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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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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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May-4th Week

Mr Middleton says: Never allow a weed to flower in the garden.

I could do with this lot helping out in my garden!

May-4th WEEK

1. Plant Mid-Season Leeks.- Leeks for use up to Christmas may now be planted. Do not plant many as there is so much other produce available at the time.Their greatest value is from Christmas to May. For ordinary purposes the best method of planting is to make holes with a pole or blunt dibber some 6-in. deep. The distance apart should be 12 in. between the rows and 9 in. between the holes. Use only good plants, the roots trimmed a little and the leaves cut back, and drop them in the holes.A little soil can be pushed in to cover the roots, and this should be followed by watering to settle them into position. The holes should not be filled with soil, but left to give room for the leek stems to swell.

2. Kohl Rabi Instead of Turnips.- Kohl Rabi should now be sown. A fairly rich soil suits it best, and it should not be allowed to grow too large and coarse. Use when of tennis-ball size.

3. Sow for Various Successions.- Successional sowings of radish, short-horn carrots, six-week turnips, lettuce etc., should be made according to family requirements, and the capacity of the garden.

4. Outdoor Tomatoes, Marrows and Cucumbers.- In sheltered gardens of the south outdoor tomatoes can be planted. Elsewhere it is better to wait a week. There are many places where they will thrive in the open garden, but the position should not be windswept. In more difficult areas they should be grown against a wall or fence facing south. Vegetable marrows, too, can be planted out of doors when frost is passed. Cucumbers can be planted in a cold frame or in a cold house.

5. Look to Grapes.- Bunches of grapes, which will be developing rapidly, should be thinned out before the fruits become crowded. Use long, thin scissors and hold up the fruits with a stick. Do not use the fingers.

6. General Work.- Autumn-fruiting raspberries cut down earlier will have produced growths long enough to need tying to the wire supports. Clean sea-kale beds, and dress with agricultural salt. Mulch peas and other crops on light soil. Earth-up potatoes.

I planted my early leeks a couple of weeks ago. The method Mr Middleton describes for planting leeks is the same today. Some people say it is not necessary to trim the roots and the tops of each plant but l find, by doing so, they are easier to put in the holes and they are not top heavy helping them to stay snug in the soil. They never seem worse off for it.

Although l don’t have many raspberry canes in my garden those l do are laden with fruits. Along with most other cane fruit it really pays to have a few plants in the garden especially out here where soft fruit is incredibly expensive.

I have been hardening off the tomatoes over the past few weeks and have transplanted them into large pots situated by the side of the greenhouse where it is reasonably sheltered. Just as well as we have had really strong winds blowing in overnight accompanied by a few showers.

There is still so much to do out there and the weeds still keep appearing. Don’t turn your back for a second!

Sorry, my original post was published before it was completed. I can’t get the staff!

 

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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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The Spring Hustle

An extract from Mr Middleton’s book ‘Digging for Victory’:

April. There are so many jobs to be done just now that it is difficult to know which to tackle first. We lost a good deal of time earlier on, when we ought to have been digging and preparing, owing to severe weather, and now some of us are like the cow’s tail, all behind. But that need not worry us; as l have often said before, we should never garden by dates; and if the spring happens to be late, then we must be late too. The danger with so many people is that in trying to make up for lost time, they do things in such a hurry that they only half do them. That is a great mistake; try to do everything properly and thoroughly, and if you can’t get the potatoes planted on Easter Monday as usual, or the other seeds sown, never mind; get them in as soon as you can, and you’ll be surprised how they catch up for lost time, and by the middle of the summer everything will be about normal again. I have often planted potatoes at the end of this month, or even early in May, and the crops have been just as good. I haven’t finished digging yet, but l am not worrying about it, and the crops, or most of them, will perhaps be all the better for a late start.


Some sound advice from Mr Middleton. I think we can all relate to this overwhelming feeling we can get at this time of the year when we look around our plot and see what still needs to be done with so little time. To stop myself scattering seeds to all four corners of the plot in wild abandonment, l arrange my seed packets into salad, brassicas, herbs etc, and then look to see what can be sown direct into the soil or raised in a heated propagator. Just about everything can be sown outside now. But remember, little and often, otherwise we end up with that glut of vegetables that no else wants because they too have a massive glut of the same thing!

I managed to really get on yesterday in my plot and sowed more salad crops, leeks, purple sprouting broccoli early and late varieties, spinach, chard, brussel sprouts, and some annual herbs. I only grow what we like to eat and as we don’t really eat a lot of cabbage l don’t bother to grow it. It takes up a lot of room that can be used for other crops.

The early spuds are all showing now. Just hope the dreaded blight doesn’t take them this year.

pumpkins, squash and courgettes

In the greenhouse my pumpkins, squash and courgettes have germinated and are looking good. I love roasted squash so grow quite a few to see us through the winter.

seed bed

I prepared my seed bed by adding some compost, forking it over and tapping it down with the back of a rake to firm it. I sowed lots of brassicas in here and when they are old enough to be transplanted l will sow a green manure.

sweet peas

The sweet peas l sowed back in October last year have been hardened off and yesterday l put them in the garden. I love sweet peas and they look great growing up a wig wam.

rhubarb

The rhubarb is growing really well and this lot is going to be made into a Rhubarb Upside Down Cake. Pics to follow.

NEWS FLASH……..Just heard my first cuckoo!! Have you heard yours yet?

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2010 in April, The garden

 

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Beans in flower

March-4th Week

Mr Middleton says : If you are not successful with onions, grow shallots. They are an excellent substitute, and much easier to grow’.

1. Last chance for good digging.- Those who did not succeed in digging most of the garden before Christmas, and have since been held up by the bad weather, should press on without delay. Land dug early breaks down easily when forked and produces a good sowing tilth. It is much more difficult on land just turned over.

We haven’t had any significant rain now for some weeks with temperatures reaching 18c and the ground remains perfect for sowing seeds, transplanting lettuce and planting onions and potatoes. Of course, there is never enough time to do all of these things and the forecast for tomorrow is for heavy rain. I have covered a bed that l am using as my seed bed so that should remain in good condition. The other beds just need forking over and the dreaded weeds removing before they set seed.

The broad beans l sowed last Autumn are now in flower! They have proved just how hardy these plants can be with all the snow, frost and bitterly cold Northly winds we have had. Hopefully it won’t be long before l am picking the first of the new broad beans.

In the unheated greenhouse my peas are romping away and will need transplanting next week, along with more lettuce. Leeks are a bit slow but are now emerging. What with the clocks going forward this weekend the growing season is well and truly with us. How are you doing in your garden?

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2010 in March, The garden

 

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