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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

Gardening Tips
By Mrs FM

Unusual & Old
Fashioned Fruit

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Vines And Other Climbing Plants.

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Alan J Hartley




Winter Has Come.

With January and February still to come we can probably expect a few cold nights, although in most recent Winters we have not had so many. We did have a bit of a cold spell at the start of December, but it was nothing to worry about as far as keeping the temperature up in a Cold or unheated Green House. The Frost was hard enough to Ice over car windscreens and looked very impressive, but was actually only relatively light and short lasting, not penetrating. Glass and Bubble Polythene will keep out a few degrees of Frost and this has proved more than enough so far, although an added wrap of Horticultural Fleece over plants will keep out a bit more cold. However, for those really cold nights that may still come, a heater of some sort is a good investment. Things like Citrus Plants, Bananas and tender Palms can be very expensive to replace so will justify both the outlay for a heater and any running costs incurred if it is used sensibly with a thermostatic control.
Some things like over Wintering Chrysanthemums, Bananas and Palms need to be kept on the dry side without letting them turn to dust, but Citrus and Cannas on the other hand must not be allowed to get too dry and need a little dampness in the soil at all times. So, as Winter sets in, don’t just shut up your Green House and forget all about it until Spring, but go in there regularly to check up on things. Many over wintering plants are very prone to rotting and fungal infections so do open the door for ventilation on sunny days and don’t forget to close it again before evening comes and the cold night sets in.

On a different and surprising note both of my Olive trees, the tender one in my green house at home, and the hardier one outside on my Allotment, have a few tiny Olives on that are actually ripening and turning black. They won’t be much use to eat, but I guess it proves that as the trees grow I can expect to get more Olives on both of them and as they get bigger I suppose the Olives will as well. Who knows in years to come they may produce enough to make a worthwhile picking! On a good year I already pick up to a bucket full of Grapes from my outdoor Vines on my Allotment and have picked many, lovely, juicy, ripe Figs over the years. Maybe, my Orange and Lemon will do something more than produce the odd flower in the not too distant future as well!

The cold and wet has already started to cause some problems for my lovely big Chard plants and I had to tidy up the leaves in December by removing a lot of the outside ones that had spoilt and were starting to rot. If not given good air space round them Chard will usually rot like this and if not dealt with you can easily lose the whole plant. Given a bit of care though, it is often possible to go on picking a few leaves throughout much of the Winter.
Other things that I can go on harvesting for some weeks yet are my Parsnips, and although the tops went down by the beginning of December, it is still easy to find them to dig them up as they were sown in neat rows. They weren’t very full rows after their usual erratic germination, but being erratically spaced out some are enormous and some, as always, are misshapen being more the shape of a ball with thin legs on.
My first few Leeks to be harvested back at the start of December had developed early and made good growth, but there will be many more to come as the weeks of Winter go by.
The Beetroot had really stopped growing by mid December and it was just a case of pulling up the last few that had got to a usable size, but my Jerusalem Artichokes should give me another root vegetable to harvest right through the winter until they start shooting again in the early Spring.
I didn’t grow any Brussels Sprouts this year after last years appallingly small “Buttons,” but a fellow plot holder proudly walked by me the other week with a full Stalk of Sprouts that was really very impressive, so he had obviously done something right!
My last few remaining Red Cabbages came out in mid December and were a bit spoilt, but some were usable, although the Mice had been eating them. I suppose they made a change for them from eating my Beetroot that they left alone this year!
One more salad vegetable that I was able to harvest quite late into December was my Radish Mooli. The packet said they were supposed to be for winter harvesting and that seemed to be true, but there was a certain amount of rotting in the middle of some of the biggest ones that were absolutely enormous. The biggest must have been over 2 feet long although it was difficult to get all of the roots out without breaking them off in the ground as they are so brittle. They are rather odd for a root vegetable because not only do the roots go down, but they push their way out of the ground making the white flesh protrude by some 6 -12 inches with the leaves on top of that. They are useful though as there aren’t many “true winter salad,” crops like these that you can grow without protection.
With January now upon us it won’t be long before we can think about the coming season and we can start seed sowing again with things like Parsley, Parsnips, Cape Gooseberries and some of the hardier Brassicas being amongst the first.


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