Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
Allotment Tree & Plant Sale.
After a vote at the AGM this
year, the Allotments Committee, decided to start the next stage of
developing our Allotment Site by giving it a few more facilities. A
storage Shed has long been wanted to keep things in that belong to the
site be it a roll of Membrane, Environmesh, or Packets of Seeds to swap.
Apart from this there have been numerous requests to have a Toilet for
the Site, so this year, the decision was made to take steps towards
installing these two things. Obviously a good deal of money would be
required, some of which we already had, but it was decided to have some
Fundraisers to support the cause. With this in mind we had a big plant
sale in May and other ideas were suggested to follow on.
Every year I germinate a few Tree Seeds, and take a number of Tree
Cuttings, all of which I grow on and then take to the charity where I
work. These they pot up and eventually offer for sale along with other
plants that they produce. With the 2 years of Lockdown and subsequent
restrictions on the Charity, they haven’t sold very many plants, or
trees, in the last 3 years. Consequently, my Manager told me not to take
in any more young trees this year.
So, in early Summer, I suggested having a Tree Sale as a Fundraiser.
After all it was the year of “Plant A Tree For The Jubilee.” There were
some doubts about how viable the idea would be, but after the success of
the last 3 Spring Plant Sales that I was heavily involved with, the
Committee decided to let me run with the idea. To boost the potential
sales I suggested adding pots of Herbaceous Perennials that could be
grown from offsets that would be largely taken from plants in my Garden.
The idea was accepted, again with some doubts. However, I got busy
potting and growing as much as was reasonable. The Trees were potted in
either 10, or 12 inch pots using Compost from our own Compost Bin mixed
with a little more fibrous material to lighten it and the Perennials
were potted in 4, or 5 inch Pots. By the time September came and the day
of the Sale on the 10th most of the Trees were about 4, or 5 Feet tall
and they included a mixture of Edible Figs, Ornamental Figs, Corkscrew
Willow, Red Leafed Hazel, Ordinary Willow, Elderberry, Paulownia, Asian
Pear, Lemon Scented Eucalyptus and some lovely Rowans that had been
donated by a very kind Lady on a nearby housing estate. There was some
debate as to how much to sell everything for and we settled on an easy
pricing of five Pounds each for the trees, with one, or two special ones
at a tenner, and just a pound each for the Perennials. There was a
little joking about, “Would there be any Cannabis Plants on sale?” in
light of a recent Cannabis raid on an industrial estate in the village a
few weeks earlier. Apparently, hundreds of Plants had been discovered
growing in a Warehouse and there had been much Police activity for days.
I remember seeing a live gardening item on TV a few years ago that
featured some Allotments in Birmingham when the presenter spotted a few
plants growing that looked suspicious. He asked the Council Official
guiding him around, if they were Cannabis Plants and the Official agreed
that they were saying that he would have to report the matter straight
away. This was all on a live TV show and then the item was cut short
before they switched to something else! So, who knows with our warming
Summers, we will have to keep an eye on our site!
Anyway, joking aside, our Sales Day was a success although it was held
for only 2 hours and it was just 2 days after the Queen died. The day
before our sale I feared that it would be cancelled with the big
Ceremony planned for Charles’s accession to the Throne at exactly the
time of the start of our sale. I believe it did cut down the numbers
attending, but I think we still had a good result.
We had some 40 Trees to offer as well as over 100 Herbaceous Perennials
and I guess we sold nearly half of the Trees. Having said that, nearly
half of those sold, were Figs including a couple of the lovely
ornamental “Ice Crystal,” variety, but we also sold a few big, twisted
willow and an assortment of others. Perhaps not as many Trees sold as I
would have liked, but we made up the Sales with most of the Herbaceous
Perennials being sold. If anyone had asked me beforehand for a Target
figure, I would have said £200 plus, which was what we got.
There were a number of Perennials left over that were donated to another
Village Fundraiser so that he could have a sale at a later date and some
were to go to a Railway Memorial Garden, at the local Church, that is
supported by the Allotments.
No sooner was the Autumn Tree and Plant Sale over and I started thinking
about next year’s Spring Plant Sale that we have been holding in May for
the last few years. With this in mind, early Autumn is a good time to
think about multiplying Plants by dividing them. Most Herbaceous Plants
can simply be dug up and roughly split with two small hand forks held
back to back, or for larger clumps, two border forks. You don’t need to
worry too much about damage to the Plants as long as each clump has some
roots on. When doing this though, it does help the plants recover, if
you cut the foliage down quite hard at the same time that you pot, or
replant the pieces. This reduces the strain on the Plants and gives the
roots a better chance to cope until they re-grow.
