Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
May saw the arrival of what is
rapidly becoming our Annual Fund Raiser Plant Sale. As might be expected
it seems to be getting better organised each year that goes by. For
myself, I was certainly better prepared. Last Year I was still taking
Plants up to the Allotment well after the Sale had started, but this
year I started moving things at about 7am in the morning and by about
9-45am I had all of my Plants on the site and was more or less, ready.
The others on the Committee had fetched and laid out the Tables by then
as well with the plants broadly sorted into 3 Categories; - Flowers,
Fruit and Vegetables. This year I did a different mix of Plants with no
Brassicas and quite a bit of Flowering Plants like Chrysanthemums,
Michaelmass Daisies, Alstroemerias, Ornamental Clovers, Dwarf Bamboo and
a few Cannas. Although I think it is fair to say I did less Plants,
there were more brought and donated by other Plot Holders, so overall we
probably had as many as last year. I had potted up a number of small
Trees to be sold, but as I had half expected, they weren’t ready for
sale with the exception of a couple of lovely Red leafed Hazels that
were in large Tubs and they both sold. Hopefully the other Trees can be
sold at a later date. After all, it is “Plant A Tree For The Jubilee,”
The first year that we had a Sale we had howling Wind and last year we
had some sharp Showers, so this year was the first time that we were
blessed with good weather and we expected big things. However, it all
seemed to be over in half-an-hour with hardly anybody coming in
afterwards, whereas previous years the stragglers were still coming as
late as 3pm. We were pleased to see quite a few strange faces though, so
I guess we had a few more villagers rather than just Plot Holders and
that is probably down to the fact that we had a bit more publicity.
However, as previous years, there were quite a few after sales for days
with money being put into the “Honesty Box.” Initially, we only did just
over £200 on the day, but with everything totted up and a rather special
£50 donation, we weren’t far off the same figure as last year of nearly
The Fundraiser was done with a particular purpose in mind this time and
not just to add to Allotment Funds. We intend to install a “Composting
Toilet,” and Storage Shed on the site as the next step in developing the
site. With the Money raised added to what we already have, we are well
on our way to the Target figure and will start to make plans to proceed
shortly. The development will be done in stages and we want to take our
time so that we don’t do anything silly and we get it right first time.
The Compost Storage area seemed to take a long time when that was being
done, but everyone agrees that it was a good job well done.
In the aftermath of the Sale there were a number of Plants left as
before, although there seemed to be less than previous years, and as
before, a quantity were donated to another cause. This time Joe had
arranged a Village Fundraiser for Hixon Community Association, or CHEF-
the Pensioners Village Christmas Lunch. Their Plant Sale was held some 2
weeks later and itself raised over £200.
After the Sale I was left with a mess on my two Yards and in my
Greenhouse, but I soon cleared it up and got things organised. It was
mid May by then, so I took my Bubble Polythene down in the Green House
and carefully packed it away in a Cupboard for another year being
careful to save all of the little Clips in a Jar. There were no cold
nights forecast for the foreseeable future so I felt safe, although,
last year we did have a late Frost that did some damage to tender
After this, I potted my Cherrola Tomatoes into very big Pots with Canes
in and Strings up to the Eaves of the Greenhouse to support them as they
grow. Also I potted on 4 Aubergines into bigger pots. They like similar
conditions to Tomatoes, but I will have to remember not to water the
Sweet Peppers that I potted on, as much, because they like it a bit
For my Yard, I decided to plant some Herbs into a very big pot and put
Cape Gooseberries and Yacon into the 3 Bag Pots that I was given at
Christmas. I realised that if the material Bag pots are left full of wet
compost all over Winter they may well rot and have a shorter life. And,
after all, most People grow Potatoes in their Bag Pots and Yacon are not
that unlike Potatoes in as much as they are a root Crop which look very
like Sweet Potatoes.
Another slightly exotic crop for this time of year is Asparagus. It is
very expensive to buy in the shops which I think this is down to the
time and the trouble it takes farmers to both grow and harvest it.
However, as an Allotment Crop it is quite easy as once planted and
established there is little to do each year and once there it should
last and come up each year, for something like 20 years, or more, unless
it is killed by a wet Winter when it can rot underground.
