December Notes

Well, here we are in November again; Guy Fawkes and his gang of plotters have been locked up in the Tower of London, awaiting their fate. In the garden our bonfires have also been lit, with the aim of burning up dead plant tops and prunings, which in turn will provide us with some valuable wood/bonfire ash for spreading on the garden. This is a valuable source of the plant food ‘potash’ which is so important, as it aids the fruiting and flowering ability of our vegetables and flower borders. Keen vegetable growers will already be planning next year’s vegetable plot, and even starting the ball rolling by sowing some Broad Beans in a sheltered and well drained part of the garden, which will give an earlier crop next year. I know mice can be a real problem, but if you are able to protect an area from these destructive little critters, why not try growing some early round seeded peas, again this will give you a much earlier crop next spring. Try the varieties ‘Meteor’ or ‘Douce Provence’ as suitable early varieties. For next year’s flower garden, now is a good time to sow some sweet peas in the greenhouse, but again be wary of our little furry friends as they love sweet pea seeds and will dig into your pots to find a meal. Thinking of garden pests and diseases, I came across a very old gardener’s book recently, yielding the following information which applies to a vegetable garden of approximately 800 square yards (this is larger than most people’s entire garden today) the recommended items for the year are:- 7lbs of crude Naphthalene, 8 lbs of flowers of sulphur, 1lb of calomel dust, 4 lbs of 98% Nicotine, 4lbs of Derris dust, 2 gallons of D.N.C (Dinitro-Ortho-Creasol), 1 tin of ‘Tanglefoot Grease’, 1 gallon of Lime Sulphur, and 2 gallons of Tar distillate. That lot should have killed all the pests, and probably speeded up the demise of the poor old Gardener. This was followed by the materials needed to feed the plants during the year: – 1 ton of Farmyard manure, 2cwt of Hydrated lime, 1cwt of general fertiliser, 7lbs of dried blood, 7lbs of bone meal, and 7lbs of sulphate of ammonia. Quite a large shopping list for one vegetable garden. The plant food list is still widely applicable today, but we are fortunate to have these items available in more convenient forms. As for the pest and disease items, most have been withdrawn from sale over the years, as they have been proven to be harmful to humans and the environment. As there is no real substitute for getting your vegetable plot dug before the winter frosts set in, ‘So back to the spade’. Enjoy your garden Old Gumboot

September Notes

Notes from outside the Garden Shed

The door to my garden shed is not wide enough for a Land Rover to pass through. Maybe I will have to settle for a model of one as I have been a fan of Land Rovers since childhood.

You, the reader, may or may not be aware that the Land Rover is seventy years old this year. You also may not be aware that this iconic vehicle had its origins in Wales.

The Rover car company was heavily involved with armament production during the Second World War, which meant that car production more or less ceased for the duration of hostilities. When war work came to an end, Rover were left with a large factory space and no new model of car to manufacture coupled with a chronic shortage of steel as so much had been used in wartime. The fact was that steel was needed to produce items for export as the UK needed to export as much as possible to earn valuable dollars for the Treasury.

At this time two of the leading figures in the Rover Car Company, Maurice and Spencer Wilks, had an interest in an Anglesey farm. They came up with the idea of making a vehicle with a similar capability to the wartime American Jeep which they used around the farm. While on a visit to the coast, one of them drew a simple design in the sand on the beach which turned out to be similar to the basic shape that we are all familiar with today.

The prototype used aluminium for the bodywork to get over the steel shortage. This was fixed to a sturdy box-section steel chassis. A central steering column featured on the prototype vehicle similar to the position on a tractor but this was move to the normal position on production models.

The production Land Rover was launched during the 1948 Amsterdam motor show. It was an instant success becoming popular with farmers, contractors and, of course, the military.

My introduction to this versatile vehicle was in the early 1950’s when my father bought a 1953 model for his work and to double as the family car. I checked on the DVLA website to find that it is still on the road today, an excellent recommendation considering it is 65 years old! I bought my ‘very second-hand’ 1952 model in the early 1960s and I have discovered that it too is still on the road somewhere in the UK.

Looking at the price of 1950’s Land Rovers today, I think I will keep the small door on my garden shed and look for a Dinky toy.

Happy gardening.

Old Gumboot

June Notes

Spring is often referred to as ‘blossom time’ which is true, as most trees and shrubs produce their flowers at this time of the year, in an attempt to attract the insects needed to allow pollination to take place. Blossom time in this area seems to invite cold winds and rain, just at the most unwelcome time of the year, this is reflected by the poor fruit crops often found on apple and plum trees in our gardens. Orchards of fruiting trees produce a beautiful sight when in full bloom and of course a delightful scent on a warm still evening, but surely the most spectacular sight must be the magnificent Japanese cherry trees, which have graced our gardens for the past century. There are a very wide range of cherry trees or ‘prunus’ to give them their proper name, trees of varying habit, size and flower colour to satisfy most gardeners, and of course there are also many fruiting types as well. The flowering type most often seen is the strikingly beautiful Prunus Hisakhura which is clothed in pale pink blossom in early spring. Sadly this is short lived and petal fall leaves the ground covered in pink ‘confetti’. The wild cherry (Prunus Avium) is seen growing in hedgerows and certain woodlands, this valuable timber tree produces small white flowers, and is not nearly as striking as some of its cultivated cousins. Another cherry for the larger garden is the ‘bird cherry’ (Prunus Padus). This is an upright growing tree which produces bunches of small white blossom in early spring. For the small garden, the compact upright growing cherry (Prunus Ama-Na-Gawa) is ideal as it has a neat habit and masses of pink flowers, without becoming too large for the average garden. Weeping cherries are popular; if you have a larger garden you could try ‘Cheals weeping’ which produces double pink blooms in late spring. If space is not a problem there is nothing more striking than Prunus ‘Taihaku’ in full bloom, this wonderful tree also known as the ‘Great white cherry’ is surely without equal in a large garden or public park. I have recently planted a Prunus ‘Autumnalis’ which is unusual in the fact that it starts flowering during the winter , in mild spells and continues in the early spring. There are literally dozens of other varieties available from specialist Nurseries. It is worth doing some research before making your final choice of a tree as it will be growing with you for many years to come. Happy gardening and blossom watching Old Gumboot.