We Made National News

Yum!

The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife

“We” as in South Dakota. That doesn’t happen often, so you know it’s serious.

We’ve had some crazy wild weather these past few days, west river receiving a mixture of heavy rain turned snow combined with powerful winds that the unwinterized trees couldn’t support, causing many to break and fall over. My Mom said 80% of her trees are down.

I will be going out there next week with my camera to document the damage, so I will update with pictures then. I don’t want to see it, really, because those trees are as much part of my childhood as the three girls who lived down the trail from us.

Until then, let me tell you about apple butter.

apples

Apple butter is deliciously simple to create. We hand-picked tart apples from our tree, the one Country Man’s grandparents planted some 30 years ago.

apples

The Quick How-To
Wash and slice them…

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Grandads Garden October

 “Hail, old October, bright and chill, First freedman from the summer sun! Spice high the bowl and drink your fill! Thank Heaven, at last the summer’s done!” 

An American divine wrote that October is nature’s funeral month and that the month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming: that October is more beautiful than May. Gardeners may well argue about that, but they will agree that the sun of their gardening year is setting in October. It is a time for reflection, for a judicial summing up of our successes and failures. 

Are our failures due to any lack in ourselves? Did we fail to tackle those pests in good time or did those poor, worthless crops result from a lack of fertility in our soil? The farmer, we are told, looks at winter with spring in his eyes. So does the good gardener. For both the practical couplet is this: “In October dung your field, And your land its wealth shall yield.”

 But the reader may say, “It’s all very well for the farmer, but where can I get dung?” Well, the answer to that has been given many many times; it is simply this—if you can’t get dung, make compost. And how few gardeners do, yet compost will help them to keep their land fertile.

THAT COMPOST 

October is the picture month—the month for painted leaves, as Thoreau, the American nature writer called it. That’s a nice poetic thought, but to the sensible gardener those painted leaves, when they drop, become compost. Leaves of oak, beech and birch are very valuable for the compost heap, but pine and spruce needles, together with lime and plane tree leaves, are best burnt and the ashes used instead as a fertiliser.

 Don’t make the mistake of piling masses of fallen leaves and autumnal garden waste on the heap that you may have started several months ago. Start a fresh heap, turning back to the March Guide for advice. 

Turn over the old heap now, and any material that has not rotted completely should be placed on the inside of the new heap, the properly decomposed stuff going to the outside.

 CLEAR THAT RUBBISH 

Clearing up the garden or allotment is a job that should not be put off. If decaying vegetable material, old sticks, cabbage stumps and other rubbish is left to rot in the garden, all kinds of pests and vermin will be encouraged. Keep up with the work of clearing the ground as soon as the crops are finished. Put all suitable material on the compost heap, while not forgetting the needs of any domestic livestock. 

Bean sticks can often be made to serve two seasons, if they are carefully stored and kept dry during the winter. Pea sticks of the brushwood type are seldom much use after one season and should be burned. 

THOSE BONFIRES

Keep them to the smallest limits and burn only woody or diseased material, the underground parts of thistles, docks, couch grass and the like.

 Bonfire ash should not be left out for the rain and dew to dissolve and wash away the very soluble form of potash it contains. It can be incorporated in the garden soil immediately it is cold, or it may be bagged, stored in a dry place and used as a fertilizer when needed.

 More about STORING 

CARROTS 

The main carrot crop should now be ready for lifting. Treat the roots carefully, lifting with a fork and taking care not to damage roots or crown. Trim off the leaves near the crown, but do not cut the top part of the carrot, even if it is green. Some gardeners slash off the top half-inch, but that leads to trouble later on when the carrots are stored.

Any split, misshapen, forked roots, or those that show sings of damage by carrot fly or other pests, should be kept out for use in the next few weeks. The rest can be stored, either indoors, or, if you have more than you can conveniently store under cover, you could clamp them as you would potatoes — (see September Guide).

 Carrots stored indoors can best be kept in boxes. A layer of dry sand, soil or ashes should be placed over the bottom of the box or other container, then a layer of carrots completely covered with sand, and so on until the box is full. 

Clamping outside is very simple. Make a level site, preferably in the shade, and place the carrots, thick end to the outside, in the form of a circle. Lay a few carrots in the middle and sprinkle a little sand over them to level up; then put a second layer of carrots on the top of the first, and so on. 

The circular layers get a little narrower each time until the whole heap builds up into a shapely cone. Cover the cone with a layer of 4 to 6 in. of straw. Then dig out about a foot of soil around the heap, to get sufficient to cover the clamp to a depth of 6 to 8 in. Leave ventilation holes at the top, filling them with twists of straw that show through the soil. Otherwise cover the whole clamp with soil before severe weather sets in. It may be necessary later on to add a little more soil to the outer covering, but 8 in. should provide enough protection in a reasonably mild winter. 

BEETS 

Beetroots, too, must be lifted before frost seriously threatens. The leaves are twisted off—not cut—and the roots taken inside to store. This is better than trying to store them in clamps in the open. They should be buried in boxes or barrels of sand, ashes or finely-sifted soil. Whatever material you use should not be bone dry; while it should be moderately dry, the roots may shrivel if it is quite dry. The boxes of roots should be stood in a shed, cellar or store of some kind that is frost proof. A storage temperature of between 30° and 35°F. is most suitable. The important point to remember is that the beet must be kept free from frost. During hard frosts, if the store is not frost proof, an additional covering of old sacks, bracken, straw or something of a similar nature, should be heaped over and around the boxes. Stored in this way the roots will keep for many months. 

About those ARTICHOKES 

Some readers may be wondering if Jerusalem artichokes should be lifted like potatoes. That is not necessary; indeed, they keep better in the ground if, in very severe weather, a covering of leaves or bracken is heaped over the roots. The stems should be cut down now and bruised and put on the compost heap, but the roots may stop in the ground until after Christmas. Most gardeners lift the tubers in February and replant some for next year. Those intended for the kitchen are then stored in damp sand and can be kept fresh for several months. 

Picking BRUSSELS…a tip 

Early-planted Brussels sprouts should now be ready for picking. There is a right way and a wrong way of gathering them. Start at the bottom and clear the stem of sprouts as they become large enough; don’t pick a sprout here and there, but do it systematically from the bottom of the stem.

Some gardeners are doubtful whether they should remove the growing tuft of leaves at the top of the plant. That should be left until next spring, for the leaves are necessary to the health of the plant and also afford protection from the weather.

A LEEK tip

A little soil should be drawn up to leek plants now to encourage them to produce sizeable, well- blanched stems.

Getting early RHUBARB

Forced or early rhubarb is one of the things we can enjoy in these difficult days when delicacies are none too plentiful. If you have some good crowns or clumps of rhubarb, you can, without much trouble, provide the table with early stalks. When the plants have shed their summer leaves, place some dry leaves or bracken loosely over the crowns. A box or big pot should be placed over this material, to keep it dry and stop it blowing about. This encourages the rhubarb to make early growth.

If you have a dark shed or a greenhouse, you can lift a few crowns and place them on the shed floor or under the greenhouse staging. Hang sacking in front of the staging to make it dark. Crowns intended for such treatment can be lifted a week or so before they are taken inside. They should be stood on the surface of the soil and if a slight frost occurs, so much the better, it will make them break into growth earlier.

This LIMING business

Much of our land is in need of lime. Every year the soil loses lime steadily and continuously. The rate of loss varies with the circumstances, but in industrial areas there is a special need for lime because of the acid ingredients in smoke and fumes from factories and business plants.

