Tag Archives: Mr Middleton

My Garden

I thought l would add a few photos of the garden as it is not normally quite so weed free but with the long hot dry spell the weeds are slow in returning.

The potager

The potager takes up half of the garden. The other half is made up of two large round grassed areas suroounded by various shrubs, grasses, trees and flowers. The beehive is actually a compost bin l made some years ago following a Geoff Hamilton design. It fools everybody!

Looking back to the house

The garden is made up of deep-beds with paths made up of crushed sea-shells. I don’t use weed-killer on these paths but hoe them all as and when. The hot, dry April is making it very hard to get the seeds going. I soak the row first before putting in the seeds hoping this gives them a head start but l am having to water every 2 or 3 days or else l would loose most things.

First showing of the peas

The peas are a bit slow emerging but l am sure they will be romping away now. In front l made a small sowing of lettuce ‘cut and come again’.

Bean poles

I have been soaking a load of willow over the past week or so and today l weaved some btween the bean poles to give the beans something extra to climb up and make the whole structure a bit stronger. Mrs Hunt finished off the other side and l have to say she made a far better job of it than l did! Did you know its National Bean Pole Week?

Catch crop of Lettuce

I planted up a catch-crop of lettuce in-between the bean poles. These will be ready by the time the beans have got to the top of the poles. It just uses up what would otherwise be a waste of good soil.

Broad Beans

The broad beans are flowering well and look set to provide a good crop but the leaves are being eaten by something. It’s not the dreaded blackfly so not sure what it is.

Early potatoes

The early potatoes l put in not so long ago keep appearing above the soil l earth up over them. I have almost run out of soil so they will now have to take their chance if there is a frost. My greenhouse is fit to bursting with courgettes, pumpkins, squash, runner beans and tomatoes that really need to be planted out but if there is a frost, and there well could be, l stand to loose the lot!

Sweet-pea wigwam

I made up this willow wigwam today as well. I planted a couple of cucumber plants either side and the rest will be planted up with Sweet Peas. This area still needs a lot of work as it is the herb garden and needs a lot of sorting out. The ground is really hard here so might wait until after it has rained.

The weekly jottings of Mr Middleton for the 4th week in April and the weeks of May were covered last year but l will be looking at the Dig for Victory leaflets and see what they have to tell us.I have been making some purchases on ebay over the past few weeks of old WW2 Dig for Victory memorabilia. There are some serious buyers out there and one small leaflet recently fetched nearly £70.00! More details on another post.


Posted by on April 27, 2011 in April, The garden


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One Year On…

There is no more peaceful spot on earth than an English garden, and for some years you and l have been building up our little flower gardens, making them more beautiful, more intimate, and more than ever an essential part of our homes. But grim times are with us, and under stress of circumstances we are now called on to reorganise those gardens, and turn them into munition factories; for potatoes and beans are munitions of war as surely as are bullets and shells; and the gardeners of England can do much to help the nation in its hour of need.

And so says Mr Middleton in his introduction to ‘Your Garden in War-Time’ which Aurum Press have just re-printed. It was originally printed back in 1941 and Britain was in the thick of it; Britain’s cities were being bombed and food was becoming increasingly scarce with the Atlantic convoys under attack from German U-Boats. The need to ‘Dig for Victory’ was as necessary as ever before.

Not much has changed in 2011. A new Government coalition and its strict measures to cut the deficit is having a massive knock on effect with the economy in general. Will it work? Who knows. To me it seems to be too much, too soon. For many people the need to make their own cut backs is just as relevant today as it was back then. And for many, so to is their enthusiasm to continue to Grow their Own.

Trends and fads come and go but the sale of vegetable seeds continues to far outstrip the sale of flower seeds as does the increasing demand on councils for new allotments proving this trend is here to stay for some time to come.

With our decision to return to Blighty my vegetable garden will not be in full production this year. Instead, l have decided to grow crops that we will benefit from this season ie. salads, peas, beans, carrots, potatoes, herbs, squash and tomatoes. It’s enough to be going on with! Fingers crossed and with a fair wind we will sell our cottage this year and be able to start a new life in England.

And no, l have no idea what l will do at this stage as to what l will do when l return or where exactly we will return to! We have a few irons in the fire so will see what comes about. We wish we could pick this cottage up and take it back with us! Along with with my veg plot, of course!