Some people think it has a strong flavour and others don’t really know
what to do with it.
The best tip I saw on the Telly as to how to prepare it was simply to
place it on a Chopping Board and to slide a Sharp Knife from the cut end
towards the Bud end whilst gently pressing with the Blade. When the
Knife slips easily through the Stalk – that is where to cut and Trim it.
Others prefer the Snap method believing that where the Stalk Snaps is
the spot to trim it. Another tip that I heard is that with very thick
stalks like those of the variety called “Connover’s Colossal,” you can
actually peel the waste Stalk to give a little more Edible Asparagus. It
is only the outside of the Stalk that gets tough with the inside, fleshy
stem, being tender and just as tasty.
When prepared, people often still don’t know how to cook and use
Asparagus. The main thing is that whatever you do, it doesn’t take much
cooking. A couple of minutes in boiling water, or a little longer in a
Steamer, until it starts to go limp, is all that it needs. Some people
like to char it on a Griddle though, as an alternative method of
cooking, believing that it gives it a bit more flavour.
As to serving it up – you can artistically use it to decorate things
like a Warm Quiche, or serve it in a plain White Sauce with a Boiled
Egg, Fish Cake, piece of Black Pudding or whatever, as a starter.
Another sauce that goes well with it is a Butter Sauce, or Roux, and of
course you could simply drop a couple of small knobs of melted Butter on
to it. In the peak Season, I just use my Asparagus as another vegetable
though, to go with my main meals.
The Asparagus Season started On St Georges Day and will go on well into
June finishing on the Summer Solstice of 21st June. This year has
produced a fantastic amount of “Stalks,” with no lost plants this
Winter, as it was quite dry and that suits Asparagus.
Before we got to the end of May I also started harvesting my Globe
Artichokes which have been much more promising so far this year than
last year’s washout of a harvest. Actually, the poor harvest was not due
to a “Washout,” but in fact was quite the opposite as I think that it
was in part due to a dry Spring. It has been quite dry this Spring as
well, but we have had a few Showers when it counted making the Artichoke
Plants grow well, because they like wetter conditions than Asparagus.
My first sowing of Broad Beans, that I put in when Autumn was coming to
a close, just before Winter arrived last year, were almost ready to
harvest as we started into June, with the Second, Spring Sowing, to
follow on later in the Month. I think the Plants weren’t as bulky as
they sometimes are, but the first Harvest was still quite reasonable
when I did pick them.
After my Broad Beans are all out I intend to replant straight away with
several things, so while they were waiting I potted on my Squash,
Outdoor Cucumbers and I also pricked out my Leeks, individually, into
trays with large cells.
Elsewhere on my Plot I resorted to putting some Horticultural Fleece
over my Kohl Rabi and Red Cabbages as they were being severely eaten by
Pigeons, or maybe the culprit was the occasional visiting Pheasant that
can be a real problem as well. I know it wasn’t Rabbits because we are
Rabbit Fenced on our site, but it could have been a Hare as they can
jump over the Rabbit Fencing.
The weather hasn’t really been a problem so far this season, but it has
been quite dry. When I have been planting anything I have filled the
Planting Holes with Water before planting and then watered the Plants in
as well afterwards, but then not really watered them in the following
weeks. This seems to encourage the Plants to send their Roots downwards
looking for water instead of staying on the surface and means that they
can cope much better with dry conditions. Even my Runner Beans haven’t
needed watering so far as they had a thick layer of Mulch put on their
bed which was then covered with a couple of inches of Soil drawn back
over it. The Mulch has helped to retain moisture and even now feels
quite damp under the surface.
We haven’t had any late Frosts this year
either. The other year we had one, or two that badly burned the Grape
Vine and Kiwi Vine leaves. The Grape Vine never really recovered
properly from it, although I did have my first Embryo Fruit on the Kiwi
Vine last year. However, this year, after a kinder start to the Season,
my Grape Vines look good and I have lots of Flowers on both of my Kiwi
Vines. So, maybe I will get my first Harvest of Kiwis and, as long as we
get some Rain occasionally with not too many Strong Winds, we might have
a good Season.