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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




Planting More, Unusual Vegetables. 

Over Winter I stored my young Fig trees in a large Cloche that had been covered with some Horticultural Fleece. It certainly did the job of protecting them from the cold, but as the Spring sunshine started to warm things up the Fleece started to develop the odd tear. I didn’t pay much attention to it until one day, I went up in strong winds and saw the Fleece starting to shred! Within the space of a few days of strong sun on it, it hard become like tissue paper and was breaking up and blowing in the wind like burnt paper in a bonfire! Looking round I could see bits of it on other plots and then I thought of the horses in the surrounding paddocks. The “Horsy People,” would not have been pleased with me if I had left it because of the danger to the horses. Consequently I binned my “Bargain – specially reduced,” roll of fleece. It had been bought from a big garden centre chain and proved not to be a bargain after all, but absolute rubbish as it was not U.V. stabilized and just perished in the strong, Spring sunlight. In the past we have kept fleece for years before having to throw it away.
Having cleaned up and emptied the giant Cloches, I decided to plant my Oca, or New Zealand Yams, in them and only cover them with fleece in the Autumn to extend their growing season. Last years initial crop had been very successful and kept incredibly well over Winter inside in the warm house. Normally you have to chill vegetables to keep them for any length of time, but the Oca seem to store well at room temperature.

This season I wanted to grow some of the round Jerusalem Artichokes, but forgot to order them, so I planted up the old fashioned Knobbly type again. We had seen the smooth ones on sale as vegetables at our favourite, supermarket in Stone, but not bought any and when I wanted them they hadn’t got any. However, while wandering round a garden centre the other day I saw some artichokes of the “Fuseau,” variety. There was only 5 in the packet and it is a bit late to plant them, but hopefully they will grow sufficiently to bulk up the numbers for next year even if they don’t get big enough to eat for this. Due to the fact that my first two plots are already so full, I planted the Artichokes in my new plot along with some Yellow Beetroot and purple Brussels Sprouts that I thought I would also try. We are not big Potato fans, but I have put in a few “Pink Fir Apple,” that I had saved from last years meagre crop that suffered due to the rampant Potato Blight that was everywhere.

The first year on my allotment I grew some old fashioned, blanching Chicory and have decided to give it another go along with the similar Radicchio that can also be a little bitter, but unlike the Chicory, is for Summer harvesting.

Another totally new plant for me is “Diosorea Batatas,” or “Cinamon Vine,” that I raised from seed. They are supposed to develop a huge edible root after 2, or 3 years, so I have only planted 4 on a little wigwam of canes to support the vine like top growth.

Where I am digging up the Scorzonnera I am going to plant a bed of Sea Kale. Put simply, this is an alternative crop to Asparagus, but it should harvest a little earlier and unlike Asparagus it needs blanching, over Winter, in the same you might blanch early Rhubarb. The instructions that came with the seeds say that the plants need a very free draining, gritty soil that is both alkali and is also rich in humus. Like Asparagus, the seedlings need a year or two, to mature, before they can start to be harvested, but the plants should then crop for many years.

The question has got be of course, how many more unusual vegetables are there out there waiting for me to try and grow them? I did see an interesting one being cultivated commercially in this country that comes from Japan called Wasabe. It seems it grows very much like Water Cress, so if we have another wet Summer like last year, I might just give that a try!

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