Field Allotments Hixon
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
Alan J Hartley
Preparing For Next Year.
The Angelica plants, that were some of the first plants to be put in the plot, have done very well. Unfortunately after trying various ways of cooking them myself and having given armfuls to other people including 3 pubs/restaurants and one farm shop, I am still really none the wiser as to how to make them tasty. It seems that no one else has any ideas as to what to do with them either, so they have been pulled up and composted. Perhaps foolishly, I planted a few more on my other plot at the other allotment site that are now starting to put on some growth as well. These haven’t been pulled up yet, but when I do I will leave one or two to go to seed for next year … just in case someone comes up with a use for the plants! Unusually, the seed will have to be sown as soon as it is ripe in the late Autumn, whereas most types of seed can easily be packeted and stored until the next year, or later. In fact Angelica will germinate and grow throughout the Winter and as such are really a Biannual.
Saving seed from your own plants can be a good idea and easy way of saving money, but do remember that many plants, including vegetables, are very often highly interbred, not genetically stable and as such will not come true to type the next year. Having said that, many wild or native trees and plants will produce seedlings that are true to type from nuts and berries. With this in mind and my determination to plant my own little mixed fruit orchard on my allotment, I was fascinated to see the fruits developing and ripening on some Sloe bushes/trees that were growing in the hedgerow at one of our favourite restaurants. After asking the owner, I picked a small handful of the small purple/black almost plum like fruits and took them home to try and germinate them. The Sloe is actually another name for the Blackthorn that is quite a common plant in our older hedgerows and as such fruits can be picked for free around much of the countryside. Being a hedging plant, Sloes will fruit at a relatively small size as will the common Hazel that can also be found growing wild in many hedges. It is said that Hazels germinate best from freshly picked nuts rather than those that have been stored and dried for sale in the shops. Perhaps 12-15 years ago my mother germinated a single nut and the tree has been nurtured ever since in our front garden. Incorrect pruning at the wrong time of year in the past years prevented any nuts developing and the previous mild winters didn’t help either as Hazel’s need a “Good Winter” to produce nuts, but the last few years we have started to gather our own nuts. This year I picked them before they had fully ripened as they readily drop when ripe and are difficult to find in the grass. I then spent a happy hour removing the outer cases, to leave the familiar shell that was starting to turn brown and on weighing my haul, found the scales reading a good 1lb ¾.
After clearing the Angelica, I raked the manure from the surface of the patch, that had been used to suppress the weeds, and spread it over the garlic and onion patch that had also been cleared a little earlier. The idea is to expand the Rhubarb patch into the adjacent onion patch and plant more rhubarb in the winter as it is one plant that seems to have grown well and unhindered by the Rabbits. Being quite a bulky plant we have decided not to grow any at home, but take all the plants to the allotment where they can benefit from liberally added farm manure without the neighbours complaining about the smell!
Rather than leaving the Angelica patch completely empty all winter until next Spring, I decided to re-plant with some very late Autumn potatoes. The packet said to plant any time in July and early August to have potatoes ready for Christmas. When I first decided to have an allotment I said I wouldn’t bother with potatoes and other relatively cheap crops that farmers grow so well, but it is something to plant now to make use of the soil and one of the few things that the rabbits really aren’t interested in!