Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
Time For Trees.
Fruit picking was obviously
some time ago now, but there are still things to be done with the trees
throughout the winter. My two young Pear trees did well after their
first year of planting having a few nice pears on both, with one of the
trees being a “Family Tree,” that I’m getting established in my garden
at home and the other on my allotment. The family tree is a tree that
can bear fruit of only Pears, Apples, Plums or even Cherries, but has
several varieties on the one tree. So for instance you could have an
apple tree growing a sweet golden desert apple like Golden Delicious, a
red skinned, sharper apple like Cox’s and a large cooking apple like
Granny Smiths all on the same tree. Trees like this need careful pruning
though, or else you will find that the stronger growing grafted variety
will eventually take over from the others. They do prevent you from
having a glut of all the same fruit at once as different varieties will
often fruit at different times and you can have cooking fruit and desert
fruit on the same tree. Of course if you had a couple of trees of this
type in your garden you could have what amounted to a whole orchard in a
very small space and they are a lot of fun!
It is still a good time to move small trees and I did this at about this
time the other year with a lovely Golden Delicious Apple tree that had
been in my mother’s front garden. It was some 10, or 12 feet tall and
going to be dug out by the people buying her house so, although it was
so big, I took a chance and moved it. I cut it back to a mere 4 feet, or
so lopping off most of the branches in the process and planted it, more
in hope than expectation, on my allotment. However, it is now growing
well and I had a good crop of Apples, although they were a bit grubby as
I hadn’t bothered putting a Grease Band on it quite simply because I
didn’t know if it would survive and consequently really hadn’t expected
it to produce any fruit.
In fact I forgot to put grease bands, or as they are now sometimes
called “Glue Bands,” on my trees in the autumn this last year as well.
No matter, as long as I do it no later than the end of February, before
what we have what might be an early spring and before the buds start to
swell, they will do some good.
Talking of moving and replanting trees, I finally got round to moving
the Red Hazel tree at work that was in the wrong place and when I dug it
up, much to my delight, I found that I could remove 4 self rooted stems.
These were potted up along with a couple of ordinary self set Hazel tree
saplings. Their roots were badly damaged in digging them up, but at this
time of year, young trees are very forgiving over how much damage you do
to their roots and will put on lots of new roots before spring from only
the barest bit of surviving root growth.
The couple of bare root Plum trees and other bare root saplings that I
bought to grow on for work will also have time to settle down and
recover. These included a round plum for hedging along with Elderberry
and Crab Apple “Whips,” that cost just £2 each. (Whips are usually young
trees that have only a single straight stem with no side shoots.)
My tree planting enthusiasm has proved a little bit infectious because
the Manager, at the charity where I work, recently decided to plant 4
large, bare root, Oak Trees in one of our fields as large specimens.
When the 10 foot high trees were delivered they were bare of soil with
the roots roughly wrapped in large polythene bags. They stayed in these
bags for a couple of days before they needed a good soaking prior to
planting. We had a little planting ceremony as they were being planted
in memory of a very important local lady and I do mean LADY in every
sense of the word as she was a titled Lady and a lovely person. The
trees were watered in after planting which may have seemed a bit silly
after all the wet we have had, but a good watering settles in the roots
and then they were staked and tied so that they wouldn’t rock from the
wind. This should get them off to a good start and then come the spring
they should leaf up and be away, although if we have any dry spells it
will be a good idea to water them occasionally.
I was going to put some cuttings from my Gooseberry bushes in to root
back at the end of Autumn, but when I weeded round two of my bushes I
found lots of self rooted young plants. These I cut off and potted.
Gooseberries don’t like being moved at the best of times and can only be
moved with some risk when dormant. They are shallow rooted bushes and
not as tolerant as other fruit bushes at being disturbed. This means
that even weeding round them can be risky, so all you should do is
literally pull out any weeds out and mulch round them to suppress any
more from growing.
After plucking off all the undeveloped Figs last month I decided to see
if there were any self rooted cuttings round the base of my trees and
when I looked, low and behold, there were quite a few. Most didn’t have
much in the way of roots on them, but the important thing was that they
had started to root and they will happily go on rooting until spring.
The fig trees themselves don’t really need pruning until the end of
February as will my Grape Vines, although I did put lots of new posts in
for the vines and tied them in much better than they had been done
As February comes and passes it will be time to think about seed sowing.
There isn’t much that can go in now, but some herbs like Parsley can be
started off in the warm, indoors, along with Tomatoes and the Exotic
Cape Gooseberries. A few seeds can go in outside such as Parsnips, but
do remember though, that Parsnip seed needs to be fresh or else they
If you didn’t sow your Broad Beans and Sweet Peas back at the end of
Autumn you can also sow them now, but again it might be best to start
them off indoors. Next Month, March, will be a hectic time for sowing
seeds and even planting young vegetables.