ALLOTMENT NOTES

December 31, 2017

—BLACKBERRIES, DAHLIAS AND CLIMATE CHANGE

It’s that time of the year when little is growing at the allotments but there are still veggies to pick if you have been organised over the summer. Brussels sprouts are ready to harvest in time for Christmas and there are still plenty of leeks on the allotments.

On my allotment my veggies have all been collected and I am turning my thoughts to rogue blackberry plants. Blackberries are great in hedgerows and for picking on walks around the village, but on the allotments they are a bit of a nightmare. Basically they are ferocious growers and spreaders, sending out underground runners which invade adjacent allotments if neglected. About 10 years ago I had a campaign to eradicate a wild bank of blackberries growing in the ditch adjacent to my allotment. This was mainly to stop them blocking the ditch which is the main runoff route for waters draining from Blewburton Hill and eventually draining into the Blewbury stream. I thought I had eradicated them from the ditch but they cleverly rejuvenated on the other side of the ditch and over the past three years have grown fast and spread, so they now cover the ditch again. So it’s time to chop them back. However, they are actually growing on one of the new allotments we have acquired thanks to Mr Allan at Winterbrook Farm and the Parish Council. Unfortunately this allotment is a bit abandoned at the moment, so if anyone wants an allotment with a built in blackberry supply let me know.

Climate change is almost certainly happening now, and not surprisingly it is beginning to impact on the allotments. Extended growing seasons are having an effect and it has been noticeable that the warm autumn has resulted in continued growth of plants and veggies. My daughter and her kids plant dahlias on the allotment and the plants produced a steady stream of amazing flowers over the summer and into the autumn. My Dad always said that you need to dig up dahlia roots at the end of the year and wrap them in newspapers and store them in a cool shed. However, because there are fewer frosts now, this is no longer necessary and they will survive left in place, as long as they are covered with some mulch or leaves to stop any hard frost. Perhaps one of the few benefits of climate change. Paul Whitehead