Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.
Preparing for Our New Allotment.
For some years now, I have gradually been taking out some of the old, large, bushes from the garden as mom wanted all the “Prickly/Thorny” plants removed because of her failing eyesight and the problems of thorns. Things like Pryacanthas and Berberris were all replaced with fruit trees and bushes of all sorts and my success with these encouraged me to take more of a general interest in the garden.
elderly mother fell and broke her second hip a couple of years ago she
had done almost all the rest of the gardening leaving just the mowing
and heavier jobs for me to do and although the family ran a garden
centre for over 20 years before my mother retired, I had not taken too
much interest in actual gardening. Of course the last two years I have
had to do just about everything and I have been forced to do proper
gardening which meant weeding and pricking out seedlings that I had
always avoided before. Surprisingly I found that I got to enjoy it and
soon had the garden filled with all manner of plants.
Last Summer our village councillors announced that along with the Government intentions to get more people growing a little of their own food they were hoping to set up some allotments for the local residents, so with my new found enthusiasm for gardening I put my name down for one to give me a little more growing space. Hixon residents had been wanting to get some allotments for many years and at last an agreement has been made with a local landowner and the local Parish Council. It was intended for the allotments to open on April the 1st which being April Fools Day was perhaps asking for trouble, but hopefully they will be finished only a few weeks later.
For many gardeners this will prove to be too late to sow their seeds directly into the soil in their plots, but with a bit of careful planning many plants could be started off in pots that perhaps normally wouldn’t be grown like that.
Like most people I have a large assorted jumble of old pots in the garage that proved very useful to start off some Garlic cloves, Jerusalem Artichoke tubers and I even found some very deep old tree pots to start off a couple of Asparagus roots. My Celeriac seedlings will be pricked out into an old tray that is divided up into many small cells so that the small growing plants can develop their own root systems that won’t be disturbed when they are planted out. Last year I bought one Angelica plant and collected some of the mass of seed that it produced. The seed is said to be viable for only a short time, but after sowing it straight away in the Autumn and pricking out the seedlings, I now have dozens of small plants that have been over-wintered in a cold greenhouse and are ready to plant into our new allotment when we get it. We intend to do the same with Sweet Corn, Cape Gooseberries various types of Beans and maybe a few Tomatoes. Alternatively, you could buy some of the many different types of young vegetable plants that are sold at garden centres in pots like this now for instant gardening. They are especially suitable for people who haven’t got greenhouses to start them off in, or for those who want to get young plants off to a flying start as I do.
One thing that does concern me is the fact that being a new allotment developed from a fallow, neglected field, the soil is not likely to be very good or very deep. Most people are advised to plant potatoes in new plots to break up the soil, but I think that is likely to bring up the sub-soil in the shallow soil of our plots, so I am not going to plant many root crops for a few years, although I am “Chitting” some Pink Fir Apple” potatoes to try as they have a rather different taste to normal potatoes.
Because the soil is not very deep I am going to plant a lot of Currant bushes of one sort or another. Fruit and Vegetable shops do seem to be selling more and more currants to eat, but I still think they are a better value crop than potatoes, or carrots, that the farmers grow so well and are so cheap to buy. Last year I took quite a lot of cuttings from our bushes and pushed them into the ground in a dryish part of the garden to over-winter and hopefully root. We already had an old Gooseberry bush, which, with a little careful poking around underneath, yielded nearly a dozen small rooted plantlets that I also potted to go up to the allotment later.
A new allotment can be expensive to fill with new fruit bushes if you can’t produce your own, but in the Autumn last year, when we thought that the allotments were going to go ahead, we did find that several local garden centres had an end of season clear out. Admittedly the fruit bushes were for very small and some more than a little tatty, but at just £1 each, I certainly didn’t complain. At another garden centre we found a couple of pots of mixed fruit bushes that looked an horrendous price of £19-95, but they had 75% off and the pot contained 3 bushes. So that was 3 bushes for a fiver, but when I actually tipped them out I found that they had been potted deeply and I could divide them all to produce 7 bushes in total. Not bad for a fiver! Another idea I had for the new allotment is to divide the blocks of planting up with small Bay Trees. This might sound ridiculously expensive, but again many garden centres sell pots of Bay seedlings, from time to time, for use in the kitchen. The idea is that people rip off the leaves and after a week or two, throw away what is left of the plants. However, at only about a fiver for a couple of dozen Bay Tree seedlings, that divided with care, will grow on into small bushes they come very cheap.