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Small Beginnings

I have decided to add a few bits and pieces to the patio in the shape of containers with herbs and salads. I don’t know about you but l find the small pots of herbs sold in most supermarkets are great value especially if you nurture them on a bit and then plant them up outside.

You have treat them carefully, after all, they have been living a cosy life indoors all their short lives but hopefully they will pick up and continue to produce some lovely herbs over the coming weeks.

I am going to sow some salad crops soon in small boxes, probably the cut-and-come-again varieties.

But what is stopping me from becoming Mr Container Man is the possibility that our landlord might, just might sell us this house! I have no wish to tempt fate but we should know for sure in the coming weeks. It would be too late for me to get on with much in the vegetable garden but l could make great progress in the Autumn preparing the plot ready for next year. I hardly even think too much about it!

Chelsea is with us again but as each one passes l become less and less attracted by the pomp and snobbery attached to the show gardens. It all looks so showroom and a million miles from what the vast majority of us could ever afford even if we wanted such a thing. No, l will be aiming at recreating a 1940’s garden hopefully complete with my own take on an Anderson’s Shelter and with some lawn to keep Mrs Hunt happy, of course! I just have to be patient……….

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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in May, The 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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Weeds

An exert from Mr Middleton’s book ‘Your Garden In War-time’:

May

Now for a few jobs in the garden. May is an interesting and pleasant month but it is also a busy one, and among other evil things which come to enjoy its sunny days are the weeds. Weeds of every description, great and small, tough and tender; it’s marvellous where they all come from. Up to this year l’ve been fairy free of creeping convolvulus, or bellbine (bindweed), but now it has got into the gooseberry patch. If you want to punish anyone for being naughty, just give him an hour or two pulling bellbine out of gooseberry bushes, it should prove to be very effective.This is the time of the year to tackle weeds with a will, or rather with a hoe. Keep the Dutch hoe busy among the crops and never allow a weed to flower in the garden if you can help it. If you do, it means seeds and another crop of weeds. But unless the weather is very dry, the Dutch hoe is not very effective unless you follow it with the rake and take the weeds away. Just pushing them about with the hoe from one place to another and leaving them there, merely transplants them and they thrive on it.

He goes on to tell us that weeds growing on paths should be treated with Sodium Chlorate killing anything it touches but warns it is ‘rather combustable, so handle it carefully and avoid friction, or it may go off with a fizz‘!

I am sure l have still seen it for sale but from September 2009 Sodium Chlorate was takken off the EU approved pesticides list but maybe they have taken the ‘fizz’ out of it! Mal from Malsallotment asked me how l keep my paths clear round the veg plot. Well, l do it exactly the same way as Mr Middleton suggests. It is quite therapeutic. Much better than spraying with a fizz bang weedkiller although l do use RoundUp on the main drive,

Now we have had all of this rain it seems you only have to turn your back for two minutes and there are more weeds to pull. I might try making a salad out of a few and eat them just out of spite!

How do you keep your weeds down and does anybody have any recipes using weeds in salads?!

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in May, The garden

 

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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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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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Filling the Salad Bowl

I have to share this timely snippet from Mr Middleton’s book written 70 years ago in 1941 ‘Your Garden in Wartime’:

April. Filling the Salad Bowl.

I hope you are having a good time with the seed packets, and not wasting too much time watching to see if the things are coming up. One of the first things l want to talk about today is the salad bowl. We are all interested in food values just now, and later on we shall all be eating beans and carrots and potatoes, and getting as fat as pigs if we are not careful. So to balance the diet, and keep ourselves fit, we are told we must eat plenty of green leaves, and we must eat them raw, not cooked, because cooking destroys some of the mysterious substances called vitamins which we hear so much about. There are several of them, and by all accounts they are very necessary and important, they help to digest the other food, keep your eyes bright and your complexion clear, and prevent your hair falling out. In fact, the vitamins do us more good and keep us in better health than a daily dose of medicine.

Mr Middleton goes on to say that most vitamins are found in green leaves and especially lettuce leaves stating ‘So if you want to keep fit, eat plenty of lettuce’. There is an element of truth in that even today l suppose but we know a lot more regarding our health and realise that lettuce leaves are not a magic ‘cure all’! They contribute towards a healthy diet but exercise plays its part too, as he goes on in telling us how to grow them:

The first thing to remember about lettuces, and indeed all salads, is that we want crisp tender leaves, which means they must be grown quickly without checks or delays in good soil that does not get dry. You can’t grow nice tender lettuces on shallow, dry soil in the hot baking sun. Apart from that, they are very accommodating, you can grow them among the other crops alongside the celery trench, or in any odd corner so long as there is some good soil there….the way to keep up a nice, steady supply is to make very small sowings, just a short row, about once a week from now till the middle of August….you can sow the seed sparingly in drills, half an inch deep, and thin them out when they come up to nine inches apart, or you can sow them on the seed-bed and transplant them when ready.


Some of the old varieties he suggests trying are: cabbage types: Trocadero, Continuity, and Commodore Nutt and cos or tall varieties: Balloon Giant White and Jumbo. I haven’t come across these varieties but perhaps a heritage seed company still stocks them.

He tells us that ‘ the main thing with lettuces, and all other salads, is not to let them get too dry. I don’t believe in watering vegetables as a rule, but salads are different, you can’t get tender, juicy leaves if the roots are dry’.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2011 in April, The garden

 

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Full steam ahead

Mr MIDDLETON says: Little and often is the golden rule with fertilizers; a little less rather than a little more.

MAY- 2nd WEEK

1. Plant out celery and celeriac.- Celery is normally planted out in trenches in single or double rows….celery being a bog plant requires an abundance of water. 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.

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 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. Immediately after thinning, the rows should be watered and naphthalene hoed in along each side of the rows.

3. Onions and Their Enemies.-

4. Plant Cucumbers.-

5.- Sow Swedes and Turnips.-

6.- Sow and Plant.- Sow maincrop beet and haricot beans. Plant out late cauilflowers and New Zealand spinach. Apply mulches to any fuit trees that need it. Protect beans outside if weather is unseasonable.

I have only just transplanted my celeriac so it is too early for me to plant outside just yet. I bought some celery plants from a new shop just opened in town selling only local produce. I’m all in favour of supporting anything like that. The plants have been slow to pick up but are putting on new growth now.

We had a drop of rain last week but with these winds the soil has soon dried out again and l am having to continue to water. Carrots are up but very slow in putting any growth on. Unlike my spuds under cover that are truly romping away.

Spuds under cover

A little pearl

A couple more weeks and we should be eating our first plate of new potatoes, with a big dollop of butter, of course!

Salad & Herbs

The salad plants are the cut and come again variety so there is no need to thin them. Of course, if you did, then the plant can also be used in a salad. I LOVE coriander leaf, especially in curries, so l tend to grow a lot of this!

Bean poles with willow

I have weaved some willow into the bean poles so that the sweet peas have something more to cling onto in their fight to get going. Even these small plants are sending out flowers already.

Me & Bertha

On a sadder note, l am afraid l have lost dear Bertha, probably to the fox. Every day l let them out into the field and it is  lovely to see them scratching about, having a dust bath, chasing off other birds but on Friday night Bertha never returned. She was a heavy girl and, as far as l know, never laid an egg in her life. She was a pet and a cuddly one at that! I will miss her.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2010 in May, The garden, Uncategorized

 

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