Dig for Victory

Dig for Victory

by Summersdale

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780857657336
Publisher: Summersdale
Publication date: 05/01/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 160
File size: 90 KB

About the Author

Summersdale is one of the UK's top independent nonfiction publishers.

Read an Excerpt

Dig for Victory


By Summersdale

Summersdale Publishers Ltd

Copyright © 2012 Summersdale Publishers Ltd,
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-85765-733-6



CHAPTER 1

GARDEN TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT

Cut up old stockings and tights into strips to make plant ties – the soft, flexible nature of the fabric will protect new shoots as they grow bigger.

* * *

Ties from packaged loaves are also good for securing climbing plants to stakes.

* * *

An old potato peeler makes an excellent job of removing weeds from the lawn.

* * *

Make sure to invest in a water butt that is connected to a down pipe from a gutter. Rain water can be preserved in this way and it beats using a hosepipe to water plants in the summer.

* * *

Repair a leaky hosepipe by plugging any puncture holes with toothpicks, saving water and money.

* * *

Alternatively, if your hose is beyond repair, make a few more holes in it and use it as a sprinkler for the vegetable patch or lawn.

* * *

Take thy plastic spade, It is thy pencil; take thy seeds, thy plants, They are thy colours.

William Mason, The English Garden

* * *

To a gardener there is nothing more exasperating than a hose that just isn't long enough.

Cecil Roberts, Gone Rustic

* * *

Good quality second-hand gardening equipment can be picked up very cheaply – and sometimes even for free. Before you buy anything new, look on the Freecycle website. You will find a dedicated Freecycle community in your area and all the items are free! Car boot sales and recycling centres are also great places to pick up gardening equipment at bargain prices.

If your garden gloves are looking a little tatty, give them a wash and turn them inside out.

* * *

Stones make great plant markers. Clean and dry them and label using a permanent marker.

* * *

Lolly sticks are also perfect for plant markers.

* * *

Make a garden kneeler by filling an old hot-water bottle with polystyrene chips. It's wipe-clean and will make those long hours in the garden a little more comfortable.

* * *

An ice cream container can be cut up to make multiple waterproof plant markers.

* * *

Curtain rods, particularly extendable ones, are perfect for training tall climbing plants. Simply extend the rod as the plant grows!

* * *

There's no need to invest in a dibber – a screwdriver will do the same job.

* * *

Don't spend money on supporting canes; instead use twigs. They look far less conspicuous and they're free!

* * *

Alternatively, grow your own bamboo canes to support sweet peas and other climbing plants. Bamboo can grow to 3 metres or more and makes attractive screens. Harvest the canes in the autumn and dry them flat in a garage or shed.

* * *

Willow will also provide stakes and hurdles for plants.

* * *

Save all packaging from shop-bought food items – these trays and cartons can be used to plant seedlings. Supermarkets and greengrocers regularly throw out wooden and plastic crates which make great planters.

* * *

The little plastic cups at the water cooler are ideal for seed-starting plots.

* * *

Keep the inner tubes of toilet rolls and kitchen rolls to plant seedlings. The plants can go straight into the ground, still in the tube, as the cardboard will biodegrade.

* * *

The array of food packaging that tends to gather in the recycling bin can be used as both pots and cloches. Tin cans make lovely planters, especially on a kitchen windowsill.

* * *

When you've finished with plastic drinks bottles, make cloches to protect new plants by cutting the bottoms off. Place firmly in the ground to protect the plants from slugs and remove the bottle tops when the plants are more established to allow them to acclimatise.

* * *

Plastic bottles can also be used as irrigation devices. Pierce holes in the sides around the base and partially bury them in the flowerbeds. Fill them as needed, and your blooms will have a steady, gradual supply of water.

* * *

Use an old broom handle to make your seed trenches by laying the handle along the soil and pressing it down firmly, leaving a trench an inch deep.

* * *

Make your own fruit cage with wooden posts and plastic netting. These are often longer-lasting and a fraction of the price of the ready-made ones.

* * *

An old Parmesan cheese shaker is perfect for spreading seeds. Simply mix fine seeds with sand and sprinkle where required.

* * *

If you are starting off your seedlings in a greenhouse, you can reduce your heating costs by hanging plastic sheeting across the greenhouse and only heating the area that contains the seedlings. Use bubble wrap to insulate the door and block any draughts.

* * *

If you don't have a greenhouse, polytunnels are an inexpensive alternative and they are easy to manoeuvre round the garden.

* * *

Look after your tools. Here are a few tips:

• Keep tools rust-free and good as new by having an oily rag to hand in the garden shed and wiping them after use at the end of the day.

• Store tools away from ground level as garages and sheds can be quite damp. Hang tools up if you can.

* * *

• Use antibacterial wipes when cleaning pruners between cuts to keep plants healthy and disease-free.

• Treat your lawnmower to an annual service and it will keep going for many years to come.

CHAPTER 2

FRUIT AND VEGETABLES


Gently bruise garlic cloves by squeezing them between your thumb and forefinger before planting them as this will make them more flavoursome.

