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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.

Vines And Other Climbing Plants.

Fish Ponds

Books By
Alan J Hartley



Making Use Of Propagators.

Back in last Winter I bought some large, cheap, unheated propagators for the spring sowing of vegetables seeds for my Allotment. The propagators had flexible clear plastic tops and Gravel trays as a base. Holding two ordinary seed trays, the gravel trays could retain water and keep the compost in the trays moist and so help germination and reduce the need for constant watering. I made good use of them in the Spring on my Allotment by starting off my vegetables and also some Herbaceous Perennials a bit later on. A lot of people grow their own bedding plants and vegetables, but don’t think about growing other things such as Perennials that are very expensive to buy from Garden Centres as mature plants. With the price they are, one single Herbaceous plant would pay for several packets of seed. Mom wanted lots more flowery plants in the garden so I bought and sowed some Catananche, Achillea, Gailardia, Sidalcea and Asters. They came up quite well generally in the unheated propagators and were subsequently potted on individually into 3 ˝ inch pots before going into the garden later in the year. Some will now grow on to flower next year, whereas some like the Aster and Sidalcea have started to flower already.

After these seeds had germinated the propagators were cleaned and put away, but I wondered how else I could make use of them at other times of the year. A few weeks ago I saw that lots of seeds in the Garden Centre’s had been reduced for their Annual clear out, so, I decided to put some in for Oak Tree’s open day that was coming up in August this year. I had been told that I was wanted to help with a little potting display for a couple of Team Members and could do some pricking out myself. So, realising that although most Herbaceous perennials can be sown in the Spring, many can also be sown in mid Summer and even into the Autumn, I bought an assortment of reduced packets of Perennials from different shops. They will grow on through the Autumn and Winter to make big plants for flowering in the following year. The packets included Delphiniums, Icelandic Poppies, Monarda, Cerropegia, Dianthus and a packet of Mallow seeds that came completely for free.
Other free seeds that have gone in recently are Honesty and Angelica. Both of these are really just Biennials rather than Perennials, but are still worth growing. Not only does the Honesty or Lunaria, produce flowers in the Spring, but later produces seed pods that are very good for dried flower arrangements. Of course the seeds were free for both plants, because I saved the seed from last years plants, which is very easy to do with these.

In the past I had bought a pot of bay Tree seedlings, divided them and planted them on my Allotment. They are making a couple of nice little rows of reasonable sized bushes for cutting and use in the kitchen now, so, along with the seeds I also bought another couple of pots of seedlings to be potted on for Oak Tree’s herb section. Of course these didn't need to go into the Propagators to grow, but they were a bargain I couldn't refuse and proved a useful addition to the range of seedlings I was growing for Oak Tree. The retailers intend people to pull off the leaves and use them in the kitchen before throwing away the pot of young plants. But, carefully divided, each pot will yield about a dozen, or more plants, for about a fiver. This makes a very cheap way of buying fancy Bay Tree plants to make a culinary hedge as big Bay plants are very expensive. With their Herbs and Vegetables in mind I bought some Asparagus and Globe Artichoke seeds along with a packet of Lemon Balm seeds. Most of the seeds germinated quite quickly even though some like the Asparagus said that germination could take a month or more. It will take a couple of years for the Asparagus and Globe Artichokes to reach the size of the plants on my Allotment, but they will grow on and are a very cheap way of producing enough plants to make a bed full, although of course Oak Tree will sell them as young plants.
When all of this batch of seedlings have been taken out of the Propagators they will probably be cleaned and stored away again for a while until the Winter. Not only is it traditional to sow Onion seeds on Boxing Day, but many native plants, especially trees, need their seeds to be “Stratified,” or frosted and so Winter sowing is ideal for them as well. The Propagators will need to go into the unheated Cold Frame for a couple of weeks for the seeds to get frosted and then they can be taken into the greenhouse to fool the seeds into thinking that Spring has come early and they will germinate. After these seeds are up it will be time to think about sowing the Vegetables again for Spring planting and I will have been able to use for the Propagators for most of the year. 


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