Gradual loss of lime makes the soil become acid and sour—and more so as time goes on. Now lime is an essential plant food; unless the soil contains it in suitable quantity, it is not possible to grow good crops.

Most cultivated crops dislike sour soil, except potatoes, which can stand it unless it is very acid. Turnips and swedes, for instance, are both unreliable on such soils and are less capable of withstanding drought and pest attacks. “Finger-and-Toe” or “Club-Root” also indicates the need for lime, as does a heavy soil that shows an excessive stickiness, a tendency to set hard and a difficulty in getting a good tilth. But light, sandy soils lose their lime very quickly, and it is on such soils that troubles from sourness are most common and acute. The presence of certain weeds, such as spurrey, sheep’s sorrel and corn marigold, is one of the best indications of a lack of lime.

Some allotment holders and gardeners have perhaps found it difficult to get the kind of lime they need for their land. Perhaps they put in an order months in advance of liming time and still found they could not get delivery in time. Probably they ordered hydrated lime and would not be satisfied with anything else. So they went without—and their crops suffered. That was a mistake, for other kinds of lime are just as beneficial as hydrated lime; if applied at the proper rate.

Some readers, remembering the science of their schooldays, may like to know a bit more about “lime.” The word is commonly used to mean not only calcium oxide (quicklime), but also calcium hydroxide (slaked or hydrated lime) and calcium carbonate (limestone and chalk). Though quicklime used to be by far the most common form of lime bought by farmers, carbonate of lime is gaining considerable popularity and is now as much sought after as quicklime and its derivatives—ground and hydrated lime. Quicklime is obtained from either chalk or limestone burnt in a lime kiln. This is generally in lumps or it may be further processed by crushing to form ground burnt lime, or still further by the addition of a controlled amount of water to form calcium hydroxide (slaked or hydrated lime).

The last is always in a fine state of division, easily stored, and probably for that reason has been much in demand by gardeners. The other form of lime that is more suitable for storage is carbonate of lime, which may be limestone or chalk (really a soft limestone) both ground to a fine powder. Quality depends to a great extent on the pureness of the rock from which lime is derived.

The demands for hydrated lime are much greater than the supply. This shortage affects farmers as well as allotment holders and gardeners, and is due to the fact that other vital industries— especially the building trade—need most of the hydrated lime produced today. What can the gardener or allotment holder do if he cannot get his little bit of “hydrated”?

The answer to that is try finely ground limestone or chalk. Both are equally effective as hydrated when applied in the appropriate quantities necessary to correct the sourness of the soil. Hydrated costs nearly twice as much as ground limestone; on the other hand it is necessary to put on one and a half times as much ground limestone as hydrated. Both ground limestone and chalk are fairly readily obtainable compared with hydrated lime.

It does not follow from what has already been said that all gardens and allotments need lime. The only sure way of finding out what is lacking in the soil is to have it tested. The local Parks Superintendent, the secretary of the district allotments or horticultural society or some knowledgeable neighbour would advise how this can be done.

On planting FRUIT TREES

In the September Guide we dealt with the sort of fruit to grow in the small garden and promised later on to supply information about planting. Here it is.

First of all, the site: Peaches and pears need abundant sunshine. Most other fruits do best in a sunny position, but are not so particular and often succeed in partial shade.

Peaches or pears should go on the south wall or fence, apples and plums on the west or east, and morello cherries on the north. Black currants, gooseberries and raspberries should be in a bed where they can be netted against bird attack. Loganberries or blackberries should be trained on a boundary fence.

In the open garden you could plant one or more dwarf bush apples or gooseberry, red or black currant bushes.

Apples planted about 10 to 15 ft. apart in a square could have a gooseberry or currant bush placed in the centre.

As fruit trees and bushes have to grow on the same piece of ground for several years, you must cultivate the plot thoroughly and deeply. The best method is bastard trenching, breaking up the sub-soil as far as possible. Do this over the whole fruit plot—especially on heavy soils—not just where the tree or bush is to stand.

As to manure, the general rule is that bush fruits need much bulky organic stuff, which provides the soil with plenty of humus (see January Guide). Through generous manuring the moisture is retained near the surface and close to the shallow roots of bush fruits. Use farmyard manure, if you can get it; if not, you could use good stuff from the compost heap, decayed lawn clippings or similar material. Apply between the first and second spits when bastard trenching. When planting cordon apples give similar treatment, making the border so treated 3 ft. wide. In the open garden, if the soil is in an average state of fertility, no special treatment is needed and no bulky manure should be applied, since this would hasten growth and delay fruiting.

When you come to planting, use a line to keep the rows straight and put in sticks to show the position of each tree or bush. Provided the weather is not frosty, you can plant at any time between late autumn and the end of March, but, if possible, plant in late autumn. Don’t plant when the ground is too wet or too sticky; wait until it is reasonable dry and workable. If the weather is frosty when you get your trees or bushes, cover the roots with soil and wait until you can plant out.

Cordon apples are usually planted 2 ft. to 3 ft. apart in the row, while bush apples on dwarf stocks are given 10 ft.. 5 ft. apart each way is the distance for gooseberry and currant bushes, while raspberry canes should be placed 18 in. apart with 6 t. between the rows. If you are planting cordon gooseberries or red currants, allow 1 ft. apart.

For the rest of this note it is proposed to deal with the planting of cordon and bush apples. When the time is right, take out enough soil to make a hole wide and deep enough to allow the roots to be evenly spread out. In planting cordon apples it is generally better to take out a fairly wide shallow trench along the entire row. Cut back any coarse or injured roots on tree or bush, using an upward sloping cut. Set the tree in the hole and spread the roots out evenly. In planting against a wall or fence keep the stem about 6 in. away from it. Sprinkle some fine soil over the roots. If there is more than one layer of roots, hold up the upper roots. Work the soil well into the spaces between the lower roots, and when they are covered, tread the soil firmly. Keep on filling and treading until the hole is completely filled in. Firm planting is very important, but do not plant any deeper than the tree or bush was planted in the nursery; you can usually judge this by the ring of soil adhering to the stem. Complete your planting by giving a mulch of farmyard manure or compost.

Cordon apples are not set upright, but sloping at an angle of about 45°. If your rows run north to south, keep the roots to the south, with the top of the tree sloping north. When the rows run east to west, the slope of the trees is not so important.

Bush apples on Malling IX root stock (see September Guide) need staking with a stout stake, which should be driven in about 2 ft. from the base of the stem, so that the stake rests against the stem at an angle of about 45° and points in the direction from which the wind generally comes. The stake should be driven in securely until the top just comes to rest against the stem below the lowest branch. Wrap a bit of sacking round the stem and stake together with strong cord.

The pruning of newly-planted fruit trees and bushes will be touched on in a later Guide.

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Grandads Garden September

VOL. 1 No. 9 SEPTEMBER – 1945

 

“O sweet September, they first breezes bring The dry leaf’s rustle and the squirrel’s laughter The cool fresh air whence health and vigour spring And promise of exceeding joy hereafter.”

 

Like the squirrel, the gardener who has done his job well can indulge in a satisfied smile in September, when he surveys the fruits of his labours and decides on those “O.S.” fruits and vegetables that will represent his household at the church or chapel harvest festival, tokens of his appreciation of the world-old partnership between Providence and man.

 

Assuming the weather has not been too unkind and the pests not too troublesome, he can smile at the abundance that will be his squirrel’s store for the late autumn and winter days that lie ahead. So it is natural that this issue of the Guide should be concerned mainly with harvesting and storing.

