Another Delicious New Arrival

Here is another new arrival, delicious but not edible! This is our 8th granddaughter-Lucy…arrived 2 November.

So by the end of 2013 we have 9 grandchildren…8 granddaughters and 1 grandson…and the 9th granddaughter is on her way…due Spring next year!

Lucy 02.11.2013


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A Weeks Worth of Groceries…Around The World

Mexico 00175372 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Great Britain 00175382 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World USA 00175392 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Australia 00175402 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Germany 00175412 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Italy 00175422 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Canada 00175432 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World France 00175442 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Japan 00175452 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World China 00175462 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Poland 00175472 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Kuwait 00175482 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Mongolia 00175492 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Turkey 00175502 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Mali 00175512 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World India 00175522 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Bhutan 00175532 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Chad 00175542 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Ecuador 00175552 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World Guatemala 00175562 What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World

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Grandads Garden December

Here is the final instalment of Grandads Garden. As one season draws to a close there is still much to do in preparation for the coming year. I do hope you have enjoyed my posts and that they have been of some use to you.


VOL. 1 No. 12 DECEMBER – 1945

Unlike Keats’s “too happy tree,” we gardeners are apt, in the words of another poet, to indulge in the pastime of “I remember.” And no doubt on more than one drear December night we shall sit by the fire thinking of our successes and failures of the past season in the vegetable and fruit gardens. We shall no doubt do a bit of moralising too, possibly make good resolutions about being more timely in our operations next year. And as it’s the month traditionally associated with goodwill to all men, we may be thinking about Christmas presents, not only those we may perchance expect but those we will like to give. So as there’s very little we may be able to do outdoors this time of year, save possibly getting on with digging any spare ground that’s not frost-bound, let us do a bit of fireside gardening, with a bit of looking back and perhaps a glance into the future.

Looking back

It has been said that of all dead things only the past smells sweet. How does the past “smell” to you as you look back on your gardening year? If you were successful, no doubt the past year was “sweet.”

(But were there no crops that failed you?). If, however, your season was very mixed, you will no doubt be thinking of the weather or the pests or both.

The weather is always with us to grouse about, and 1945 was on the whole a poor year. In the first place we got away to a bad start. The January’s of 1940 and 1945 were among the coldest of the last half century, and those of us who put off doing things before Christmas were less inclined to do anything for a long time afterwards. The beginning of the year’s offensive we far too long-delayed on many allotments, with the result that the “diggers” were for ever trying to catch up on the jobs to be done and seldom succeeded, and the soil lacked the weathering influence that benefits land dug during winter.

Too much rain, not enough sun—that was 1945. Tomatoes loomed large in the minds of most of our gardeners. They were late in most places owing to the lack of ripening sun, and numerous were the enquiries for hints on speeding up ripening. Some people had trouble with their runners : the flowers would not set. In built-up areas there were no bees to do the job of pollination and some allotment holders were unable to give the flowers the fine misty spraying that could have helped. Or it may have been that watering, where possible, was irregular and the land dried out too quickly, which was a trouble on the Ministry’s own demonstration allotments in Hyde Park. On some plots marrows suddenly died off and there was little that could be done about that.

No doubt owing to the American “invasion” of this country many gardeners became much interested in sweet corn, and there were complaints about delayed ripening. On the Ministry’s own plots, however, which are by no means ideal, the variety “John Innes Hybrid,” which is early maturing, did well and aroused much interest. The various herbs grown there also came in for attention and later on there is a note on this subject.

But perhaps the subject that was most often raised by visitors to the Ministry’s plots was pests and diseases. Green-fly and black-fly, of course, are nearly always with us and occasioned many enquiries, but the “cabbage White” butterfly came in for the most vituperation. The Ministry’s woman demonstrator reports that one Sunday morning in a Sussex cottage she picked about fifty caterpillars off the walls upstairs and downstairs, and that a cabbage field nearby was “skeletonized” in groups. We read that ninety-nine years ago passengers on a cross-Channel boat found the sun obscured for hundreds of yards by a cloud of this pest flying from France to England. This year their descendants must have come in even greater numbers, and only those gardeners who took prompt action by spraying and hand-picking managed to save their green crops, especially the Brussels, from being turned into skeletons.

