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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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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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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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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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‘Cast not a clout till May be out’

How true! I don’t know about you but here we are still having log fires in the evenings and wrapping up in fleeces during the day! A friend of mine who lives in the south of France told me the other day that she had snow and power cuts and it was -1c! Its not as bad as that here but l have had enough of that northerly wind.

MAY-1stWEEK

2. Sow Runner Beans Outside.- In the south and midlands runner beans and dwarf beans may now be risked outside. By the time they are through the danger of severe frost will be fairly remote. It is still early to plant out those raised under glass, but they should be hardened off as much as possible.

4.Sow Beet and Sweetcorn.- Sow seakale beet and spinach beet in rows 18-in. apart. Put the seed in pinches at intervals of 9-in. Sweet corn seeds may be sown out of doors now in the south, but they may need cloche protection for a short time.

6. Keep Strawberries Clean.- When the flower stalks of strawberries appear, clean straw should be placed around the plants to keep the fruit clean. It must be put down carefully and the trusses placed over it. Special mats of straw can be purchased for the purpose.

7. Sow and Plant.- Sow and plant out lettuce. Sow more peas, and plant out tall peas raised inside. Finish planting potatoes. Thin parsnips and other seedlings. Prick out celery and celeriac. Sow scorzonera out of doors and radishes for succession. Hoe and keep down weeds.

Beanpoles

My beanpoles are in and l have planted some of my sweet peas to mingle with the beans as they all grow up the poles. In the middle of the poles are a catch crop of lettuce which l should be able to harvest before the peas and beans get too big.The cultivation of runner beans posed a serious problem during the war as there was a shortage of bamboos and long stakes prompting some people to actually steal them!

runner beans

I planted some runner beans, Lady Di, in my unheated greenhouse and they are doing really well. I saved the seeds from last years crop by leaving some beans on the plant and letting them dry off naturally. These then went into a sealed box in the fridge over winter.

celeriac

The celeriac is growing well and this weekend l will thin them out ready to grow on and plant out. I love celeriac roasted and one Christmas l went out into my garden to gather the vegetables ready for the dinner. When l came to pull, what looked like a beautiful row of celeriac, the plant literally broke off in my hand. On closer inspection l noticed that something, probably a mouse, had completely eaten away the inside of the plant leaving the outside shell untouched. Very clever!

First broad bean

Looking forward to lots more of these!

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2010 in May, 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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