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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton


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By Mrs FM


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Alan J Hartley



Double Cropping.

A large portion of my Allotments are put down to permanent planting in the form of fruit and also some vegetables such as Asparagus as well as a small part that is being planted with flowers for cutting. This meant that when I decided to repay my mate with vegetables for his good work on my new plot and the construction of my Cold Frame etc, I needed to maximise the amount of vegetables that I could grow on the new plot that was the only patch that was being cropped in the normal way. With this in mind I thought about “Double Cropping,” and what I could grow. For most people this usually means growing a “Catch Crop” such as Radish, or Lettuce, between rows of slower maturing vegetables like Parsnips. Alternatively they just grow salad leaves, sometimes under fleece or cloches, after normal harvesting before the Winter really sets in. To my mind this was not very creative, so I went to my seed tin and looked at the back of the packets for the cropping times of all the seeds that I had.

The first real crop in my plot to be harvested was the Broad Beans that came out early in the season. Perhaps foolishly, as it is always unwise to replant with the same vegetable, I immediately put in some quick maturing Kidney Beans. They grew well and although Autumn was just about upon us when they started to dry off, they cropped very well. The plants didn’t look very impressive, as the smaller growing types of Bean plants often don’t, but when I actually pulled the Beans there was plenty on. However, because they hadn’t fully ripened I did need to dry them thoroughly before I could store them away in plastic tubs for later use in Stews and the like.

Potato Blight seems to be a regular problem on our site and although it wasn’t quite so bad this year, it still started to hit the Potatoes tops in June. As plants became infected most people simply removed the tops and left the Potatoes in the ground to dig up later, in some cases many weeks later. Instead of leaving mine I quickly harvested them and forked through the soil thoroughly before manuring it and replanting with an assortment of vegetables.

The Potato patch was about 1/3rd of my new plot, or 20 feet by 15, so it could accommodate quite a few different trial plantings. I regularly grow Kohl Rabi and knew it would grow quickly, so that was my next candidate. They are a member of the Brassica family and as such are completely suitable to follow Potatoes, although they look a bit like a root vegetable. Swiss Chard and Kale are quite happy growing through the colder months, so were added to the planting list, but a little reading yielded an assortment of other vegetables that would be good for a late planting. “All Year round Cabbage,” was an obvious choice, but I also found some quick maturing Baby Turnips and late sowing Swedes. Most of the Baby Turnips grew to an edible size in about only 7, or 8 weeks and tasted lovely as well as looking pretty with their pink skins! The Swedes were also very tender unlike the big ones that can be a little woody if you buy them in the shops. I am sorry to say that the Baby Leeks were a failure due to my poor weeding as they got so smothered with weeds that they just didn’t grow after transplanting. However, the Mooli Radishes, that I had only ever read about before and not seen, proved to be fantastic. We have since seen them on sale in some of our local Supermarkets so they are out there in some shops for those that want to try them before they grow them. Basically, they are a Radish that looks a little like a Parsnip, but are bigger! Supposedly you can cook them, but we found that we liked them simply sliced and served up with a salad instead of normal Radish. The Mooli Radish is not so dense, or chewy as a normal Radish and is instead very crisp and crunchy, more like an Apple, with a high water content, although it does have a similar Radish taste. I will definitely be growing some more of those next year. In fact, I think it is fair to say that I will try the same trick of “Double Cropping,” again after my Potato harvest with the same vegetables and I will also see if there are any more to try.


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