Does vegetable growing pay?

During the last year or so the question has often been raised “Does an allotment pay?” Following Dr. Joad’s example, it all depends on what you mean by pay. And whom does it pay? The Ministry of Agriculture has from time to time published the financial returns of demonstration allotments in different parts of the country, which showed that crops to the value of anything from £20 to £30, at retail prices had been grown on 10 rods. Records of about a hundred 10-rod plots kept in 1940-41 showed an average of nearly 20 lb. edible weight of vegetables weekly in winter, the figures for the other seasons being, spring, 11 lb.; summer, 12 lb.; autumn, 15 lb.

Of course, there is far more to it than mere financial returns, though the thrifty housewife would be the first to acknowledge what a help it is, in these days of high prices, to have her “good man” bring her home vegetables in variety that cost a good deal to buy in the shops. She knows, too, how important a part vegetables play in maintaining family health.

The “good man” himself may not, perhaps, have thought about the allotment first from the economic angle. His attitude depends on whether he had a plot before the war, or took it on after the war started. No doubt the pre-war allotment holder felt that call of the land and the allotment was his pastime. The war-time cultivator would probably say that he wanted to make sure of vegetables for his family; in some cases he may have feared a food shortage or patriotically desired to help the national food situation.

Whatever the motive that prompted the man to take on an allotment, he has benefited himself: he is generally better in health because of the exercise, better in spirit because cultivating his plot took his mind off the war or the burdens of office or workshop ; he has benefited his family by providing fresh vegetables that kept them fit—and, incidentally helped his wife in trying to make ends meet and avoid queues ; he and his fellow “Victory Diggers” benefited their country by contributing in every year of the war a substantial and indispensable quantity of food to the national larder, without which the nation might well have had to go short, not only of vegetables but of other food which our farmers have been enabled to grow through the “Victory Diggers” efforts. Does an allotment pay? Emphatically it does, provided it is well-managed and efficiently cultivated. And the same goes for the private vegetable garden, too.

About those TOOLS

Now is the time of year when you ought to take stock of your tools and buy any replacements, so that you will be ready for next season. There are a number of little things that matter when you are choosing new tools and the following hints may be helpful, especially in these days when quality seems to have suffered. When getting a spade, make sure that it’s comfortable to handle. And see that the wide ends of the grain are at the side of the handle; otherwise it might split later on and tear your hands, or even break with a heavy strain. The rivet on the shaft should be well sunk and smoothed off, or again your hands may suffer.

A good fork should be properly forged and should ring clearly when you knock the prongs on the floor. Gardeners generally prefer a flattish trowel, or the very round sort makes the work much harder. Take care, too, in buying rakes and hoes. A very tin handle is not comfortable to grip, so try it in the shop before you take it away. The hoe should be properly welded, as it will have some tough work to do when the ground is very hard. The teeth of an iron rake should be riveted firmly or they will soon fall out.

Better still, get one that is cast in one piece.

If you have no need to buy, it will repay you to take care of what you have. See that all your tools are stored in a safe place. Spades, hoes, trowels, rakes and forks should be thoroughly cleaned, dried and well-oiled before being put away for their short rest. Nets should also be well dried and neatly rolled up, the garden line cleaned of soil and stored safely in a dry place, barrows put under cover and, if necessary, given a coat of paint—if you can get it. Well-kept garden tools make the work so much easier, for a sharp, well-kept spade demands far less energy than one that has not had its regular cleaning and oiling.

Christmas and the gardener

Gardeners are a clanny, generous crowd as a rule, and the coming of the first peace-time Christmas may afford them an opportunity to give presents that may come in useful next gardening season—possibly for many seasons to come, according to the kind of gift. Most of us gardeners are seldom blessed with too many tools, for instance.

