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‘A Brief Period Of Rejoicing’

Today, 8th May, marks Victory in Europe (VE) Day. Winston Churchill told the Commons :

We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan with her her treachery and greed, remain unsubdued.We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance Britannia.

After six long years and millions of lives lost, the war in Europe was finally over.In London over a million peoplecelebrated and crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the Palace to cheering crowds.

“This is your hour. This is your Victory”, Churchill told the crowds. “It is not a victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole”.

The crowds burst into song singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’. If there was one place l would like to have been it was there and then. The atmosphere must have been electric. Britain at its united best.

Click on this link to see a wonderful piece of film in colour of that moment in London: VE Day

Broad Beans

66 years on and my thoughts are also on my garden! We have been having tremendous thunderstorms and huge downpours with strong gusty winds.

It's raining again!

No problems with dry soil now. In fact, the garden is growing by the minute. My runner beans love the rain and are putting on some strong growth. So are my courgettes, squash and pumpkins. The spuds are looking good and so too are the peas and dwarf beans. I applied a soft soap solution on the blackfly on the Broad Beans and it seems to be working, albeit slowly. Thank you to Janet at Plantalicious for sending me a garlic spray recipe to get rid of the nasty blighters. I will use it if the soft soap solution doesn’t work.

I am also taking a chance with nature by planting out my courgettes this weekend. If a frost is forecast l will lay a fleece over them. the same with the spuds and runner beans. This hot weather has brought everything on so quickly l don’t have a choice really. If they stay in their pots their growth will be stumped and they never really fully recover.

Courgettes, squash and pumpkins ready to plant out

The Salad Bar

Everything comes up Roses in the end!

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2011 in May, The garden

 

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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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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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