Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
There hasnít 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 wonít 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 shouldnít. 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 wonít be able to
grow any plants on it for many years afterwards. So, you really
shouldnít 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 donít 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 havenít 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 wonít 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 wonít 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