 

HARVESTING & STORING

 

THE “INSURANCE” CROP

 

In view of the potato shortage this year, we should take extra care in harvesting and storing our own crops so as to avoid any risk of loss.

 

The tops should be cut down and removed about a fortnight before lifting time—burn them if there is the slightest suspicion of blight. Choose a fine day for lifting, and leave the tubers on the ground just long enough to dry—about four or five hours.

 

Be careful to sort your crop, to make sure that you don’t store any diseased tubers. But even with the most careful sorting, a diseased tuber or two may accidentally get mixed with sound ones. So to prevent disease spreading, sprinkle powered lime, or a mixture of lime and flowers of sulphur, among the tubers. The sulphur also helps to keep vermin away.

Potatoes are easily damaged by even a few degrees of frost, and are then unfit for human food.

 

If you can, store your crops in boxes or barrels, rather than in sacks—and line the containers with old newspapers as a protection against frost. Put the boxes or barrels in a dry, frost-proof shed for the winter and cover them with old sacking, giving extra covering in severe weather.

 

Label your varieties and use the poorer keepers first; for instance, Arran Banner should be used before Arran Peak. Be careful about ventilation, particularly in the first months of storage; the door should be kept open, also the window when the weather permits.

 

 

Look over your stored potatoes fortnightly and remove any diseased tubers.

If you have a large crop and want to store them in a clamp or pie, this diagram may help you in building it.

 

Choose the driest bit of your land for your clamp and mark out a strip 3 ft. 6 in. wide and long enough to take your crop.

 

Don’t be stingy with the straw—provide at least a 6-in. layer. Press the lower ends of the straw close to the ground, for it is along the edge of the clamp that the frost generally creeps in. The straw layer should reach almost to the top of the potatoes.

 

You then put a covering of straw over the top of the ridge, so that its ends overlap the straw at the sides. This ensures that the rain runs down the outside and not into the clamp. To keep the straw in place, put some soil along the lower edge and a spadeful here and there over the whole of the straw covering.

 

Allow a few days for “perspiring,” and then cover most of the straw (to within 4 in. of the top of the ridge) with 6 in. of soil, leaving 6 in. strips bare every so often. To get this soil, dig a trench 1 ft. away from the base of the clamp, about 6 in. deep. Cut an outlet in the trench to make sure that all water drains away.

 

When frost threatens fill in the bare strips with soil and also cover the ridge. But make ventilation holes at intervals at ground level and along the top of the ridges. Stuff these holes with straw to prevent them getting blocked with soil.

 

If your clamp seems to be all right, you may leave it undisturbed until February, if you like. But you should then open it when it is not freezing and inspect the contents, removing any diseased tubers and “sprouts.” In remaking the clamp, take care not to bruise the potatoes, or rotting may set in.

 

Harvesting HARICOTS (beans)

When the pods begin to turn brown, pull up the plants, tie them in bundles by the roots and hang them in a dry, open shed to ripen thoroughly.

When quite dry, shell out the seeds and store them in boxes in a cold, frost-proof shed.

 

Storing ONIONS

 

Last month’s Guide dealt with ripening-off the onions. They must be thoroughly dry before storing. Onions keep best when the air can get at them freely, and the easiest way to make sure of this is to hang them up on ropes. This is a job you can do later on, when you can find the time. First remove all the roots loose skin and most of the tops. Then hang up a rope about 3 ft. long, with a knot at the end, and tie a single good-sized onion to the end of it to serve as a base. For the rest of the rope, tie on four onions at a time. It is best to grade your onions: large onions on one rope and small onions on another.

 

 

Arrange them round the rope and hold them with one hand, while with the other you tie the tops to the rope by running the string round twice and finishing with a knot. Cut off the unwanted tops as you go along, but there’s no need to cut the binding string. And so on up the rope, each bunch fitting snugly on top of the bunch beneath.

 

Some varieties of onions will not keep for long, for instance, Giant Rocca, Excelsior and Prizetaker—these should be used first. Ailsa Craig, Up-to-Date, Bedfordshire Champion and Southport Yellow Globe will last until Christmas, while varieties such as James’s Long Keeping, Giant Zittau, Nuneham Park and Ebenezer will last until late winter and spring.

 

Harvesting MARROWS & PUMPKINS

 

These may be stored for winter use as vegetables and for preserving. Only fully developed and ripened fruits should be set aside for storage, and they should be handled carefully to avoid bruising the skins.

 

Being very susceptible to low temperatures and easily damaged by frost, these fruits need a warm, dry atmosphere, such as that of a kitchen, bedroom or attic, to ensure successful storage. Cellars and outside sheds, and other damp places where the temperature is likely to fall below 45° F. are unsuitable. From 50 to 65° F. is the most suitable temperature for storage.

The fruits may be placed in crates or boxes or laid out singly on shelves, but they are best hung from the ceiling in nets.

Given this treatment, they can usually be relied upon to keep in good condition until January or February.

The harvesting of carrots, beet and certain other root crops with be dealt with in next month’s Guide.

 

Storing TOMATOES

 

Mature tomatoes which are not ripened by the time the autumn frosts are coming on, may be stored separately in such receptacles as trays or box-lids, lined with a few layers of newspaper, which will help to make sure that the fruits remain where placed. Arrange the fruits in a single layer so that they do not touch one another. If there is any risk of touching, separate the rows by strips of newspaper. Do not store any split, bruised or otherwise damaged fruits.

 

Put the trays or boxes in a room, cupboard or drawer, where the temperature is about 55° F. (not under 50° F. and preferably under 60° F.). A room where the temperature is liable to fall below 50° F. at night should, if possible, be avoided. A temperature about 60° F. may cause the tomatoes to shrivel, but is otherwise less harmful.

 

Store the tomatoes in the dark; but if you wish to hasten the ripening of some fruits expose them to the light at a temperature of 60-65° F. Storage in the dark tends to prolong the period of storing, and so the period during which tomatoes are available may be appreciably extended.

Examine the fruits form time to time, and remove any that have ripened or any that begin to show signs of decay.

 

Storing tomatoes in peat or sawdust is not recommended. Sawdust sometimes imparts an unpleasant flavour, and both peat and sawdust are diffcult to maintain at the right degree of dryness. It should be remembered that though very dry conditions may cause shrivelling, appreciable moisture favours the growth of moulds, which will develop quickly under the slight warmth that is otherwise conducive to the keeping of tomatoes. For this reason, storing in the moist warmth of the kitchen is inadvisable.

 

Green, immature fruits may be used for chutney and pickles.

 

Harvesting your own saved SEED

 

In the July Guide there was a section devoted to saving your own seed, and we promised that in a later issue we would tell you how to harvest it. The only “safe” vegetables for seed saving by the amateur are peas, beans, onions, leeks, tomatoes, lettuce, ridge cucumbers and marrows, so this note will be restricted to them.

 

PEAS AND BEANS

 

If only a pound or two of seed is being saved, leave the pods until nearly dry. The seed at this stage should be firm and touch; pressure with the finger nail should not easily cut the skin but only dent it.

To finish the drying, pick off the pods and spread them in a thin layer in a dry, airy place. When the seeds are quite hard, shell them from the pods and store in cotton or paper bags.

 

If your space is limited, the seeds may be shelled from the pods as soon as they are taken from the plant, and dried by spreading them in a thin layer on a tray. Move them each day so that they are all exposed to the air in turn.

