Tuesday 5 March 2013

Victory Garden - February - Pruning & Planting

I am aware that we have now silently slipped into March, but as there is still plenty of time to get planting those early crops, I figured it was still ok to post this, somewhat belatedly.

Now that I have worked out where everything will be going and (as of Saturday) have reached the end of my second section of digging (WHOOP!), it's time to see what other jobs lay ahead for February/early March. In all the information I've read, February is the month to maintain your overwintering crops, prune fruit trees and bushes, plant a few early seeds and of course dig! Thankfully as I have nothing growing currently, it cuts my jobs right down to digging, pruning and planting!
Just one more section to dig over!!!!
Something I should be doing whilst digging is adding manure to the soil to help the crops in the coming year. Here again, I have a problem, manure at our plot is delivered very occasionally, and when it does arrive it tends to vanish quicker than an ice cube in the Sahara! By the time I pitch up on the weekend the only sign that it was ever there, are a few stray clumps and some straw floating about in the breeze. I honestly never knew horse dung could be so popular, I certainly was not so enamoured with it when I spent my days mucking the stuff out!


Now that I have moved most of my fruit bushes, it is time to prune them. Ideally this should have been done earlier, but as I have moved them and disturbed their roots, it's best that I cut back some of the top growth, so that they can concentrate on establishing a firm base in their new home (almost sounds like I know what I am talking about, don't it). I have got to say pruning is the one thing that terrifies me slightly, I am sure I have said it before, but I will say it again I am no great gardener, any knowledge that I have so far all comes from my plant obsessed parents and as the are not here to scream 'not that Much at me I have had to go with instinct.
Gooseberry Bush Before & After Pruning
 Apparently, when pruning gooseberry bushes you want to create a goblet shape by removing internal branches and cutting back the remaining by a third.


So, on to what is essentially the second best part of veg growing, the first being eating your produce (obviously), buying and planting the seeds! I had planned to go wholeheartedly into finding only variety's which were available in and around the 30s and 40s but I have really struggled to find seed. So annoyingly I have had to opt for modern varieties for now, but I will keep looking!

Februarys seed and set buying!

Broad Beans

Wartime Seed Verities: Early Magazan, Broad Windsor, Seville Longpod, Eclipse, Giant four-seeded Windsor, Harlington.

The earliest and often most successful crops of broad beans are obtained by sowing in autumn (but not in the North, unless protected by frames or cloches): but a second sowing can be made during February. The broad bean does best on land manured for a previous crop, such as potatoes. It is best to sow two lines of seed to each row, with 6 in. between the seeds and 2 ft. 6 in. between the rows. Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide Vol. 02 1945
I remember utterly hating these as a child, age has given me some more perspective and though they are still not my favourite vegetable, I will happily eat them, especially since I've grown them myself!

Bunyards Exhibition & Masterpiece Green Longpod.
Rather than following the Ministries advice, to plant them directly into the soil, I have opted to plant my seeds at home in seed trays, so that I can keep a close watch over them while they grow (far too excited to not watch over them). I struggled to find out into books which way up I needed to plant them, it seems that you should instinctively know (or it doesn't matter), but after the customary phone call to my green fingered Parents, I was ready to go. My Mums wise words were

"Oh, just plant them on their side, they'll figure out which way up they want to be"


Bunyards Exhibition


Wartime Seed Verities: Appleton's Crimson, Appleton's Red, Early Albert, Linnaeus, The Sutton, Victoria, Dawes Champion, Hawkes Champagne.

Rhubarb likes deeply-dug and well-manured ground (use compost if you cannot get manure), for the plants usually have to stay put for several years. Plant in a sunny spot about 2 ft. apart, and do not pull any of the stalks from plants divided this year. Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide Vol. 02 1945 
Red Champagne Rhubarb
I loooove Rhubarb, so I have bought two small rhubarb tubers from Sainsbury for bargain £2! I am not sure yet where I will plant them on the plan, so, for now, I have potted them up in a tub in my garden. I can't wait till they get big enough to be picked, I know I have a year at least to wait, but I'm already dreaming of Rhubarb Crumble and Custard...Yum!


Wartime Seed Verities: Ryder's Giant, True Shallot, Russian Shallot, Dutch Shallot, Jersey or False Shallot, Yellow Shallot.
...shallots are a sort of hardy perennial onion grown annually from small bulbs or "sets". You can also grow shallots from seed, but these bulbs are really small onions and are useless for replanting and should be used up each year.
Plant in rows 1 ft. apart and 6 in. or 9 in. between the bulbs, leaving the top of each bulb just showing above soil level. Crops are usually mature by early July and should be taken up, carefully dried and stored. Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide Vol. 02 1945

I struggled to find variety's of shallots listed in the wartime publications and the one I did find appears not to be available so I have settled for some from the 99pStore called Golden Gourmet, which sounds good to me!


Wartime Seed Verities: Long-Standing Summer, Round-Leafed Victoria & Prickly, King of Denmark, Monstrous Viroflay, Reliance, Blanchford's New Prickly, Giant Lettuce Leaved, Long Standing,The C.O.
The Ministry's cropping plan suggests that summer spinach (for those who like it) should be sown in mid-April. But if you wish, you can make successional sowings from February to May in drills 1 in. deep and 12 in. apart. Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide Vol. 02 1945 
I have decided to wait until a little later in the year to plant my spinach, this is purely because I forgot to buy the seeds! I will be remedying this today so should be raring to go when the next planting comes around.


Wartime Seed Verities: Arran Pilot, Duke of York, Epicure, Arran Banner, Gladstone, Majestic, King Edward, Great Scott.
If you haven't ordered your seed potatoes, do so at once. As soon as they reach you, set them up to sprout (rose end uppermost) in shallow boxes in a cool (though frost-proof), dry shed, where they can get plenty of light and produce the short, sturdy shoots that make for earliness and high yield. Don't let them get even slightly chilled, for that's enough to kill the "eyes". Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide Vol. 02 1945 

I have set my potatoes up to chit in a chocolate box which is currently sitting on the dining room table, I know I am classy! I have been lucky with my choice of potato verities, I've picked Duke of York, Marris Piper and King Edward which are all varieties available during the wartime period, and yes you guessed it they all came from the 99p Store too!

Just Chitting, me ta'toes!

All of my planting was done under the watchful and seriously unimpressed gaze, of our little grumpy cat puss Beau!
Do you know what you're doing? You should be planting these!
Could he look anymore unimpressed with my gardening skills!

So I am all ready to crack on with March, I really can't wait for things to start sprouting. I say roll on Spring!!

Wendy x


  1. Oo exciting! Look forward to seeing the fruits (& veg!) of your labour!

  2. Can't wait to see it all come to life!

  3. Thank you Ladies! I know I am far too excited to get spring started!

  4. I wish for the great of success in all of our destiny endeavors