Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
Alan J Hartley
Bad Weather And Frosts.
The weather seems to be just as chaotic as it has been all year. One of my friends commented some time ago about the wet weather we were having then by saying “You can tell that Autumn has come because the Monsoons have started!” and he was right. The rains just haven’t stopped and nor have the winds. Fortunately, the leaves were just about all off the trees for the last bad spell that we have recently had, or else a lot more trees would have come down. As it is a lot of people lost their Cloches and Fleeces from their allotments. Fortunately for me, my big expensive Cloche only had a fleece on that came loose resulting in the framework being bowled over, but not being damaged unlike one poor soul who had the metal framework of his cloche completely mangled. The wind also lifted some groundcover sheeting that was covering an empty patch, but the bricks stopped it from blowing away altogether. Until the winds drop and the cold weather really settles in after Christmas, I have decided not to recover my cloche as the figs will stand a fair amount of cold and protecting them too much will make them soft.
Strangely, the few cold nights that we have had, have not, as yet, taken the tops on my Asparagus that are still bright green and blowing about in the slightest breeze almost like giant, green, Candy Floss. The wind has battered the Cape Gooseberries though and I will be lucky to get the few berries left, on the plants that are still standing, to ripen.
Even with the bad weather a few hardy plot-holders are still working their plots and planting things like Broad Beans (Aquadulce) and Peas that are coming up well all over the site. I plan to make several sowings throughout the Winter to stagger their development so that hopefully, they won’t need picking all at the same time. My Garlic are not showing yet and I am only just starting to dig and re-plant my Jerusalem Artichokes.
Parsnips would not normally be harvested until after the first real frosts as they say a good frost improves the flavour, but mine have all been dug and eaten already! I will have a few root vegetables in the coming winter though, as the Scorzonnera seem to be growing well from the one or two that have been dug up accidentally when weeding and my first batch of Leeks are nearly ready for pulling. Quite a few small Kohl Rabi are left in the ground that may still mature and I am leaving my Oca in as long as possible under the other Cloche before digging them up. I do also have a few plants of Black Kale that can be cut back to produce some fresh growth and tender new leaves throughout the Winter.
Generally though, it is a case of tidying up the plot and removing any weeds that have escaped up until now before the tops all die back on them. One way of dealing with persistent weeds, such as Dandelions, in paths, is to sprinkle a little cooking salt on them. It is very effective at killing them permanently, but Salt MUST NOT be used on ground that is to be planted at all and must be used very sparingly if used on paths, or the like as it WILL POISON the soil in the plot if it washes onto it.
Piling weeds onto the compost heap means working it by turning it and digging, that that is already mature, into the plot. Homemade compost will not be as rich as Horse manure which should really be dug in and left over-winter before planting the plot next Spring except for things like rhubarb that love it and will stand it being put thickly round them as long as it is not put directly onto the plants