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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-2nd Week

Mr Middleton says: The more you grow, the less you buy.

1. Look to Tomatoes.- Outdoor tomatoes should now be growing satisfactorily. Continue to train indoor tomatoes correctly. Prevent an overgrowth of side shoots. Allow plenty of ventilation to assist the setting of the fruits. Gentle damping down of the plants each day about noon helps pollination considerably. Keep an eye open for tomato mildew attacks. Pale yellow areas first show on the upper surface of the leaves, followed soon by the appearance of the mould on the lower surface, at first yellow and then turning dark brown. Good ventilation helps to prevent it.

2. Puddle Brassicas.- When brassicas of any sort are put out during dry weather it is advisable to puddle the roots. Make a thick mixture of water and clay and dip the roots in it so that it sticks to them, then plant.

3. Runner Beans as Bushes.- If a large number of scarlet runner beans are grown, or if stakes are not available, you can grow them as bushes. They are planted in a single row and the tops pinched off when the plants are about 2 ft. high. This helps them become bushy. The pods are never so long or straight as on trained plants, but they are worthwhile.

4. Feed and Plant Out Cucumbers.- Cucumbers can be given an occasional feed with liquid manure. Once a week would be often enough.

5. Look to Next Year’s Strawberries.- Select good strawberry plants from which to save runners. One year old plants generally give the best results. Do not save from any plants showing signs of disease. Ground beetles often show a partiality for strawberry fruits. They like raw meat even better, so it is possible to trap them by putting a little at the bottom of a glass jar and sinking this to the brim in the soil. It should be examined regularly. Ground beetles or Carabids are beneficial insects and should not be destroyed unnecessarily.

6. General Work.- It will now be possible to begin thinning the fuits of the earliest plums. Earth-up potatoes, first applying fertilizer. Pickling onions may still be sown. Continue to build up the compost heap. Stake Brussels sprouts in windy places. Look out for Woolly aphis.

Mr Middleton’s words ‘the more you grow, the less you buy’ will strike a chord with all of us who are lucky enough to be growing our own food while we are in the midst of yet another food scare. Once again it hits home to us that when we eat our own home-grown food we know what has gone into it and, maybe more importantly, what hasn’t and how it was produced. Nothing can beat that.

I quite like the idea of ‘puddling brassicas’. I suppose by enveloping the roots in mud before planting this will help them to develop, especially in light soils. It might be worth experimenting with some that have had a mud bath and those that haven’t.

The runner beans are about 3 to 4 ft high and are clinging to the supports and have actually started to flower. I am in high hopes for a really early crop. I love runner beans and can quite easily eat a plate of them oozing in melted butter. No real news on the Broad Bean front other than ‘situation normal’ ie. no change from last week, but the Dwarf French beans have taken to a few soakings and are about to start flowering. Peas are flowering too with the first signs of some pods. Looking forward to one of my favourite summer dishes, Pea Risotto. Excellent with a glass of chilled white wine.

Me & Rog on Hare Patrol

We have a new visitor to our garden. A hare! We have seen it sat on the drive and walking up the lane oblivious to any dangers around him or her. So now Roger is on Hare Alert. He has to earn his keep somehow and so will hopefully raise the alarm if he sees the hare approaching the veg plot. Mmm…we’ll see!

Yesterday was a grey, drizzly day. But precisely that, just drizzle. When l checked the soil it had hardly penetrated 1 cm. As a gardener l am getting quite concerned about the lack of rain over the past few months as l am sure you are too. Remember, it is only early June. We have just had the warmest spring on record and the driest in over 100 years. The reservoirs are not critical but are well below the average for this time of the year and if the weather remains as it is then by August we will all be in a very serious situation. Hose pipe bans will be enforced. Think ahead….look at investing in more water butts just in case we do get some proper rain, mulch the soil when it is wet and this will help conserve moisture, try to use water from the kitchen sink ie. water that has been used to clean and peel vegetables and even washing -up water around the beans. I have set up a mini-irrigation system around a lot of my vegetables set on a timer and this is proving to be a great help. Can anyone else think how we can use water wisely in the garden?

Just a note to remember today is the anniversary of D-Day 6th June 1944 and the men who were fighting on the beaches in Normandy to bring lasting peace to Europe. I visited this area once; the beaches and the massive war graves of all nations involved. It left a lasting impact and l recommend everyone to pay a visit and remember these brave, brave men determined to push the Nazis back and rid Europe of one of the most evil regimes this world has ever seen.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 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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