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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.

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Alan J Hartley



Non Stop Harvesting.

Although we have just had a fine and dry week I haven’t been able to go up to the Allotment, because our eagerly awaited new drive entrance was being laid. Instead of being just hardcore it is properly laid toughened concrete, so there should be no more slips on loose stones. Also of course there will be no more hazard to passing vehicles from the loose stones that were perpetually being thrown out onto the road. After a week of pottering about at home I was keen to get things done and with the removal of the barriers on Sunday I managed my regular weekly harvest of vegetables. It always amazes me though, how many plots are left completely empty of anything, except weeds, throughout the Winter months. People say, “There isn’t anything much to grow in the Winter as I don’t like Brussels Sprout or Leeks.” They really don’t appreciate just how many things will keep harvesting and even growing in Winter. 
Admittedly it has been a bumper year for Brussels Sprouts with extra large “Buttons,” after the longer growing season due to a particularly mild December. The start of March saw me finally clear them, because I had left them in to make the most of them. Around Christmas several programs on the TV featured Brussels Sprouts, being the season for eating them, and they pointed out that the tops can be eaten as a small cabbage. In fact I had quite a few of them like this and they were very good. Clearing the Sprouts gave me much needed space to get my Early Potatoes in. The “Lates,” will go in a little later, although not much. I have decided that, as long as they don’t rot in the ground with it being too cold and wet and as long as their shoots don’t get frosted by coming up too early, getting them to develop and crop early usually means that they are all ready for harvest before the Annual Blight takes hold in late June/July. Some people get them off to a flying start by “Chitting,” them although I don’t very often do it.

My Leeks went in late last year as I had held them back to enable me to plant them after the Potatoes, but they still did quite well. They were a bit on the small side, but more than usable. I might try the same trick again this year to maximise the potential harvesting on my plot.

Shoppers buy lots of Parsnips, but there don’t seem to be many grown on the Allotments. They certainly deserve to be grown more as they don’t suffer from many problems other than being a bit temperamental to germinate. I had plenty of them, but I didn’t thin them and most were a bit small. As of writing this I am still digging up the last few after harvesting all Winter, although they are starting to get a bit woody and go to seed now.

Chard is another vegetable that deserves to be grown more. The TV gardeners are always talking about it. I did a lot better with my Swiss Chard this winter even though it has been wet and they are prone to the leaves rotting. It did have plenty of air space round the plants though. With the mild Winter they grew pretty much all through. For those that don’t know them they have nice cabbage, or Spinach like leaves. The leaves do have a sturdy central stalk that needs cutting out before cooking. However, it is said that the French throw away the leaves and just eat the stalks and I must admit that steamed, they make an unusual vegetable. It is certainly worth trying when the leaves are too tatty to eat!

Kale seems to be one of the new “Superfoods,” that is in everybody’s “Smoothies” these days, but how many people grow it? It is so easy, but I can’t say that I have seen anyone else grow it on our Allotments. I only put in half a dozen plants last season, but it was enough to see me through the Winter especially as I left the stems in after cutting off the heads, so they re-grew new heads. You seem to be able to harvest Kale nearly all year round year if different plants are sown in rotation - the same as Chard, as long as they are not allowed to go to seed.

Every year I tell Plot holders about Jerusalem Artichokes and several Plot Holders are now growing them, but I think they are using them as wind-breaks and not eating them! I didn’t really manage to harvest all of mine before they starting rooting in again. I really must grow less, but they self set so readily you need to make a conscious effort to remove some of the shoots as they come up to stop them developing. They do make yet another good Winter vegetable though with great yields. 

Swedes are very much out of favour, but they will also stay in the ground all Winter and are easy to grow. A bit of an unusual taste, but a good solid root vegetable for Stews and the like even if their taste is not to your liking. I don’t know what I did wrong this year as mine stayed small, so I have left them in to try and get a bit more growing out of them, but I don’t know if they will go to seed.

My Celariac was a bit of a failure as I only had a couple of worthwhile roots out of 10 plants. Perhaps they did not get enough food, I don’t know, but something was wrong. Again, they are another vegetable that is little grown.

Lady Plot Holders always say that my Turnips look very pretty when they see them, but they don’t grow them and they are another good Winter root vegetable. They stopped growing when it got cold, but they did stay in the ground until after Xmas, although they do seem susceptible to slug damage. 

This year my long white Radish Mooli stayed in the ground throughout the Winter for the occasional harvest and had none of the slug damage of previous years. They do seem to get some sort of boring pest though - a bit like Parsnips and Carrots. As a winter alternative to growing ordinary Salad Radishes in a heated Greenhouse they are certainly worth a try.

My Oca were left in the ground even though they are prone to slug damage and frost – but again they were not too bad. I didn’t “Molly Coddle,” them this time either. No warm start in the Greenhouse in the Spring, or Autumn protection from Horticultural Fleece, but I still had plenty with some nice sized ones.

As of writing this at the beginning of March, I still haven’t finished harvesting all of the afore mentioned Winter Vegetables, but have already started on the new seasons harvest with my Sea Kale. Some has been cut, but it really does need Slug Pellets round it to protect it as the Slugs love it under the buckets and are causing a lot of damage to the shoots this year with all the wet. Maybe after the particularly wet Winter we will have a dry and hot Summer!


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