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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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Easter Sowing, Planting and Cooking!

APRIL- 3rd WEEK

This is a very active period in the garden. Many sowings are made outside of the hardier things, while the less hardy are raised inside and hardened off for planting when frost is past.

1. Pot Sweet Corn.- Do not let sweet corn, sown in small pots, get root bound, but transfer to 5-in. pots.A greatly increased interest has been shown in this delicacy since our American allies came over. Unfortunately its successful culture is limited to the south and midlands, though it has been grown quite well in protected gardens further north.

2. Prepare Tomatoes for Outdoors.- Tomatoes being raised for outdoor growing should be pricked out and potted on if ready. Try to time them so as to be a foot high and ready for planting out at the end of May or early in June. Adequate stakes or ties must be provided for each plant. As they go, remove all side shoots, which arise in the axils of the leaves. Use a rabbit’s tail to fertilize the flowers, particularly early in the year.

Sow vegetable marrows now in the greenhouse. Push the seeds singly into small pots. They must not be planted out of doors till May, when the danger of sharp frost is over.

3. Make up Celery Trenches.-  Celery trenches should be made up now to allow time for settling down before planting. A thick layer of manure should be placed in the bottom and soil placed over it.The trench should be 10-in. deep, and the surplus soil rounded off at the sides to provide a growing place for lettuce, or beans etc. and for blanching the celery later. The trenches should be 12-15-in. wide for a single row, but at least 18-in. for a double row.

Most of the winter greens should be sown now, such as pre-Christmas broccoli, kales, etc.

4. Spray Apples and Pears.- Apples and |Pears should be given their second anti-scab spray.

5. Planting Work.- Plant out broad beans if they have been delayed. Plant out cauliflowers for succession, and make successional sowings of turnips and beet. Continue potato planting. Turn over the land as greens are used. Hoe between outside crops.

So, l hope you all have your Rabbit’s tail to hand and will be busy fertilizing those tomato flowers with it! I will be planting the last of my potatoes today it being traditional to plant potatoes on Good Friday. Why? I have no idea. Just tradition l guess. Instead of the celery trench l will be digging two trenches for my runner beans and put in the stakes at the same time. We get some vicious winds here, being close to the coast, so they need to be pretty rigid.

Yesterday, Mrs Hunt and l spent a few hours in the kitchen and did some baking. I had a go at making Hot Cross Buns.

Salter scales and pastry cutters

I used my old Salter scales that l bought for a couple of euros on a car boot sale from a fellow ex-pat. She threw in the pastry cutters as well which has a complete set inside the tin. Not sure of the date but could be 40’s or 50’s?

I got the recipe for Hot Cross Buns from the ever reliable Delia Smith.

Hot Cross Bun mix

Sure its easier to nip into Tescos and buy 6 for a £1.00 or whatever but apparently nothing quite beats the taste of a home baked bun. Its just the same for home grown veg then.

The end result

Ah, divine! Even if l say so myself! Have a great Easter and Happy Gardening!

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2011 in April, Cooking

 

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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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Hold on……

March-5th Week

Maintain succession of potatoes, Sow Lettuce and Sweet Corn, Sow Root Crops Outside etc

The weather forecast is not looking too good for this coming week with heavy rain, snow and freezing night time temperatures for most of us. I’m glad l covered some of my beds so l might, at least, be able to ‘sow root crops outside’ if nothing else. I suppose we have to remind ourselves that we are still in March and have the whole month of April before us but it still seems unfair to be subjected to this sort of weather just when we are all hoping to be out there sowing and transplanting our spring veg, especially when we had 18c here the other week! Back to the greenhouse for me then! At least with the clocks going forward one hour it’s not dark here until nearly 9.00pm.

I wonder how Mr Middleton’s followers felt, when, back in 1940 they were just getting through the worst winter for 50 odd years and growing food wasn’t just a bit of a passing fad or novelty factor, it was going to make the difference between having a full plate or a half and a stomach to match.

Here are some extracts from the March edition of the government’s Garden and Allotment Guide. I think they should bring these back!

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2010 in March, The garden

 

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