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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



Keeping Busy In The Winter.

After thoroughly weeding, the remade Sea Kale beds at the end of December, I covered the new paths between them with a thick layer of old newspapers before putting a lot of wood chips on top. The idea is that the newspapers will eventually rot down into the soil, but should last long enough to thoroughly black out the light from any re-emerging, or germinating weeds that have been missed. After weeding and feeding, the Sea Kale plants were carefully covered with buckets ready for forcing, or Blanching, with bricks put on top to hold the buckets down against any strong winds. A couple of plants had to be moved to make space for the paths and I potted those up for Oak Tree, along with a few young offsets.

When I had harvested the last of my Yacon, I replanted some of the growing tips and covered them with wood chips and Horticultural Fleece in an attempt to get them through the Winter. It may be enough protection from the cold and wet, or it may not as they are closely related to Dahlias, and with a lot of luck, you can leave Dahlias out if you are in a sheltered spot and your soil is free draining. Indeed one plot holder has tried leaving his out and covered them with straw, but I don’t know if that will work, as the straw will probably get too wet and rot the crown.

My Grape Vines needed some attention after the Autumn gales as the training wires had broken. The main stems are spreading and thickening up nicely, but they still needed a little more support, so I put in some fresh posts made from stems that I had cut out of my Hazel Tree at home when I gave it its annual thinning. The posts went in between the existing ones to tie the vines to and help them span safely across the gaps. They had a little bit of a tidy up as well, but won’t get pruned properly until the end of February - just before the sap rises and they start into growth. This prevents too much “Die Back.”

After the Runner Bean had come down in the Autumn, the canes were tied up in a tight bundle to keep them straight, because if just left loose the long canes will twist and distort with the Winter wet on them. The anchoring posts either end of the rows were also removed to extend their life by keeping them reasonably dry and out of the wet winter soil. This should prevent the bottoms from rotting too quickly. Early January saw me dig a trench which was filled with my own compost that will be allowed to settle before Spring, so that it will be ready for the next seasons crop of Runner Beans. This then gave me another nice job to do on a cold Winters day, because it meant that the fresh compost heap could be turned into the now empty compartment to better mix it and speed up the composting process.

With the exceptionally mild December that we had many of the weeds just kept growing, so when the weather permitted I carried on with some weeding. Of course you would normally try and stay off the soil at this time of year, because if you go on the soil when it is wet it compacts it and breaks up the “Crumb Structure.” Working backwards off the plot so that you are digging the soil that you have just been standing on does help preserve it, but its still not nice digging very wet soil as it is a lot heavier and clings to everything. Remembering to clean your tools afterwards becomes more important than usual, because otherwise the next time you go to use them you will have hard, baked mud on them that will be difficult to get off. This will also make the tools heavy and hard to use as they will not slip into the soil. Cleaning, oiling and sharpening tools is always a good job to do on a cold and miserable Winters day anyway. Secateurs, Pruning Saws and shears especially benefit from a bit of regular annual maintenance.


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