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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


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Going Into March.

At the start of February, while the cold spell was at its worst, I sowed my first few batches of seeds into small trays on the Kitchen Windowsill and they came up thick and fast before they were transferred to my Cold, but frost free Greenhouse, where they were later pricked out into pots. They included things like Parsley, Cape Gooseberries, Asparagus, Chives and Globe Artichokes. All of these needed sowing early to get them up to size quickly before being planted out much later. My Leeks and Broad Beans came up quite nicely in unheated Propagators in my greenhouse though, and as we start to go through March I will sow more traditional vegetables such as Cabbages, Cauli’s, Beetroot, Turnips and Swiss Chard. These will not really need any heat to get them going and will come on fine in the unheated greenhouse.
As they grow they will be pricked out into modular trays to give them more space and room to develop. Then I shall put the trays outside on my yard to stop them from growing too fast, because that would cause them to develop lots of soft, delicate leaves that could succumb to any cold weather and late frosts. My Mother always reckoned that Tomatoes need 6 weeks from seed sowing until they are ready to pot on into large pots, so along with other tender things like Courgettes, Squashes and Sweet Corn, they will not go in for a while yet.

Normally I start thinking about “Chitting,” my Early Potatoes as we go into March, but this year I am not jumping the gun as it has been such a cold Winter. After planting it is normally a couple of weeks before they break through the surface and by then, if you get the timing right, they are OK, especially if you keep “Earthing them up.” However, last year we had a very late frost in May that took the tops very badly and set the Potatoes back so much that most of the Allotment holders said their crops were down.
One thing I did put in at the start of March was my Onion sets, but as usual, I didn’t bother with Shallots.

The Broad Beans that had been over wintering nicely were badly hit by one or two of the extremely cold nights that we had at the start of February, but I am hoping that they will re-cover, however, I planted out my second sowing of Beans as planned. Before planting though, I dug out some of my part rotted Compost Heap and used it in the Bean Bed. The experts always say that Beans of any sort like to be planted over a trench of part rotted compost. So, what I did, was to remove 6 inches of the surface layer over the whole bed and spread a good covering of compost over it before raking the soil back to cover it again. I also bagged up quite a quantity of Compost that was then used as a mulch on my back garden at home. I might have used well rotted Manure both as a mulch and to feed it, but the manure has not been so readily available this year. Consequently, I have been making more use of processed Chicken Manure Pellets to feed my soil and using my own Compost, both as a soil conditioner and feed. Although the Compost is not as rich as Manure it still quite beneficial. If we have another hot and dry summer it will do more good as a mulch anyway to help retain moisture and putting it on now while it is wet is the ideal time. I managed to get my Garden done before the bulbs had started to shoot, because if you mulch it when they are in full growth the job is a lot more fiddly.

By the end of February the Daffodils were starting to put on a bit of a show with their flowers. These Spring flowering Bulbs are normally planted at the back end of Autumn, but of course it is not too late to plant many of the Summer and Autumn flowering Bulbs such as Irises and Crocosmia. Indeed, tender ones like Begonias and Dahlias that are used in baskets, tubs and bedding displays will need to be planted and go out much later when it has warmed up a bit more as we can get frosts well into April and last year we even had that exceptional one in May.

Back on the Allotment the first Harvest of this new season was my Sea Kale that grew nicely in the dark and warmth under the buckets. This will be followed any day now by my first picking of Rhubarb. After that it will get a bit frantic for a while with planting and weeding as things really start to grow.


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