Tag Archives: soil

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.


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’.


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


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At last its March!

March-1st Week

Mr Middleton says: Soil is the basis of life. Take care of it.

Now that the season of sowing and planting is with us, and we are putting the final touches to the ground, we shall naturally be thinking of fertilizers, and these are going to prove something of a problem this year, owing to a shortage of some of the essential plant foods, so we shall have to be careful that we don’t get a badly balanced diet, or we may do more harm than good.

Mr Middleton goes on to talk about the benefits of using manure and compost in your garden rather than just chemical fertilizers. ‘ To use nothing but fertilizers in the garden year after year is rather like trying to live on tonics and tablets, which, although excellent in themselves, cannot take the place of solid food, or not for long at any rate.’ We have come a long way since the 1940’s with what we can use in the garden to feed our plants. Blood, fish and bone, Chicken pellets and many different organic substitutes can be used but Mr Middleton is quite correct, the soil needs bulky material which decays slowly and releases these foods gradually as they are needed.

So l have three compost bins that all need emptying and spreading on the beds along with a few bags of leaf mould. That’s a start. Then l will dig trenches out and start to fill them with kitchen scraps and the old straw bedding from the hens ready for the beans to go in but at the moment the soil is still far too wet and cold to do much. I had another quick look in the greenhouse and the lettuces l sowed last month are coming along quite well. I am up to my eyes in tiles, plaster, wood cladding, showers parts etc as l refit our bathroom downstairs. It seems to be taking forever and l can see, as usual, that it is going to be one huge rush to get everything done inside and, more importantly l feel, outside!

Early lettuce


Autumn sown Broad Beans

Cerinthe & Beth

Big Bad Bertha (The Eggless Hen)

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Posted by on March 2, 2010 in March, The garden


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Here Comes The Rain Again…

I was just looking in the DOFV book to see what l might have been able to do this week; Mr Middleton advises;

Break down and lime soil,
Plant Onion sets,
Sow Parsnips, Broad Beans, Carrots etc,
Sow Early Peas, Sprouts and Summer Cabbage,

But as the rain hammers off the window, blown in by a near Hurricane force wind, l don’t think l will be doing any of that! I have sown more seeds in the unheated greenhouse and the early spuds are actually beginning to chit….just! The onion sets are ready to plant out as are the shallots and a few left over garlic cloves.
My hens hate this weather but are still providing us with 3 to 4 eggs a day so we won’t starve! The forecasters are telling us we are in for hell of a storm over the weekend up here in Brittany. At least we haven’t got 18 inches of snow like Scotland. I think a cup of tea is in order.
What will you be planting over the weekend if the weather is kind?

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Posted by on February 25, 2010 in February, The garden


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