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Category Archives: June

First New Potatoes

Mr Middleton says: Hygiene in the garden is important. Do not allow rubbish to accumulate, except on the compost heap.

June-5th WEEK

1. Gather Beans.- The earliest dwarf French beans will now be ready for picking. They should be gathered while young and tender and not left to get stiff and stringy. It is important to keep them gathered as they become ready, then the plants will keep on bearing more. If allowed to remain and mature, the plant will throw all its energy into the development of seeds rather than producing fresh pods. When runner beans have grown to the top of their stakes the growing point should be pinched off.

2. Shallots and Garlic.- In the south, shallots will be ripening where planted in early February. The soil should be pulled away from the cloves a little to assist ripening.

3. Sow Corn Salad.- Though normally sown in August, corn salad or lamb’s lettuce can be sown now. A small sowing is advisable.

4. Liquid Manure.- Growing sea-kale will benefit from a soaking of liquid manure. (Mr Middleton suggests you collect your own from a holding tank in a farm yard but also gives details on making your own). Fill a sack with manure and suspend it in a tub of water.

5. Sow Endive and Radish.- Sow moss-curled endive now to provide an autumn crop. Make successional sowings of radish to keep up the supply.

6. Easy with the New Potatoes!- In the more southerly parts of the country, the earliest potatoes will be ready. But iit is wasteful to start digging them while they are very small. Only take up as many at a time that are needed for immediate use. Potatoes are a good cleaning crop, not so much by virtue of their habit of growth, but because of the cultural operations they need.

7. Plant Maincrop Leeks.- In the north the main planting of leeks should be made now. It is important to plant in June so as to obtain adequate growth before the winter closes down. It is important that good big plants be put out, and these should not have been left in the seed rows to check each other. If they have had a check they may run to seed early. Make another sowing of white turnips and dwarf French beans.

8. Fruit Needs Attention.- Summer pruning of wall fruit and other trained forms can begin. Plums and sweet cherries are done first, and pears soon after. Water layered strawberry runners when necessary.

What a great time to have a vegetable plot! There is so much to harvest right now; peas, beans, potatoes, salad, carrots, courgettes, herbs of all sorts and, for those who don’t suffer from rust and white rot, you will be gathering in your shallots and garlic.

Ist New Potatoes

I harvested the first of the new potatoes this week, Belle de Fontenay, a lovely smooth, firm, waxy potato with excellent ‘new potato’ taste. There is always that moment of anticipation when you pull up the first of the spuds and then that moment of joy when you see the lovely tubers come to the surface. I haven’t been troubled by blight at all on these potatoes but the ‘Cherie’ variety have got it. Its no big deal as they have put on some good growth and l will still get a good crop.

Mange-tout

I have been picking loads of mange-tout as well. This is such an easy vegetable to grow but so long as you keep picking those pods you should get masses from each plant. Lovely topped and tailed, lightly steamed and served with a small knob of butter. Life doesn’t get any better!

Hot Dog

That mini heatwave last weekend was lovely but poor Rog can’t take the heat. He had to retire to his bed and sleep it off!

On a sadder note, we lost another hen last week. I have written on here before how l let them roam freely in our field and to take their chance with Mr Fox. They never roam far tending to stay within 20m or so of their house. We went out the other evening only to come back to find a big pile of feathers on the grass. The Andalusian got it. I was going to get rid of them all the other week when they broke into my veg plot causing chaos but l couldn’t part with them. So the remaining two are kept in their run now. They seem okay with that as l move them round every two or three days to fresh grass and throw in the odd lettuce that has gone to seed which they just love.

There is a lot going on here at the moment so l will do my best to keep up to date with my blog but hopefully l will have some good news to share soon.

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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in June, June - In Your Garden

 

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June-4th Week

Mr Middleton says: A seed is one of the wonders of the world.

June-4th WEEK

1. Routine Work.- Hoe and weed regularly to reduce unnecessary competition with your crops. Control insect pests. Watch for any diseases such as tomato mildew, onion mildew, etc. Give crops such as runner beans a mulch of leaves or grass mowings to protect them in dry weather.