And there is a wide range from a trowel costing a few shillings to a wheelbarrow for a few pounds.

Then a good gardening book is always a good “buy.” Today, more than ever before, gardeners are seeking knowledge and generally the bookseller has a section of his shelves devoted to gardening books from a few shillings upwards.

Or if you want to give something cheaper, your friend would value the Royal Horticultural Society’s excellent book “The Vegetable Garden Displayed,” which is lavishly illustrated with instructional photographs and can be obtained from the Society at Vincent Square, London, W.W. I., price 2/- post free. Or—cheaper still and, in effect, a practical Christmas “card”—is any one of the Ministry’s own bulletins :—”Food from the Garden,” 3d. (4d.), “Fruit from the Garden,” 3d. (4d.), “Pests and Diseases in the Vegetable Garden,” 4d. (5d.). Incidentally, a revised and up-to-date edition of the last-named has recently been published. If there’s a lady in the case, she may like “Domestic Preservation of Fruit and Vegetables,” 1s. 6d. (1s. 8d.) or the cheaper bulletin “Preserves from the Garden,” 4d. (5d.). The figures in brackets are inclusive of postage. All these bulletins can be had from H.M. Stationery Office, York House, Kingsway, London W.C.2., or though any bookseller.

In more normal times another useful present would be a year’s subscription to one of the gardening periodicals; but in these days of continuing paper shortage these journals cannot print enough copies to meet the heavy demands made on them.

If you are a member of an allotment or horticultural society, why not make your friend a member by paying his or her first subscription? For knowledge gained from these personal contacts is sometimes more helpful than the written word.

Gifts of plants, seeds or bulbs are always appreciated, so what about a collection of vegetable seeds, a few fruit trees or bushes, or perhaps some attractive flowering plants not needing too much attention in these days of scanty leisure. Or a bag of shallot sets, a pinch of a well- guarded strain of onion seed, a few divisions from a clump of chives or other useful perennials, all make timely and acceptable Christmas offerings. Hundreds of thousands have found out during the war the pleasures and excitements of growing plants and tending living things, so it will be in keeping with the spirit of Christmas to give them something that will enhance that satisfaction and bind them closer to the most enduring hobby of all.

Looking forward

When we are doing our fireside gardening round about Christmas we shall like to have our seeds man’s catalogue to study. So if you have not already got it, send for it on receipt of the Guide. And remember that he has still got his labour difficulties and that he would appreciate it if you sent in your order early, not delay ordering until the last moment just before sowing time, when there is always a hectic rush at seedsmen’s premises. Order you seed potatoes early, too, for transport is far from being normal.

The seed position looks like being pretty favourable, except that broad beans are likely to be short. But don’t feel aggrieved if you still can’t get all your favourite varieties. You’ll know only too well that the end of the war has not meant the solution of all our problems.

As to artificial fertilizers—or “mineral” fertilizers, which is the better term—the situation can be summed up in two words—”no change.” There is likely to be a sufficiency of “National Growmore,” the balanced fertilizer sponsored by the Government, which has been tried by many gardeners and found quite satisfactory.

Make a new plan for the cropping of your allotment or garden, being guided by your past experience of what to grow and the quantity of each kind.

What about some HERBS?

When planning your garden or allotment for next year, bear herbs in mind. If you already have one or two kinds, try some of the less common, to give variety of flavour to your vegetables.

Herbs are not difficult to grow, for many are perennial ; once established, they go on growing year after year. Plants can be raised from seeds ; but as this is rather a slow business, see if your friends can let you have some cuttings or pieces for next spring and early summer.

In the meantime get the soil ready by digging deeply and working in plenty of well-rotted manure or compost. Once the plants are growing, only surface cultivation will be possible, so it is worth while making a good job of the digging. It will then only be necessary to keep weeds in check and the soil aerated by hoeing during the growing season. It is better to group herbs together in one bed. Mint prefers partial shade and not too dry a soil ; but most of the others like a sunny, well-drained soil.

