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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

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Alan J Hartley



Rain Rain Go Away…..July

We wanted rain at the beginning of June after a prolonged dry spell, but then it never seemed to stop until July. Potato farmers started panicking because of all the water that was lying on the fields and the Strawberries didn’t look as though they would be ready for Wimbledon. The one benefit was that it made things grow that had just been sitting there, but the downside was of course that the weeds grew quicker than the vegetables, so, it was a nightmare trying to stay on top of weeding. In addition, with all the wet, most people couldn’t get on to their plots to do any weeding when the sun did shine, because the ground was too soft and muddy! However, as a lot of my growing space is now in raised beds, I was fortunate and with the woodchip paths in between the beds they meant I had no need to walk on the soil. I simply worked from the dry paths! They are a real bonus in the wet!

My excellent Broad Bean crop, consisting of some 5 bucketsful of beans, was picked at the end of June and as usual, had little, or no signs of the black aphid pest that eats the tender tips making the plants sticky with sap and unpleasant to handle. The plants were put in at the back end of last Autumn and this made the crop a little earlier making it ready just before the end of June, while it was still wet and before the weather warmed up enough for the Aphids to become a problem. A young friend of mine put hers in a little after mine, but grew them in an open poly-tunnel. Again hers were ready early and she picked hers with no problems.
After harvesting my Broad Beans I wasted no time in planting a new crop in the patch where the beans came out. I had already put in one tripod of the Heritage variety of purple Pea Beans elsewhere, but decided to put in another. I shouldn’t really have put them in there though, because both crops are Beans, one after the other, and that is asking for trouble! You should never plant two crops the same in the same patch without something different in between. I also put in a few Tomatoes. A little late admittedly, but as they are of the small fruiting type they should grow and ripen quickly.
It won’t be long before the first of my Potatoes come out and here again I will replant with more crops. With that in mind I have sown some more seed of Turnips and Beetroot in plug trays to grow on so that they will be ready when the time comes. I have also got some little Kale and Leek seedlings growing on that will go in as well.
My Garlic has been a failure with the bulbs rotting in the ground. I guess that they became diseased with one of the several pests that trouble the Onion family. I may not be able to plant any Onions there again at any time in the future as some infections remain in the soil for years.

This year I put upturned buckets over my Asparagus again to “Blanche,” it, and give me the extra special “White,” Asparagus that French people are said to love. This was very successful with an abundant picking of fat, juicy stems.
Every winter I seem to lose the odd plant which I put down to winter wet, however after a dry winter and spring I don’t think I have lost any plants this time and the harvest has been particularly good. In the past I have replaced lost plants with the extra thick “Colossal,” Variety that gives truly remarkable stems. Unfortunately this season, I let a few of the stems get a bit long before cutting. Really asparagus should be checked every day, or at least every other day as it grows so fast during the growing season. If the stems are allowed to get very long though, you can peel them, with a potato peeler, to remove the tough outer layer so that you can make use of them and they taste just the same as the more tender tips. It is a little fiddly and obviously you can only do it for the thickest stems.
As June came and went I stopped picking Asparagus and left the frothy green fronds to grow and re-energise the plants for next season in the same way as you would for bulbs, or Rhubarb, with their leaves. There is still a little space in the bed though, so I have planted another couple of seedlings that I started off back in the Spring that had been meant for work.

Another early crop that did well was the Globe Artichokes, perhaps because of the recent wet. After last years poor crop I seem to have had a bumper harvest this time with far too many Globes to eat myself, so I have been making friends with my new neighbours!

Before the dry spell ended, the dry Spring made the young Chard that I planted go straight to seed, although I did cut them down in the hopes of them shooting again, which they will quite often do.

Every year in June we have what is commonly called “The June Drop,” which is when Apple trees, and some other fruit trees, will drop excess young fruit. Often these are damaged fruit, or small, misshapen fruit, but others will not be. It always seems to be a lot of fallen fruit, but even after this shedding of fruit there is usually too many young fruit left on the tree and you will need to “Thin,” their numbers leaving no more than two fruit together on each small branch. Obviously you try to leave the best fruit to grow on and this act of reducing their numbers will result in bigger fruit. Thinning needs to be done with Apples, Pears, Quinces and even Grape vines need the number of their bunches of grapes reduced, however, you do not need to do it with Cherries, Figs, Medlars, or Crab Apples. The “June Drop,” should not be confused with Stone Fruit like Cherries and Plums dropping their young fruit because of a shortage of Lime in the soil needed to form the “Stones,” in their fruit.
After the fruit have been “Thinned,” it may well be necessary to trim some of the branches with a bit of delicate pruning. Apples can certainly be shaped up and Grape vines always put on masses of rampant growth that needs to be cut back, but be careful not to cut off shoots with fruit on! Indeed, this time of year is also the best time to prune all “Stoned,” fruit such as Cherries and Plums as well as Pears, because if you prune them when they are dormant in the winter it can make them susceptible to various diseases like Silver Leaf and Peach Leaf Curl.

July is perhaps the busiest month of the year on the Allotment with many early crops either ready for harvest, or in need of tidying up after being harvested. Later crops need attention as well, because not only they are growing fast, but so are the weeds and everything needs constant weeding. At least the weather is generally better which allows the keen Allotmenteer to spend more time on their plot. After July is over though, things start to get easier and less frantic – unless we have a prolonged dry spell necessitating in regular watering!


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