* * *

Hang mothballs on your peach trees to prevent leaf curl.

* * *

Digging potatoes is always an adventure, somewhat akin to fishing. There is forever the possibility that the next cast – or the next thrust of the digging fork – will turn up a clunker.

Jerome Belanger

* * *

It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a home-grown tomato.

Lewis Grizzard

* * *

Treat your veg patch once you have harvested your autumn vegetables. Dig out any weeds and go over with a good dose of compost and manure, then cover with old rugs or an unwanted carpet for the winter – you'll have the perfect base to start spring planting the next year.

* * *

Use an old pair of tights to store onions. Tie a knot between each onion so that they are not touching, then hang up in a dry place, such as a pantry. When you need to take an onion, simply cut below the knot.

* * *

When planning what to plant in your vegetable patch, think about what your family eats regularly. So if you eat a lot of apples, carrots and potatoes, plant them rather than growing something more unusual which won't get eaten.

* * *

To maximise your plot, plant two vegetable crops in the same furrow by mixing a fast-growing vegetable, such as lettuce, with a slow-growing one, such as parsnip or carrot. Alternatively, you can keep sowing the same type of vegetable every few weeks, wait for the first crop to be at the thinning stage and sow again.

* * *

Using old spare tyres as planters for potatoes or carrots is eco-friendly and effective. For carrots, a sandy mix soil in a two-deep tyre container will give you lovely and straight crops, free of pests (carrot fly can only fly to around 2 ft so if the tyre wall is high enough they cannot attack young plants). For potatoes, plant chitted tubers one tyre deep, wait for plants to grow, bank up with soil and add more tyres to the stack (up to about three tyres deep). Once the plants have flowered the potatoes are ready to harvest.

* * *

Dustbins, compost bags and bark bags are also good for growing potatoes in. If using bags, keep unrolling them and adding more compost as the potatoes grow.

* * *

Old plastic guttering is great for irrigating the vegetable patch. Drill small holes along the half-tubes, lay it alongside your row of vegetables and pour water into one end for an even distribution.

* * *

Keep your cabbage crop far away from strawberries as they do not make good companions – the cabbage plants will kill off the strawberries.

* * *

Brambles may be a little unsightly in a tended garden, but consider keeping an area wild as this will attract beneficial creatures into the garden, such as slow-worms and frogs, and the brambles will reward you with blackberries in the summer.

* * *

Plant marigolds (or Calendula) near or in your vegetable patch to provide shelter for insects that will benefit your crop.

* * *

Lay straw around your strawberries to keep the fruits off the ground and protected from grey mould.

* * *

Sow different varieties of lettuce from late March to July in rows roughly 15 cm apart – lettuce can be grown close together to produce baby leaves for salads. Harvest the leaves as soon as they are a few inches long – the plants will regrow so that you can continue to 'cut and come again'.

* * *

Melons are prone to rot. Reduce this risk by placing flat stone or concrete beneath the fruit.

* * *

Alternatively, grow melons in the greenhouse and use string bags or strong tights to support the weighty fruits.

* * *

Increase the size of artichoke heads by making two incisions in the fully developed stalk just below the head and inserting two criss-crossing matchsticks.

* * *

If you don't have space to grow vegetables, or the amount that you would like to produce, consider taking on an allotment, or perhaps sharing a plot with one or two friends.

* * *

And he gave it for his opinion that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels

* * *

In order to live off a garden, you practically have to live in it.

Kin Hubbard

* * *

Rather than buying expensive cloches to protect your potato seedlings, use sheets of old newspaper weighted down with stones – it may look unattractive but they can be removed in the morning.

* * *

Try storing apples the way that US growers do by placing them between layers of maple leaves. This practice can also be used for storing root vegetables.

* * *

If you are lucky enough to have a glut of fruit and vegetables from your harvest, there are a number of ways that it can be stored:

• All fruits can be dried, but only use blemish-free fruits for this. Wash, pit and slice the fruits, then blanch them by steaming for five minutes then plunging the pieces into cold water. Dip them in a mixture of water and lemon juice to reduce browning and leave them to dry on some kitchen towel. Once completely dry, place on parchment-lined baking trays and place them in the oven on a low heat for four hours. Let them stand overnight and then freeze them in sealed bags until required.

* * *

• Strawberries, raspberries, currants and hedgerow fruits can be frozen. Open-freeze the fruits by spreading them on trays and placing directly in the freezer. Once frozen, decant them into plastic bags and seal them.

• Pears and apples should be wrapped individually in newspaper and stored in wooden boxes or drawers in a cool, dark place. An unheated garage or shed is ideal. Check on the fruits regularly for ones that have gone off.

* * *

• If you have the shed or garage space, pick up an old chest of drawers from a junk shop and use it to store your vegetables. Spread a layer of sand at the bottom of each draw and place a layer of vegetables on top. Then cover the vegetables with sand and add more vegetables on top until you reach the top of the draw. Label and date the drawers.

• Potatoes can be scrubbed and stored in hessian sacks in a cool, dry place.

