The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Wilshire, Dorsetshire, Hampshire, Sussex, and Kent in the Summer of 1832

Stoke Farm kitchen garden

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The kitchen-garden was the object of the greatest interest to us at Stoke Farm, from its being under the management of our early, and now too seldom seen, correspondent, Mr. Oldacre. As we expected, the crops of every kind were excellent. We were particularly struck with the great breadth devoted to late peas, which looked so remarkably well, that, considering the extraordinary dryness of the season, we could not help asking Mr. Oldacre if he had any particular method of watering them ? His answer was, that he never watered them at all after they were above ground: he sowed them in the bottom of drills 6 in. deep, filled the drill half full of soil, and then gave such a thorough soaking of water as to saturate all the soil under and about the seeds. After this he fills in the remainder of the earth; and, the whole compartment being now dry in appearance, he rolls it quite smooth with a heavy roller, and gives no other culture of any kind, till the peas are fit to stick. Among the wall fruits, Mr. Oldacre pointed out Salter's improved Moor Park apricot. He also remarked that the violet hative nectarine was better than the elruge, as the latter is apt to wither and become insipid when fully ripe. The green gage plum always cracks on a south wall; and Mr. Oldacre therefore prefers an eastern exposure for this delicious fruit. He has raised a new seedling scarlet-fleshed melon, with a smooth silver skin: the plant is a great bearer, and the fruit is of superior flavour. Early cucumbers are grown here and at Stoke Place, in an improved form of M'Phail's pits, on trellises, about 4 in. under the glass; the trellis being about a foot above the soil. By this plan they can be more easily managed in the winter season: there is less danger from overheating in the dung-bed, and much less risk of the plants damping off from vapour arising from the soil. The improvement was made by Mr. Patrick, who formerly lived at this place, and who has promised us a plan and section of the pits. All the houses and most of the pits here are heated by hot water. There are a good many hedges of spruce fir, which, when not too severely cut, lasts many years; and there is a wall of loose ragstone, covered with ivy, which makes a very handsome evergreen fence. Mr. Oldacre has had the plantation which sheltered the north side of this garden removed to the distance of 300 ft. from the walls, as, when it was within 50 ft. of them, the birds were found to destroy almost every thing in the garden. This is an improvement wanted in very many gardens.