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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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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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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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Garden pics….

I thought l would just put a load of photos l have taken of the garden over the past few days. There just seems to be so much going on in out there at the moment, especially after the rain we had recently. I am looking forward to the coming weeks as the veg plot in June and July gives us so much. What is looking good in your garden right now?

Marmande tomato

First cucumber

Aubergine

A good crop of broad beans

ready to pod

a rogue radish from my compost!

Our wildflower meadow

The dome

Geranium

Cistus

Cerinthe

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2010 in May, The garden

 

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Reminders for May

Another exert from ‘Mr Middleton Talks About Gardening’:

Reminders for May.

Here we are in May at last, and very pleasant it is. I don’t think l have ever seen the countryside looking so pretty- and its going to look even prettier still during the next week or two. While l was sitting here waiting for the red light to twinkle, l was trying to recollect a poem l used to know about the month of May, but my head is so full of cats and pepper that l think l have quite forgotten everything else, and l can’t recall it. But the gist of it was that though you may travel east and west through palm-covered isles ‘neath tropic skies, and all the rest of it, you will never find a sweeter sight than an English garden in May. And l dare say a good many of you will agree with that sentiment. Where else could you find, say, lilies of the valley and bluebells and apple blossom, flowering crabs and the golden chains of laburnum, and lilac in such perfection and profusion as we find in an English cottage garden this month?

Does anyone recognise the poem he is trying to remember? I’ve tried Goggling the words and the nearest l can get is something from Rudyard Kipling. I’ll keep trying. Oh, to be in Britain back then…

We had 25c here in the week. Spring had sprung off and summer was here! It was like July but very short lived, so having had summer we are head long into Autumn with grey skies and temperatures around 12c. And still no rain! I am hoping for a deluge tomorrow as the ground really needs a soaking.

I picked my first sweet pea this evening. It smelt beautiful and can’t wait for more. We are eating the first of the radish and salad. So nice to go into the garden and start picking fresh salad leaves.

It is International Dawn Chorus Day tomorrow so l will be setting my alarm clock to go off earlier than normal for a Sunday and take myself off through the woods and down to the river and listen to Nature’s Chorus. Hope you all have a great Bank Holiday.



 
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Posted by on May 1, 2010 in May, The garden

 

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So much to do.

March-2nd Week

1. Fork dry soil. Press on with forking soil when it is dry enough. This forking may not be possible until April.

2. Get ahead with Parsnips. Many sowings should be made out of doors as the soil is brought into a fine condition. Parsnips need a long season to become fully developed and, if not already sown, this should be done without delay. Sow in drills 15 or 18 in. apart, and put a pinch of seeds at intervals of 9 in. rather than sprinkle some all along the drill. As parsnips are slow in germination, it is good to make a thin sowing of radish or lettuce in the drill. These mark its position and permit hoeing to be done before the parsnips appear. They will also mature and can be used.

The weather has been beautiful here for the past few days and the soil has dried out and is perfect for working on. I feel the clock is ticking as the forecasters are saying we have rain coming in on Thursday so its action stations! I planted my shallots and onions after forking in some old leaf mould.

I have prepared a bed ready to sow parsnips. Mr Middleton advises to sow a quick crop of radish with the seeds but l have never done this, not with the parsnip seeds. I always think there would be too much root disturbance when it came to pulling the radish out so l just sow seeds in batches and thin them out when large enough. Okay, l’ll try it with one row and see how l get on!

I couldn’t resist having a quick look at the rhubarb l covered up the other week and was amazed at how quickly it had come on. I covered it back up as it looked so snug in its bed of straw and we are having some frosts here first thing in the morning so best not to be too hasty yet.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2010 in March, The garden

 

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