2. Leeks and Celery.- Water leeks in dry weather, and feed with liquid manure. Exhibitors often bore a seperate hole beside each plant into which to put the liquid food. Treat celery the same.

3. Attack Celery Pests.- As a preventive of leaf blight or rust on celery, spray with Bordeaux mixture about once a fortnight. Signs of attack are brown patches on the leaves, with tiny black spots on them.

4. Broad Beans and Runners.- When in flower, runner beans can be syringed with water occasionally. This helps the pods to set, as sometimes the flowers drop off. If broad beans have been attacked badly with black fly, spray persistently with soft soap. It is essential to hit the insect to kill, so the spray must be carefully applied.

5. Wage War on Caterpillars.– If cabbage caterpillars hatch out and begin to eat the leaves, hand-pick them off if possible. Sweet corn should be given a dressing of general fertilizer or watered with liquid manure.

6. Sow for Salad Successions.– Keep up succession of salads by making regular sowings. Lettuce must be sown outside, and thinned instead of being planted out. Radish should be sown thinly so that each seedling has a chance to swell. Mustard and cress can also be obtained from sowings made outside.

7. Look to Potatoes, Onions, Leeks.- Earth-up potatoes as they require it. Draw the soil well up to a steep-pointed ridge. This has a tendency to turn away from the tubers the spores of blight which may drop from the foliage. Feed onions weekly now. They should be growing rapidly. Autumn-sown onions will soon begin to swell and should be available for use in August. Earliest leeks will need blanching now. Make a late sowing of parsley for winter use.

8. Protect Cucumbers.- Cucumbers growing in frames and glasshouses should be well shaded from the sun, otherwise their leaves will be scorched. Whitewash applied to the glass is excellent. There is a special proprietary powder available for the work known as Summer Cloud, which has the advantage of being easily removed.

9. Take Care of Fruit.– Spray for aphis where necessary. Keep up a preliminary thinning of fruits.

Now we have had this rain the weeds are really going to make a comeback so it is vital to keep on top of them now. Mr Middleton makes regular reference to using the hoe and it is probably one of the most used items l possess, particularly on the paths. I tend to weed by hand in the beds pulling the whole weed out, roots and all. The ground is perfect for mulching now it is damp. No point doing it when it is dry as it would stay dry. I applied a thick layer of grass cuttings around the runner beans. The birds have a field day rooting around and scratching it in search of grubs and things but l don’t mind. With this damp and, sometimes, warm weather it is a perfect breeding ground for mildew and fungal diseases so stay alert for blight on those spuds! I had a sneak look the other evening to see how the spuds are coming along and i am happy to report l will be harvesting the first of them any day now. Can’t wait!

We have had our son stay with us for the past week and it has rained every day, not all day every day, but enough to put the damper on things a bit. Such a shame as only a few weeks ago we were sat outside in the hot sunshine having lunch dressed in t shirts and shorts, barbecues in the evening and complaining the ground was baked rocked hard! What a difference now. We have even had to light the fire sometimes in the evenings as it was so chilly. But boy, has the garden loved this rain! It didn’t stop us from having some nice walks and came across this lovely meadow by the river full of Californian Poppy’s.

We also visited La Roche Jagu again to look at their gardens. They have created several ‘rooms’ displaying flowers and herbal plants mostly.

Box borders

A sad Gourd

They use a lot of willow and hazel fencing amongst their borders which gives great definition and structure to everything. One of the ‘rooms’ is devoted to vegetables, my favourite of course, and l came across these little gourds in amongst the broad beans, just for fun l think. This chap looks like he has had enough of the rain too!

Roche Jagu Potager

Rhubarb, Carrots and Broad Beans

Another advantage to all this wet weather is that a lot of the vegetables have suddenly become ready to harvest. I even managed to harvest a decent crop of broad beans to go with our salmon the other evening! The first of the carrots were delicious too and Mrs Hunt made a beautiful Rhubarb Crumble. What are you harvesting right now?

 

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2011 in June, June - In Your Garden

 

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June-3rd Week

Mr Middleton says: True gardeners never enjoy the fruits of their labours unless they can share them with others.

