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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



Last Harvest Of The Unusual.

I do love to try and grow all the unusual fruit and vegetables that I come across, but sometimes after growing it I don’t really know what to do with it. This is the case with my Tomatilloes that I have grown for several years now. It always amazes me just how much fruit I get off the bushes that are grown annually. The last couple of years I have dug up and kept a few Cape Gooseberry bushes that are their cousins, but I haven’t tried over wintering any Tomatillo plants. Consequently, as I have picked the best of the fruit the cold has taken the more tender Tomatillo plants. Some fruit always split on the plants and spoil, but there is always plenty more. From just half a dozen plants I usually get around a 2 gallon bucket full of fruits of varying sizes, so it would be wonderful if someone could come up with a good use for them.
With all the wet we seem to be having I am not very optimistic for the Cape Gooseberries as they are slowly ripening on the dying and drying plants. They normally get picked in December, even as late as Christmas sometimes, but with the wet they may just rot. Cape Gooseberries are always a bit hit and miss as to whether you actually get any fruit anyway.

Blackbirds have a reputation for eating berries and a female bird on the Allotment has found my Goji Berry to her taste. The bush was enjoying a new lease of life and being trained more like a vine with the bush bent over to spread horizontally. At one point it seemed covered in tiny berries that promised a lot more fruit than I have ever picked before. That is until the Blackbird found out what it was and she has kept the bush stripped almost completely bare of any berries.

At home my Arbutus Unedo, or Strawbrerry Tree is covered with fruit at various stages of development. The bush is growing very well and about 6, or 7 feet tall, although, I have seen a much bigger one at the entrance to one of the local garden centres that must be twice the height. One of the TV gardeners stated that the bright red fruits are edible and my mother and I have eaten them every year for several years now, although, they are always listed as being ornamental. Really ripe, the fruits are fairly sweet, but do not have any great taste and they are very “Gritty,” from their unusual skin. Being bright red when fully ripe and the size of a large Grape they are very attractive though. Unlike most fruit they do take a full 12 months to develop.

A few nights ago we had some very strong winds that fetched all the Medlar fruits off my tree along with the leaves before I could get round to picking them. Fortunately, as they were buried in the leaves the slugs didn’t get to them even though it has been very wet, so no harm was done. Normally the fruits are ready to be picked about the end of November, after the first real frosts have started to “Blet,” or ripen them.
My tree has been in the ground for probably about ten years, but is still little more than 7, or 8 feet at its highest point. It does spread quite a bit though with its untidy, hap hazard growing branches that seem to come out at all sorts of angles. The fruit yield varies quite dramatically from just a few dozen fruits to this year’s record harvest of about 240 fruits. I do save a few to eat myself, but again pass on most to other people to make Medlar Jelly, or jam out of.

A couple of very cold nights late in November took all the remaining tender plants including the tops of my Cinamon Vine, Yacon and Oca.
Again I got no bulb-lets off the Cinamon Vines for sowing next year, as the cold nights got to the vines before they could produce any, so I knew if I do dug up all the large, tuberous, roots I wouldn’t be able to grow any more next year. With this in mind I only dug up one of them to start with and intended to leave the others in. However, upon carefully digging I found the shoot going straight down and was quite optimistic for a few minutes only to find that as I unearthed the tuber – it was tiny – little bigger than a small Carrot. It was very disappointing after waiting 3 years full of expectations of something enormous. I guess the Cinamon Vine needs a better temperature than my Allotment provided. Maybe in a Poly Tunnel it would do better. I shall not be bothering with those again!

With the Yacon tops all gone I cut them down and dug up a couple of the Yam like roots to go with my weekly vegetable harvest leaving the rest in the ground for harvesting later. This year the tubers seem to be more rounded and not so big. Maybe they went in too late and needed a bit more growing time, but this years size suited me better as last year they were a bit too large to be easily used. It is my intention to save some of the crowns, as you can usually get several from each plant, and put some to over winter in pots in my cold frame and some in a heated frost free greenhouse. The rest I will replant outside under horticultural fleece and then I will be able to compare them and see how many crowns will survive under the different conditions. Being a forerunner of the Dahlia family it will be interesting to see how tough they are and what will survive.

All of the Oca tops had started to rot by the time I got round to clearing them and the slugs love to eat the tubers if they are left in, so I needed to dig them up quickly. These Radish like looking vegetables do keep exceptionally well, even at room temperature, after being dug up, but not so well in the ground, although, you will always get some self sets each year. The small ones I eat as an alternative to Radishes and the larger tubers I will look forwards to eating as an alternative to new potatoes, with the big difference that I will be able to eat them in mid-winter.

As it gets colder and the frosts harder, I will have to dig up all of my remaining Radish Mooli, because, the ground freezing on them will spoil them and they will rot. The coming colder nights and days will then restrict my weekly vegetable harvest to more normal things like Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Leeks, Parsnips and for a while, Swiss Chard. However, there will still be some jobs to do both on the Allotment and in the Greenhouse before Spring comes around again.


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