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Some Odd Jobs.

All through late Summer and into the Autumn I have been Seed sowing for work and also taking cuttings of some of the plants in my Garden. Furthermore, I have been dividing up some of my Herbaceous Perennials one of which was my Artemisia Chinese Limelight.
Hundreds of years ago the naturally occurring Artemisia, or Worm Wood as it is commonly called, was used to make an alcoholic drink called Absinthe. It was more popular on the Continent than here in the UK, but it came to be generally believed that the drink was quite Toxic and a little Hallucinogenic, so it was banned in several countries in around 1900. However, modern scientific research has concluded that the harmful effects were exaggerated and due more to the very high alcohol content rather than the low concentration of the hallucinogenic chemical that it contained which are now limited by law anyway. So, it is again possible to buy the infamous green, bitter, anise and fennel flavoured, herbal spirit again which is a little akin to Pernod in taste.
Artemisia, like many other natural plants, has been hybridised and cultivated to create a family of garden plants. Artemisia Chinese Limelight is one such plant and has Golden leaves that make quite a bright splash in the garden, but it does spread easily and can become a bit of a nuisance. Like Garden Mint that spreads so much, I keep my plant, at home, in a large tub on the yard where it looks good, especially in the Spring. As the plant was so healthy, I recently divided it up and produced quite a number of separate pieces that I potted up. I have also got another Artemisia called Powis Castle which has bluish foliage and a lovely smell of mint, but is far less rampant. At the moment though, that plant is too small to get cuttings, or divisions from.

Another Garden plant that I have recently divided up for work is Saxifraga Urbium, or London Pride as it is more usually known. Most Saxifrages are quite small and grown as Alpines, but this one is somewhat bigger and has quite an attractive flower spike in season. It does spread well, but is easily controlled unlike the Artemisia Chinese Limelight.


It is not just at home that I have been digging up plants to divide for work. Every year at about this time, after the leaves have gone down, I dig up and divide one of my Rhubarb plants. Having 4 plants it means they get divided once every 4 years to re-fresh them. If you donít do this they can get enormous and have a tendency to go to flower and become less productive. This year I also had the opportunity to divide several large clumps on another Plot Holders plot, so, I potted some for the fundraiser sales day that the
Allotments are planning to have in the Spring and some more were potted for work. A further Crown went to another plot-holder for him to divide and plant. You can be as rough as you want when you dig up and divide Rhubarb as long as each piece has got a good Growing Bud. The pieces that you cut up do not need to have any roots. They will throw out roots quite readily because they have lots of energy stored within the Crowns. There is no urgency in dividing and potting up the Crowns either, as large pieces of Rhubarb will happily survive for a few days out of the ground, even if they get frosted, as long as they are not allowed to dry out too much.


After sorting out my Rhubarb I turned my attention to my Yacon as they had flowered and the tops had started to die back. Flowering generally means that the plant is mature and ready for harvesting. The flowers on Yacon are only small, but they are really an early type of Dahlia plant and as such are rather tender not liking cold weather at all. As the weather gets colder I will need to keep an eye on them, or else the Crowns could get damaged. After cutting off the Tops in the past, I have covered the Crowns with a little mound of Woodchip to protect them for a few weeks until I got round to digging up the edible Tubers as I was ready.

When I was doing a bit of weeding and general tidying up round the various fruit trees on my Plot I found that several of the Apple Trees had a few Suckers on that hadnít been removed, so I cut them off as well. Do remember though, that you shouldnít do that at this time of year on any stoned fruit like Plums, Cherries and Peaches as they need to be in full growth to heal safely without the risk of infection getting in.
Everybody seems to have different ideas about when to prune Fig Trees, but when I planted the young Ice Crystal Fig the other week I found that it had lots of partly rooted shoots round the base making it look very untidy, so I took a chance and cut those off. Most Fruit Trees are grafted so there is no point in trying to grow Suckers like these as they wonít come true, but Fig trees are usually grown on their own root stock, so they arenít really suckers, not in the technical sense. There were over half a dozen, or so cuttings with some roots starting to form which was a lovely, unexpected bonus! I cut the few remaining leaves off them to give them a bit more of a chance and potted them, but it will be the Spring before I really know whether they take.
Another Fig tree that I have which normally fruits well, is my ďChelsea Fig,Ē and that also had a lot of shoots coming up from around the base. Unfortunately they had no roots on, although some months ago, I had heaped some Woodchip around the base of the tree to encourage them to root. Now the leaves have dropped it is time to take hard wood cuttings anyway, so I cut them off tidily and put them in to root in an empty patch on my plot. I have found that gently scraping the outer layer of bark off from round the base of each cutting to expose the Cambium layer, or the growing part of the stems, will encourage them to root. Not many trees will root like this, but Figs will take fairly easily as long as they donít rot over winter. They do take some months to root well and it will be later next year before they really start to develop into new, but small trees ready to plant out. You will have to be patient and wait for a year or two longer after that before they will fruit, but when a small potted tree in a garden centre may cost over £15 or £20 they make quite a saving and that is what Allotments are all about.

 

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