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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



Success With Trees.

Going up to my Allotment the other week, I was delighted to find my first ripe Fig of the season. The large tree at home doesn’t normally have any ripe fruit on until September, so this was unexpected and all the more special, because it was my very first Fig picked from the small tree on my Allotment. The tree was grown from a cutting taken some 3, or 4 years ago and now that it is putting on quite a bit of growth, I am just starting to train it “Espalier,” method. Another little fruit tree that got me quite excited was my Mountain PawPaw, or Carica Candamarensis. It is still only about 4 feet tall and has been grown in a 12 inch pot from seed sown some 3 years ago. The tree is slightly tender standing only a light frost, is deciduous losing its leaves every Autumn and goes into my greenhouse for the Winter. The Mountain PawPaw has a trunk that is considerably fatter at the bottom than the top with a large bulge at the base like the BaoBab tree. Normally treated as an Annual in its native territory it grows quite slowly in cooler conditions. The flowers, of which the tree has several, are pale and waxy and seem to last a long time. Whether I shall get any fruit to follow I don’t know, but it was a delight to see it flower. Another little tree, or perhaps bush is a better description, that surprised me, was my Pinapple Guava, or Feijoa also known as Acca, Sellowiana. This too was grown from seed about 5 years ago and has for the fist time produced a few, very exotic looking flowers that are not un-reminiscent of a Passion Flower. These successes follow on from my success at the beginning of the season this year when an Asian Pear tree, that had also been grown from seed some years ago, flowered for the first time ever. Who knows what fruit will follow on these exotic specimens. It is all very exciting for me and gives me a real sense of achievement having grown them myself from start to finish as it were

The tree cuttings are shooting well now as they are starting to send out new shoots for developing branches. However, most people think I am pulling their legs when I tell them that they are rooted cuttings taken last Winter, because they are all about 4, or 5 feet high and the Hazel stems especially are nearly 2 inches thick! In all there are three different types of Fig trees that I have done from cuttings, Ice Crystal – which is purely ornamental with fancy leaves and small inedible fruits, Panachee – which is a variegated variety with edible fruit and the common Brown Turkey. I also have two types of Hazel trees consisting of the common type and a lovely red leafed variety that also has red nuts, or at least red nut cases. 
A novel idea I had for the red Hazel was to cut down one of the potted specimens to just below soil level. The thought is that this will in effect “Coppice,” it and cause it to shoot from very low down on the stem – in fact below what was the soil level. Then the idea is to re-fill the pot so that the bases of the new shoots are below soil, which will cause the shoots to root naturally. I will then be able to remove my “Irishman’s Cuttings.” If the idea is successful I may try it with another one, or two, other trees. A little bit of failure with my Mulberry tree at home though as the branches still haven’t rooted, but I remain hopeful.
On the subject of “Free,” “Natural,” cuttings, I had a nice surprise on my Allotment, because part of one of my Grape Vines had become loose over the Winter and never been tied back in. The thick stem had bent down to the ground and rooted in several places. As a result I was able to cut off and pot 4 new, young vines for work at Oak Tree Farm Rural Project, or they may be sold on the Allotment open day.

Another tree that I coppiced, this time at work, and put some cuttings from it in to root, was a Willow. I know they are not very exciting, but for those who want a windbreak, or a small specimen tree in a wet spot, they are ideal. They can grow big if allowed, but are quite happy if you cut them down almost to the ground every few years. As I said I did this at work and the resulting cuttings rooted in a few weeks in nothing more than a bucket of water.
Speaking of work, there is a beautifully scented Pineapple, or Moroccan Broom that gets covered with pretty yellow flowers. One garden writer said that the seed is sterile, but another one said to soak the seeds and sow in late Summer. Needless to say I am going to give them a try!
At home I have a lovely, evergreen, Sweet Box, or Sarcococca Confusa, that has white, scented flowers. This too produced seeds last Winter in the form of berries that I sowed. Happily they germinated well a little while ago and I have a couple of dozen seedlings growing very slowly.
I am going to put more berries and native seeds in next winter of things like Hazel, Sweet Chestnut, Rowan and the lovely pink berried Hypericum that grows by my greenhouse. Others that I would like to try are the white berried “Snowberry,” or Symphoricarpus and the red flowered Chestnut and red flowered Hawthorn, if I can get them. Trees do take a few years from seed to reach flowering maturity, but my recent successes on the Allotment prove that it is worth effort and the wait!


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