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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

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By Mrs FM

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Alan J Hartley



Another New Vegetable.

Not being a fan of Lettuce, I was at first, a little unsure about growing some Celtuce, or Stem Lettuce. It said on the growing instructions that it was a “Pick and come again,” type of Lettuce and at the end of the leaf harvest you could harvest the stalks as another, separate vegetable. I shouldn’t have let my plants go to seed, and this resulted in the stems getting a “Woody,” layer under their outer skin, but they peeled ok, albeit with a strong knife, strong wrist and firm hand. As I said, not being that fond of Lettuce leaves in salads, I threw away the leaves and kept the stems! I have to admit that I was quite impressed with the stems that really do taste of Lettuce although look nothing like it other than being bright, almost fluorescent green under their outer skin. They were nice raw, in a salad, as they were crisp and crunchy. The instructions said that they could also be served hot and cooked, so I sliced and steamed some. I don’t know how long they should be steamed for, but the instructions said to lightly steam them, and when they went in with Carrots that cooked soft, the Celtuce remained a bit crunchy. They did not have a strong taste, but they still made a welcome, additional vegetable on our plates. One fat stalk had as much vegetable in it after peeling as would be in a couple of large Carrots, Beetroot, or Parsnips. In my opinion they are definitely worth growing just for the stalks even if you throw away the Lettuce leaves!

Back in the Spring I sowed a few Liquorice seeds that didn’t have a high germination success rate. However, apparently, they are not easy from seed and as there were only a small number of seeds in the packet, I was pleased to get half a dozen up. To hedge my bets, I took some root cuttings from my maturing plant that is settling in well on my Allotment. This was very easy to do, because the simple act of weeding its bed, exposed roots that I could cut off to grow on. Now I have a dozen small plants that are coming on slowly, but surely. The growing instructions said that young plants need Winter protection for their first year before planting out, so they are being kept in a greenhouse until next Spring.

Something else that I have had a bit of fun with this year is the much publicised, “Fuchsia Berries.” Bought mail order, over the Internet, from one of the more specialist plant companies, I started with just two plants before my brother gave me another two when the company introduced an offer on them at the end of the selling season. As with any Fuchsia, they produced the usual type of flower and from that you would not know that they were any different. However, as the flowers faded they were replaced by seedpods that just grew and grew until a few were the size of small Grapes, although some remained tiny. The larger berries were very juicy, but didn’t seem to have much taste, then again I have got very little sense of taste. The berries definitely make a talking point though and are something out of the ordinary. We have all seen Fuchsia seedpods form on the traditional flowering plants that have been left after flowering, and in the past I have wondered if they were edible. Well they certainly are from this variety, but just in case I wouldn’t advise eating the ordinary ones from bedding plants. One point has occurred to me and that is, you mustn’t “Dead Head,” the Fuchsia flowers, as you would normally do to keep the plants looking tidy, because you will lose the fruits! Fruits develop from the pollinated remnants on the dead flower heads! When the Autumn comes, I will try and over Winter my plants for next year, so that the plants are even bigger and more productive next season. That is one big drawback with this variety of Fuchsia – they are not hardy and will need to be stored in “Frost Free,” conditions when it gets cold.

I have certainly had a bit of fun with a few new things this year, as I usually do. I wonder what will turn up to try for next year?


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