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July – 1st Week

Mr MIDDLETON says: Keep quietly on without over-exerting yourself. That is the golden rule for all new gardeners.

JULY-1st WEEK

July is a busy month in the garden even though the bulk of seed-sowing and planting is done. It is the time, too, when the vegetable garden normally looks its best, being filled with maturing and growing crops.

1. Fertilise Onions, Leeks, etc.- The last summer dressing of fertilizer is now given and feeding of crops, such as leeks and onions, is carried out. Both appreciate a watering with soot water. Water onions if weather is dry. Allow to drain a little, then apply liquid manure. Never apply liquid manure to plants suffering from drought, but first soak them with water.

2. Sow Turnips: Uncover Marrows.- Make a sowing of turnips now in the south for storing in the winter. Marrows in frames can be left uncovered.

3. Feed Tomatoes.- Feed outdoor tomatoes. Top-dress those in pots. Top-dress indoor tomatoes. Good soil, preferably from well-rotted turf, should be mixed with sand and peat, and impregnated with fertilizer as a top-dressing for tomatoes and cucumbers.

4. Work on Celery.- Finish planting main crop celery.

5. French Beans, Mint and Tarragon.- Make last sowing of Dwarf French beans outside. These will mature in September. Make new beds of mint and tarragon by transplanting young growths from old beds.

6. On the Potato Patch.- Spray potatoes with Bordeaux mixture to prevent blight. Lift early potatoes as required. Fill land cleared of potatoes with winter greens, or sow mustard as a green manure. Short-horn carrots can also be sown after potatoes.

7. Sowing and Planting.- Plant out winter greens. In the North this should be done without delay. Plant white and purple sprouting broccoli, late Savoy’s, cottager’s kale and January King cabbage. Every delay in planting in the north reduces chances of real success. Lift shallots if ready. The foliage will die down and turn brown.

8. Fruit Culture.- Continue to summer-prune trained fruit trees, first doing cherries, plums, pears and then apples. Red currents and gooseberries should also have their growths tipped.

July is turning out to be a busy time everywhere and not just in the garden. Funny thing blogs. I mean what are they exactly? Who do we right them for? Ourselves? Yes, to a degree of course, but then we share them with the rest of the world to read and make of it as they wish. So when, suddenly, your life is being taken over by issues that cannot be disclosed on a blog for all and sundry to see, and your time is taken up dealing with whatever life happens to throw at you, it makes writing your blog, at best difficult, and at times almost impossible. Giving up would be very easy. But l came downstairs this morning faced with another pile of paperwork to sort out and thought, blow it, l’m writing my blog. I need to escape back into the world l love and share with people the nicer things in my life. One day, all of this crap will be sorted out and put behind us, but right now its not a nice place to be.

As a lot of you know, we are selling our home and returning to the UK. With a fair wind we will know by tomorrow. Its pretty certain so we are having a week or so back in blighty to look for somewhere to live. All very exciting!

We had some friends over yesterday and they left with a bumper bag of goodies from the garden; courgettes, beans, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, radish, mange-tout and eggs.Enough to keep them going for a few days. I love giving friends some veg. It makes all that hard work worth it when you see their faces so appreciative.

Better get things sorted ready for the weekend. We have a good neighbour who is going to look after everything for us while we are gone. I’ll just add a photo of the potatoes we had the other evening. Whoppers! It’s a variety called ‘Cherie’ and are big enough for jacket spuds. Mmmm…my favourite.

Big Spuds

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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in July, July - 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-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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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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A Spring in my Step

Mr Middleton says : Pruning blackcurrants, raspberries, and other plants consists of removing old to make room for new.

April- 2nd Week

1. Finish Onion Planting.- Finish onion planting as soon as possible. Onions thrive best on a bed which is rich and firm, and do not like loose and newly dug soil. Sow onions for salad purposes if not already done.

2. Sow Spinach and Peas.– Spinach can be sown outside. A good variety for now is the Long Standing Round, which does not run to seed so readily as the ordinary round type.

A successional sowing of peas should be made. Sow at intervals of a fortnight to keep up a supply right trough the summer.

