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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

Gardening Tips
By Mrs FM

Unusual & Old
Fashioned Fruit

Herbs & Other
Edible Plants.

Environmental Issues And Going Green.

Vines And Other Climbing Plants.

Fish Ponds

Books By
Alan J Hartley



Sowing Some Unusual Seeds.

March is undoubtedly the time to sow most vegetable seeds, especially if you are going to start them off in cellular trays, or plugs, in a heated greenhouse, or propagator. This is a much more efficient way of growing your seedlings and will cause less upset to them when you transplant them out to their final growing positions as long as you harden them off a bit first. Doing them like this also means that your plants will have a head start on those sown directly into the cold ground outside, however, I invariably do mine too early and some, like Kohl Rabi especially, start to grow and then “Bolt.”

I have already put in Asparagus and a tray of Globe Artichokes that germinated very quickly, along with some tiny Cinnamon Vine bulbils saved from last year’s plants. Samphire is a new vegetable to me that I am trying for the first time, because it has had a little publicity recently on TV. It is said to like salty conditions, so that could be a little bit challenging. Cucamelons, Cape Gooseberries and their cousin, Tomatilloes are old favourites, although, not always successful and fruitful outside, depending on the weather. Tender, indoor, Lemon Eucalyptus and Stevia, which is a bit hardier, because it will stand outside for the Summer, are a couple of Herb like plants that I have also put in. They are not true Herbs, as they are really shrubs, but they can be used for flavouring just the same.

Having successfully grown Asian Pear trees from seed before I was pleased to spot a packet of fruits recently in a local Supermarket. The Apple like Pears were delicious and I had the bonus of lots of seeds in the fruits! A packet of seeds would have cost more than the fruit did and the trees certainly grow well enough in this country. Although I have not had one fruit yet from a tree that I have grown from seed, I have picked fruit from a commercially grown tree that is up on my Allotment. The seeds will join my other tree seeds in a Propagator.

Finally, this year, I have harvested my Liquorice plant root. At first I was a little disappointed at both the thickness and the quantity, but soon realised I had done quite well really as I got about a dozen pieces of root with some nice fat buds on that I was able to pot up, plus, after trimming, about 5 feet of usable root for the kitchen. The taste was a pleasant surprise as I am not really a fan of Liquorice and although it tasted interesting to me, it was nothing like I imagined it should be. Firstly it didn’t have the sweetness of the sugar-enriched sweets, but neither was it as strong and concentrated a taste. I probably won’t end up having much myself anyway as I shall give it away to the many takers who have expressed an interest in it! Apart from asking if they can have some, the other question everybody asks is “What do you do with it?”
Traditionally it has always been sold, dried, in health food shops and one use has been to wean people off cigarettes by being something tasty to keep in their mouths and chew on in place of the cigarettes. However, recently I saw a cooking programme where it was used as a flavouring agent mixed in with other ingredients. The Chef cut a piece of root into thin slices and then used it to infuse into the mixture before sieving it out later in the cooking process. Commercially of course, the fresh roots are steamed at high temperature and pressure to extract the juice before turning it into sweets. Bought from a shop it looks like little brown sticks of wood, but my fresh roots were yellow skinned with a white centre. The pencil thick roots seem to spread very much like Raspberries do and what fascinated me was that during harvesting they were limp and pliable until after they had been dug up, washed and handled, and then they went stiff and rigid!!!

I have also started harvesting the first of my Sea Kale for this year. It has come nice and early this season and is well before my Asparagus. Some years it is late and then I have both to harvest at once, which is a shame because they are very similar in their uses, cooking and taste. I was concerned at how it would do this time, because last year I built some raised beds round the plants and raised up the soil level, but am pleased to see that the crowns are coming through with no problems. Indeed, the feed that they have had from the addition of a thick layer of compost appears to have given them a boost as the first signs of growth are very good.


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