Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
Last month, February, I bought
my Red and White Onion Sets, but decided it was still a bit early for
them to go in, so now that we are into March, I will be putting those in
shortly, although Shallots, which I don’t grow, should have been put in
earlier. Onion seed should also be growing well by now with the little
Onions developing nicely and ready to be transplanted out into their
final growing positions. I will be planting some of my Onion Sets out in
the open, in my plot, but others will go down the middle of my row of
Runner Bean canes. I have done this for several years now and usually
they do quite well with the Onions pretty much maturing before the
Runner Beans shade them out. It makes use of quite a big strip of plot
when you think about it. I tried the same trick last year, but planted
some between my fruit trees as well. However, they didn’t do very well,
because the leaves came on the trees quite early in the season and
shaded out the onions before they could develop.
On the subject of Onions, my Egyptian and Welsh onions, along with my
Chives, will soon be starting into growth, so they will be divided and
re-replanted with a few of them potted up ready to give away to other
plot-holders, or to be donated to local fund raising events.
With Spring rapidly approaching other things are starting into growth
and my Sea Kale plants are some of the first. At the end of February I
put upturned, black, buckets over the Sea Kale to Force and Blanche the
stalks ready for harvesting. When harvested the stalks look like Celery
stalks, but they actually taste like Asparagus when cooked. Globe
Artichokes also have that same taste and will come next with the
Asparagus itself coming much later in May. All 3 plants are of that rare
type though, that are perennial vegetables, which means that after the
initial planting they will be there to harvest year after year without
replanting. Nearly all other vegetables have to be re-sown and planted
each year. I suppose you could include Chives, Egyptian Onions and Welsh
Bunching Onions in the same category though, as they will come again
each year as well.
At the end of February I finally decided it was time to prune my outdoor
Grapevines. This year I gave them a proper seeing to and cut them right
back to the main stems instead of leaving short stems as I have always
done previously not being confident that they would survive such harsh
treatment. Now is the right time to cut back my other vines as well, so,
the 2 Kiwi Vines (Jenny and mini fruited Issai,) will be next for the
chop. I understand that they can be cut back to the main stems much the
same as Grape Vines. I am ever hopeful that they will produce some of
their delicious, tangy fruits, but as yet have not had any, although a
friend, whom I gave a rooted cutting to that came from my vine, has had
fruit for several years! There was a big vine at my mother’s house for a
number of years and I have had a mature vine on my allotment for several
years and neither of them has ever fruited! I also have a lovely scented
Chocolate Vine called Akebia Quinata that should produce Sausage shaped
fruits and 2 Magnolia Vines, or (Schissandra Chinensis vines) that
produce small berries that are said to have all of the 5 flavours that
we can taste. My Cinnamon vine, (Dioscorea Batatas) on the other hand is
more like an herbaceous perennial and as such the cold weather every
autumn cuts that down to the ground. It is really a root vegetable as
well, rather than a fruit, because it is the large tuber that forms
underground that you eat. The plant does produce little bulbils on its
stems that in a warmer climate will drop to the ground and grow thus
making it invasive. However, the UK is too cold for them to grow and
they need to be taken into a greenhouse if you want to propagate the
bulbils and over winter the subsequent young plants.
On the subject of propagating vines, it is time to sow Cucamelon seeds
that will grow up 5 foot canes and produce “Mouse Melons,” which are
crunchy, little, bite sized cucumber like melons. These will grow
outside in a sunny spot and pretty much look after themselves from
planting to harvest. They are smaller growing, but are a true vine like
Runner Beans that will go in a good bit later.
Elsewhere on my plot, my Autumn sowing of Broad Beans didn’t germinate
very well at all, so I have started off some replacement plants in
modular trays to replace the failures and fill out the beds.
In the greenhouse it is time to sow Tomato plants that are to be grown
in a greenhouse, but it is still too early for plants that will be grown
outdoors. Peppers/Chillies and Aubergines can go in now as well, because
they benefit from a longer growing season. They do need to be put
somewhere warm to germinate though.
My propagators in the greenhouse are full at the moment as I have also
been sowing some flowering plants for work, both annuals such as Bidens
for baskets, and perennials like Delphiniums. As these seeds come up I
will replace the trays with more containing vegetable seeds like
Cabbage, Turnip, Beetroot and Cauliflower.
Another thing that I must do soon is to start “Chitting,” my early
potatoes, because the “First Earlies,” can go in any time about now.
This year I have decided not to put in so many Potatoes, but I will put
in a fair few of the old variety called “Pink Fir Apple.” They are
knobbly, almost misshapen potatoes that are more like a nutty salad
As March comes and goes I will start to transplant more young plants out
into the beds on my Allotment. It will still be too cold for some things
like Runner Beans and Sweet Corn, but most things will go in.