There are several forms of mint, but the nicest for mint sauce and other flavouring is spearmint. “Runners,” or side branches of an old plant, root very easily and may be planted in March or April. If there is no natural shade, a mulch of rotted leaves will help to keep the roots cool.

Besides the ordinary thyme, the lemon-flavoured kind should be grown. Both prefer a warm soil. Cuttings can be taken during the early summer, or old plants can be lifted and divided into convenient pieces for replanting in Spring. It is a good plan to do this every two or three years, as old plants often get “leggy” and bare of young shoots.

Sage is another herb that can be propagated by cuttings, preferably with a “heel”—a piece of the old stem attached to the slip. In some districts they need the protection of a cold frame for rooting. April and May are the best months for this.

Pot marjoram or sweet marjoram, the best-known forms, can be raised from cuttings, though they are often treated as annuals, seeds being sown each April.

Chervil and savory are two more herbs that are often raised from seeds, though savory can also be propagated in the same way as thyme. Chervil is used fresh, but savory can be dried like sage.

Chives are among the easiest herbs to grow and the “grass” or stems, either fresh or dried, can be used for flavouring instead of onions. The more it is cut, the better the plant grows. The plants make a delightful edging to the herb bed and new plantings can be made in autumn or spring by lifting and dividing old plants into single bulbs or groups of two or three.

Parsley, too, is suitable as an edging plant. To get successional supplies it is best to sow three times : February or March, April, or early May, and again in July. The last sowing will give fresh parsley until severe frosts cut down the plants.

Fresh sprigs of parsley are generally used, but it is not always known that the shoots and be dried for winter use. To keep the colour as much as possible, the drying must be done quickly, and it is best to put the bunches in a cool oven.

Among the less common herbs are tarragon, worm-wood, southern-wood, basil, balm and fennel. Now is the time to look round and see where you can get seeds, cuttings or pieces to make a start next spring.

First aid for the birds

In winter, when so many of our useful insect-eating birds are away overseas, we can do much to help our feathered friends that are still with us. Prominent among them are the robin, the wren, the hedge-sparrow, the song-thrush, and the various species of tits.

There are two ways in which we can help them; we can provide food tables—a very pleasant help in time of trouble ; we can provide nest-boxes—as part of a “long-term” policy.

To deal first with food, let us be clear that in open weather, even in winter, all these birds can take care of themselves without our help; but given a prolonged spell of frost and snow like we had last February, with the ground iron-hard for days on end and natural food almost unobtainable then a little timely aid from us may make all the difference between life and death for the birds.

Now we all know that human food must not be wasted : in fact it’s illegal.; But there are some things we may still offer the birds without breaking the law. Here are a few suggestions for their food table :—bacon rind, either hung up in strips for the tits or minced for all comers, crumbs swept from the breakfast table, fish skin and bones, cheese rind, and bits of fat from the dog’s meat man. And don’t forget that in really hard weather unfrozen drinking water is as important to the birds as food.

Now as to nest-boxes; if you do it now, there is still time to make and put up a nest-box in your garden. With luck, a pair of great or blue tits may rear a brood in it, to their great advantage and yours. Members of the tit family do not begin to nest until the end of March or the beginning of April, but the longer you give them to get used to the box the better.

Tits have a habit of looking over possible nesting sites very early in the year. There are, of course, other kinds of birds that will take over nest-boxes properly made and placed.

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Grandads Garden November

VOL. 1 No. 11 NOVEMBER – 1945 

“No warmth, no cheerfulness, no helpful ease, No comfortable feel in any member,—No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds—November!” 

