets a little bit closer. 

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