 

ONIONS & LEEKS

 

Onion seed is usually fit to harvest by September, leeks in October. The seed should be black and doughy, not watery, before harvesting. If the stem below the head turns yellow, or some of the capsules burst open, the head is then certainly safe to cut. Cut off the heads with 12 in. or more of stem attached, and lay them in a sunny, airy place to dry. Place the onion heads in a bog since the dry seeds easily fall out.

 

Leeks take a long time to dry and the capsules remain tough. The easiest way to deal with very small quantities of leeks is to rub the heads on a fine sieve. If the threshed seeds and chaff are placed in water, the good seeds will sink and the chaff and poor seeds will float. Do not let the seeds remain more than a few minutes in water; dry them immediately by spreading in a thin layer on a dish in an airy place.

 

TOMATOES

 

At least 10 lb. of tomatoes are required to produce 1 oz. of seed. Remove from the fruit the pulp containing the seeds and put it in a jar to ferment. After two or three days, tip it into a fine sieve and wash it vigorously under the tap; the pulp will wash away from the seeds, which may then be spread on muslin to dry.

 

LETTUCE

 

Keep close watch for the moment when the seed heads are ripe, since loss of seed results from shattering and from the ravages of birds. Inspect the plants at frequent intervals and pluck off any heads that show a “downy” formation. This usually appears within about a fortnight of flowering. Finish drying the heads on a tray under cover.

 

MARROWS & RIDGE CUCUMBERS

Leave the fruit intended for seed on the plant until it is fully ripe. The seed should be removed by hand, washed to remove the surrounding pulp and dried in the sun.

 

PARSLEY “TIP”

 

You may now find your spring-sown parsley running to seed, some of it in full flower. These flower stems will exhaust the plant. So your best plan is to cut down the plants almost to ground level and give them a little fertiliser and some water. By this means you can have fine parsley all through the winter.

 

Those SPRING CABBAGES

 

Thinking about next year brings us to the need for adequate supplies of winter greens. September is the month for planting out spring cabbages, and every available piece of ground should be devoted to this valuable vitamin-giving vegetable. When the onions have been removed and the ground has been lightly hoed, dusted with lime and well raked, spring cabbages may be planted in rows 1 ft. 6 in. to 2 ft. apart, allowing 1 ft. between each plant. This is somewhat closer then is usually recommended for spring cabbages; but as the cabbages grow in the spring each alternate plant may be cut and used as spring greens, leaving the remaining plants ample room to develop into fine-hearting specimens for cutting in May and early June.

Any surplus seedlings remaining in the seed beds should be thinned out to 2 or 3 in. apart, to form a reserve store that may be planted out on vacant ground next March or April, so providing a succession to those planted out this autumn. These later plants come into bearing when the main crop is finished and provide useful cabbages in early summer.

 

What about TURNIP TOPS?

 

At this time of the year, it is well worth while to sow a row or two of turnips, not with the idea of producing roots, but to get a supply of green tops for use next spring. The seeds should be sown very thinly in rows 1 ft. apart. When the seedlings appear, thin fairly lightly in the early stages, as the plants have to undergo the winter and bad weather and pests may make inroads on them.

 

Later on they may be thinned again, as the plants require more room to develop. The variety Green Top Stone is very suitable for sowing to produce a supply of tasty, green leaves that will be valuable as an extra green crop in the difficult month of April.

 

BEET “tip”

 

Look at a sample root or two in your beet rows. You may find that some are getting old and “ringy.” If you sowed the seeds early in the year, it is quite possible that the beet are ready for lifting and would be much better lifted now and stored in damp sand or soil in an odd corner outdoors. The main crop should still be growing well at the moment, but some earlier roots may go past their best if left in the ground any longer.

 

 

 

FRUIT from the GARDEN

 

The shortage of fruit during the war has led many people to turn their minds in the direction of growing their own, especially apples. They have grown vegetables successfully, and feel they can grow fruit, too. Why not, if they have got the necessary space for a tree or two and perhaps some bush fruit? So here are a few notes about apple growing.

 

The aim should be to plant the a compact, restricted type of tree that is easy to handle, gives a quick return and takes up very little space. So keep to the cordon type or the bush tree. The cordon has a single straight stem, furnished with fruiting spurs along its entire length. It is the type for planting against a wall or a fence. The bush tree has a stem of about 20 in. before branching takes place, and eight to twelve branches grow in the form of a cup, leaving an open centre. This form should be chosen when planting in the open garden.

 

A cordon tree should be at least two or three years old when you buy it, since a tree of this age will already be furnished with fruit buds. A bush tree should be about four years.

 

Be careful when you buy fruit trees. Apples are propagated by budding or grafting scions of the selected variety on special root-stocks.
It is important that you should know this, for the root- stock has a marked influence on the growth of the tree, and so on the age at which it will start to bear.

 

If the root-stock is vigorous, growth will also be vigorous, you will have to do much pruning and fruit-bearing will be delayed; if, on the other hand, the tree has been propagated on a weaker growing root-stock, such as Type IX, growth will be less strong and the tree will come into bearing at an early age.

 

Reputable nurserymen use root-stocks whose habit is known; such root-stocks have been classified accordingly. So if your garden soil is in good heart and fertile, ask the nurseryman to supply apples on Malling Type IX, which is a weak growing stock. If, however, your soil is light and poor, ask for the tree to be on Malling Type II, a stock that produces a tree of medium vigour.

 

The choice of variety is also important for any particular variety behaves differently in different localities. For instance, Cox’s Orange—possible the most famous English dessert apple—does best in the south and in areas of low rainfall. It is not a good variety for planting in cold or wet districts. People’s tastes differ, too. The small gardener would do well to take the advice of his County Horticultural Superintendent or his local horticultural society about suitable varieties for local conditions. Here is a list of a few well-known varieties that can generally be relied on to do well in most districts, though some may not suit every condition throughout the country.

 

Dessert Apples Cooking Apples James Grieve *Rev. W. Wilks *Ellison’s Orange Lord Derby Allington Pippin Lane’s Prince Albert Laxton’s Superb *Crawley Beauth

 

The varieties marked with an * are self-fertile, and Crawley Beauty flowers very late, so being especially suited to districts subject to late frosts. If there is room for only one apple tree choose a self-fertile variety. Where two or more varieties are to be grown, select those that flower about the same time.

 

Planting operations will be dealt with in a later Guide.

 

Plant Certified Stocks

 

Good planting stock costs very little more than rubbish and in the long run it will prove less costly. Many of you will have been disappointed with the crops produced by those fruit bushes and plants that you have picked up cheap. You may be lucky now and again, but cheap stocks rarely give satisfaction. They will possibly introduce diseases and pests into your garden, and often they do not prove true to type. The best plan is to plants tocks that are certified true to variety and substantially free from pests and diseases.

 

Every season the Ministry of Agriculture examines stocks of strawberry plants and blackcurrant bushes, and issues certificates for those stocks that attain the standards laid down. The supply of certified stocks is limited, but it is worth while saying to your nurseryman, when you order, “Certified Stocks, please!” And you will find that certified stocks please.

 

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Supermarket Foods containing pestiside residues nearly doubles in decade in UK

I thought this was worth checking out and being aware of…Link is also below. This refers to the UK, but you may like to do your own investigation depending on which country you live in….

‘A massive proportion of our  everyday  food is contaminated with pesticide – with up to 98 per cent  of some  fruits carrying traces of the chemicals.

Almost half of all fresh produce is affected  by increasingly heavy use of the substances, a study of official figures has  revealed.

