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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.

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Autumn Fruits.

The Squirrels are becoming very active in the hedgerows surrounding the Allotments and I guess it is coming round to the time for them to feast on the Autumn bounty including the Hazel nuts that grow in the hedges everywhere. If you try and pick them from the hedges the Squirrels always seem to beat you to them. One or two plot holders have optimistically planted small Hazel saplings on their plots in the hopes of a future nut harvest. At home I have a mature tree and I was very pleased to harvest over 5 pounds of Hazel Nuts from it. Unfortunately in my attempts to beat the Squirrel to the nuts, I picked them while they were still green and before they had ripened to their usual brown colour, but it was also before the nuts had developed inside the shells. So I ended up with an impressive pile of shells and no Nuts! I shall not do that again! 

It was always my intention to plant a Mulberry tree on my plot, but instead I planted 3 at home. They have been in the ground for a few years now and one has just fruited for the first time. I donít know the variety, but the berries were red and quite tart. However, they went very nicely in an Apple crumble. It is interesting to note that in this variety the berries donít have stalks, but grow straight on the stems, whereas in the sweeter, black fruited type, the berries have little stalks and look very like a Blackberry. Incidentally, the small Blackberry bushes, that I planted along the fence at the end of my plot last year, have just started to produce their first fruit and one day I was pleased to be able to pick a small punnet full. My older brother said to me what is the point growing them and told me how he often manages to pick whole punnets full from the various hedgerows that he knows. Personally, I think itís more fun growing your own fruit and it wonít have had car exhaust fumes, or farmers sprays on it. Another unusual tree that I have that is starting to fruit for the first time is a fig called Panache. This has slightly variegated leaves and produces green and white striped Figs that are just starting to swell. It will be interesting to see if the Figs are any different inside their skins.

This year I planted a few Tomatillo plants on my plot. I didnít grow any last year, but had great success with them the year before. The fruits rarely ripen in this country unless in a greenhouse, but the plants seem to grow well enough outside and produce a large quantity of green fruits for making into sauces like Salsa Verde. They are in fact closely related to the Cape Gooseberries that I always grow with varying success, but are much, much, larger fruits Ė more the size of a Beef Steak Tomato. However, they are a little more tender than the Cape Gooseberries.

Still on the subject of the unusual, although I donít know what you would class Liqorice plants as, my tiny plant struggled to get going outside until I put a bell cloche over it to give it a little more protection and warmth. The top of the plant had all died off, but it started shooting from almost below soil level and at the moment is growing well. We will have to see how it comes through its first Winter. I will probably put the cloche over it again to help it through.

Again I donít know what you would class my Chenopodium plants as, although some books apparently class them as a weed, but the seedlings are doing well. They are still in pots at home for the moment and I will probably plant them next Spring if they shoot again then, as my plot is short of space for the time being. If a suitable space becomes available before then though, I will plant them straight away and put bark chips down as I do for other permanent plantings.

 

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