NOVEMBER may not be as gloomy as Tom Hood—who sang the Song of the Shirt—has painted it; but it has never been a popular month, least of all to gardeners. For the perennial border may look bedraggled and the vegetable plot untidy and a bit sombre. We may have some promising looking beds of winter greens to reassure us that there will be no hungry gap in the early part of next year. But we shall miss the colour and interest associated with our runner beans and peas, out beet and carrots; while our fruit trees will be “bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang.”

We shall miss the bees—our pollinating allies. We shall miss the butterflies—at least the beautifully coloured sorts.

 There is nothing to fear from them: in fact, some of them are beneficial: for instance, the Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Peacock thrive on stinging nettles. But we shall be glad to see the back of that beastly pest the “Cabbage White” butterfly, for this year saw the biggest invasion from the Continent since 1940, and one Lincolnshire schoolboy of eleven alone killed about 3,700 with a branch of a bush.

 Well, there’s very little we can do this month about the vegetable plot, except to do a spot of tidying up; ordering our farmyard manure—if we are lucky enough to have a source of supply— and getting on with digging such bare land as there may be; and checking up on our stored crops to make sure they are keeping well. But given the right sort of weather we can do some useful work on the fruit plot. 

Cleaning up 

Now is the time of the year for a little bit of “garden hygiene.” A bit high falutin’ that term? Well, it simply means keeping the garden clean. Cleanliness, we are told, is next to godliness, and that applies to gardens and allotments as well as to persons. An unclean body—inside or outside— is asking for trouble of some sort, and an unclean vegetable plot means harbouring pests and encouraging disease. Pests and diseases have to winter somewhere, and if they don’t find their quarters in cracks in the wall or the fence or on trees or shrubs, they may take them up on those beansticks that ought to have been put away for another season, or in the rubbish pile, or among those decaying brassica leaves. 

So let’s have a good clean up and make things tidy, putting all suitable waste on the compost heap and burning all the rest. Don’t forget that the ash contains potash and should be stored away in some dry place for future use.

And when you can, stir up the oil by hoeing between the plants still on the plot, for later on this will not be feasible and it is important that you should let the air and what sun there is get into the soil to make it warm and in better condition for the roots. Weeds may have to be kept down by hand weeding; they must not be allowed to compete with your food plants. 

That early DIGGING

 Does early digging pay? Well, many of us allotment holders and gardeners were pretty late in starting our gardening offensive this year and have been trying to catch up ever since. Perhaps because of a late start we sowed our onions too late and have regretted it. If we get a wet sticky winter—or our land is frost or snowbound for many weeks, we may well regret later on that we didn’t make a start with our digging in the late autumn when we had a chance to get out on the plot. 

Of course, on really well-cropped gardens and allotments there won’t be much bare ground we can dig at this time of year. But we can tackle the bare spaces from which we have taken our potatoes, runner beans, carrots and turnips.

 To the “digger” with a clay or very heavy soil, early digging is a necessity. On sandy or very light soil it is less important. Turning up the heavy stuff and leaving it rough gives Nature the chance to do her work; frost, wind and rain work on the heavy lumps, making them loose and friable— easily crumbled—and so much easier to work when sowing and plating come spring. 

When digging the heavy land, work in plenty of humus—making material such as strawy manure—if you are lucky enough to have it—or compost that will help to make the soil lighter, warmer and better aerated. On the light soils it is not usually wise to dig in manure at this time of year, since there is a danger that much of the plant food it contains will be wasted to lower levels by the winter rains and so be lost to the plant. 

Many of us are now worried about the problem of keeping our land fertile and in good heart, after flogging it for years during the war. 

We can’t expect to get much manure, if any, from farmers, who likewise have their fertility problems. Our only solution is compost. If we have not already realised this, we can now start a compost heap, for there should be plenty of material available, especially fallen leaves. The way to make compost was described in an earlier guide (March), so it will not be repeated here. If you need further information you can still get a free Dig for Victory Leaflet No. 7—”How to make a Compost Heap” from the Ministry at Berri Court Hotel, St. Anees, Lytham St. Annes, Lancs.