Overall, the proportion of supermarket foods  with pesticide residues has almost doubled in a decade.

Some 46 per cent of fresh fruit and  vegetables, such as grapes and apples, contained residues, up from 25 per cent  in 2003.

In terms of processed food, residues were  found in almost 97 per cent of flour and 73.6 per cent of bread.

In most cases the traces were below  internationally recognised safety levels, however critics argue many of the  substances are a known risk to human health and warn that the cumulative  ‘cocktail effect’ of even very low levels may be harmful.’ CLIP

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2405078/Up-98-fresh-food-carries-pesticides-Proportion-produce-residues-doubles-decade.html#ixzz2dLYBBNYZ

Chemicals

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The Beauty of Pollination

I am back from my travels and glad to be back, having had a lovely time catching up with family and friends. Here is a quick video for you that I think is very beautiful. I hope you enjoy it…sometimes we forget to wonder at Life in all its infinite variety.

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Grandads Garden August

We have blessed with fine weather here in the Scottish Highlands and the garden is looking well, I hope yours is too. The good lady wife has left it to me to post the August edition of Grandad’s Garden, she is slaving away in the kitchen as I write preparing for a visit from the youngest of the five children and his partner. He has just celebrated his 28th birthday which is making me feel a bit long in the tooth!

VOL. No. 8 AUGUST – 1945

‘This is the month of weeds Kex, charlock, thistle…Spurry, pimpernel, quitch…Making for trouble. This is the month of weeds.’

Before Roman holidays were popularised in these islands August was Weodmonath—the month of weeds. Nature probably realised that harvest would fully occupy man’s attention at this time of the year, and cunningly contrived for most of the wickedest weeds to shed their seeds. The Romans just helped things along by encouraging everyone who was not helping with the harvest, to sit in the sun—to take a holiday. And very pleasant too—when these islands held but a handful of people, but holidays are not for the gardeners in a population of 48 million people on an island in a world short of food and short of ships to carry it. So—first of all—keep the hoe going. What feeds a weed will feed a cabbage to feed you.

Even if there were no weeds there would still be plenty to do in the garden, for this is the time of gathering the fruits of labour. And careful harvesting is just as important as careful sowing and careful growing.

Dwarf, French and runner beans require frequent picking or they will grow tough and stringy. If you have more than you and your friends can eat now, remember that they can be easily salted down for winter use. Regular picking of runner beans helps to make a longer fruiting season. But do not pick any beans from the plants you may have selected for seed.

Pull and use early beet. If left in the ground too long the roots will become woody and stringy. Any early-sown carrots that remain should be used up quickly. Summer turnips are ready to use, and marrows and tomatoes should be gathered as they ripen. Onions are important enough to have a section to themselves (see page 51).

Pick herbs now—just before they flower. Gather shoots of thyme, sage, mint, marjoram, tarragon and parsley. Tie them in bundles, wash them, cover with muslin to keep out dust and hang to dry in an airy shed or near the fire. When thoroughly dry and crisp, crush to a mealy texture and store in lidded jars or bottles away from the light.

Your last chance TAKE STOCK

Now is the time to make sure of winter’s green stuff—to make good losses caused by pests or diseases—opportunity to sit down after that back-aching weeding—just sit and think—sit and make sure—it’s your last chance.

If you have not yet sown spring cabbage, do so at once or it will soon be too late. Do not sow in that part of the seedbed where spring sowings of cabbage were made this year. The soil may contain Cabbage Root Fly or the spores of Club Root. Sow seed thinly 1 in. deep in drills made 6 in. apart; sow enough to plant four rows of spring cabbage on the ground which will be left free after the onions are harvested.

Do not sow too many, but allow a small reserve for making good any losses after planting out in September. If possible, sow after rain; or if the soil is very dry, water the seedbed a few hours before sowing. Where space is confined, sow “Harbinger”, which is compact and hearty. Where more room is available “Early Offenham” and “Durham Early” are good varieties.

Sow late kale now where it is to mature, and thin as required during growth—it will give you a late green crop in March and April. Sow winter radish—they can be lifted and stored. Smooth- leaved Batavian endive, sown now and treated as lettuce, will last well into the winter, if it is blanched by tying up loosely with raffia and protected by a pot or box.

The main thing is to make sure of winter greens. Sow now for the lean months. If you are following the Ministry’s Cropping Plan, make yourself completely comfortable in a deck chair— and study it. If you have any gaps or corners to spare, fill them with winter greens.

Prepare for AUTUMN SOWINGS

Ground for winter lettuce and turnips should be prepared a week or two in advance. Avoid ground likely to become damp in the winter; lettuces can stand up to cold much better than to wet conditions.

Dig the ground over one spade’s depth and leave it for a week or more to settle. If the soil is poor, rake in a dressing of 1-11⁄2 oz. per square yard of National Growmore fertiliser. If the ground was not limed in the spring, dress with lime and fork in lightly immediately after digging, but do not apply at the same time as the fertiliser. Leave the ground alone until the lime is well washed in and then—just before sowing—apply the fertiliser and fork it in lightly.

For lettuce, tread the ground firmly and evenly and rake it down finely. Choose a variety suitable for winter and sow seed thinly in drills 3⁄4 in. deep and 1 ft. apart. When seedlings are large enough to be handled in late September and early October, they will be thinned out to 9 in. apart.

TOMATOES

Strong growth and plentiful flowers can be misleading. It is rare for us even in the best of summers to have the long spells of sunshine necessary to ripen more than four trusses of fruit. So “stop” the plants by pinching out the main growing shoot. Nip it off just above the fourth truss. Even if four trusses have not set, the stopping should be done by the third week of the month. There is nothing to be gained by leaving the plants to grow on.

Keep moisture at the roots. Allowing the soil to dry out and then trying to correct matters by soaking, only leads to split fruit. If you have the material, apply a generous mulch (see page 52) and do not let the soil surface cake hard. Keep feeding the plants, but do not overdo it; and especially at this stage avoid too much nitrogen—sulphate of ammonia or nitrate of soda— which will only promote rank growth and fruit that lacks flavour.

It also makes the plants less resistant to disease. Let the sun get at the fruit. This does not mean recklessly cutting out every leaf that is in the way. Remember that the leaves of plants play an important part in their nutrition. Remove any dead or withered leaves from the base, of course, and then carefully thin out, here and there, to uncover developing trusses. Keep a sharp lookout for any side shoots that you may have missed. Watch out also for blight (see June Guide) and give another spraying or dusting as a precaution.

Now is the time when the quality of plants tells. If yours are not all they should be, make a resolution to start with better stock next year. There are still too many over-forced weakly plants bought by the unwary.

ONIONS

A little meat goes a long way—with plenty of onions to flavour the dish. We shall need all the meat-stretching flavour we can harvest, and now is the critical time in the life of the spring-sown onion. On the care taken in lifting and ripening depends its ability to keep well in storage.

First step is to bend the tops over and then leave for about a fortnight while they shrivel. If you have some “bull-necks” which refuse to be bent, use them up in the kitchen in the next few weeks.

To lift, loosen the bulbs by pushing a fork into the soil well under them and lever then up.

Then lay the bulbs on their side with the under-surface and roots so placed as to catch the full sun. Now they must be thoroughly dried before you take them into the dry shed, spare bedroom or wherever you are going to store them.