June-3rd WEEK

1. Careful with the Watering-Can!- Where watering is necessary it should be done with care. Do not water until you must, and then give a thorough soaking.

2. Finish Asparagus.- The cutting of asparagus should now be finished. To go on any longer only exhausts the plants. Run strings around the beds fastened to canes or stakes to provide some support for the stems which grow up.

3. Wage War on Pests.- Keep a watch for any pests on the various crops and deal with them as soon as seen. Do not regard them as an act of God which must be suffered in silence. Watch for caterpillars on cabbage and other brassicas.

4. Celery, Beans and Cauliflower.- Celery which is growing well should be fed with liquid manure and soot water. Dust old soot over the foliage to keep away the celery fly. Remove side shoots growing from the base of the plants. Broad beans should be pinched , as recommended earlier, to discourage black-fly attacks. Some of the earliest will begin to head up. Cover the heads by breaking a leaf and bending it over them.

5. Celeriac and Tomatoes.- Feed celeriac with liquid manure. They require a rich soil and much feeding. Tomatoes planted in the greenhouse now should give fruits well into winter.

6. Sow Final Carrots : Plant Leeks and Broccoli.- Make another sowing of short-horn carrots. This will probably be the last in the north, as sowings after June are rarely successful. Plant leeks as required. Plant broccoli, such as May Queen and Leamington.

7. Top-Dress Cucumbers.- The larger cucumbers growing inside should be top-dressed. Make a rich mixture of loam, leaf-mould, sand and fertilizer, and put on a thickness of an inch or two. Firm well with the palms of the hands.

9. Thin Out Fruit Trees.- Apples shed a proportion of their fruits naturally, and this is termed the June drop. Begin to thin apple fruit after it. If left unthinned they yield a large crop of small fruits.

Green Haze

‘True gardeners never enjoy the fruits of their labours unless they can share them with others.’ How very true. Mr Middleton was a man from my own heart. Sharing can be so satisfying whether it is with friends or your own family. I suppose by providing food for the table that you have grown can be seen as sharing. I sometimes give an odd lettuce to the lady who works in our local boulangerie. She always seems very grateful but for all l know her husband has them coming out of his ears too! That’s the problem. Anyone who is growing their own also have the same gluts and are also trying to part with their excess produce.Oh, the trials and tribulations us gardeners go through!

First courgettes

It will be the same with my courgettes soon, after all, there are only so many ways of cooking a courgette!   Mr Middleton goes on to tell us to be careful with the watering can. Well, hopefully you don’t have to worry about that either this week. We have had some really good showers that has soaked the ground and with the warm temperatures everything is taking off.

The Good and the Bad

Of course, the weather plays a part in everything we do in the garden and the above picture typifies this. Just a week or two ago we were all complaining about the hot, dry weather and the spinach that has gone to seed before it produced any good leaves is a result of that. Behind the spinach is a row of mange tout that l swear is growing before my very eyes. I know what sort of weather l would rather have for for my garden.

Come on, you Carrots!

The carrot bed is coming along well too with the recent rain. I know l am going to have to protect them from the dreaded carrot fly soon. Every year presents the same dilemma. How do l protect them? I hate seeing sheets of white fleece 3 ft high in the veg plot but the alternatives have never been that good for me ie. the ‘happy bedfellows’ of the garden. I have tried growing onions, garlic, shallots and leeks near them in the hope that the scent from the onions will deter the fly but with little success. As an organic gardener l will not use a chemical spray so l suppose the fleece it is. Maybe if l dye it green that might help? Does anybody know of any other organic deterrent?

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2011 in June, June - In Your Garden

 

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June-2nd Week

Mr Middleton says: The more you grow, the less you buy.

1. Look to Tomatoes.- Outdoor tomatoes should now be growing satisfactorily. Continue to train indoor tomatoes correctly. Prevent an overgrowth of side shoots. Allow plenty of ventilation to assist the setting of the fruits. Gentle damping down of the plants each day about noon helps pollination considerably. Keep an eye open for tomato mildew attacks. Pale yellow areas first show on the upper surface of the leaves, followed soon by the appearance of the mould on the lower surface, at first yellow and then turning dark brown. Good ventilation helps to prevent it.

