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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.

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Winter Is Coming.

As it is starting to get colder at night and winter is rapidly approaching, there isnít much left to harvest now on my plot with all the more tender crops already removed. Most of the root vegetables will stand being left in the ground for a while yet with some best being left in the soil until actually wanted, even when frosts are about. This is true of the Jerusalem Artichokes that I have started to dig, although I have taken the tops off in case of frost that would have caused rot to set in and might have affected the tubers. We are rapidly eating the larger tubers as they are being dug up and some of the smaller ones are being left in as seed for next season. Perhaps each plant has not produced as much crop as a potato would, but they did go in late and havenít done too badly. The small number of spare, little seed tubers, are being passed round the site as people express an interest in them and want to try growing some themselves. Jerusalem Artichokes are not frequently seen on sale in Garden Centres and can be quite expensive to buy initially. Once you have set them in your plot though, you will have them forevermore as they are almost impossible to eradicate! If you do plant some do remember that the leafy tops grow a lot taller than potatoes, easily up to 5 or 6 feet and put in the wrong place will cast shadow on other plants.

Now that my plot is emptying, I am thinking about next year and where things are going to go. I am trying to plan it so that there is some sort of rotation with different types of crops being planted in particular patches after each other. This will hopefully go some way to preventing all sorts of problems, not least being pests and diseases that would be more difficult to eradicate on our organic site. Also of course we are limited on the types of fertilizers that we use, so again some sort of crop variance will help rest the soil. With this in mind I have just set out a smallish strawberry bed and planted up 24 runners, taken from half a dozen plants at home, that I had potted and grown on until a suitable spot for them had been emptied on my plot. As I planted them, I scattered some pelleted chicken manure that is permitted under the organic rules

My Chicory was really planted too late in the season, so I have covered it with a home made horticultural Fleece mini-tunnel in an attempt to get a bit more growth out of it before it gets too cold to grow. The very long Cloche was made by pushing slightly bent, inverted wire coat hangers into the soil, along the length of the row and then covering them with a cheap roll of horticultural fleece that was dug in all round to hold it down.

I did plant a second crop of Kohl Rabi that has matured nicely and we are happily cutting, some to eat and some to give away to other people as well. All 60 or 70 plants will have to be pulled before any real frost, or else they will spoil, so with so many, they are going to take some getting through before a frost, even eating one a day!


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