Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
Frosts and Tender Plants.
As I warned at the Beginning of
May we could get, and did have, one or two late frosts in the middle of
the Month. Some plot holders lost all sorts of things like Runner Beans,
Sweet Corn and the tops on their Potatoes. That is why the experts
always say that you should “Earth them up,” as soon as the shoots start
to break the surface and keep on doing it as long as possible. Not only
does it protect the delicate tops of the Potato plants, it also stops
“Green,” potatoes from forming and encourages more roots to develop
higher up the stems thereby giving more Potatoes. The act of “Earthing
them up,” will also help to keep them weed free.
The Frosts were sharp enough to take all of the leaves on my Kiwi Vines,
Grape Vines and Fig trees, but as with the potatoes, it wasn’t many days
before they started to shoot again. Sadly the same cannot be said for
Sweet Corn and Runner Bean plants though!
After the Frosts I “Jumped the Gun,” a bit and towards the end of May
started planting out all sorts of things that perhaps should have waited
until the beginning of June. Things like Dwarf and Runner Beans, Cape
Gooseberries, Squash, Courgettes and Tomatoes all went in.
At the end of May, at home, I also put out my tender Banana and very
tender Lime as well as my other Citrus and one of my tender Palms. They
are all around the house so do get a bit of shelter, but even so you
wouldn’t normally put things like these out until June at the earliest.
On my Allotment I have been trying to keep on top of the weeds that have
started germinating everywhere. To be honest it has been easier this
year than most, because with the exceptionally dry weather it is a
simple matter to just Hoe the young weed seedlings off. The bigger weeds
have gone on my Compost heap that has been “Cooking,” nicely in the
sunshine and unusually for me, I have been turning it a bit more
frequently. This does speed up the “Composting,” action as does wetting
it with a can of water occasionally when it gets too dry. I have been
doing this, because I want to dig out the Compost and use it as soon as
possible at home in the new raised beds that I am creating where my
front lawn was. I have been threatening to dig up the Lawn in my front
garden for some time as I have never liked cutting grass, not since I
was a child, and have just been looking for an excuse to remove it. So,
when the lawn mower broke a few weeks ago along with the coincidence of
the “Lock Down,” I decided it was time for it to go. I couldn’t take the
turfs to the Council tip, so, I decided to recycle them myself. One of
my mates has an Allotment in the next village and he will be putting in
some raised beds later in the year. Consequently he will want a lot of
soil to fill them and after my turfs have had some time to rot down they
will be ideal to fill them and will save him from buying a load of Top
Soil. I filled 2 of his compost bins and the large bin on my Allotment,
with them and after stacking the upturned turfs tidily, I watered them
before covering them with plastic compost bags. It is always said that
rotted Turfs make very fine Loam that is ideal as a growing media. His
beds will be for vegetables, but the raised beds in my garden will be
for flowers. Along with a few Herbaceous perennial plants, I will also
add some structural plants and evergreens to give a bit of winter colour,
although, I will have to make sure that they will not grow too big with
penetrating root systems as there are water, gas and sewer pipes running
all under the front garden and I have been warned that they are not as
deep as modern regulations insist. The front gardens are also supposed
to open plan which means no hedges either and considering I removed one
last year, the Parish Council should be pleased to see the flowers as
will the neighbours. Indeed they love the Bulb borders that I planted
the other year and I have had many comments.
I am going to plant a small Bay Tree that will get big if it is allowed,
but Bays lend themselves to as much pruning and clipping as you want.
They are not absolutely hardy, however, my mate has got one that is some
20 feet tall on his allotment and it has grown into a proper tree. If it
is a bit sheltered they are usually OK, but they can be cut down by hard
winters and in the past I have found that they will often shoot from
around the base to re-grow after frost damage.
Other structural plants will include a couple of Dwarf Bamboos, that are
divisions from one in my back garden, and a Fatsia Japonica that was
also in my back garden, but was in a pot on my yard. Fatsias do like a
bit of shade and will bulk up in size, with their big, showy leaves, as
they get older. A Lonicera Nitidia Baggesons Gold, with its tiny, yellow
leaves will also get clipped to shape and is perhaps better suited to
the dry conditions in my front garden. A Variegated Sage, Cotton
Lavender and Curry Plant will also be at home in the dry conditions. I
have decided to add some more colourful foliage plants as well including
the red leaves of a tender Canna Lily. Buying a biggish plant I managed
to divide it to give 3 separate pot fulls. They are quick growing plants
that will multiply up readily, but are very tender and will need to be
dug up and go in the Greenhouse every Winter. They also like plenty of
water so will need to be watered regularly.
Other plants planned for the beds are a nice red Heuchera, some
colourful Hebes and a couple of small yellow leaved Phormiums, but none of
the similar and more tender Cordylines.
After planting the beds I will top up the soil levels with the compost
from my Allotment compost bin and any spent compost from old pots that I
have accumulated. The beds may need a couple of cheap bags of fresh,
bought compost to finish off and tidy them up as well. At the moment I
am undecided whether to use stone chippings, or wood chippings for the
paths between the beds. Wood chippings can encourage cats to use it as a
toilet, but are obviously far friendlier to the environment and will
have the Blackbirds rummaging through them all the time after the
insects and other creepy crawlies.
It is totally wrong to be starting a big planting exercise during the
dry weather, but I have no choice as I want to get it done before the
Autumn so that the plants can settle in and are ready to withstand the
next Winter. Then, next year, the beds should make quite a display for
which I might even win the best front garden in the Village award!