2. Puddle Brassicas.- When brassicas of any sort are put out during dry weather it is advisable to puddle the roots. Make a thick mixture of water and clay and dip the roots in it so that it sticks to them, then plant.

3. Runner Beans as Bushes.- If a large number of scarlet runner beans are grown, or if stakes are not available, you can grow them as bushes. They are planted in a single row and the tops pinched off when the plants are about 2 ft. high. This helps them become bushy. The pods are never so long or straight as on trained plants, but they are worthwhile.

4. Feed and Plant Out Cucumbers.- Cucumbers can be given an occasional feed with liquid manure. Once a week would be often enough.

5. Look to Next Year’s Strawberries.- Select good strawberry plants from which to save runners. One year old plants generally give the best results. Do not save from any plants showing signs of disease. Ground beetles often show a partiality for strawberry fruits. They like raw meat even better, so it is possible to trap them by putting a little at the bottom of a glass jar and sinking this to the brim in the soil. It should be examined regularly. Ground beetles or Carabids are beneficial insects and should not be destroyed unnecessarily.

6. General Work.- It will now be possible to begin thinning the fuits of the earliest plums. Earth-up potatoes, first applying fertilizer. Pickling onions may still be sown. Continue to build up the compost heap. Stake Brussels sprouts in windy places. Look out for Woolly aphis.

Mr Middleton’s words ‘the more you grow, the less you buy’ will strike a chord with all of us who are lucky enough to be growing our own food while we are in the midst of yet another food scare. Once again it hits home to us that when we eat our own home-grown food we know what has gone into it and, maybe more importantly, what hasn’t and how it was produced. Nothing can beat that.

I quite like the idea of ‘puddling brassicas’. I suppose by enveloping the roots in mud before planting this will help them to develop, especially in light soils. It might be worth experimenting with some that have had a mud bath and those that haven’t.

The runner beans are about 3 to 4 ft high and are clinging to the supports and have actually started to flower. I am in high hopes for a really early crop. I love runner beans and can quite easily eat a plate of them oozing in melted butter. No real news on the Broad Bean front other than ‘situation normal’ ie. no change from last week, but the Dwarf French beans have taken to a few soakings and are about to start flowering. Peas are flowering too with the first signs of some pods. Looking forward to one of my favourite summer dishes, Pea Risotto. Excellent with a glass of chilled white wine.

Me & Rog on Hare Patrol

We have a new visitor to our garden. A hare! We have seen it sat on the drive and walking up the lane oblivious to any dangers around him or her. So now Roger is on Hare Alert. He has to earn his keep somehow and so will hopefully raise the alarm if he sees the hare approaching the veg plot. Mmm…we’ll see!

Yesterday was a grey, drizzly day. But precisely that, just drizzle. When l checked the soil it had hardly penetrated 1 cm. As a gardener l am getting quite concerned about the lack of rain over the past few months as l am sure you are too. Remember, it is only early June. We have just had the warmest spring on record and the driest in over 100 years. The reservoirs are not critical but are well below the average for this time of the year and if the weather remains as it is then by August we will all be in a very serious situation. Hose pipe bans will be enforced. Think ahead….look at investing in more water butts just in case we do get some proper rain, mulch the soil when it is wet and this will help conserve moisture, try to use water from the kitchen sink ie. water that has been used to clean and peel vegetables and even washing -up water around the beans. I have set up a mini-irrigation system around a lot of my vegetables set on a timer and this is proving to be a great help. Can anyone else think how we can use water wisely in the garden?

Just a note to remember today is the anniversary of D-Day 6th June 1944 and the men who were fighting on the beaches in Normandy to bring lasting peace to Europe. I visited this area once; the beaches and the massive war graves of all nations involved. It left a lasting impact and l recommend everyone to pay a visit and remember these brave, brave men determined to push the Nazis back and rid Europe of one of the most evil regimes this world has ever seen.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2011 in June, June - In Your Garden

 

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June-1st Week

Mr Middleton says: Be prepared for pests and get their first. Don’t wait until the crops are running alive.

