Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
Things Really Get Moving.
Sea Kale has a short cropping
season and the harvest can vary considerably depending on several
things, not least being the weather. Blanching it under Buckets helps to
keep any late frosts off it to some extent, but a sharp, penetrating
frost will still cause damage to the tips. Slugs are a real nuisance as
well, because, they love the dark and often damp conditions under the
buckets and will feast on the tender shoots. However, this year has been
a bumper harvest with my picking great armfuls of lovely, tender, shoots
that are just right for a quick steaming and some Butter sauce! Now that
we are entering April, the plants are starting to throw up their flower
spikes indicating that cropping has to finish. Consequently, I have
uncovered the plants to let them develop their leaves and re-energise
the plant ready for next season’s crop. However, as the flower spikes
develop I will cut them off otherwise they will only drain energy from
the roots. If Sea Kale are grown in a flower border you would leave them
on to develop their white flowers that are a little reminiscent of a
long and loose Hydrangea flower head.
While tending the crop I weeded out quite a number of “Thongs,” or
“Crowns,” that were growing where they shouldn’t and gave them to one of
my Allotment “Friends!” It really was the wrong time to take cuttings,
as they should be done in the Winter months, but with a little luck they
will be alright.
My Globe Artichokes will be the next to harvest and any day now I should
be able to start cutting Globes. The plants got knocked back several
times in our mixed up Winter, but put on lots of growth in the mild
February/March that made up for it. I can see several heads starting to
swell all ready. After that, sometime in May the Asparagus will follow
They are all very different looking crops and plants, but have similar
tastes and are all expensive to buy in the shops making them worthwhile
to grow. Of course I am already picking the first of the Rhubarb as
well, but my freezer is still quite full of last years harvest, so a
couple of friends will benefit from much of that as well!
I am going to put up my Runner bean canes any day now and am getting
organised ready to start off my seed indoors and thereby avoid them
being eaten by Mice. My canes will be tied up with Soft string so that
when I take them down, the tangled mess can all go straight into the
Compost heap without having to fish though it for bits of plastic
string. I will have to be careful where I stand to put the canes up
though, because I planted a lot of Onion sets in between where they are
to go – hopefully – if I have got the spacing right! I have done this
with some success in the past as the Onions will be nearly ready by the
time the Bean plants are fully grown and before they shade them out.
April is the time to start sowing the seeds of other, more tender,
plants in the greenhouse - things like Squash, Courgettes and Sweet
Corn. Don’t be tempted to try and grow them outside just yet, as we
could still get some cold nights throughout April, although, you will
see plants on sale at most garden centres now.
Like most people I suppose, I didn’t know that you could buy Rhubarb
Seeds, but I have put some in for work and should, as a result, get a
large number seedlings, even though they will take a year, or two to
develop fully. Normally you buy Rhubarb plants in pots which can be
expensive, or you can buy them a bit more cheaply by buying them in
their dormant state and in packets.
I shall not be putting in Tomato seed for a week, or two yet, although,
I will want plants for outside planting later, but young plants can
already be put into an unheated greenhouse to grow on now. I’ve not
really decided how to use my new Greenhouse, other than for seed
raising, but I won’t need insulation on it now until later on in the
Autumn, If I had had some already on it, it would be time to take it
down now anyway, due to the sunnier days and slightly milder nights
One of the things I might do is to grow a Grape Vine inside it, in the
traditional way, with it’s roots outside and the vine growing inside.
I may also try growing some Aubergines as I have never been successful
in the past and another semi exotic that I would like to give another go
is a Pepino, if I can get some seed. In the past I have obtained it from
shop bought fruits, but recently I have seen it available on line.
Unheated Greenhouses enable you to successfully grow quite a wide range
of plants that would be unlikely to do well in our climate without the
added protection. Our Allotments are unsuitable for glass greenhouses,
but another alternative is a Poly-Tunnel. They give a different set of
growing conditions, but can be very useful for the right plants.
Recently we had the opportunity to put up a big, communal, Poly-Tunnel
on our Allotments that had been donated to the charity where I work, but
the committee decided that our site is just too windy. It is a shame as
it would have been a welcome addition. Instead the Committee have
discussed the possibility of a constructing a set of large, brick built,
communal, Cold Frames. It is a case of watch this space!