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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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May – 2nd Week

Mr Middleton says: Little and often is the golden rule with fertilizers: a little less rather than a little more.

1. Plant Out Celery and Celeriac.- Celery is normally planted in trenches in single or double rows. Set the plants out 9 in. apart. Water with liquid manure. Dust with old soot often, to keep the celery fly away. Celeriac, which is grown for its turnip-like root, requires a rich soil and much feeding to get really good roots. It is a fine vegetable for soup, and is excellent boiled.

2. Thin Out Seedlings.- Many rows of seedlings will need thinning out from time to time. This can be done at one stage, though normal practice is to do it twice. \the first time the rows are reduced and specimens left about twice as thick as is necessary. This leaves plenty to cover failures. The alternate plants are removed at the final thinning. With carrots the disturbance of the roots of the row loosens the soil and permits the carrot fly to lay its eggs near the roots of the plants, and the pungent smell attracts the pest. Where the fly has proved a nuisance in the past it is better to sow the seeds sparingly and to leave the rows unthinned.

3. Onions and Their Enemies.- The same sort of thing applies to onions which, when sown out of doors and thinned, attract the onion fly where fly is prevalent. It is better to leave them unthinned and take a crop of smaller onions.


4. Plant Cucumbers.-
Cucumbers can now be planted in frames.

5. Sow Swedes and Turnips.- swede and turnips should be sown now in the north if they are to achieve full development.

6. Sow and Plant.- Sow maincrop beet and haricot beans. Plant out late cauliflowers and New Zealand spinach. Apply mulches to any fruit trees that need it. Protect beans outside if weather is unseasonable.

Unfortunately, a lot of this weeks advice is not relevant to me as l am not planting up winter veg due to our house being for sale and l foresee a move back to Blighty before the year is out. However, l will heed his advice regarding the thinning of seedlings and will not be thinning my carrots just yet. I like to grow them on until they are of edible size and then have a few meals of baby carrots. I will be putting a frame over them with a fleece to keep the carrot fly at bay.

Like every gardener/cook, l love onions and garlic but my garden here won’t allow me to grow them. They suffer first with rust, and worst of all, onion white rot. There is no cure for this disease and can stay in the soil for up to 8 years. So rather than live in hope l use the space to grow other crops.

Roger, my friend & assistant!

I sowed spinach and Swiss Chard a couple of weeks ago and both are doing well. I like to make curries and use the leaves to do a mean Spinach and Potato Curry or, later on, a Green Curry that is one of the best l have ever tasted. I will share the recipe nearer the time.

I have planted out my cucumber plants in the open and training them up a willow wigwam. They seem to be doing okay at the moment. Fingers crossed there will not be a late frost!

 

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Sow, Plant and Hoe

APRIL-4th WEEK

Mr Middleton says: All pruning should have a purpose. If you don’t know why you are cutting a shoot, don’t cut it.

1. Sow Calabresse, Pickling Onions and Garlic.- Calabresse can now be sown in the outside seed bed. This is a form of cauliflower which provides a green head in summer and, when this is cut, produces shoots for winter use. Pickling onions can be sown. Queen Pickling or Silverskin Pickling are good varieties. Put the seeds in thinly on the onion bed. Shallots should be growing now and will benefit from a dressing of general fertilizer hoed in between the rows. Onions planted out in March and now established can also have a light fertilizer dressing. Garlic may be planted in exactly the same wayas shallots, except that the old bulbs are first broken up and the small sections planted separately.

3. Plant first leeks.- The first leeks should be planted now for those that are exhibiting or who like to have them early. Exhibitors must prepare their soil especially well, using manure and fertilizer. Leeks do like a rich soil. There are two ways of growing them- in trenches and in holes. The trench method is best for the exhibitor. It is made in the same way as a celery trench and is about 6-in. deep. The plants are put in 2- or 3-in. deep in single or double rows. As the plants grow they are earthed up with soil to produce well-blanched stems.

6. Earth-up Potatoes: Prepare Marrow Beds.-

9. Sow, Plant and Hoe.- Make any necessary successional sowings. Prick out celeriac  sown earlier. Dress shallots with fertilizer. Prepare outdoor tomato sites. Plant out parsley. Thin out Salsify to 6 in. Hoe around fruit trees and bushes.

This poster seems apt in the run up to the election.

I made some sowings of Early and Late Purple Sprouting Broccoli two weeks ago and they are just starting to appear, as are the Ruby Chard, carrots and Spinach. The ground is very dry now and l have had to water the seedlings to try and help them along but they never seem to respond the same way as when they have a drop of proper rain. Today was hot and sunny and it looks set to remain the same.

I am moving things out of the greenhouse and hardening them off outside. My leeks are too small to be planted outside yet but another two weeks should see them big enough. I have some Salsify seed and l will make a sowing this week. The garlic l started in October last year has really come on but…..it has the dreaded rust! Every year is the same and l think this will be the last time l try growing it. Its not worth the effort or the space it takes up in my plot that could be used for other crops. I can already see l won’t have enough room for everything l want to grow; its the same every year!

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2010 in April, The garden, Uncategorized

 

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At last its March!

March-1st Week

Mr Middleton says: Soil is the basis of life. Take care of it.

Now that the season of sowing and planting is with us, and we are putting the final touches to the ground, we shall naturally be thinking of fertilizers, and these are going to prove something of a problem this year, owing to a shortage of some of the essential plant foods, so we shall have to be careful that we don’t get a badly balanced diet, or we may do more harm than good.

Mr Middleton goes on to talk about the benefits of using manure and compost in your garden rather than just chemical fertilizers. ‘ To use nothing but fertilizers in the garden year after year is rather like trying to live on tonics and tablets, which, although excellent in themselves, cannot take the place of solid food, or not for long at any rate.’ We have come a long way since the 1940’s with what we can use in the garden to feed our plants. Blood, fish and bone, Chicken pellets and many different organic substitutes can be used but Mr Middleton is quite correct, the soil needs bulky material which decays slowly and releases these foods gradually as they are needed.

So l have three compost bins that all need emptying and spreading on the beds along with a few bags of leaf mould. That’s a start. Then l will dig trenches out and start to fill them with kitchen scraps and the old straw bedding from the hens ready for the beans to go in but at the moment the soil is still far too wet and cold to do much. I had another quick look in the greenhouse and the lettuces l sowed last month are coming along quite well. I am up to my eyes in tiles, plaster, wood cladding, showers parts etc as l refit our bathroom downstairs. It seems to be taking forever and l can see, as usual, that it is going to be one huge rush to get everything done inside and, more importantly l feel, outside!

Early lettuce

Garlic

Autumn sown Broad Beans

Cerinthe & Beth

Big Bad Bertha (The Eggless Hen)

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2010 in March, The garden

 

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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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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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