Go To Intro

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



In The Best Tradition.

It is traditional with all allotments to try and operate them as cheaply as possible by recycling everything that can be of use. Old bricks are gathered up from gardens at home as are pieces of wood and old builders planks. Plastic bottles and other packaging like the buckets that some bird food comes in along with plastic bags are all reused. Part packets of seed are passed around plot-holders and unwanted, surplus plants usually find a home. It is no different when it comes to fertilising the plots. Yes a very few do buy specific fertilizers, but most avail themselves of the free bags of horse manure that are frequently delivered to our site by one of the local stables. There is also a chicken farm nearby and occasionally they drop off a load of manure blended with chopped straw of some kind. For those plot-holders making raised beds there is no need to buy top soil in to fill them, because we compost our own plant waste to produce literally tons of free compost. Admittedly some weeds seeds germinate in it as it doesn’t always seem to get hot enough to kill them all and the seeds are constantly blowing around the site. We do cover the heaps when we can as this not only stops some of the seed, but also keeps some of the wet out of the heaps and helps keep the heat in. Up until now though, anybody who wanted to use bark chippings to make “Green,” paths between raised beds, or to spread around Strawberries to keep them clean instead of using Straw, has had to buy bags of chips. They can be every bit as expensive to buy as bags of compost, although I found a little place a few miles away, on Cannock Chase, where they cut timber and make their own chips which are half the price of commercial bags. Even so, their use can come expensive if you want a quantity. More and more plot-holders are using them, so, consequently the Allotment Committee gave me the job of locating a free source of chippings.

Eventually, at a darts match one night, I happened to start talking to the Landlord of the pub we were playing our match in and he said he was also a tree surgeon in his daytime job and would be happy to drop off a load of chippings. In fact he said that very weekend he was fetching down a Chestnut tree and he pointed out that it would be a lot better for the ground than Pine chippings that are quite acidic. He said that Pine is great for paths, but deciduous chippings are better to be used as a mulch where plants are growing. In due course, a few days later, I had a phone call to say that he was on his way and would I make sure he could get onto the site and put down a tarpaulin for him to drop his load on. When he pulled up a little later he tipped the load saying it was a bit leafy and how it would soon warm up the ground that was covered in it. I didn’t twig until after he had gone and then I saw smoke rising from it! No wonder he had been so keen to deliver it that day as it was starting to burn and was smoking well! Being piled up on his lorry over the Bank Holliday weekend in the sun had started bacterial action in the leafy mix. As with any good composting this had started to generate a lot of heat. It might have even set his lorry on fire if left as it was smoking away merrily. Some of it was already going a silver grey colour as it was burning and turning to ash! Hastily I spread the pile out and stirred it around and panic over - it stopped smoking. You can see how easily fires start in wet haystacks though.

Plot holders soon found the heap and started diving in to the free chippings – well almost free chippings. All they had cost me was an assortment of vegetables and fruit from my allotment that I had given the Tree Surgeon for his trouble. Before he drove off I also gave him a big bunch of freshly cut Chrysanthemum flowers for his wife.

Apparently, he drops off a load of chippings to other allotments occasionally, so it is probably common practice around the country with other small tree surgeons. I suppose in all honesty they don’t produce enough to make it practical to sell the chippings commercially and it is really just a waste product to them, so dropping it off to allotments free of charge makes sense. And in the best Allotment tradition he did get something for his trouble with the assortment of greengrocery!


Click Here For Information