Facts about WEEDS 

Gardeners may argue about whether weeds or pests are their chief headache. Pests we have dealt with pretty fully in earlier Guides and it may not be out of place here to say a few words about weeds, for a wet autumn may have brought us another crop, though we kept our plots fairly clean all summer. Now we may be doing a bit of digging we can dig in the annual weeds, but we must be careful to dig up and burn such perennials as dandelions, bindweed, thistles, docks and couch. Most gardeners know the serious objections to weeds, but for those who don’t, here they are. Weeds absorb from the soil moisture and plant food that would otherwise nourish and increase the vegetable or fruit crop. They crowd the crop and keep from it the sunlight so essential for healthy growth; they prevent the air circulating freely among the plants, and they harbour and favour insect pests and fungus diseases.

 But as a writer in The Times said nearly forty years ago, “Many a casual gardener owes what success he has largely to the accident of weeds. They demand the use of the hoe; and the more soils and plants are studied, the more manifest does it become that a friable, well-worked surface is the prime secret of cultivation, even in the case of things that grow deep.”

 The most obvious way to suppress weeds is to stop them seeding. And what trouble we should save ourselves if we did—and if all our neighbours did likewise! For many weed plants produce several thousand seeds. And the seeds of many weeds do not all germinate at the same time and may lie dormant in the soil and come up after many years. A single dandelion flower turns to about 170 seeds, but an established three-year-old plant produces nearly 5,000 seeds. But the groundsel beats that figure by 1,000. The pretty little blue-flowered Eyebright can score 5,000 though the common dock easily beats that, for a fair specimen can easily carry 13,000 seeds. Hence the everlasting fight against weeds with hand and hoe and weed-killer.

 On the other hand, on light soils, from which plant food is washed away by autumn and winter rains, it is a good plan to let annual weeds grow on patches from which crops have been lifted and are remaining bare for some time. The weeds take up the plant food and store it; and when they are dug in in the spring, they give it up again by rotting away. 

Checking up on STORED CROPS 

In November and right throughout the winter for as long as they last, look, from time to time, at your crops in store to make sure they are keeping in good condition. First, the things you can easily get at—the shallots and onions. You may find that some of your shallots have gone soft or have started growing again. This may be due either to faulty drying or to bad storage condition: the atmosphere may be too moist or hot. Look at every bulb, removing any that have gone bad. Use first those that have begun to grow. Put the rest away in a cool, dry place protected from the frost. 

If for similar reasons some of your onions are starting to sprout, they need not be considered a total loss, for they will at least provide a useful supply of fresh green tops, if handled in the right way. If you’ve got a greenhouse or frame, you could set the “sprouters” in a box of dry sand or ashes and encourage them to grow on. Or they will grow on the window sill indoors.

And don’t forget to use first you bull-necked onions or those that weren’t properly ripened. 

Your tomatoes in store may also be a bit of trouble. They may be ripening too fast or not ripening at all. Or some may have gone rotten through being stored with split skins. Those that are ripening too quickly can be held back a bit by putting them in a cooler place (but not below 50°F). The backward fruits could be put for a time on the window-sill or into a warm, airy cupboard.

Your parsnips will be all right left in the ground until early March, when you can lift those that remain and store them by burying in soil or sand in a shed or outhouse, to check them from starting into growth again. But have a look at your beet, carrots and turnips in store and take out any showing signs of rot. Small lots of potatoes in sacks or boxes should also be “vetted”‘ those in clamp or pie are more difficult to inspect and must run some risk, though if you examine them well before clamping—and built the clamp properly—you can afford to rest content. Never open up a clamp in frosty weather. 

