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Under attack!

As some of you already know, we have three hens, we did have five but the fox got two last year. I let them out into our field to roam free everyday and they take their chance. I hate to see them cooped up. Our field adjoins my veg patch and once or twice they have managed to get in and scratch about a bit but we have always been about to shoo them back out. Not this time!

What a mess!

The ironic thing was before we went out l had cut a beautiful lettuce to take to friends. That was the last one l would see for a while! They must have had about 5 hours in there to scratch, eat and peck at everything. The salad took the worst of the attack. Lettuce leaves everywhere. Potatoes ripped out. Squash plants pecked to bits.

Spuds blitzed!

This is too much to allow so now they are off to pastures new. My veg plot means more to me than those hens. My brother-in-law has said he will have them as he already has hens out here and it is one less thing for us to have to worry about when we come to leave here. A big clear-up operation will be under way this morning. Mind over matter!

Let-us prey!

I have a small idea of how people felt back in the war when their veg plots were damaged by bombs or covered in broken glass and they couldn’t eat anything or the allotment has been hit by vandals. The feeling is horrible but as the war-time poster says: Stay Calm and Carry On! I will be able to replace most of it and worst things are happening out there right now. I will put it down to me being too blasé and regard it as another lesson in life! Anyone for a half eaten lettuce?

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2011 in The garden

 

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March..ing On!

March- 1st Week. Mr Middleton says: Soil is the basis of life. Take care of it.

1. Clear land. Land still occupied by crops should be gradually cleared as they are used. To accelerate the clearing, leeks and celery can be lifted and heeled in together, either in a frame or sheltered corner.


I used the last of my leeks this weekend to make a Chicken and Leek casserole which is not good planning on my part as we  are now ‘leekless’ for some time to come. This year l am planting four different varieties to cover the whole season. The old leek bed is now cleared and l will add some leaf mould to it ready for planting up my squash later in the year.

3. Prepare trenches for Peas and Beans. It is a good idea to take out the trenches for tall peas and runner beans, to throw the soil at the side and leave for some weeks to weather. The trench should be 18-in. deep if manure is available to put in the bottom, 10-12 in. if none is available.

I have dug out my trench and filled it with old chicken bedding that has been rotting down in a corner. This should be great for the beans which are very hungry feeders and it will also retain moisture as they like to have their roots in a moist soil. I will also be growing some of my sweet peas in this trench contrary to all the advice that was given as really there was no room given over to flowers. It was good old veggies and nothing else!  I just hope l can keep my hens away from scratching it all out in search for grubs.

In the greenhouse l have sowed some peas, Kelvedon Marvel, in pots ready to plant out once they have become established. We are having some beautiful sunny weather at the moment but with it is a very strong E to NE wind which is bitterly cold. Winter hasn’t released its grip on us yet. What are you doing in your gardens right now?

Bean bed

 
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Posted by on March 12, 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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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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