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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton


Gardening Tips
By Mrs FM


Unusual & Old
Fashioned Fruit


Herbs & Other
Edible Plants.

Environmental Issues And Going Green.

Books By
Alan J Hartley



Weeds And Other Pests.

Unfortunately, with all the problems that people are having at the moment and also with the spell of wet weather, many of the allotments are looking more than a little abandoned at the moment and weeds are growing and seeding everywhere. With all these seeds about my plot did start to weed up after only a week or twos neglect. Fortunately, although the wet conditions encourage the weeds to grow quickly, the wet also softens the soil making digging easy and sometimes the weeds can just be pulled out. This has meant that my new brick built compost heap which I constructed right next to my Runner Bean canes and a patch of Cauliflowers, soon filled up with weeds. As with all compost heaps it has attracted lots of insect life and other creepy crawlies including lots of snails and slugs. Not the best of things to do next to a patch of Cauliflowers as I found out to my cost! Clearing all the weeds, dead leaves and other rubbish from around the plants, leaving just bare soil, has reduced the problem a little, but when I weeded, I made sure not to loosen the soil too close to the plants as they like firm soil. In future though, I will make sure that anything susceptible to slug damage is planted well away from the compost heap!

Compost heaps should be turned occasionally, but that does not appear to be what other allotment holders are doing. One said to me that he just keeps putting stuff in the top, the level keeps falling and he never has to empty it. This could be true to some extent as plant material is made up of nearly all water, the gasses, Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide and various other Carbon compounds that will all readily turn back into gasses. That means that he is not doing his bit by locking Carbon up in his compost that could have been dug into his plot as Humus. By turning your heap you will kill the weeds growth potential, but not decompose them to far. My own heap has been partly dug out, turned and refilled already and is due for some more attention.

The total destruction of weeds to virtually nothing can easily be seen when you hoe them in sunny, dry conditions. An early morning hoe will result in dead weeds by night time and after a day or two there will be no trace of them. It is best to hoe any small weeds in dry conditions rather than dig, because digging dry soil too much breaks up the crumb structure and turns the soil to dust.

We have a female Blackbird on the allotments that is as tame as any Robin. Whenever you start to dig, whether it is weeding or just planting, she is never far away. If you lean on your fork and pause for a little breather she often comes up to your fork in her search for a tasty morsel. The only problem is that being a Blackbird she also likes berries and has found my precious, first few Josta Berries, that were ripening nicely! She obviously prefers the berries to slugs and snails as well! On the subject of Josta Berries, whenever I have spoken of them before people haven’t heard of them and say they can’t track down any reference to them. Well, I recently found them in the Black Currant section of one of the popular series of gardening books that deals with fruit. It clearly states that they are not a Black Currant variety, but are a cross with a Gooseberry and I guess they are because Gooseberry Sawfly that I have never seen on them before, has attacked one of my young plants making lace curtains out of the leaves!

Apart from slugs attacking my Cauliflowers, we are getting plenty of Cabbage White butterflies. Many plot-holders are covering their plants with fleece cloches, but I have tried using a spray. Of course it had to be a not so effective, Garlic/Soap spray as we are supposed to be an environmentally friendly site and no chemicals are allowed to be used. Last year my Carrots were disfigured by Carrot Root Fly, so this year I tried “Companion Planting,” by putting rows of Onions and Garlic next to them. The smell of the Onions is supposed to deter the Carrot Fly and the Carrots deter the Onion Fly. Next year I might have a few more ideas for natural deterrents because I found a book that goes into great detail about “Companion Planting,” to prevent pests without using any chemicals at all for anything. We are all discovering new methods and ideas for doing things all the time and half the fun is in trying to outwit Mother Nature!