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Category Archives: February

Here Comes The Rain Again…

I was just looking in the DOFV book to see what l might have been able to do this week; Mr Middleton advises;

Break down and lime soil,
Plant Onion sets,
Sow Parsnips, Broad Beans, Carrots etc,
Sow Early Peas, Sprouts and Summer Cabbage,

But as the rain hammers off the window, blown in by a near Hurricane force wind, l don’t think l will be doing any of that! I have sown more seeds in the unheated greenhouse and the early spuds are actually beginning to chit….just! The onion sets are ready to plant out as are the shallots and a few left over garlic cloves.
My hens hate this weather but are still providing us with 3 to 4 eggs a day so we won’t starve! The forecasters are telling us we are in for hell of a storm over the weekend up here in Brittany. At least we haven’t got 18 inches of snow like Scotland. I think a cup of tea is in order.
What will you be planting over the weekend if the weather is kind?

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Posted by on February 25, 2010 in February, The garden

 

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Forcing Rhubarb

Mr Middleton February Dig on for Victory

Forcing Rhubarb and Seakale Outside – Rhubarb and seakale can be forced outside, more slowly than indoors, but will provide sticks to follow the earlier crops. Deep boxes or barrels placed over the crowns and covered with a good layer of warm manure or fermenting leaves will encourage growth.

I tried covering my Rhubarb crowns with straw but my hens came along and promptly scratched it all away in search of a tasty grub or two so this time l did it properly.

Rhubarb crown

As you can see from the photos, there are some nice buds appearing so l am thinking they will only require a small amount of encouragement and protection to give them a really good head start. I put some straw over them and then covered it with an old Victorian Rhubarb forcer. That will keep those pesky hens away!

I won’t try forcing them for too long as it does weaken the whole plant and l lost one crown a few years ago due to this.

See also Brandy Carr Nurseries who have a very comprehensive list of varieties to grow and other information on rhubarb.

Other advice comes from February’s edition of ‘Allotment & Garden Guide’ 1942 – advising you to divide old roots at this time of the year into well-manured ground. (see Wartime Advice).

Has anyone had any success doing this to their Rhubarb crowns?

Crown covered in straw

Rhubarb Forcing Pot

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2010 in February, The garden

 

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Seed potatoes

Digging for Victory, February, About Potatoes.

I think we might usefully consider the potatoes for a few minutes today, because they are probably the most important of all our war-time vegetables. I don’t know how many vitamins potatoes contains, but l do know that they have often kept people, as well as pigs, alive during times of famine, and l know that our hens lay more and bigger eggs when they get a daily ration of boiled potatoes, and that’s enough to convince me that there must be plenty of food value in them….so if we all keep a good stock of them in the store and use them sensibly we shall never starve.

February

‘Potato Pete’ was a character introduced to encourage the population to eat home grown vegetables.

Popular rhymes were adapted to promote the campaign and even Betty Driver (known by many as Betty Williams from Coronation Street) sang a very successful song to help get the message across. Some of the rhymes included:

Here’s the man who ploughs the fields.

Here’s the girl who lifts up the yield.

Here’s the man who deals with the clamp, so that millions of jaws can chew and champ.

That’s the story and here’s the star,

Potato Pete

eat up, ta ta!

Seed Potatoes


Little Jack Horner

Sat in a corner

Eating potato pie.

He took a large bite,

And said with delight

Oh, what a strong boy am I.


Jack Spratt could eat no fat

His wife could eat no lean;

So they both ate potatoes

And scraped their platters clean.


There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.

She had so many children she didn’t know what to do.

She gave them potatoes instead of some bread,

And the children were happy and very well fed.

This was also a popular poem at the time:

Those who have the will to win,

Cook potatoes in their skin,

Knowing that the sight of peelings,

Deeply hurts Lord Woolton’s feelings.

Chitting spuds

I bought my seed potatoes about 2 weeks ago and placed them in trays with their ‘eyes’ up. Over the next few weeks these ‘eyes’ should start to sprout, what is called ‘chitting’. Some people say it helps to produce a better crop and, if you remove some of the sprouts from the potato prior to planting, they will produce less but bigger potatoes. This is only useful on maincrop potatoes not on early varieties as you want as many of those as possible. I checked them over yesterday in the greenhouse but no signs of chitting yet. I am only growing earlies and salad types as l don’t have the space yet on my plot for maincrop. I rotavated a spare patch last year in the field but they never came to much. I suppose had it been in wartime we would have starved!

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2010 in February, The garden

 

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Digging…or lack of it!

January 3rd Week. Dig and clean up.

February 1st Week. How to use bad weather.

February is noted for its wetness. If it lives up to its reputation, work in the garden is at a standstill. Much can be done in the greenhouse, however. Frames and outdoor crops will need protection in severe weather. Parsnips can be lifted and stored in wet sand, thus clearing the soil for digging. Similarly leeks can be moved and heeled together in a frame or protected corner.

It is mid-February now and l have just been outside, wrapped up in fleece and hat, having a poke around at the veg beds. Apart from the fact that the bitterly cold N.E. wind numbs your face within seconds, the soil is too wet to do much with. I have marked out the beds and where l need to make new ones, the compost heap looks like it is going to provide me with some nice stuff but l am afraid its all put on hold until that sun comes out and warms things up a bit.

There are signs of life emerging. The Magnolia has some lovely buds on it and l am sure will provide us with a great display of flowers this year. The Hazel is laden with catkins. The broad beans l planted last year are looking great and are putting on some good growth. The same with the garlic that was planted last Autumn.

I have work to do in the house so the next week or so will be taken up with that. The old bathroom has to come out and a new one put in. Might as well do it while the weather is so bad and then when it is good l can be out there until it gets dark. The wind is howling around the cottage as l type this but with the wood burner lit its snug and warm!

February Page 1
 
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Posted by on February 13, 2010 in February, January, The garden

 

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