Monday 22 April 2013

The Victory Garden - March - We dig dig dig dig...

"March winds and April showers, Bring forth the May flowers."

I think it's about time I filled you all in on March progress in The Victory Garden. Late again I know but as the weather seems to be about three weeks behind what it should be this year, I have had to put some of my plans on hold. March, it is said, comes in like a Lion and goes out like a lamb, well not this year. Oh no, winter has been in full roar through all of March and most of April, though I have fingers crossed that this weekend's warm weather is set to last!
Cold and frosty Morning!
Thankfully the upside to the cold and frosty weather is that I have almost reached the end of my digging, just a smallish strip left to do, I couldn't be more pleased! Though I do feel that I've turned into one of Snow White's Dwarf's as I can not get Hi Ho out of my head, and judging by how tired I am feeling as I type this it's probably going to be a close call, between grumpy and sleepy :)

"We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig, we dig the whole day through!"
Whilst I am sadly, not digging up 'diamonds by the score'  I did find a gold engine turned cross, which was a nice sparkly surprise amongst the mud. I am guessing it belonged to one of the last tenants, perhaps the Portuguese ex-farmer who had the plot prior to the hoarder lady we took over from, either way, it's now mine!
Some pretty shards of pottery and a golden machine turned Cross.
As I said above, having such a chilly March has meant that the plants, which should be planted out by now are still either sitting patiently waiting in their packets or have been put in my cold frame, in the hopes that the occasional burst of sunshine will spark them into life.

My February planted Broad Beans are only just beginning to show signs of life, which is actually quite a relief as I had thought they had rotted away. I am regretting not labelling up the trays to identify which verify is which, as they are all completely muddled up, I am just hoping when they get a bit bigger I might be able to tell the difference.

Over the last few years of vegetable growing I have acquired quite a seed stash and as I have had a bit of a struggle finding many of the varieties I would like to plant, I have decided to be frugal and make do by using up the seed I already own, I have actually been quite surprised to find a few heritage varieties lurking in my stash!

Wartime Seed Varieties: Cambridge Early No.1, Cambridge Late No. 5, Cambridge Main Crop No. 3, Clucas' Favourite ,Darlington, Dwarf Gem, Harrison's XXX or XXXX, Laxton's Improved, Rearguard, Rouslench Early, Rouslench Late, Timperley's Champion, The Wroxton, Pride of The Market, Matchless, Little Gem.
"A small packet of seed is enough for each of the cabbage family. Seed may be sown in seedbed drills about 1-1/2 in. deep––1 ft. apart––from third week in March to end of April. Sow thinly, allowing 1/8 in. between each seed. To protect seedlings from birds use black cotton or wire guards and do it immediately after sowing." Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide Vol. 03 1945
'Evesham Special'
I have planted a whole seed tray of Brussels, partly because I utterly adore them, and partly because I have had terrible luck in the past getting them to germinate, fingers crossed this year I have better luck!


Wartime Seed Varieties: Prizetaker, Walton Mammoth London Flag, Musselburgh, Rentons Monarch, The Lyon, Emperor.
"Sow thinly in mid-March in shallow seedbed drills." Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide Vol. 03 1945
'Autumn Giant 3' from Wilkinsons
Again I am sewing my seed into trays and I will then transplant them when the are big enough to fend for themselves.


Wartime Seed VarietiesAll the Year Round, Feltham King, Lobjoit’s Green Cos, Arctic King, Stanstead Park, Hardy Winter White Cos, Webb's Wonderful, Tom Thumb, Black Seeded and Jumbo.
"Begin in March to sow very thinly in drills, half a row at a time, 1/2 in. deep, the rows being 1 ft. apart. Continue to sow at fortnightly intervals until July. March-sown lettuces attract slugs, so line the surface as a deterrent." Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide Vol. 03 1945
I have put planting my Lettuce on hold until it is just a little bit warmer as I want to plant it directly into the soil. I have my seed at the ready Tom Thumb which I bought from Premier Seed Direct on eBay.


Wartime Seed Varieties: The Student, Tender & True, Hollow Crown, Dobbies Select, Improved Hollow Crown, Lisbonnais.
"May be sown from mid-February to mid-March. The Ministry's cropping plan (300 square yards) provides fro three rows. Soil for parsnips should always be deeply dug and worked to a fine surface tilth before sowing. Sow in drills 15 in. apart and 1 in. deep, dropping the seed in small clusters of three or four, 6 in. apart. Thin seedlings of each cluster so as to leave only one." Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide Vol. 03 1945.
'Hollow Crown' from Wilkinsons & 'White Gem' from the 99pStore
I want to plant two rows one of each variety this year.My first row of 'White Gem' is already in as I planted it last weekend, which was rather more fun/difficult than I expected as it was very windy and the seeds are very light they kept blowing out of my hand and off to the neighboring plot holders seed beds!


