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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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June-1st Week

Mr Middleton says: Be prepared for pests and get their first. Don’t wait until the crops are running alive.

1. Train Cucumbers.- Cucumbers need frequent training if they are not to get out of hand, no matter where they are grown. All growths should be pinched at each second joint and regularly tied in.

2. Get Tomatoes Out.- Where tomatoes are being grown in large pots for outside culture they can now be moved outside with reasonable safety. Stand in rows in a sheltered spot. Have a strong cane in each pot up which to train the plant and tie all the canes to wire, set some 3 ft. above ground and fastened to stout posts. The others, which are to be grown in the ground, should be planted out carefully.Each plant needs an adequate stake. Better results are obtained if one flower truss is showing or is set. Some growers pinch out the growing point and train up two side shoots. This gives a double-stemmed plant, which is normally very successful.

3. Watch Onions for Seeding.- Autumn-sown onions and those grown from sets often tend to run to seed. As each flower head is seen it should be snapped off. Quite reasonable bulbs will be produced, and these will come in very useful for the early part of the winter.

4. Beware of These Pests.-  Broad beans are attacked by an aphis known as black fly, which can cause havoc to a crop in an epidemic year. To check it the soft tips of the plants are pinched out while the plants are in full flower. This tip is the point where infection usually starts, so nip it out as soon as the petals have fallen from the lower flowers and tiny beans are showing.

5. Sweet Corn and Strawberries.- Sweet corn and be planted out in the open. Allow 2 ft. by 2 ft. The more sheltered the spot the better the chances of success. Strawberries should now be netted up to protect the fruits from the birds. Slugs have a partiality for the fruits, too, and may be trapped by putting down cabbage leaves for them to congregate under (they must be examined daily).

6. Sow, Plant and Hoe.- The hoe should be used regularly in the garden to keep down weeds and to prevent them flowering and seeding. Plant out marrows. Sow climbing French beans and scarlet runners. Feed crops with fertilizers, especially onions. When picking gooseberries, leave some to ripen for dessert use.

Wiliting Cucumbers

June already! Hang on, where did April and May go? Earlier last month l got tempted to buy a few cucumber plants on the market. They looked really healthy, note past tense! They even had flowers on them with the promise of some lovely juicy cucumbers, free of e.coli. Full of enthusiasm and led into a false sense of security with the warm sunny weather, l planted them directly outside in the hope they would romp away up the willow wigwam l had made for them. Some weeks later they remain the same size as when l bought them but minus their flowers, some of their leaves and certainly without any little cucumbers which l was hoping for by now. All hope is not lost though and l will continue to water and feed them to see if they ever do pick up. Actually, l wonder if it is because they don’t like the Borage as their bed-fellow? Some plants don’t get on with others and, on the other hand, positively thrive when planted together. This is called ‘companion planting’. More on this on another post.

Blighted Toms

My tomatoes are doing a little better but l think it is the cold nights and continuous NW wind over the past week or two that hasn’t really helped proceedings here. Rate of growth remains, well, slow. These particular plants had a visit by Mr Blight too and are slow in recovering from him, nasty fellow! The tomatoes have fruits on them though so l will soon be picking the first of my cherry toms and nothing beats the flavour of a freshly picked, sun-warmed tomato straight off the vine.

Spot the Bean

I think l was too slow to counter-attack the invasion of black fly that hit my broad beans a few weeks ago as there is very little sign of any beans which l would expect at this time of the year. Still, the ladybirds have had a feast and, again, l must remain optimistic.

I grubbed up my old strawberry plants the other year and have never got round to replacing them. However, a friend came to stay with us last weekend and he brought with him a lovely jar of strawberry jam he had made with the strawberries from his garden along with a big bag of juicy Morello cherries. He told us he had never had so many strawberries and cherries at this time of the year before. Lucky him! Shame he lives so far away or l think l would be abusing his kind generosity!

First Agapanthe

Looking back at this post it would seem l really am in the wars with my garden at the moment! Well, at least the first of the Agapanthus have started to flower, again, quite early really. I would not normally expect to see these for another 3 or 4 weeks. We have them all over the garden as they seem to love being close to the sea. Who doesn’t?