If the month is a “baker,” the process should not take long—just lay the bulbs on firm ground or on a path until the skins are really dry. If the weather alternates between dry and wet, the onions much be lifted off the soil and the most made of the sunny spells by sheltering your onions on a home-made drying frame. Prop a piece of wire netting on four corner pegs, spread the bulbs on it, then above them—about 3 in. higher—prop a sheet of corrugated iron on four more pegs. The sun, when it comes, beats on the iron and warms the onions beneath ; the air circulates freely, and the crop ripens quickly and well.

Sow Onions

See that the soil is firm, and sow fairly quickly. Use varieties of the White Spanish type or those specially recommended for autumn sowing. In the North, the first week in the month is the time ; the third week is early enough down South.

Some growers divide their sowings, saving some of the seed till late December. They find that the December sowing produces fewer plants that run to seed. But whenever you sow, keep weeds firmly in check.

Hold that moisture

About 300 years ago, a scientist planted a willow shoot weighing 5 lb. in a barrel holding 200 lb. of dry soil for five years he gave it nothing but pure water. He finished with a fine tree weighing over 169 lb. and the soil had lost a trifling 2 oz., so he concluded that water was the “principle of vegetation.”

Other scientists have since found it isn’t quite as simple as that, but none of them has grown a plant without water. In fact it takes anything up to 1,000 lb. of water to produce a single pound of plant substance.

Plants are just as thirsty in August as human beings are though they are unable to trot into the kitchen or down the road. But they do have roots able to draw on the available moisture in the soil. It’s up to us to see that the moisture gets to the roots and not into the warm air.

Much can be done by timely hoeing to stop the soil cracking when it has been beaten down by heavy rains or watering. But a better way to keep the roots or peas, runner beans and tomatoes supplied with moisture is to spread a layer of half-rotted manure with plenty of straw in it, well- rotted compost material, or even decayed lawn-mowing’s, between the rows and around the plants. This is a mulch, but it is next to useless if you put it on already bone dry soil. Seize the moment after a fall of rain, or if the rain fails, give the ground a good soaking.

See that the mulch is open in texture: heavy impenetrable stuff keeps the air from the soil and may even tend to sour it. Watch your lawn-mowing’s specially. Mulching also helps to keep down the weeds.

STOP PEST NEWS

By this time in the year the patient gardener is prepared—or he should be— for anything in the nature of pests. This month’s particular unpleasantness may take the form of Cabbage Aphis on the members of the cabbage family. It is easy enough to recognize. Leaves begin to curl or crinkle; part of the leaf turns a paler green, and on the underside of the crinkled leaf is a mass of greyish-blue, powdery-looking insects busily sucking the vitality out of your plants and crippling them.

If these pests find their way into growing hearts of your young kales, sprouts or other green stuff, they may check the plants so badly that the crop will be very poor. You will probably find too that the Aphis has discovered your seedling rows of greenstuff.

The best remedy is to spray with a good nicotine insecticide, preferably one that contains soap or some other substance that acts as a “spreader” and keeps the nicotine on the leaves.

Force the spray well into the hearts of the plants. Where there are large colonies, it is worth while squashing the insects with finger and thumb before spraying—if you can “take it.” It is a messy business, but half measures are no good. Later sprayings at intervals of a few days will probably be necessary. The secret of control is to spray early enough and often enough.

WARNING

Nicotine and nicotine preparations are poisonous. Be sure to follow maker’s directions. On Summer Cabbage almost ready for cutting, or other vegetables intended for the table within ten days, use a derris spray instead.

Help on the GREENS

Give late autumn and winter greens a light dressing of National Growmore fertiliser round each plant, raked or hoed in. Apply this now—feeding after this month will make soft growth which will not stand the severe winter weather. Keep the ground firm round winter greens or they may fail to heart-up properly.

Look after the SEEDLINGS

Give seedlings of the cabbage family and turnips a light dressing of derris dust or naphthalene dust as soon as they show through. This early treatment works better against flea beetle attack than later applications. Continue to dust with derris during growth in seed bed.

Soot for CELERY

This is a vital moment in the life of celery. Earthing-up (see June Guide) should keep up with growth. The other main needs are soot and water. Soot is the best fertiliser for the crop. The older it is the better.

It can be used on the leaves or well watered into the soil as a manure. Do not try to produce luxuriant growth—it will probably be coarse. Aim to grow short, firm, stocky plants. Never let them get dry—water must be abundant during growth.

Those POTATO HAULMS

Every year when the early potatoes have been lifted, the question is asked “What shall I do with my potato tops?” The problem is whether to put them on the compost heap or not. The answer depends on two things, namely, how good is your compost heap and how free from disease are your potato tops?

If you have had an attack of blight, or any other disease that has affected the potato tops, the answer is simple—gather them up, all of them, and burn them. If your crop has been clean and you have the sort of efficient compost heap that heats up well, there is nothing against chopping up the haulms, with a sharp spade, while they are soft and green, and treating them as any other waste. In a good compost heap they will soon rot down. The main thing about potato haulms is not to leave them lying about.

Sow SPINACH…the real thing

Clever cooks, it is said, can make any vegetable into spinach. But, as with so much that cooks “make,” the concoction cannot provide the health-giving benefits of the real thing. And more important, the real thing tastes better.

For winter use, sow the prickly or rough-seeded variety thinly in drills 1 in. deep and 1 foot apart. If possible, avoid full sun.

Thin to 3 in. then to 6 in. apart as plants develop. The best flavoured plants are fairly big, with broad, crisp leaves about the size of a saucer—this means proper attention to thinning.

WASPS

Adjectives may relieve but they do not reduce the battalions. Traps do, especially if hung among the plum trees.

The only satisfactory way of dealing with wasps where they are causing damage to fruit is to find the nests in the neighbourhood and kill the colonies by poisoning.

There are various materials that can be used to destroy wasps in their nests. Some are dangerous in in-expert hands but ground Derris root is safe and is effective and simple to use. Put a dessert-spoonful of the powder as far into the entrance of the nest as possible, and also sprinkle a little round the entrance so that the wasps will get it on their feet and feelers when entering or leaving the nest.

Some people use tar, creosote, or paraffin successfully. The liquid must be poured well into the nest or a soaked rag or piece of sacking pushed in by means of a stick.

The best time for dealing with wasps’ nests is at dusk when most of the workers are inside. If desired, the nests may be dug out on the following day and destroyed by burning.

Trapping by means of jam-jars hung among the trees helps to reduce the population but is only a palliative. The jars should be half to three-quarters full of water into which a spoonful of jam has been stirred or a little stale beer added.

FRUIT PAGE

The early varieties of dessert apples will be ready for picking this month—”Beauty of Bath,” “Irish Peach” and “Gladstone.: These must be picked and used as soon as they are ripe or they lose flavour. Not all the fruit ripens at the same time, so it is worthwhile going over the trees at intervals of a few days. There is one right way—and many wrong ways—of picking apples. The sign of ripeness is the case with which the stalk parts company from the twig. Take the base of the apple in the palm of the hand and then raise it until it is horizontal. If it parts easily, it is ripe. If it fails to come away easily, let it gently back to its original place and leave for a few days. The great joy about early apple varieties is that, unlike Cox’s Orange Pippin and other late kinds, they do not have to mature after picking, and it is the owner’s pleasure to eat them at once.

Such delights may be especially welcome if, on going over your apple trees, you find that some apples have rotted. This is probably due to Brown Rot, a disease that destroys many tons of apples every year, and also affects plums. pears, quinces and cherries. Much of this loss can be prevented. The disease starts as a mere spot, where a slight bruise, cut or insect puncture has been invaded by disease spores, carried by wind, rain or insects. The spot gradually spreads into a soft brown patch, and at the same time small swellings under the skin break through as yellowish or buff-coloured growths — or pustules — usually in concentric circles.

