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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

Books By
Alan J Hartley





Earlier in the year I removed the lawn from my front garden and replaced it with a number of smallish raised flower beds. At the time I knew the soil mixture used to fill the beds would sink as it settled with the effects of the weather on it and from simple compaction, so I told myself that I would have to top up the soil level to keep the beds looking full. Some spent compost from the pots of Tomatoes, Aubergines, etc from my Greenhouse, was spread over the area, but I needed a lot more to put the soil level up to where it needed to be, so I decided to bring some of the soil back from my Allotment Compost Bin where the Turfs from the same front garden had been slowly breaking down since the Spring. It is said that lawn turfs need a year or two to break down properly after which they turn into beautiful, fine, loam. However, a short while ago I turned my Compost heap and found a lot of loose soil at the bottom of the bin, from the crumbling turfs, which, as I turned the heap, went onto the top where it became accessible. So, now, I am in the process of filling numerous buckets with this lovely, loose, fine soil to take back home. Before I started spreading the soil over each of the beds in turn though, I scattered some processed, Chicken manure pellets over them. Most people realise that vegetable growing areas need to be regularly fertilised and some people think about feeding round fruit bushes and even fruit trees, but few people actually think about feeding their flower beds.

Like all growing plants, Herbaceous, flowering plants will perform much better with an occasional feed be it in the form of a chemical feed like my Chicken manure pellets, potash, a liquid feed like Sea Weed or Tomato feed, or a gentler feed in the form of an Autumn, or Spring Mulch of homemade Compost. Of course apart from feeding the soil, a Mulch will also act as a soil improver, or conditioner that will put more Humus into the soil and alter its “Crumb Structure” as well as encouraging worm activity. With my Front Garden this will help immensely if I do this after topping up the beds as well as feeding it because, usually, the soil underneath a lawn is notoriously poor in every way possible. Often it is simply sub soil that is no good for anything, or else it consists of long uncultivated, often stoney, poor soil that was put there by the builders when the house was built. At best it will be compacted and have a lot of sand mixed in it from when the turf was laid as many people put down a layer of sand to level the ground before laying a lawn. Whatever, I add to my garden beds it will all help my plants to get better established, grow bigger and put on a better show.

Obviously, on an Alloment most jobs consist of things that need to be done outside and it is often difficult finding suitable things on the worse days especially with Winter starting to bite. But, one seasonal job that can be done in the dry of a shed is cleaning tools. Scraping off the rock hard, dried soil from Spades and Forks makes it easier for them to cut into tough tangles of weeds or hard packed soil. Likewise, cleaning, sharpening and oiling Secateurs, Shears and Loppers also makes them easier to use making clean cuts and not ragged ones when trimming things. This in turn helps the plants to heal the wounds from the cuts better.
Retying bundles of String and tidying coils of wire might seem a petty thing to do, but there is nothing worse than struggling with a tangled mess when you are trying to secure a rampant vine or espalier trained fruit tree in strong or cold winds.
Another little job that is worth doing is tying your collection of Bamboo canes into a tight bundle. This not only stops them getting scattered and broken when not in use throughout the winter, but also keeps them straight and stops them from bending or twisting as they continuously get soaking wet and dry out again with the ever changing winter weather.

One outdoor job that I was particularly pleased to get done was to paint my Shed. The shed had been on my plot for several years before I took it over a while ago, but my friend, another plot holder, retained ownership of it for a couple of years after the plot changed hands. Recently he bought a new one for his new plot and let me have the full use of his old one. It was reasonably sound, but needed painting and I thought that with the onset of Winter I wouldn’t get it done. However, watching the weather forecasts, as all good gardeners should do, I picked a day that was forecast to be dry and sunny all day with a dry night to follow and got the job done. Keeping an eye on weather forecasts either on the TV or the Internet is often a very useful thing to do for gardeners. Being forewarned of frosts is obviously needed to protect delicate plants with Horticultural Fleece in the Autumn and Spring, but also being warned of coming rain is useful to know when planting. Yes you are always advised to water freshly planted or sown things, but it is far better to plant when rain is forecast for a couple of days afterwards rather then when a hot dry spell is coming.

As always, at this time of year, I am gradually getting all my paths weeded. Most of the Annual weeds have died, but still need removing to tidy things up, get rid of seed pods and of course with all the paths clear of rubbish I can put down a fresh layer of Wood Chip to stop them getting muddy over Winter. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we can get some Chippings in as our new storage area is at last nearing completion. I have been delaying getting any in, because we already have a large pile of homemade Compost taking up a lot of space on the parking area and as soon as the purpose built storage area is complete, the Wood chip can go straight in there.
Another reason why I have delayed getting any in is that I was waiting for all the leaves to drop from the trees so that we could have chippings from deciduous trees as well instead of just from Conifers. (In the Summer Leaves mixed in with the Chippings spoil it by muddying it as they rot.)


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