Eking out those WINTER GREENS 

Here are a few hints that may help to eke out your supplies of winter greens on the plot. While you still have late cabbages of your own growing, or you can still buy a fairly good selection of vegetables, leave your own kales, sprouting broccoli and savoys for as long as you can, so narrowing the gap until next season’s crops begin to come in. With kale, cut the top of the plant first for consumption. The stem pushes out short shoots that should be picked off for use, and this encourages other shoots to grow and provide supplies until quite late April or even into May. The sprouting broccoli shoots are made at the point where the leaves join the stem, and as these are picked further shoots are made that keep things going for quite a long time. 

Don’t be tempted to lift your leeks too soon just to make variety in your diet; leave them to grow, for they will keep quite well where they are until March or April, when you may be glad of them. 

Some war-time gardeners seem to be doubtful whether to tops of Brussels sprout plants make good eating. They do—at the right time. But it’s not wise to cut them at this time of the season because they are necessary to the plant’s growth and in severe weather will protect the sprouts below. March is quite early enough for Brussels tops.

 Spinach beet should be allowed to rest now so that it can gather strength for next spring’s push. Clear the plants of leaves at the last picking, and “pick” the stems rather than cut them, since a broken end seems better able to resist the downward spread of rot than if you cut it. 

Spinach beet is pretty hardy, but a severe winter can put paid to it. So if the weather looks like being hard, give the stripped plants some protection, such as straw or bracken. 

Work on the FRUIT PLOT 

The value of the fruit we can grow in our own gardens needs no emphasis at this critical time. And we can grow more and better fruit if we give more attention to pruning and spraying at the right times. With much less to do on the vegetable plot, we can turn our hands to the fruit plot and get going.

In so many private gardens pests and diseases play havoc with the fruit and we can do much to control them by spraying. But first, here are a few hints about winter pruning, though you would get a better idea of the art by watching some knowledgeable person do the job a time or two.


Before beginning to prune apples and pears, look for two kinds of shoots—”leaders” and “laterals,” and two kinds of buds—”fruit buds” and “wood buds.”

“Leader” shoots are the main shoot growths that extend at the ends of the branches; “Laterals” are the side shoots that grow out form the “leaders.” The “wood buds” that form leafy shoots are thin and pointed, while the “fruit buds” that form blossom are plump and round (see illustrations)

Cordon and dwarf bush trees are pruned by cutting back all laterals to three of four buds (see illustrations) and cutting the leaders so as to leave two-thirds of the current season’s growth.

Gooseberries and redcurrants can be pruned now. Winter pruning of gooseberry bushes consists of thinning out overcrowding shoots, especially in the middle of the bush, so letting in air and light and making fruit picking easier next season. Cut back new growth at the end of the main branches to a bud pointing outwards about halfway down.

Make the cut just above an outside bud. The right and wrong ways of making these cuts are shown in the pictures. If you are planting new trees this winter, pruning is best left until the buds begin to swell. Then cut all laterals back to four or five buds and reduce leaders by half.

Don’t prune stone fruits unless absolutely necessary, owing to the risk of disease. In fact, plums and damsons need very little winter pruning. Dead branches or shoots that cross or crowd should be thinned out.

But if the birds are unusually troublesome in your district and peck at the buds, leave pruning until spring.

With redcurrants, shorten all side shoots (laterals) in winter to three or four buds, and cut back the growth at the ends of the main branches to an outside bud, leaving about six inches of new growth each year.


Thorough spraying at the right times is probably the most important step you can take towards more and better fruit. Spraying in winter kills the eggs of Aphides (Greenfly), Apple Sucker, Red Spider, Capsid Bug and Winter Moths. Between the beginning of December and the end of January, you should spray your apples and pears, once, either with a tar-oil spray (1⁄2pint tar-oil to 1 gallon water) if Aphides or Apple Sucker are the troublesome pests, or with Dinitrocresol petroleum oil (D.N.C. for short) if the other pests mentioned also need to be controlled. D.N.C. can be applied as late as the first half of March.

With plums and damsons, spray as for apples up to the middle of January. Don’t delay until after the end of January or the crop may be seriously affected. Spraying time for gooseberries is up to the middle of January and for blackcurrants up to the end of that month.

