Dig On For Victory

Pumpkins and Runner Beans sown.
Pumpkins and Runner Beans sown.

This week I had my GCSE English exam – I had a D when I had taken it originally back in 1998 but I am gunning for a minimum of a C this time as this is a requirement for teacher training. Well the exam was on Tuesday the day after my last post. It went well and I feel I have done enough to achieve my minimum target. But that is not all to my day. And a busy one it was. After the exam I went and got my haircut. It does feel great cutting off the mop that I called a haircut for the last 2 months. But it is now a short and respectful style once again.

Once that was done I popped home for some lunch and then went straight back out to the local garden centre. As I need to start planning what to grow in the garden for my Dig For Victory campaign. It is getting late in the season so I am running out of time to get things going however, I have now got some Runner Beans and Pumpkin seeds in pots and in the cold frame and can’t wait to see them come up. Along with these I have beetroot and radishes to go in once the ground is clear and I am going to try to see if I can get some leeks and parsnips growing. Now, many of you are probably think that it is a bit late for this time of year. Well I plan to try it. If it grows it grows. The pack had a lot of seeds in them so I will have plenty to get in the ground for next year if all else fails.

Along with this my mother has donated some of her tomatoes plants and (maybe) some corn that are spare so the will be other things going into the garden over the next week or so. The runner beans should still have some life by the Railway at War weekend and I hope the pumpkins – while it may not have been a big choice back in WW2. I am sure that if a WW2 gardener had the seeds they would have planted them too even if was not on the list from the Ministry of Agriculture. And with the swelling yellow pumpkins, it should give a wonderful splash of colour to the entrance of the railway at the end of September where the other plants having flowered already are beginning to prepare for winter. And who knows I may still have a few late toms too.

“Potatoes and beans are munitions of war as surely as are bullets and shells”

Dig On For Victory by C.H. Middleton – printed in 1945

Last week I bought two books I had my eye on for some time now. One originally printed in 1941 and another in 1945. Both written by a fellow county-man – born near Ecton, Northamptonshire – C.H. Middleton. Mr Middleton was the Alan Titmarsh of his day and championed the Dig for Victory campaign in the UK. His main interest is that of flowers; however with the onslaught of war Mr Middleton turned his hand to the vegetables and gave advice to his listeners on his BBC World Service show (around 3 million) and via his books. The first was Your Garden in War-Time (I managed to get this for 4p via the Amazon.co.uk market 😉 ), this was based on his radio show and the other is Dig On For Victory. Both give some excellent advice and only a few of his suggestions are now considered out of date with the use of various chemicals I have found reading these over the last few days teaching more about gardening than any other book I have read on the subject. The books are giving me a great insight into the war-time gardeners mind and what needs to be done to hopefully recreate the feel of a war-time garden.

Gardening on the cheap

Makeshift canes
These make shift canes I hope will add a nice rustic charm to the project.

Of course I also don’t have a lot of money to spare to this project. So I am trying to find ways of doing this cheaply as much as I can. One of the ways is saving money on canes. Canes are great for growing things up, beans for example, but bamboo canes cost money. The school I work at however had recently been cutting some branches of the trees near the staff room. They are just about the right height and strong enough to use. I have been given permission to take these and I am now turning them into canes. They being part of an old tree are not what you call straight and do look odd with the shape of them (bamboo would look a lot more uniform) however there is a rustic charm to these and I think will look great once I get them up and the beans start climbing up them over the next month or so.

If anyone is reading this and you have your own suggestions on the project and how to garden on the cheap please leave a comment and share with others as I am sure others would like to know too.