* * *

• Don't discard windfall fruit; it can be used to make delicious chutney, or frozen and later defrosted to provide a treat for birds in the depths of winter.

* * *

Keep the stalks attached to your cherries and strawberries when harvesting as it helps to maintain their freshness.

CHAPTER 3

PLANTING AND TENDING

Collect fallen leaves when they are wet, then store in bin bags for two years. The result is a nutritious leaf mulch which can be used to cover your most prized plants.

* * *

Alternatively, make a bin out of chicken wire or mesh and store your leaves in there for mulching. Oak leaves are particularly good for compost as they reduce slug and snail infestations, and birch leaves have disinfectant properties which will prevent fly diseases.

* * *

To bring on seedlings, use either a seed tray, old newspapers, rolled and fashioned into napkin ring-shaped rounds, or toilet roll tubes cut in half. Fill with compost, add seeds according to planting instructions on the packet and water regularly. Once seedlings are ready to be planted out, take the round and transplant directly into the ground. The paper or cardboard will biodegrade and the root system of your seedling will not be destroyed.

* * *

Cardboard can be added to compost heaps to make a good mulch. It also suppresses weeds.

* * *

The cheapest compost is the compost that you make yourself. All manner of things can be composted. Human hair in seed trenches will not only add useful trace elements but also entangle nasty bugs as they try to destroy your seedlings.

* * *

Use only organic waste for your compost – kitchen scraps, grass cuttings, etc. – and be careful not to add weeds as these will permeate the composted soil and cause damage when spread. Nettles, however, are the exception, as they not only speed up the composting process but they also provide a rich source of nitrogen.

* * *

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.

Mirabel Osler

* * *

To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.

Mahatma Gandhi

* * *

Ash from a bonfire, once cooled, is a rich potash for fruit trees. Spread the ash around the base of fruit trees for a bumper harvest.

* * *

If you have a friend who keeps horses, offer to shovel some of the manure every once in a while. The manure is fantastic for your crops and your horsey friend will be grateful too!

* * *

The next time you have a cup of tea, don't throw the teabag away, instead, tear it open and sprinkle the dregs on the lawn as an instant fertiliser. Coffee grounds are equally beneficial.

* * *

Crystallised Epsom salts mixed with tepid water will pep up ailing tomato plants.

* * *

Rather than throwing old leather shoes away, bury them in the garden! They will slowly biodegrade, releasing enriching nutrients into the soil.

* * *

The unsightly algae that collects on the surface of ponds can be used as an effective alternative to shop-bought fertilisers.

* * *

If you have a private garden, urinating on your compost heap will pay dividends!

* * *

It's far cheaper to buy seeds than plants, so don't be tempted to buy young plants from the garden centre.

* * *

Avoid expensive mistakes when buying plants by resisting impulse buys and researching the type of plants that will thrive in the type of soil, terrain and aspect that your garden has.

* * *

Try discount retailers when buying plants, or buy out of season. Just a little bit of extra care, and the plants are just as healthy as the ones you'll find in the more upmarket nurseries.

* * *

Don't overbuy seeds – share the amounts with a group of friends and then have a seedling swap so you can exchange any unwanted plants for ones that you do want.

* * *

Shop around for cheap seeds, such as in end-of-season sales, and even on eBay.

* * *

Cuttings are one of the best ways to propagate new plants in your garden for free. If a neighbour or friend has a plant that you like the look of, take a cutting, but make sure you ask first!

* * *

Another way to obtain free seeds and seedlings is to join your local Freegle group where people can offload their excess seedlings and even unwanted garden equipment. Log on to ilovefreegle.org.

* * *

Use cellophane from packaged flowers to gather seeds from your favourite blooms. Tie the cellophane loosely around the plant to collect the seeds.

* * *

When storing leftover seeds, always use an airtight metal container. Make sure you label them to avoid adding bulbs to your dinner!

* * *

If there are aspects of gardening that you particularly dislike, try bartering your gardening time with friends and neighbours so that you can do jobs for each other.

* * *

Rather than forking out on a landscape gardener, apply some simple tricks to make your garden look more designed, such as shaping your lawn into a square or a circle, using a turf cutter for a professional-looking finish.

* * *

If you have a garden that doesn't receive a lot of sunlight, get a piece of hardboard or wood, cover it in foil and angle it towards the sun so that it reflects on the plants.

* * *

Waste water from washing up is perfect for watering gardens. Bath water can also be used to water the garden but it's best not to use it on edible crops.

* * *

Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.

Lou Erickson

* * *

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made By singing: – 'Oh, how beautiful!' and sitting in the shade.

* * *

Rudyard Kipling, 'The Glory of the Garden'


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Dig for Victory by Summersdale. Copyright © 2012 Summersdale Publishers Ltd,. Excerpted by permission of Summersdale Publishers Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Page,
Introduction,
Garden Tools and Equipment,
Fruit and Vegetables,
Planting and Tending,
The Herb Garden,
House Plants,
Budget Blooms,
Container Gardens,
Weeds,
Cheap and Friendly Pest and Disease Control,
Garden Creatures,
Wild Foraging,

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