The weather here has been exceptionally warm and dry making the ground hard. When it is like this l find it is better, when sowing seeds, to pour water into the channel you make for your seeds first, let it drain then sprinkle your seeds into it and cover as normal. It gives them a good head start and once they have come through you can water as normal if necessary.

So, with that, l am off to sow the rest of my crops. Its a great time of the year. Happy gardening!

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Posted by on April 14, 2011 in April


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Signs of life

Well, l managed to get an hour or so on my plot yesterday. It really was lovely to be out there with the sun burning my neck! I got a row of peas in as advised by Mr Middleton. The pea sticks were put in at the same time of sowing.

Pea sticks

I will sow another row in about 10 days or so to try and keep a succession of peas going over a longer period rather than sow them all now and have a glut.

Pea sticks 2

I had a quick look at the potatoes l had planted under cover a few weeks ago and was amazed to see several new shoots poking their heads up! Another 5 or 6 weeks and l hope to be eating my first bowl of spuds!

First potato!

I checked the other cloche and all the seeds have germinated. Its a great sight after all this awful weather we have had but there is still so much to do.  I hope you are all able to get out into your gardens this weekend too.


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Posted by on April 9, 2010 in April, The garden


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Mr Middleton’s Gardening Calendar 1939

Some weeks ago l had an email from Jane Newman who had been reading my blog. She told me she had found an old calendar of Mr Middleton in a charity shop and, since reading my blog, thought it fitting to send it on to me. I asked her to send it to a friend who was visiting France and they could bring it out with them. I had to wait a few weeks but it was passed onto me last night. I was amazed to find, not only the exceptional condition it was in, but that it was still in its original box! I shall be referring to it a lot over the coming months as each page covers a week and is packed with gardening advice. So, Thank You Jane for your kindness and generosity. You have restored my faith in human nature.


Posted by on April 3, 2010 in April


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Planting Early Potatoes

March-3rd Week

2. Plant Early Potatoes.- Begin planting early potatoes wherever possible. In the south and parts of the midlands doubtless some can be got in now. They should be well sprouted and have the number of sprouts reduced to two, unless you prefer a larger number of small potatoes. Unhealthy tubers should be destroyed. Do not plant any that are suffering from dry rot, as they merely decay in the soil. By planting now, new potatoes can be obtained really early.

With the soil being so warm and dry l decided to plant out some early potatoes under cover. Rain was forecast today but never arrived, however, tomorrow looks awful and l couldn’t waste this opportunity.

I started by adding a good load of leaf mould and a sprinkling of organic fertilizer into the soil.

I then covered the whole bed with black plastic and, through slots cut in the plastic, l planted Belle de Fontenay and Nicola varieties.

The whole bed was then covered with perforated clear plastic pegged and strung down. I have used this method many times in the past and it is fool proof! By May we will be digging up the first new spuds. I know Mr Middleton didn’t have access to these methods but he would probably have brought a few on under glass cloches. Same idea just different materials.

Does anyone have any other ideas for bringing on some early potatoes?


Posted by on March 18, 2010 in March, The garden, Uncategorized


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Still making mistakes!

January 3rd Week. First sowing of tomatoes.


I decided to to sow my tomato seeds in a plug tray along with some chilli seeds. I love chilli but doubt if these were being used yet on the tables in the 1940’s. Still, l very carefully thinly sowed my seeds into little plugs thinking l can then just pop those out once they had germinated and plant on in bigger pots. Good idea as it saves trying to separate each seedling which can be quite time consuming. I put the whole tray in a heated propagator and waited. Each day l looked and then after about 5 days l saw the chillis emerging. Great. Come on you tomatoes! But no, they didn’t want to play which reulted in the chillis romping away and going leggy. They had to come out! I now have a tray of rather weak, leggy chilli seedlings and not a trace of tomatoes. Had l sowed them in smaller trays and kept them separate the tomatoes could have stayed in the propagator and be left to germinate. They don’t have a cat in hells chance in the unheated greenhouse as the temperature has really dropped in the past few days. Oh well, live and learn. Mr Middleton would probably have said ‘Now where did l tell you to sow different vegetables together in the same tray?’ Lesson learnt.


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


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