A friend had a large clump of Yellow Flag Irises that she didn’t want,
so I dug those up to be potted. The ground was Clay and had compacted
very badly over time, so I had to use a Pick to get them out. The soil
in the patch that they came from was extremely impoverished so she will
need to work in some Compost or Manure before she thinks about planting
anything else there. I also decided to divide and pot two of my
ornamental Clovers - one that is fully hardy - Oxalis Triangularis, and
one that is not - Oxalis Tatraphylla, Iron Cross.
They both make unusual Pot Plants and are always popular. I have been a
fan since discovering them some years ago.
Farmers use Clover sometimes to enrich their Soil with Nitrogen and some
Allotment Holders use it as a Green Manure, but I think it is an
undervalued plant. There is even an edible variety for use in Salads.
It is a bit late, but I took some “Soft,” Hebe and Euphorbia cuttings to
add to the variety. Hopefully, there is enough growing time left for
them to root before they shutdown for Winter. Soft Wood Cuttings will
normally root in a few weeks. Hardwood Cuttings, on the other hand are
best taken at the end of the Season and left to root over Winter and
even into the following Summer and beyond as they take much longer. I
did take some more woody cuttings of the Twisted Willow as those sold
well and some Variegated Cornus. Last years Fig and Kiwi Vine cuttings
that have been in my Cold Frame since last Autumn, should be ready to
pot up when they have dropped their leaves and then I will take a new
batch of cuttings. I usually put some Red Leafed Hazel cuttings in as
well that I take from underground shoots which seem to sprout around the
Tree in my Garden every year.
Every year I put in a few packets of Seeds to try different things, but
on a budget. A packet of Seeds is usually only a couple of Pounds and
you can easily get a number of Plants to grow from it. Where as, if you
were to buy the same number of Plants from a Garden Centre, they would
cost you a small fortune these days. To really do things on the cheap
though, you can collect your own seed. I did this with some Hawthorn
Berries which I put in for work, some Rowans, Elderberry and Euonymus,
or Spindle Tree. To germinate, many Native Tree Seeds need a cold spell
that they get naturally during winter.
Apart from the Tree Seeds I put in a Packet of Lythrum Salicaria, or
Purple Loosestrife, that I bought last Winter. They didn’t seem to
germinate in the Spring, so I threw the Compost away. Much to my delight
I recently found several plants growing in various places. They
materialised in odd corners and had even started flowering when I
discovered them. They can be invasive, and although they are very tough,
they prefer damp places. The Lythrum should bulk up quite quickly, so
next summer I might be able to divide one or two of them for something
different to add to the collection, if we have another late Summer Plant
Sale as this is when they flower.
At Work I came across another cheap and cheerful plant that can also be
a bit invasive as it spreads readily. Flowering with a bright yellow
flower, again late in the Season, it is really quite pretty. Golden Rod
is the common name, or Solidago it’s Latin Name and it is good for
insects, in particular butterflies, and although it is considered
poisonous to people and Horses, it is used in Herbal Medicine and is non
toxic to dogs.
Elsewhere on my Plot the Early Summer Raspberries have already been cut
down and in a few weeks the Leaves will fall from the Autumn Raspberries
as they finish and the colder weather comes and then they can be cut
down and tidied up. As the Raspberries get sorted I will dig up any
stray Canes, that have a habit of popping up everywhere that they are
not wanted, and they will get Potted. They will need all Winter to
settle into the Pots, but they should then shoot in the Spring and will
be added to the collection of Plants for sale. I recently tidied up one
of my Gooseberry Bushes cutting it back to shape it up to give better
air flow around the plant that will help it prosper. Several shoots had
rooted down so those were cut off and dug out before potting. Black
Currant Bushes also have a tendency to root down as they bulk up giving
the opportunity for some more plants when they are given their seasonal
tidy up, although cuttings root easily enough. Rhubarb plants need
completely digging up and dividing every 3 or 4 years to re-invigorate
them as well, so that will be a source of a few more plants “For Free.”
As we go through Winter and get nearer to the Sale date I will start
thinking about what vegetables I will want to grow as most vegetables
will have to be grown from Seed in the Spring ready for the Sale.