1. Train Cucumbers.- Cucumbers need frequent training if they are not to get out of hand, no matter where they are grown. All growths should be pinched at each second joint and regularly tied in.

2. Get Tomatoes Out.- Where tomatoes are being grown in large pots for outside culture they can now be moved outside with reasonable safety. Stand in rows in a sheltered spot. Have a strong cane in each pot up which to train the plant and tie all the canes to wire, set some 3 ft. above ground and fastened to stout posts. The others, which are to be grown in the ground, should be planted out carefully.Each plant needs an adequate stake. Better results are obtained if one flower truss is showing or is set. Some growers pinch out the growing point and train up two side shoots. This gives a double-stemmed plant, which is normally very successful.

3. Watch Onions for Seeding.- Autumn-sown onions and those grown from sets often tend to run to seed. As each flower head is seen it should be snapped off. Quite reasonable bulbs will be produced, and these will come in very useful for the early part of the winter.

4. Beware of These Pests.-  Broad beans are attacked by an aphis known as black fly, which can cause havoc to a crop in an epidemic year. To check it the soft tips of the plants are pinched out while the plants are in full flower. This tip is the point where infection usually starts, so nip it out as soon as the petals have fallen from the lower flowers and tiny beans are showing.

5. Sweet Corn and Strawberries.- Sweet corn and be planted out in the open. Allow 2 ft. by 2 ft. The more sheltered the spot the better the chances of success. Strawberries should now be netted up to protect the fruits from the birds. Slugs have a partiality for the fruits, too, and may be trapped by putting down cabbage leaves for them to congregate under (they must be examined daily).

6. Sow, Plant and Hoe.- The hoe should be used regularly in the garden to keep down weeds and to prevent them flowering and seeding. Plant out marrows. Sow climbing French beans and scarlet runners. Feed crops with fertilizers, especially onions. When picking gooseberries, leave some to ripen for dessert use.

Wiliting Cucumbers

June already! Hang on, where did April and May go? Earlier last month l got tempted to buy a few cucumber plants on the market. They looked really healthy, note past tense! They even had flowers on them with the promise of some lovely juicy cucumbers, free of e.coli. Full of enthusiasm and led into a false sense of security with the warm sunny weather, l planted them directly outside in the hope they would romp away up the willow wigwam l had made for them. Some weeks later they remain the same size as when l bought them but minus their flowers, some of their leaves and certainly without any little cucumbers which l was hoping for by now. All hope is not lost though and l will continue to water and feed them to see if they ever do pick up. Actually, l wonder if it is because they don’t like the Borage as their bed-fellow? Some plants don’t get on with others and, on the other hand, positively thrive when planted together. This is called ‘companion planting’. More on this on another post.

Blighted Toms

My tomatoes are doing a little better but l think it is the cold nights and continuous NW wind over the past week or two that hasn’t really helped proceedings here. Rate of growth remains, well, slow. These particular plants had a visit by Mr Blight too and are slow in recovering from him, nasty fellow! The tomatoes have fruits on them though so l will soon be picking the first of my cherry toms and nothing beats the flavour of a freshly picked, sun-warmed tomato straight off the vine.

Spot the Bean

I think l was too slow to counter-attack the invasion of black fly that hit my broad beans a few weeks ago as there is very little sign of any beans which l would expect at this time of the year. Still, the ladybirds have had a feast and, again, l must remain optimistic.

I grubbed up my old strawberry plants the other year and have never got round to replacing them. However, a friend came to stay with us last weekend and he brought with him a lovely jar of strawberry jam he had made with the strawberries from his garden along with a big bag of juicy Morello cherries. He told us he had never had so many strawberries and cherries at this time of the year before. Lucky him! Shame he lives so far away or l think l would be abusing his kind generosity!

First Agapanthe

Looking back at this post it would seem l really am in the wars with my garden at the moment! Well, at least the first of the Agapanthus have started to flower, again, quite early really. I would not normally expect to see these for another 3 or 4 weeks. We have them all over the garden as they seem to love being close to the sea. Who doesn’t?