So you will see that by choosing a date between early December and mid-January you could spray your apples, pears, plums, blackcrrants and gooseberries at one go

Here are some important spraying points to bear in mind—

-Don’t alter the proportions recommended for making up the sprays. Stronger mixtures may do more harm than good; weaker sprays may not be effective.

-Mix and strain all sprays thoroughly before use. A piece of coarse muslin makes a good strainer.

-Spray thoroughly; every part of the tree or bush must be drenched, especially the twigs.

-Don’t spray in the rain, when rain is likely, or during frosty or windy weather.

-Cover any vegetable crops under or near the trees, to prevent damage when using tar-oil or D.N.C. sprays; spring cabbages, for instance, are spoiled by the spray. Failing anything better, use newspapers.

-Take care not to damage flowering plants and hedges, especially your neighbour’s, over the fence; if accidently sprayed, they should be thoroughly washed with clean water, using the garden hose before the spray has time to dry.

-Wash the spraying equipment after use.

-Don’t make up more spray than you need for a day’s work.

The quantity of spray needed will of course, vary with the number and size of your trees and bushes. For fruit trees, here is a table showing the average quantities required according to the size of the tree—

Diameter of spread of tree No. of gallons of dilute wash per tree 10-12 ft. 1 12-15 ft. 1-1⁄2 15-18 ft. 2-1⁄4 18-21 ft. 3 21-24 ft. 4

For blackcurrants, gooseberries and other bush fruit, 1 gallon of spray will be enough for up to 10 bushes, according to size.

Any form of syringe can be used for spraying, provided that you can reach every twig with it. Or you could use a stirrup and bucket pump of the A.R.P. variety, though you’ll need two persons to work it. For really big trees, a barrow type of sprayer would be necessary.


Because conditions vary from district to district, even from garden to garden—manuring advice must be fairly general, and these notes deal only with what can be done at this time of year. Fruit trees and bushes, like vegetables, need fertilisers—and in the right proportions; for instance, nitrogen is needed to make shoots and leaves, though too much of it will produce rank growth but little fruit. If your apples and pears are not so vigorous as they should be, they can be encouraged by dressing the ground around the trees in winter with hoof-and-horn at the rate of 3-4 oz. per square yard. Alternatively, sulphate of ammonia, applied in early spring at the rate of 1-2 oz. per sq. yd., will prove equally effective.

Apples and pears (not so much) need potash, especially on light soils. But that’s difficult to come by and you may have to rely on wood ash from your bonfires. This should be kept in a dry place until you apply it to the ground in April. And don’t forget that your gooseberries would like as much wood ash as you can give them; if there’s any to spare the redcurrants and raspberries would appreciate it. Blackcurrants don’t need it so much.

Every second winter give your plums a dressing of 2-3 ozs. of bone meal.

Don’t forget at this time of year to fork lightly over the ground around fruit trees and bushes. But be careful about the raspberries: their roots are near the surface and they don’t like being disturbed.

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How To Make Cheese From Powdered Milk

A good one to have stored up the sleeve in case of necessity…

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Cost of Living in Britain Rising Fastest in all of Europe

The cost of living in Britain is rising  faster than anywhere in Europe, new figures reveal.

The big squeeze on family finances is being  exacerbated by wages failing to rise in line with prices.

Increases in energy, food and alcohol prices  are fuelling the high inflation rate in the UK, as political leaders clash over  the effect on household disposable income.

League table: New figures from Eurostat show how inflation in the UK is the highest in the EULeague table: New figures from Eurostat show how  inflation in the UK is the highest in the EU

Official figures from the European Union  today show that inflation in September was higher in the UK than in any of the  28 countries.

One average annual inflation across the EU  was 1.3 per cent last month.

But in the UK the figure was 2.7 per cent,  followed by Estonia (2.6 per cent) and the Netherlands (2.4 per  cent).

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Food Price Rises In UK

Food Prices

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