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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.

Books By
Alan J Hartley




Perennial Vegetables.

Whenever I have been up to the allotments over winter I have had them to myself, but now the weather has changed and planting time is upon us they have suddenly come to life and people seem to be almost constantly coming and going. Last year (the first year) we were all a little late in planting as the allotment was a new site, so I suppose everyone is making the most of the early planting opportunity that the unseasonable weather is giving us. However, I can see a lot of people are going to be caught out by planting things too early that may well be killed by more frosts yet to come. In fact I got up early this morning to see the lawn was white over and we may still get frosts until the end of April and well into May. Some years ago I remember a bit of a SNOW blizzard in the middle of JUNE! The unseasonably warm, dry days are already bringing official drought conditions in some parts of the country, so as is only reasonable, many of the plant outlets have started advertising drought resistant plants and giving water saving tips. The allotments do have a blanket ban on the use of hosepipes, but have got several taps installed for watering. This often tempts plot holders to water, water, water and then they go on holiday for a couple of weeks and the plants wilt and die through lack of water. Constant watering encourages plants to form roots at the surface, which is fine, until the water stops. Then they dry up very quickly, whereas “puddling them in,” when they are first planted and then an occasional soaking, encourages them to go down for their water and they fare much better in the end. Even better is to sow the seed on site, not transplant, not water and just let them get on with it.

Fruit bushes will take a year or two to establish themselves, but most, will put their roots down deep and not need watering at all, ever. Many other perennials will do the same, so with this in mind I have decided to try and plant some perennial vegetables of which there are more than one might think.

The first of the two batches of Asparugus, that were planted last year, have started to throw up a few nice looking spears and these plants will be joined by as many again in a few weeks. According to the books they will go on cropping for some 20 years and more.

Globe Artichokes are another luxury, perennial, vegetable that I have decided to give a try. They “flower,” in the second year, so being impatient, I am going to buy some young plants by mail order instead of sowing seed and waiting another season before a harvest.

The old fashioned “bunching,” “Welsh,” onions, or “Ciboule,” are another perennial that I recently came across. They are supposed to be a “Heritage,” plant, but seed is on general sale. Most people treat them as an annual, but they are perfectly hardy and will go through from one year to the next. 

Other new vegetable discoveries for me are “Elephant Garlic,” that is said to be milder than normal Garlic, but has the advantage that it should grow to some 4 inches in diameter and Garlic Chives. Garlic Chives are just like the perennial, ordinary Chives, but as the name suggests, with a little of the added flavour of Garlic.

Lastly, I recently came across Oca, or New Zealand Yam, which is yet another different vegetable that is being offered for sale by one or two mail order companies. This interesting root vegetable is a member of the Oxalis family, but instead of being a nuisance weed, the plant produces tasty tubers at the end of a long growing season. If the season is cut short by an early frost, the underdeveloped tubers can simply be saved as seed for the next year, much as you might save small potatoes, or Jerusalem Artichokes. A large, bushy, plant will grow in one season from a tiny tuber little more than the size of a pea. The foliage can also be of interest in the kitchen as young leaves have a tangy taste of Lemon and can be mixed in with other salad leaves. Furthermore, the abundant foliage may also produce some tiny aerial tubers that can be harvested as future “Seed.”