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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

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By Mrs FM

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Alan J Hartley




Seed Sowing Again.

I normally grow one batch of Broad Beans that I sow directly in the ground at the back end of Autumn each year, but last season I put a second batch in, in the following Spring, after Winter. Both sowings did well and allowed me to put another crop in consisting of Leeks, afterwards, so the space was well used. With this success I put my usual sowing of beans in at the end of last October and have just sown some more, in trays, in my green house. I could have put them in the ground, but Mice really love to eat them before they start shooting and then, when they do shoot, the Mice will leave them alone. Apart from protecting them from Mice, the added warmth of the green House should get them into growth a bit more readily as they are also prone to rotting if they get too wet when they arenít shooting.

When sowing seeds, and rooting cuttings in pots and trays to grow for their Allotments, people often use old compost and sometimes even garden soil, but this practice really is not to be recommended. It is always worth using proper, bought in, new, potting compost whenever starting things off in pots or trays. The difference you will see in germination and growth is dramatic and the cost of a large bag of Potting Compost compared to buying a few trays of well grown seedlings is very small. The same does not go for empty seed trays and pots however. New trays are quite expensive to buy and old ones can readily be recycled, but here the crucial thing is to wash them before using them. Not only will this remove any diseases that may be existing in bits of compost stuck to the pots and trays, but slug eggs and dormant snails could well be hiding in crevices and may well come back to life with a bit of warmth and moisture. More to the point, after they have emerged they will find the seedlings that you have carefully grown, irresistible.

Using some recycled trays I have also been sowing several other things throughout this month. Some, like the Cape Gooseberries and Leeks, have been for myself, but the Parsley, Asparagus and Globe Artichokes were put in for the Fundraiser in late Spring. As we had an unusual amount of cold weather at the start of February I put most of the trays of seeds on the Kitchen Windowsill, a few of at a time, to give them a bit of a boost until they germinated before transferring them to an unheated Propagator in my Green House. Seeds of some of the hardier plants went directly into unheated Propagators in the Green House though. On my Allotment I have, or at least I am hoping I have, a couple of bunches of Chives, although they are not shooting yet. I was going to divide them, but have decided to put some seed in, instead a little later in the Month. Later on, when we next have a moist and milder spell, I will also be sowing some Parsnip seeds directly in the ground in my Plot.

This Winter I decided to run an extension cable out to my Green House to power a thermostatically controlled Fan Heater. Most years, I would only need to have it on for a few odd nights during the whole of Winter, so I just put out the cable when needed, but this year we have had lots of cold, frosty and Snowy spells throughout most of January and into February. Extension cables are fine for use on odd nights, but are not safe for regular outdoor use and indeed are not legal for permanent use. So, I really will have to consider having a proper, reinforced, underground cable, professionally installed by an electrician to provide permanent power to my Green House. If I do I will be able to use electrically heated Propagators as well and maybe even install a soil warming cable to make a proper propagating bench.

Garlic bulbs are still on sale in some shops, but late planting in the Spring and not having a cold spell after planting, is said to be the main reason why Cloves sometimes donít develop properly and form new Bulbs that are properly divided into Cloves. They really should be planted at the end of Autumn before the Winter sets in.
Onion Sets and Shallots are also on sale now, but these are alright to go in for some weeks yet. On the subject of Onions, I have just moved and replanted my Egyptian and Welsh onions, although the Welsh Onions are not really shooting yet so I am hoping they will be all right. They have been put into the new raised bed that I installed amongst my Fruit Bushes and Strawberries next to the beds with some more permanent plantings of vegetables that include Sea Kale, Globe Artichokes and Asparagus.
The Onions will need to be divided and re-planted from time to time, but otherwise donít need to be re-sown/propagated each year so they too are permanent plantings. As the Chives come into growth a couple of clumps of those will be joining them because they go from year to year as well. There may be room to put in a little patch of Oca that, although they are dug up each year to harvest them, can be left in the same place year after year. Indeed if they arenít dug up very carefully they will self set quite happily as do the Jerusalem Artichokes that I grow in another bed elsewhere. There arenít too many of this type of vegetable that goes from one year to the next in the same spot, but they are most welcome and make planting and organising my beds so much easier.
Elsewhere, my Rhubarb, another permanent planting, is just starting to shoot and I should be able to start picking soon. Some people like to ďForce,Ē this as I do the Sea Kale, to make it sweeter. With the Sea Kale I just use an upturned Bucket, but for Rhubarb you need something much bigger. You can buy proper, pottery, Rhubarb forcing jars, but they are horrendously expensive and to be honest an up-tuned old plastic dustbin can be used, although it is a bit of over kill!

Next month, March, more things will start into growth and a lot more seeds can be sown including things like some Brassicas, Beetroot, Turnips and Swede although tender things like Runner Beans, Corgettes and Tomatoes will be a few weeks yet.


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