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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

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By Mrs FM

Unusual & Old
Fashioned Fruit

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Edible Plants.

Environmental Issues And Going Green.

Vines And Other Climbing Plants.

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Alan J Hartley



Problems With A New Plot.

Round the country lots of Allotments are being brought back into use, with, more people adopting the idea of “Growing their own vegetables,” the ever growing interest in “Healthy Eating,” and the fascination with new and more unusual vegetables. You would think that with this resurgence in Allotment gardening there would be long waiting lists for vacant Plots as there always has been in the past, however, at the same time people seem to be having, lots of family problems, difficulties with work and health problems. Sadly Allotments come at the bottom of the list of things to do for people like this and they get forgotten about. To a working person the cost of the rent for an average Allotment is negligible, so even that doesn’t have any bearing on things. Of course the value of a “Plot,” is quite high for those that really want them and my mate has wanted a plot since being forced to give up his on a site that the council closed down some years ago. He has been on the waiting list for a different site in the next village for a couple of years now and was told it was almost like “Dead man’s shoes,” with plots only becoming empty when someone died. But, like a lot of allotments, they suddenly had several vacancies as they tried to bring back into use several neglected plots.
He had helped me in a big way in the past on my plots by building; two brick built compost bins, a toolbox and a cold frame. He also helped me to put edging boards round one plot and did some of the initial digging on the same plot. So, I, “Owed him big time,” and decided to repay the debt by helping him dig his new plot - especially as he is still recovering from a very serious illness a couple of years ago.

When he was offered a choice of several plots it was still quite early in the season and nothing much was growing. One plot looked like a lawn and another was wet, he was told, so he plumped for one that had some weed free looking beds laid out with quite a number of fruit bushes already growing on it. What he didn’t realise was that the plot was riddled with Convolvulus, which, at the time, was underground and still dormant from the Winter. It turned out that there was a general problem with convolvulus on many plots, as it is endemic on the site. Anyway, I got stuck into digging various beds for him and tried digging it out. I felt like one of those Archaeologists that you see on their hands and knees sifting carefully though every speck of soil looking for buried treasures. Me, I was looking for every tiny bit of white Convolvulus root as even the tiniest speck can grow. My mate will probably have to resort to weed killer, eventually, after his crops come out in the Autumn, as now things are starting to grow, it is shooting up everywhere. The only consolation is that it is easier to dig out as the soil is loose and has been freshly dug and is not compacted like it was. He thought of Composting the weed, but I advised him that was not a good idea, because that will only spread it even more. I had got a few bits on my own plot as well in the past and tried doing that with the result that I have a lot more of it now!

The other problem that we have had with his new plot came from an unexpected source which was totally new to me and that was Bees. On the little patch of land next to my mate’s plot is a large communal storage shed with a couple of Bee Hives behind it. It seems they had not been looked at for some time and recently the Committee found a volunteer Bee Keeper to come and attend to them. From what my mate saw, he had all the gear on when he came. But he didn’t smoke them properly and they became angry with his mistreatment of them. The Bees went on the rampage attacking anyone who was nearby. My mate was stung a couple times and so was his wife. Although the stings were very painful and alarming they were not stung on the throat, or anywhere else life threatening. When I went a couple of hours later the Bees were still angry and chasing people and I got stung a couple of times as well. Indeed, it was several days before they started to calm down with my mate getting stung again in the intervening period. There were thoughts that their anger might have been caused by some crossing of their blood in the past with the more aggressive African Bees, but we were assured this was not the case. The British Bee Keepers Association claim, that there are not, and never have been, any African Bees in the UK. It is just as well as we have all seen the horror news clips from the US with angry bees swarming onto people who are operating machinery such as mowers, drills, etc with the unlucky people being stung hundreds of times and some even being killed. On the other hand there have been pictures of people with the hundreds of the ordinary, British Bees, clinging to their faces like beards with no harm coming to them. Like most animals, I think if you treat them with care and respect they will not go out of their way to harm you. The stupid Bee Keeper on the Allotments didn’t do this and was stung several times when he upset them and he even had an allergic reaction on his way home. He had to pull his car over and someone called an Ambulance as he was in a bad way with breathing difficulties due to anaphylactic shock. He must be crazy to work to work with Bees if he is allergic to them!

After the incident, I looked up about Bee Keeping with the Allotments Association and they give out some recommendations for Bee Keepers. Firstly, hives should be placed so that they are away from other plot-holders. Secondly, hedges, to make the Bees fly high and over the heads of people, should obstruct the Bee’s flight path. This will ensure that they are dispersed safely over the site after leaving their Hives. Thirdly it is recommended that all new Bee Keepers attend a course that is run by the British Bee Keepers Association teaching the safe and correct care of Hives. Finally, all members of the British Bee Keeping Association have public liability insurance in case of accidents and mishaps. I guess, the Bee Keeper on my mates Allotments did not know any of this, but fortunately they have a new person who seems to be dealing with the Hives in a much more professional way and the Bees are quite calm now, so we can get on with his plot in peace.


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