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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

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By Mrs FM

Unusual & Old
Fashioned Fruit

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Edible Plants.

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Vines And Other Climbing Plants.

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Alan J Hartley




Still Tidying Up.

There hasn’t been a lot of weeding to do just lately, just a few bits here and there, that have been missed, but there has been quite a bit of tidying up with the removal of the last few bits of usable crops like Beetroot, Radish Mooli and even Potatoes that were left in longer than they should have been. There were even Berries on my Cape Gooseberry Bushes over Christmas that might have been picked had they not been spoilt by a sharp frost. However, when I looked at the stems of the bushes they were still green most of the way up, so I cut them down and left them in on the off chance that they will go through what is left of the Winter. On one or two previous occasions, I have managed to keep them over Winter, when it has not been too cold.

Other things that are still good, with a little attention, are Kale and Chard that can be picked most of the way through the cold spell. Of course the Parsnips and Leeks are OK to be left in the ground as well, although they won’t really grow now either. Indeed the rest of the Parsnips will need to come out soon, or else they will soon start shooting again and go to seed.
I have been able to work easily from my Wood Chip paths, more, or less, all through the Winter, even when the ground has been too wet to actually get on, and have been able to get things tidied up and cleared when others have had to leave their plots alone.

Apart from tidying up my Beds, which seems to go on nearly all year round these days, weather permitting, I seem to be forever tidying up my paths. Mostly the problem is spilt soil that gets scattered over them when working on the adjacent beds and it has to be regularly cleared up or else it encourages weeds to grow in the stone chippings where they really shouldn’t. Most of the actual weed problem on the paths is down to Annual weeds seeding themselves down wherever they can take hold. They are easily removed and added to the compost heap though, along with any soil scraped up, but where the perennial, tougher weeds, like dandelions, have taken hold, I often resort to a little squirt of weed-killer. Small Dandelions can be dug out, but with deeper rooted ones it is almost impossible to dig down in the hard packed stones of the paths. The allotments discourage the use of weed-killers, but some times there are really no practical alternatives. My mother used to swear by one old fashioned treatment to eradicate Dandelions and that was a sprinkle of Table Salt in the Crown of the plant. It takes a week or two and often needs a couple of sprinkles, but does seem to work. A word of warning here though should accompany this treatment and that is too much Salt on soil can permanently poison it and you won’t be able to grow any plants on it for many years afterwards. So, you really shouldn’t use Salt on anything other than weeds in paths.
My Wood Chip paths, that are internal to my Plot, often need to be tidied as well as weeds take root and the Wood Chip gets dirtied and becomes muddy. Here it is much easier to dig offending weeds out properly, but that very act spoils the Wood Chip as you inevitably get a bit of soil mixed in with it. I don’t believe in putting a plastic membrane under my paths and often simply put a layer of old Newspapers under the surface. These do eventually rot down quite naturally, but in doing so allows the Wood Chip to gradually push into the Soil. Consequently I need to resurface the paths a lot more than I might otherwise, but sometimes, when their height is building up, I skim the surface layer off and put it in my planting beds as a bit of a conditioner. Then, I can add a fresh layer of Wood Chip to the path without it getting too high for the edging boards.
Since having our new Storage Area built we haven’t had any deliveries of Wood Chip, but as the weeks go by, and people become more active on their plots, I will make a more determined effort to get some. My Mate who lives on a canal Boat is hoping it won’t be long because he had a load of Logs from it last time that came mixed in with it as a free bonus and with the cold weather we have been having he needs a lot more logs for heating his boat.

Changing the subject entirely and going back to growing things, I have just sown some Parsley seed in a tray along with a tray of Cape Gooseberries. As they come up on the Kitchen Windowsill, where it is quite warm, I will replace them with some Asparagus seeds that are individually potted so that they won’t need to be re-potted as they grow, but will stay in their pots until the Fundraiser Day when they can be sold. The Parsley and Cape Gooseberries will need to be Pricked out into individual pots as they develop though. After pricking out they will all need the protection of a frost Free Greenhouse until things warm up a bit.

Something that really does need warm growing conditions more or less throughout, is my Mushroom Kit that I was given for Christmas.
To get things started I had to pour 3 litres of boiling water straight from a Kettle into the special plastic bag over the straw and let it soak before draining the bag full and then putting it in a warm room in my house for a month. Within a couple of days the Mycelium, that will eventually produce the Mushrooms, started growing throughout bag of straw. The instructions say that after 4 weeks I have to place the bag in a cool place, ie;- the fridge, for a couple of days and then put the bag back in a warm and light place to get the white Oyster Mushrooms to develop. Apparently, I might get 2, or 3 crops from the kit before it is spent. It will be interesting to see what success I have. Perhaps next year I will try the Kit from the Allotment seed company and compare the two. That kit will, as I understand, produce a crop of Mushrooms that grow entirely outdoors and I will be able to actually grow them on my Allotment.


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