Best l get back out there and get that hoe going to clear the weeds that just never seem to disappear. Oh, and the sun has come back out. Hooray! Maybe summer is here to stay.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2011 in June, June - In Your Garden

 

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6th June

‘Mr Middleton says: Be prepared for pests and get there first. Don’t wait until the crops are running alive.’

JUNE-1st WEEK

1. Train Cucumbers.- Cucumbers need frequent training if they are not to get out of hand, no matter where they are grown. All growths should be pinched at each second joint and regularly tied in.

2. Get Tomatoes Out.- Where tomatoes are being grown in large pots for outside culture they can now be moved outside with reasonable safety. Stand in rows in a sheltered spot. Have a strong cane in each pot which to train the plant and tie all the canes to wire, set some 3 ft above ground and fastened to stout posts.

3. Watch Onions for Seeding.- Autumn grown onions and those grown from sets often tend to run to seed.

4. Beware of These Pests.– Broad beans are attacked by an aphis known as black fly, which can cause havoc to a crop in an epidemic year. To check it the soft tips of the plants are pinched out while the plants are in full flower. This tip is the point where the infection usually starts, so nip it out as soon as the petals have fallen from the lower flowers and tiny beans are showing.

5. Sweet Corn and Strawberries.- Sweet corn can now be planted out in the open. Allow 2 ft. by 2 ft. The more sheltered the spot the better chances of success. Strawberries should be netted up to protect the fruits from the birds. Slugs have a partiality for the fruits too, and may be trapped by putting down cabbage leaves for them to congregate under (they must be examined daily), or poisoned by using a mixture of powdered Meta tablets and bran. An alternative to bran, which is rather scarce, is dried blood.

6. Sow, Plant and Hoe.- The hoe should be used regularly in the garden to keep down the weeds and to prevent them from flowering and seeding. Plant out marrows. Sow climbing French beans and scarlet runners. Feed crops with fertilizers, especially onions.

I have actually harvested my first cucumber this year already. I admitted l had cheated a bit by buying two plants in. Mine are still struggling and nowhere near the size of those that l bought. So what is best? Buy plants that are difficult to get established and provide an earlier crop or struggle through the whole process of seeding, nurturing etc and possibly get something in August or September? I wouldn’t do this for everything, of course, but l will for cucumbers, aubergines, cillies and certain tomato plants if l happen to see some at a good price!

Potatoes

I have two rather lanky looking tomato plants that l am going to plant out but we do suffer with blight here so the others are staying in the greenhouse and we will see how these two get on.

My onions l planted from sets are doing really well and are bulbing up nicely. My garlic, however, is deteriorating by the day with rust. Its so sad to see but l vow now never to bother here again and use the space for other crops. The markets here sell very good local garlic quite cheaply in the summer so l will do that.

self-seeded coriander

I haven’t managed to grow sweet corn this year due to lack of space and the fact that seeds here in France can be very expensive. I buy a lot of my seeds from the UK via the internet. Others l look around for here but sweet corn seeds are selling at nearly £4.00 a packet! Bean and pea seeds can sell for nearly £7.00 a packet! Why? I really don’t know. Its one of the mysteries of life out here.

I have planted out all my courgettes, squash and pumpkins. I am working for an Italian family at the moment who are renovating a house. They are using copper guttering which, they say, is normal to use in Italy. I told them never to renovate a house in the UK using copper as it would be gone the next day! They couldn’t understand this. So, the odd cut offs l have been using to put round my courgettes etc to deter the slugs and snails. It seems to be working.

We have had some good rain last week which has helped no end. Everything has come on and last night l made a broad bean dip which l took to a bbq. See my other blog where l will be putting pics up soon: www.compostandcarrots.co.uk

This time 66 years ago to the day, the Allies were landing on the beaches of Normandy not so far from here. Mayhem and carnage ensued but those brave men fought for freedom and to end a long and terrible war and won. I am hoping to go up there soon and reflect on what it must have been like for those young soldiers. It seems strangely odd that 66 years later l am living out here working as a gardener. Thanks to those men we have the freedom of movement and the choice to do these things. We should never take it for granted. Thank You.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2010 in June, The garden

 

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