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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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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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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.

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

 

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Please rain……

Mr Middleton says: Thin out surplus seedlings early, before the roots get tangled, or you may injure those left behind.

MAY- 3rd WEEK

1. Thinning and Planting.- There will be much thinning out in May from sowings made in April. This operation is most important and should be done before the young plants get too crowded with their roots tangled together, and by their competition with each other weaken those which are left. Plant out crops from the seed bed and frames as necessary. If frost for the year seems to be over, some of the more tender crops, such as runner beans raised in frames, can be set out.

2. How is your plan working?- The garden should be getting nice and full, but there should still be room for a few later crops. To speak of the necessity for planting and sowing at different times is to emphasise the need for a plan. When no plan is being used it is fatally easy to put in a few extra rows of cabbage, cauliflowers, turnips, or whatever it is, and to leave no room for other essential crops.

3. Plant Out Lettuce.- Cos lettuce raised under glass may now be planted out. Allow 12 in. from plant to plant. Never allow lettuce seedlings to become crowded, as they grow soft and decay early. Some people like to use the thinnings as salads, but in so doing they rarely thin out the rows in good time and consequently those left fail to make good hearts.

4. Sow Maincrop Carrots and Beet.

5. More Sowing of Spinach.

6. Fertilize and Hoe.- A light sprinkling of general fertilizer may be given to crops now well established, particularly the earlier onions. Hoe frequently amongst the crops to work in the fertilizer and to keep down weeds which begin to grow apace at this time of the year. It is most important to destroy them as their competition is felt keenly by other plants. In the later stages they do not matter quite so much, provided they are not allowed to flower and produce seed.

7. Sow peas.

8. Attend to Fruit.

I was working in the garden until gone 10.00 this evening and in a short sleeved shirt! Amazing, no wind, warm sunshine and with the birds singing it was bliss!

More bad news l am afraid. I let my girls out when l got back from work at lunchtime only for the fox to wait until my back was turned. This time is was Bridgit, a beautiful black Maran type and a good layer so now we are down to 3 girls. So, this evening, l started to build an Ark, a covered run and house which can be moved around the garden. I think its the best solution. I am on the lookout for a couple of Buff Orpington’s. We used to have these back in the UK. They are lovely hens. Either that or a couple more black Marans which are very good layers.

No real significant rain in months is making this a very difficult year for growing anything in the garden. Today the temperature is nudging 30c and the ground is baked dry. It will take about 24 hours of good rain to get the ground back to normal. Our water is metered and is expensive so l am installing a micro irrigation system in the veg plot. My potatoes were wilting and l realised they were dry as a bone under the plastic membrane. A good dousing soon got them looking healthy again.

In the greenhouse things are really going. I have a small confession to make…the cucumbers are not strictly my own…l bought them in as young plants. But look at them now!

Young cucumber

First tomato

So, l am off to do a rain dance and hope that, this time, its more than a passing shower! How is the weather affecting your gardens?



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

 

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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.

Salad

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2010 in April, 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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