3. Sow Radish and Lettuce Outdoors. – Sow radish out of doors., choosing a position between rows of cabbage or cauliflowers, or between peas and beans. This quick-growing crop can be grown and matured before the other vegetables are fully grown, so this is a good way to use the wide pieces of land between the rows. The method is known as inter-cropping, and is a way of getting more than one crop from a piece of land. Lettuce can be so used too, and plants can be put out now.

4. Fertilize Potatoes and Plant More.– Draw a little soil up to the potatoes planted during last month, which are showing. Apply a dressing of a potato fertilizer between the rows and mix it with the soil when drawing it up. Plant more potatoes.

5. Sow Salsify, Chicory, Runner Beans.– Salsify can be sown now. Chicory can be sown for forcing in winter. Runner beans, which will not stand frost, may be sown in boxes and brought on in a cold frame to be planted when danger of frost is past.

6. Plant Out Cabbage and Spouts.- Plant out cabbages and Brussels sprouts. The sooner the sprouts are out and growing the better.

7. Sow Carrots and Turnips.– Sow long-rooted carrots. Suitable varieties are St. Valery (which is an excellent show carrot, being smooth), Altrincham and Long Red Surrey. Sow six-week turnips.

8. Spray Fruit Bushes and Trees.- Spray blackcurrants for mite and gooseberries for American gooseberry mildew. Spray cherries for aphis.

9. Look to Frames.– Harden off brassicas, etc, in frames. All lights should be off now.

Purple Sprouting Brocolli

We are still eating the Purple-Sprouting broccoli l grew last year. Its delicious and certainly rivals asparagus for a early spring crop. The salsify and parsnips have been excellent too. We have lived off Spicy Parsnip soup this winter! There are still some in the ground but will probably be a bit woody now as they have sprouted tons of new growth and look like they need a good haircut.

The Greenhouse

I sowed my first crop of peas about 2 weeks ago and they are just coming through now, although the slugs look like they are having a feast on the succulent young tips. I have put some netting up for support but will use some sticks on the others l sow as it looks much better and provides a more solid frame for the peas to climb up.

Pea supports

My radish and lettuce are going great guns. I am determined, this year, to have a healthy succession of salads throughout the summer. So far, so good!

Young radish

No signs of my early potatoes so far. I am growing them in the old traditional way ie. in trenches and then earthed-up. I planted them under plastic last year but the slugs also live there and had a bit of a feast. Also, it is difficult to water them in a drought, which we experienced last year.

Over-wintered Swiss Chard

I sowed my runner beans in pots last week and are in the unheated greenhouse. No signs yet.

I also sowed 4 long rows of carrots this week so should have a good supply of young sweet carrots in a couple of months. I love eating them when they are very small.

My squash, courgettes and pumpkins have all germinated. Just have to keep the dreaded snails off them now.

Young Squash, Courgettes and Pumpkins

Have a great weekend and Happy gardening!

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in April, The 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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April She Comes

Mr Middleton says: Do not sow runner beans out of doors until the lilac is in bloom.

APRIL-1st WEEK

1. Support Peas.- Twigs provide the best support and should be inserted as soon as the seedlings show. For peas that are planted out, supports are put in immediately. Push them in firmly and keep them vertical or leaning slightly inwards. Allow at least 6 in. over the advertised height of the variety. Trim the twigs lightly with hedge shears to give a neat appearance.

4. Start New Compost Heap.– The compost heap, to which you have been adding all the winter, should be completed now, so that it will be throughly decayed by the autumn and can be used to dig in. A new heap should be started to take the summer rubbish.

5. Plant Out Onions.

6. Sow Long-Rooted Carrots.– Long-rooted carrots such as St.Valery, can now be sown. They need a long season to get the best from them.

The Governments April edition of The Allotment & Garden Guide also tells us that spring is here and its action stations!

Even yesterday it felt like winter here with a stiff NW wind making it unpleasant to be out in the garden. But today looks and feels like spring is really here. Blue skies, warm sunshine, no wind…hooray, the birds are all singing and the first swallows were seen last week;  its going to be a joy being out there. So no time like the present, l’m off to catch up with all the sowing  l have been putting off over the past few weeks. I may be some time!

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2010 in April, The garden

 

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