These diseased fruits produce a crop of spores, which are carried to other fruits by flies and wasps. And so it goes on—an endless vicious cycle that can only be checked by strict hygiene on the part of growers.

Collect from apple and plum trees and under the trees, all fruit that shows the slightest sign of the disease. Burn it. Go over the trees, especially the soft-wooded varieties of apple such as “Lord Derby” and “James Grieve,” and cut out all dead or dying spurs along with any cankers. Collect and burn. Keep an eye open in the winter for “mummied” fruit left on the trees—gather and burn it.

Special care is necessary when picking apples for storing. Brown Rot is liable to set in wherever there is a wound or bruise, and a favourite place of entry is the slight wound made if the stalk is torn out. So pick with the stalks on. Do not attempt to store any fruit showing signs of the disease. It will spread. And clean up under the trees. It is from mummified fruit on the trees and from rotten apples lying about that the first spore invasion usually starts.

Summer fruiting Raspberries should be pruned as soon as the last fruit has been picked. Cut out all the canes that have borne fruit. Cut them right down at ground level. leaving no snags to become resting and breeding places for pests and diseases. Burn all cut-out canes. If your canes are supported by wires, tie up the new canes, 5 or 6 in. apart, with raffia or soft string.

The same sort of treatment should be given to Blackberries and Loganberries. Cut out fruited shoots and thin out weak new growths, and any showing purplish spots (signs of the disease Cane Spot). Keep about 6 or 8 of the strongest shoots and tie them in.

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Grandads Garden July

The good lady wife has been rather preoccupied of late, having started a new embroidery. She has therefore left it to me to post the July blog of Granddad’s Garden, albeit three weeks late:

 

VOL. 1 No. 7 JULY – 1945

“The summer looks out from her brazen tower, Through the flashing bars of July.”

 

Well, given that kind of July weather––though with our climate we can never be sure––we shall feel like taking a snooze in the deck chair or lying down under a tree, instead of getting on with those gardening jobs that must be done. But we must not make the mistake of thinking that this month the garden can be left to take care of itself. For the weeds grow as well as the vegetables, and pests and diseases can quickly spread, if not checked at the start. So even if you feel like “just a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep,” don’t indulge that feeling too often, and do keep that hoe going, to check the weeds.

And watch out for those pests. For instance, the “Cabbage White” butterfly is now on the wing; too soon its caterpillars may be gorging on your green-stuff. Your first method of attacking these garden enemies is to destroy the colonies of eggs by crushing them between thumb and forefinger. It’s not a pleasant job but it must be done. Then, if the caterpillars do appear, destroy them by hand-picking, or dust or spray with Derris (see April Guide). Some people complain that they have tried derris dust with little or no effect. Well, either the dust was too old and had lost its killing property, or only one dusting was given. As successive broods of caterpillars hatch out, further dustings are necessary; fresh derris applied as soon as caterpillars are seen will help to control them. A dusting machine is a great convenience and the dust should be applied when there is dew on the leaves. Always try to get the dust right into the centre of the plants.

 

It is infuriating to go out one evening and find your cabbage plants suddenly wilting one by one. On digging up one of them you will probably find white grubs feeding on the roots. They are the grubs of the cabbage root fly; once the plant is attacked the only thing to do is to dig it out and burn it. The right thing to do is to apply a ring (1⁄2 teaspoonful) of 4 per cent. Calomel dust round each young plant of the cabbage family as you plant it out. This will put paid to the trouble.

 

The Turnip Flea Beetle may also be on the warpath, eating holes in your cabbage and turnip plants. It has caused gardeners trouble for centuries and is most troublesome during dry weather. Some old hands believe in the cold water cure, and give the plants a good soaking every night until they are about 6 in. high. But that’s not possible on some allotments, so derris, nicotine or napthalene dust should be used, as recommended in the April Guide. And dust often till the leaves are well formed.

And don’t forget that what you do––or fail to do––this month, will determine how well or badly off your family will be for winter greens in the lean period from next February onwards.

Now having made up our minds to keep going at the job, let’s have a look at some of the things we might do about our growing crops, before we get on to further sowings and plantings.

 

Crops that need water

 

We shall probably need to be economical again this summer. It is difficult to lay down hard and fast rules about watering vegetables, and the gardener must use his own judgment. Newly transplanted seedlings may suffer seriously if water is withheld. But established plants may suffer if watered only at irregular intervals.

Once you start watering you must carry on, so if the plants are holding their own in a dry spell, it is unwise to begin widespread watering unless you can do it regularly.

Assuming the water supply situation is reasonably good, crops that specially benefit by watering are runner beans, celery, marrows (especially on mounds) and tomatoes.

 

Planting out LEEKS

 

You can plant leeks from mid-June to mid-August, but July is the time recommended in the Ministry’s cropping plan. Many gardeners plant them on ground cleared of peas. If you have sown leeks in your seedbed, the seedlings should be lifted when about 6 in. high. If the soil is dry, soak the seedbed before lifting. Lift carefully with a fork; it is usual to cut off the tips of the leaves before planting out.

 

Plant in rows 12 to 18 in. apart, 9 in. between plants. Drop each plant into a hole at least 6 in. deep, made with a blunt dibber. Water in to wash soil round the roots, but don’t fill the hole with soil. The sketches show how to plant. Although hardy, the soil should be drawn up to crops in the autumn to give some protection from severe frost and to help in bleaching.

 

Feed your ONIONS

 

Early July is the best time to provide some extra rations for onions that have not had the advantage of heavy manuring before sowing or planting. A good general fertiliser such as “National Growmore” is safe and effective. The ideal time to apply any fertiliser is during showery weather; and if showers are lacking, do not fail to hoe in the fertiliser and water thoroughly. Artificial manures of all sorts are more of a danger than a help when spread on dry ground, but their action is very soon seen when rain descends or when artificial watering has been well done. Not more than two applications of fertiliser should be given to the onion bed.

 

The ideal to aim at is hard, well-ripened bulbs––not mere size, for the medium bulbs will keep better than the big ones. Late manuring with artificials only prolongs the growing period and makes ripening all the later and more difficult, so give no artificials after mid-July.

 

Earthing up BRUSSELS

Draw a little soil up round the stems about a week after planting. Remember, Brussels sprouts like very firm ground.

 

Getting ‘RUNNERS’ to set

 

Syringe the plants, and particularly the flowers, with water during hot weather to encourage the beans to form. And pinch out the growing tips of the main shoots when the plants have reached the tops of the sticks.

 

 

 

Harvesting SHALLOTS

 

Shallots are ready for harvesting when the foliage has begun to wither. You then lift the little bunches of bulbs and leave them on the surface to dry off. But if the ground is heavy and moist, lay them out along a dry surface, such as a path, for a few days, for they must be well ripened and perfectly dry before storing. Or if you have got a strip of wire netting, you could dry them on this, raising it slightly from the ground to let a current of air pass beneath them. Then tie them into bundles or lay them in trays or boxes, and store in a dry, frost-proof, airy shed. Look them over from time to time and throw out and decaying bulbs.

 

Try a row of SPINACH BEET

 

If you have not sown a row of spinach beet or seakale beet earlier, try a row now. Either is a valuable vegetable and often survives the winter better than any other green crop. Sow the seeds in drills about 1 in. deep and allow 8 in. between plants. Always use spinach beet when the leaves are young and tender.

