Mr Middleton talks about Gardening

23 Apr

I managed to successfully bid on an old book by Mr Middleton on ebay and l now have it in my possession.

Front cover

It doesn’t have its dust jacket and there is a small burn mark on the cover, probably when someone who was smoking was so engrossed in reading the latest gardening advice.

He looks a real character and l love the way he has his trousers so high up; very Simon Cowell!

Note how later editions become the ‘cheaper editions’!

So, at 68 years old, how does the book stand up to current gardening advice? Well, very good as it turns out with some lovely stories from letters that he had been sent in from the general public. I will be using this book a lot and upon closer inspection l have noticed that the text in the calendar has been taken from this book.

So what has he got to say for the month of April?

Reminders for April

Anybody heard the cuckoo yet? Neither have l; but still l suppose he ought to be about due now. And the spring flowers are also due, and there is  a blue lining to the grey skies, so prepare to get busy. Presently the garden will be such a blaze of glory that we shall be able to forget about Jack Frost and muddy boots and spades, and have nothing to do but revel in the scent of wallflowers and daffodils.

He goes on to talk about beetroot, salads, pests and fruit and finishes with this:

And, by the way, if you are putting up any rustic work- as so many of you are- do make a good job of it. There is far too much flimsy stuff going up all over the place. And be careful to remove the bark from the poles; especially from the top cross-pieces. When l first built my rustic arbour l didn’t trouble to take the bark off- l never thought of it, as a matter of fact; and a couple of summers ago we had a lady staying with us, and she was sitting uner the arbour with the roses all round her, doing her knitting, and l think her mind was drifting into the realms of poetry or romance or something like that, and all was peace. All of a sudden she let off such a yell- it must have been heard all over the neighbourhood- threw her knitting in one direction and herself in another, then rushed indoors, and we didn’t see her again for an hour or two. An earwig had dropped down her back. In due course l discovered that the loose bark on the rustic work was responsible- it was full of the beastly things, and if l had only taken the bark off when l put the rustic work up, that tragedy would have been avoided. So there’s no reason why you should make a similar mistake, after a warning like that, is there?

More next month!


Posted by on April 23, 2010 in April, The garden


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9 responses to “Mr Middleton talks about Gardening

  1. Jo

    April 23, 2010 at 10:55

    Priceless. I love old books, you can glean so much information from them. I like this style of writing, it’s as though Mr. Middleton is actually talking to you.

  2. trevorhunt

    April 23, 2010 at 14:07

    You are so right Jo and that is why l like reading his books. There is a nice ‘comfort factor’ when l sit in bed reading what he has written. I often wish l could have been alive in those days but without the war, of course! Life was so much simpler then and our expectations were far less. Oh well, its a lovely day and its St Georges Day so l will loose myself in my garden for a little while.

  3. Dawn

    April 23, 2010 at 14:18

    Hello, I’ve recently discovered your blog via Jo’s “The Good Life” blog.

    Very interested in your blog and the idea of following the advice from the dig for victory campaign days. I have been fascinated reading through the old MAF guides online and dig for victory books over the past few years since starting an allotment.
    Great purchase there. I managed to pick up one of his books the other day in a local charity shop – “Mr Middleton suggests”, love the way he writes. Will be keeping an eye out for others too.
    Anyway, happy reading.

    • trevorhunt

      April 23, 2010 at 14:35

      Thanks for calling by Dawn and great to meet a fellow Middleton fan. Your charity find sounds great, when was it published? Like Jo says, he writes as if he is actually talking to you. Wish l could have him as my friendly neighbour resting on the spade for a breather and gleaning tons of useful info. Thats where people with allotments win out. I’ll be checking out your site in full when l have more time but it looks very interesting. By the way, l just successfully bid for some old ‘Dig for Victory’ bits on ebay so when it arrives l’ll be sharing it with you all.

      • Dawn

        April 23, 2010 at 15:14

        Hello Trevor,
        The book I picked up is the Hardback published in 1939, it states it’s the 2nd impression. Was very pleased with my bargain.
        I know exactly what you mean about his writing sounding like he’s talking to you, would love to hear the audio from his days on the radio but I suspect that is lost somewhere.
        My blogs a bit of a mix of raising my daughter, crafting (including old crafts like spinning wool), and then the allotment and gardening, please call by sometime.
        Your blog is in my reader list so you will probably see me around watching your progress.
        Look forward to hearing about your new purchases.

  4. ninasgardeningnotebook

    April 23, 2010 at 21:00

    Hi Trevor, congratualtions, what a lucky successful bid! I really enjoyed reading these extracts, looking forward to more of them..his writing is very comforting … is any of his work still in print today do you know? I would love to read more. I must confess until reading your blog I had never heard of Mr Middleton, only the Dig For Victory campaign but not Mr Middleton himself, so thank you for the introduction.

  5. trevorhunt

    April 24, 2010 at 10:11

    Hi Nina,
    Yes, Mr Middleton is still in print today. In fact, Aurum Press Ltd have released two books recently ‘Dig on for Victory’ and ‘Digging for Victory’ both can be purchased via Amazon etc. They are really well put together and give lovely detailed gardening advice for the whole year. Other books can still be found on ebay and the odd charity shop find. Look at my Calendar entry to see what someone did for me…l was so chuffed.
    I think it is too easy to take up the hobby of gardening and think it is too much for me when you look at some of the new books about or read some of the ‘trendy’ blogs and feel under pressure to keep up with them all. Some have children, jobs, social demands etc and l really don’t know how they can possible write a blog as well. Something has to give. That is why when l read Mr Middleton’s books, l feel how life must have been all those years ago when we all had less demands placed on us and had more time for each other. It is very easy to loose grip of reality and some blogs l am reading l feel that they are getting too quirky and loosing touch with the real world they are living in, no time to stop and stare, no time to pass an odd polite remark to their neighbour on the allotment because photos must be taken and l must get my new post put up otherwise l have failed! Their lives are completely centered around their blogs!
    I do wonder what Mr Middleton would have made of all of this if he was still about today? I will try and put a list of my favourite blogs up soon as there are some nice ones about. Good luck in your search for his books and do let me know how you get on. Sorry for rambling on!

  6. ninasgardeningnotebook

    April 25, 2010 at 08:59

    Hi Trevor, thanks for the info on the books, I feel a spend coming on!….books are such a weakness of mine, for others it’s shoes, for me it’s books! I enjoyed your rambling! Also thanks for becoming follower.


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