Best l get back out there and get that hoe going to clear the weeds that just never seem to disappear. Oh, and the sun has come back out. Hooray! Maybe summer is here to stay.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2011 in June, June - In Your Garden

 

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6th June

‘Mr Middleton says: Be prepared for pests and get there first. Don’t wait until the crops are running alive.’

JUNE-1st WEEK

1. Train Cucumbers.- Cucumbers need frequent training if they are not to get out of hand, no matter where they are grown. All growths should be pinched at each second joint and regularly tied in.

2. Get Tomatoes Out.- Where tomatoes are being grown in large pots for outside culture they can now be moved outside with reasonable safety. Stand in rows in a sheltered spot. Have a strong cane in each pot which to train the plant and tie all the canes to wire, set some 3 ft above ground and fastened to stout posts.

3. Watch Onions for Seeding.- Autumn grown onions and those grown from sets often tend to run to seed.

4. Beware of These Pests.– Broad beans are attacked by an aphis known as black fly, which can cause havoc to a crop in an epidemic year. To check it the soft tips of the plants are pinched out while the plants are in full flower. This tip is the point where the infection usually starts, so nip it out as soon as the petals have fallen from the lower flowers and tiny beans are showing.

5. Sweet Corn and Strawberries.- Sweet corn can now be planted out in the open. Allow 2 ft. by 2 ft. The more sheltered the spot the better chances of success. Strawberries should be netted up to protect the fruits from the birds. Slugs have a partiality for the fruits too, and may be trapped by putting down cabbage leaves for them to congregate under (they must be examined daily), or poisoned by using a mixture of powdered Meta tablets and bran. An alternative to bran, which is rather scarce, is dried blood.

6. Sow, Plant and Hoe.- The hoe should be used regularly in the garden to keep down the weeds and to prevent them from flowering and seeding. Plant out marrows. Sow climbing French beans and scarlet runners. Feed crops with fertilizers, especially onions.

I have actually harvested my first cucumber this year already. I admitted l had cheated a bit by buying two plants in. Mine are still struggling and nowhere near the size of those that l bought. So what is best? Buy plants that are difficult to get established and provide an earlier crop or struggle through the whole process of seeding, nurturing etc and possibly get something in August or September? I wouldn’t do this for everything, of course, but l will for cucumbers, aubergines, cillies and certain tomato plants if l happen to see some at a good price!

Potatoes

I have two rather lanky looking tomato plants that l am going to plant out but we do suffer with blight here so the others are staying in the greenhouse and we will see how these two get on.

My onions l planted from sets are doing really well and are bulbing up nicely. My garlic, however, is deteriorating by the day with rust. Its so sad to see but l vow now never to bother here again and use the space for other crops. The markets here sell very good local garlic quite cheaply in the summer so l will do that.

self-seeded coriander

I haven’t managed to grow sweet corn this year due to lack of space and the fact that seeds here in France can be very expensive. I buy a lot of my seeds from the UK via the internet. Others l look around for here but sweet corn seeds are selling at nearly £4.00 a packet! Bean and pea seeds can sell for nearly £7.00 a packet! Why? I really don’t know. Its one of the mysteries of life out here.

I have planted out all my courgettes, squash and pumpkins. I am working for an Italian family at the moment who are renovating a house. They are using copper guttering which, they say, is normal to use in Italy. I told them never to renovate a house in the UK using copper as it would be gone the next day! They couldn’t understand this. So, the odd cut offs l have been using to put round my courgettes etc to deter the slugs and snails. It seems to be working.

We have had some good rain last week which has helped no end. Everything has come on and last night l made a broad bean dip which l took to a bbq. See my other blog where l will be putting pics up soon: www.compostandcarrots.co.uk

This time 66 years ago to the day, the Allies were landing on the beaches of Normandy not so far from here. Mayhem and carnage ensued but those brave men fought for freedom and to end a long and terrible war and won. I am hoping to go up there soon and reflect on what it must have been like for those young soldiers. It seems strangely odd that 66 years later l am living out here working as a gardener. Thanks to those men we have the freedom of movement and the choice to do these things. We should never take it for granted. Thank You.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2010 in June, 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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