Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
Spring Isn’t Far Away.
Our Winter Storms seem to be
getting more and more intense and more frequent every year with this
Winter being no exception. In about the middle of February we had storm
Dudley which did a bit of damage and caused a bit of disruption and then
within a couple of days we had the much stronger storm Eunice which was
one of the worst we have had for decades. Everyone was just catching
their breath and starting to assess the damage after that and then we
had another storm, Franklin, just a day later. Within hours the intense
rainfall was causing flooding everywhere, even at places that don’t
normally get much flooding. Much of the rail network was closed because
of Trees down and flooding and roads were blocked all over the place.
Fortunately, we don’t have large trees, or Greenhouses on our Allotment
because we are on an exposed site, built on the side of a hill, so our
damage was limited. Indeed people have learnt from the past and anchor
their sheds down now much better than they used to. In previous Winters
we have had numerous occasions when Sheds have blown over, but this time
only two went down. However, when they blew over, they blew against the
perimeter fence with such force that they practically flattened it, so
that will have to be repaired to keep the Rabbits out. In fact one of
the sheds had been weighted down with things on the floor, but that
hadn’t stopped the Shed from being ripped away from the floor, such was
the force of the Wind. Whether it can even be repaired I don’t know. The
Plot Holder had talked of buying a new Shed and I think he may have to
now! Another Shed was badly damaged with its door practically ripped off
and the whole thing was starting to collapse – “Concertina fashion.”
Ground Cover Membrane, that a lot of Plot Holders cover their plots with
at this time of year, was blowing freely in the Wind like so many black
sails everywhere, and one or two pieces of Horticultural fleece had been
shredded by the winds. Plastic Compost Bin Lids, bits of Netting, Plat
Pots and Labels were everywhere. Indeed there was even a wheelbarrow
that had gone walkabout! We need to keep a particularly sharp eye on
bits that are blowing about, not only because of Plastic getting into
the general environment, but also because the Allotments are surrounded
by Pony Paddocks, and as intelligent as Horses are, they will pick up
bits of Plastic and try to eat them.
The morning after the last Storm, when the Winds had started to die down
a bit, I went up to the Allotments and secured as much as I could
reporting the damage to our Allotments Secretary so that she could send
out an Email to Plot Holders telling them to get up there and tidy up
For my own plot, I had completely escaped any problems as my Shed was OK
and all of my fruit Trees were fine. Perhaps it had helped that they had
no leaves on as yet and I had been busy in previous weeks tying all of
them in securely, in the anticipation of Storms!
Even the Buckets on my Sea Kale had stayed in place. I had only put them
on a week, or two earlier to start and “Force,” or “Blanche,” the new
shoots. It is something I do every year at about this time, but in the
expectation of the usual “March winds,” I weigh them down with Bricks on
top of each bucket.
There is one possible bonus to the events though and that is there maybe
lots of Wood-Chip coming our way as tree surgeons will be extra busy for
Spring is not far away now though and hopefully the bad weather will
soon come to an end, so with things beginning to show signs of growth
again, I have started taking a few batches of cuttings in my Greenhouse.
One batch that I took recently was of a lovely variegated Hebe that has
multi coloured leaves. It’s reddish, green and white leaves are very
colourful even if it can be a bit tender in the harshest of Winters.
Although it sometimes gets die back from frosts, it usually bounces back
as good as ever before and indeed it did so a couple of years ago after
a particularly cold night. Another very attractive low growing plant
that I took cuttings of was the green and white, Silene. This is more of
a rockery, or ground cover Plant though and will spread quite easily
often rooting down on its own, as it goes.
With a few sunnier days coming, I decided to put the old Chrysanthemum
Stools outside on my yard at home, at least when there were no hard
frosts forecast. Again with them starting to shoot, I took a number of
cuttings that should root quickly and be ready for our May Fundraiser.
I put in a number of Hardwood Cuttings from Figs, Currants and Cornus in
my Cold Frame back at the end of the Autumn, after the Leaves had
dropped. They will take a long time to root unlike the softer cuttings
of fresh growth from the Chrysanthemums and the like, but they will
slowly put down roots. It may be well into Summer and even into the
Autumn before there is much in the way of Roots on them though. Indeed
they will probably not be potted up until next Winter and they should be
ready for the following Spring.
With the sunnier days there is a bit more natural heat in my unheated
Greenhouse to bring on the numerous Seedlings that I have been starting
off. Some have already gone to work and been potted on. The Rhubarb and
Onions were the first to be done along with the Asparagus that will all
grow on under cover until after the frosts have finished in late Spring.
Most were pricked out into 3 ˝ inch pots with the exception of the
Onions that went into very large trays.
At the end of February and into the start of March I began sowing some
of the “Ordinary Vegetables,” – things like Beetroot and Chard for
myself and Cabbages, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Leeks, etc
for Oak Tree.
It will be a few weeks yet before I start sowing the more tender
vegetables liken Runner Beans, Dwarf French Beans, Sweetcorn, Squash and
Tomatoes. My Mother used to say that Tomatoes in particular need to be
sown about 6 weeks before you really want them. So, they will probably
all go in towards the end of March, although the Beans come up very
quickly after you have sown them and if they do go in a bit late they do
seem to catch up. Thinking about Runners, I guess it is about time to
put up the 8 foot Canes to support them when they are eventually planted
out. Time will fly by with everything starting to happen again and the
soil will have had a few weeks weather on it to make it settle a bit
after trenching it.
With life starting to return after the Winter, the first signs of it are
in my Greenhouse with the pots of Chives, that I divided up. They are
shooting nicely and the Yacon pieces that I potted are also starting to
throw up the odd leaf or two. In fact in mid January I looked at an old
root that had been left in the ground in my Plot and not harvested, and
it was shooting!!!
Other things that are shooting outside include my second sowing of Broad
Beans that I put directly in the ground this time rather than starting
them off inside, in trays. I kept my fingers crossed that the Mice
wouldn’t take them and they seem to have come up OK so I was lucky.
My Parsnips aren’t coming up yet, but I put in a later variety this time
that hopefully will mature a bit quicker and I must also remember to
thin them out which I forgot to do last season.
It is time to think about Potatoes as well, at least time to think about
Chitting them. I have decided to put in only a small patch of the old
Heritage variety of Pink Fir Apple this time. I know potatoes can be
expensive to buy in the shops at times, but our local shop often has
bags on their expiry dates that are heavily reduced and by buying those
I am doing my bit to reduce food waste and Potatoes keep for ages anyway
regardless of what it says on the packets.
It is of course time to plant the ordinary Onion Sets, but I shan’t be
putting in anymore as I have got enough in already.
On and off, in the last few weeks, I have been helping a few Plot
Holders to Re-surface their joint, shared Paths because we had some
complaints about the state of a few of them and I was well up to date
with my own Plot, but now things are waking up I will be fully occupied
with my own Plot and getting plants ready for the May Fundraiser.