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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



Winter Has Come.

This year we had a decent fall of snow just after Christmas that curtailed my activities on the Allotments. There were also a couple of nights of quite sharp frosts that finished off the Cape Gooseberries plants that had stood up to the first November frosts well. As usual we did manage to pick a few punnets of ripe berries and there were a few more berries when I cleared the dead tops off the bushes. It is always a bit hit and miss whether the berries ripen though. I decided to dig up the 4 remaining roots and save them for next year. Last year I had saved them, but only after pulling them up and badly damaging them and they had been discarded on the compost heap before being rescued and potted. The few roots that survived being torn up had got too wet over winter while they were potted and their roots rotted which meant the plants did not do as well in the Spring as I had hoped for. This time I dug them up properly though and potted them better before putting them to over winter in a cold greenhouse. So, maybe next year they will do better. The Oca had stood up to the cold well, but the tops also finally went in December. The tubers on the few plants that I had tried to harvest earlier on were too small, but the later diggings were much better yielding some worthwhile tubers. Unlike most vegetables the tubers will keep for weeks at room temperature and don’t need any special storage methods.

So far, my new cold frame seems to be protecting the Chrysanthemums after the few very cold nights that we have had, but we will see how the plants come through the rest of the winter. I can see green shoots through the glass top that shouldn’t really be there yet. My Greenhouse at home is also getting good use with lots being kept in it for protection from the frost including an assortment of plants ranging from Fuschias, half hardy Figs, young Olive trees and Gladiola to potted Yacon and other oddities including a lemon Eucalyptus, various Citrus and a few Banana plants. It is heated with an electric greenhouse heater that is on a frost stat and the greenhouse is lined with bubble polythene with a polythene curtain over the door to keep out the draughts a bit more. There are also a couple of Pepino plants in there that I grew from seed which never did much, whereas the plant I gave to Oak Tree fruited well. I think they really are a greenhouse plant that needs a bit more care than I gave them, although having said that they over-wintered theirs last year in a totally unheated greenhouse.

Other things that have been prepared for winter include my Feijoa, Licorice, Meyer Lemon and two Myrtles some of which have been wrapped with fleece and some had giant bell cloches put over them. All have been left in the ground on my allotment though. 

I am definitely getting my allotment more organised now and have a better idea as to what I want to do with it, so, I should have a flying start for next year. With next season in mind I bought some rather poor, but heavily reduced Japanese onions. It is very late to plant them, but some will grow and they should produce a few worthwhile Onions. My Garlic never put on much top growth, but they were not too bad after all when I dug them up, so, I bought and planted some more a few weeks ago that are shooting nicely now. At the begining of the season, last years ordinary Onions started off growing with curly tops, but they straightened up and did not do too badly either. They were very mixed though with a few going to seed and a few rotting in storage. It is not time to plant those yet, although, I have bought a couple of packets already in my eagerness.

Winter vegetables that we are still in the middle of harvesting include Parsnips some of which are giant ones that individually fill a bucket with tops as thick as my leg! Others have very long tails with the roots snapping at nearly 2 foot! I never used to like eating Parsnips until I started growing them and always preferred Carrots, but they are better than having Carrot root fly! As always I have grown too much Kale that takes up too much space, so, I am going to try cutting the heads on one, or two plants, more than once to see how many times I can do it. If I cut them carefully I maybe able to cut off a head 3, or 4 times, but presumably the plants will try to go to seed eventually. However, If I can get 3, or 4 heads off each plant I may need to only put in half a dozen plants to keep us going all year instead of having a large patch!

Another thing that I have been doing to organise my plots is putting in new posts to replace the hotch-potch of canes that were in to train my fruit trees. With the stronger posts I can shape the branches up properly with better support. I had to move couple of fruit trees to line them up with the posts, but that was easy as the roots were contained in the special bag pots and they did not get disturbed at all. To make use of the space between the trees again I shall probably plant beetroot as the roots of that are fairly shallow and then maybe I will chip between the trees the next year. 

As January sets in there will be fewer days that I can usefully do anything, partly due to the cold, but also the winter wet as walking on wet soil is not a good thing to do. My plots will just have to be left alone until things warm up again.


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