 

Sow those TURNIPS

 

If you are following the Ministry’s cropping plan, now is the time to sow turnips for storing on ground cleared of early potatoes, which should be in good condition for roots, as it will have been well worked during the past month or two. The rows should be 1 ft. apart and the seed sown about 1 in. deep.

 

Sow for succession

 

Sow lettuce every 10 or 14 days. And while you are about it, don’t forget to make another sowing of parsley, for the experts tell us we don’t eat nearly enough for our health’s sake. Drills should be 1⁄2 in. deep;

 

Sowing SPRING CABBAGE

 

Of all early vegetables we look forward with most pleasure, perhaps, to our first cutting of spring cabbage. There is a delicacy, texture and flavour about it that no cabbage can aspire to at any other period of the year.

 

At the end of the month sow the seeds. Instead of sowing in a drill, try for once sowing broadcast on a small plot. Some people think you get far better plants that way. The seeds are sometimes sown far too thickly in drills and very poor plants result.

Don’t waste that SUMMER WASTE

 

At this time of year garden “waste” is generally fairly plentiful and should not be wasted. Pea stems, potato haulms, outside lettuce leaves, the last of the rough leaves from spring cabbage, grass cuttings and the like should be made into compost, which, later on, you will dig back into your soil to maintain its fertility. How to make a compost heap was described in the March Guide.

 

There are some people who seem to think that the compost heap is a new idea, introduced because farmyard manure is hard to come by. It is no novelty, for the gardening books of a century or more ago mentioned it; long before it was called “compost” the value of decayed vegetable refuse was well known and understood, particularly by the professional gardener.

 

CARROTS

If you would like to experiment with carrots, try sowing the seed broadcast in a broad flat drill 1 in. deep, instead of in the usual narrow drill.

Late-sown carrots usually escape the attention of the carrot fly.

 

Those GREEN CROPS for next winter

 

During the summer, when the weather does not always provide those rainy periods at the time we need them most, we gardeners have to be swift to act and seize the right moment to do our various jobs of sowing and planting. When a fall of rain has brought the surface soil into just the right state for planting, all other garden work should be set aside to make the most of an opportunity that may not come again until the seedling plants have passed the best stage for planting out. If nature fails to oblige, then we have to choose between waiting for rain and risking the plants remaining in the seed-beds, or watering the ground thoroughly before planting. With kale and sprouting broccoli, two very useful vegetables for after Christmas, this is a decision we often have to make.

 

The middle of the month is the time to plant them, in rows 2 ft. apart each way; if there is sufficient room, allow 2 ft. 6 in. each way. The Ministry’s plan for a 300 sq. yd. plot recommends two rows of each, which should provide a good supply of green-stuff lasting well into next spring.

 

These brassicas should be planted in a shallow drill about 2 in. deep and 3 or 4 in. wide. This not only helps to direct moisture towards the roots of the plants, but it makes it easier to draw soil up to the stems, thus helping to keep the plants from blowing over on gusty days later in the season.

The Ministry’s plan also provides for three rows of winter cabbages, and mid-July is the time for planting them out (2 ft. apart each way) in the shallow drills already described.

 

If you have grown your own plants in a seed-bed, lift them carefully with a fork, aiming at getting them out with as much soil as possible adhering to the roots. Should the weather be dry, give the seed-bed a good soaking the night before you lift. This applies to all your brassicas.

 

The sketches on planting cabbage may help you. If you have to plant in dry ground, water each hole before planting, cover in with soil and again water. Half-a-pint of water should be sufficient for each plant.

Always make sure that your cabbage plants are firmly planted by testing one or two here and there as you go along the rows.

If you pull the plant by the edge of a leaf, the part between your finger and thumb should tear away. But if you pull the plant up, you are not planting firmly enough.

 

Early-sown savoys will be reaching the stage when they should be transplanted. But it is not wise to have this crop in bearing too early in the winter, and if the larger plants are put out 2 ft. apart this month, the smaller seedlings could be transplanted 6 in. apart in an odd corner and allowed to grow on for a time before you finally put them in their permanent quarters, perhaps as late as the end of July or early in August.

 

On saving your own SEED

 

Some gardeners like having a shot at something new––seed saving, for example. Those who have not hitherto experimented in this direction might like to try it out. But it is well that they should know that while a few kinds of vegetable seeds can safely be saved by the amateur, others are best left to the experts.

 

You know that all flowering plants need pollen to fertilise the female part of the plant, so that it can produce seed. Some plants are fertilised by their own pollen, while others have to get it from another plant. Broadly, those that fertilise themselves are “safe”‘ those that need pollen from another plant should be left to the professional seed grower. Why? Well, you may be growing, say, a cabbage for seed in your garden, while another gardener not far away may be growing a Brussels sprout for seed. The wind or the bees may bring pollen from your neighbour’s plant to your own––and your plants next year would be an unbelievable mixture, yet would be useless to you.

 

Now, if that were to happen in your garden, how much more serious would it be if you were to allow one of your cabbages to flower and produce seed near a commercial grower’s field of Brussels sprouts growing for seed. It might cause immense trouble and ruin the quality of his seed. The only “safe” vegetables for seed-saving purposes are peas, beans of all kinds, onions, leeks, tomatoes, lettuce, ridge cucumbers and marrows.

 

Now is the time to mark the plants you intend to save. The best and easiest way is to tie a label on part of your rows of peas and beans and leave all the pods on the plants in that section for seed. Don’t pick any at all for the kitchen. So often gardeners leave the last few pods on their plants. These are usually small, weakly pods and do not give really good seed. If you remember that one-tenth of your pea and bean crop should give you sufficient seed to sow a similar area again next year, you will be able to judge how many plants to leave.

 

Most allotment rows are 30 ft. long, so of your peas you would need to have 3 ft. at one end of the row. Runner beans are usually a little more prolific, so one-twentieth of each row is usually enough to save for next year’s sowing.

 

One good lettuce plant should give you all the seed you will need. Mark and label the best plant you have. Don’t choose one that has “bolted” or run to seed instead of making a good large heart. It may produce offspring that will do the same thing next year and then you would get very few lettuces worth cutting. If the heart is very hard and firm, make a cut with a knife in the shape of a cross on the heart. Don’t cut too deeply, but just through the first three or four layers of leaves. This will make it easy for the flower head to push its way up. That is all you need to do for the present.

 

If you spring planted any of last season’s onions and left leeks in the ground for seed, they will be coming into flower now. See that the stems, which are very brittle, are tied securely to stakes, but otherwise there is nothing to do to them until the end of September, for onions, and/or mid-October, for leeks. A later Guide will tell you how to harvest the seed.

 

When your marrows are bearing fruits, pick out one good-sized fruit and scratch the word “seed” on it with a pencil. When your tomatoes are carrying good trusses of fruits, pick out a good, shapely truss, mark it with a piece of raffia and watch this Guide for further advice.

 

The plants that you have selected for seed saving should be inspected carefully to see that they do not develop disease in any way. Leave the pods or fruits to ripen as long as possible. But with lettuces, as soon as you see little tufts of fluff forming on the seed heads, pick them and put them in a shallow cardboard box or a seed-box with a sheet of paper on the bottom. You may have to look at your lettuce plant every day when it is nearing the ripening stage, as a sudden heavy downpour of rain may wash all the seeds on to the ground, if they have reached the fluffy stage. In rainy periods it is best to pull the lettuce plant up, when nearing the harvest stage; put it in a newspaper and finish the ripening in a warm room.

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