Wartime Seed Varieties: Alaska, Alderman, Blue Bird, Blue Prussian, Early Bird, Essex Star, Harrisons Glory, Kelvedon Wonder, Laxtons Supurb, Lincoln, Meteor, Onward, Pilot, Senator, Standard, Thomas Laxton, Timperly Wonder.
"NEVER SOW PEAS IN WET SOIL Wait until it is just nicely moist and works freely. Sow in broad, flat drills from 2 to 2-1/2 in. deep, made with either draw-hoe or spade.  Don't just scatter the seeds slapdash in the drill: set them out in three rows (as illustrated) allowing about 3 in. each way between seeds. This may sound unnecessarily finicky, but it is worth it and the job takes only a few extra minutes." Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide Vol. 03 1945
'Alderman' & 'Lincoln' - Thompson & Morgan and 'Sugar Bon' from Homebase
I have some seed left over from our first year of planting which luckily are still to date, and are from fortunately from Thompson & Morgan heritage selection! I have planted up a seed tray of each (about 12 seeds of each) and will be planting some more once they have germinated so that I have a constant supply of Peas this summer.


Wartime Seed VarietiesBedfordshire Champion, Ailsa Craig, Rousham Park Hero, Up to Date, Giant Zittau, White Lisbon, Improved Banbury, James' Long Keeping, Potato Onion, Rousham Park, Hero Sutton's Globe and Giant Rocca, The Queen, Unwins Reliance, Silver Skinned.
"The Ministry's cropping plan provides for eight rows of onions. There are three ways of growing them for storage:––
1. by sowing seed under glass or in warm frames in January and February, and transplanting in April;
2. by sowing seed in the open in February or March;
3. by sowing in early autumn and transplanting in March." Ministry of Agriculture Allotment & Garden Guide Vol. 03 1945
'Stuttgarter' from the 99pStore
I have been umming and erring over planting these in the allotment knowing full well the weather has not really warm enough, thankfully after watching Gardeners World last weekend, something I really should do more often, Monty Don suggested planting onions and shallot sets into small sectioned seed trays to start them growing!

So that was March in The Victory Garden, I had better get cracking on Aprils planting now the weather has taken a turn for the better, I get the feeling I am soon going to be somewhat overwhelmed with baby plants, how exciting!

Wendy x


  1. This is fantastic! I love watching seed grow. I do wish we had more of a backyard to plant more but for now our little backyard will do.

    1. Thank you :) I must say I get quite excited when the seedlings start to pop through the soil, clearly I am far to easily pleased :)

  2. I saw some ladies on the telly a year or three back who took pieces of broken china they had found and made jewellery out of them xxx

    1. Oh what a fabulous idea, I can't help but collect up the bits, like a magpie, it would be wonderful to make some use out of them! xx

  3. Looks like you are going to have some yummy veg this year! We have or rather I have decided to try and get the garden to look 1950's garden, our house was built in 1955 so thought that would be rather nice.
    Julie xxxxxxxxx

    1. What a fabulous idea, I am sure it will look really great! xxx

  4. I enjoyed reading this post as I have an allotment too! Today I have sown some seeds: two rows of mange-tout and a row of broad beans, but have put cloches over them to keep some heat in and protect from frost.I normally do this with carrots too, especially as it keeps carrot-fly off. I'm looking forward to seeing some more photos of your plot over the next few months. P.S. Have you thought of looking up the hallmarks on the cross on the internet to date it? Just a thought.

    1. Thank you!! Yours sounds wonderful, I really need to get myself some cloches, it would make life much easier, not having to transplant as much! What a good Idea, I can just see a hallmark but its soo small I need to get a magnifier on it to make it out, but I will do some detective work xx

  5. I love hearing about how your allotment is going! It's so exciting that your beans have started to grow. I may be growing my own things soon - my boss brought in basil seeds so I can start growing them on my window cill. At the moment I have some flowers, which I bought fully grown (but which I have managed to keep alive so far!) and some spider plants, which I took from babies and got to grow roots. Next step is definitely trying something from seed! But I'm not sure I can grown anything as exciting as parsnips and leeks on my cill...

    1. That sounds great, I do love basil, it smells as lovely as it tastes! I admire your plant rearing, I have never managed to keep a spider plant alive yet, (partly why may parents were shocked when I got an allotment)I think I give them too much attention and kill them with kindness, well thats my excuse :) xx

  6. I planted potatoes and onions last weekend. This week is going to be all about getting the peas in, or it was going to be all about peas but they are threatening frost again by the weekend!?!

    1. Oooh I still have to get my spuds in, I must say I am finding this weather very tiresome, its making me fee l much less organised than I had hoped, fingers crossed we will get a good summer as compensation:) xx

  7. Allotment love! The weather has held us back too, but nolonger!! I am mid flow of putting in the seeds, glad I have a greenhouse though. Your allotment is looking rather tidy and glorious.

  8. How exciting! I wish I was greenfingered, you must have such a sense of accomplishment when it all starts coming together :) Not to mention the satisfaction of eating your own super tasty veg! xx

  9. I absolutely love this series of posts. My dad is a trained horticulturalist and I spent many happy school holidays giving him a hand on the land. The girls have planted tomatoes, runner beans and potatoes but my oldest, having seen all the tasty things you are growing, wants to plant more!! :-)

  10. Oooh, looks like it's coming along. I'm hoping that my garden will be cleared of all the rubble from the chimney over the next month so I can get organising in time for late planting. I love your garden posts, it's inspiring to see your progress and I'm excited to see how your harvest goes!