Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Digging in for a Victory; Diarmuid Gathers the Troops to Help D-Day War Veteran Patrick Churchill Restore His Allotment to Its Former Glory

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Digging in for a Victory; Diarmuid Gathers the Troops to Help D-Day War Veteran Patrick Churchill Restore His Allotment to Its Former Glory

Article excerpt

Byline: GARDENING With Diarmuid Gavin

THIS week I had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Patrick Churchill, a 91-year-old war veteran who, along with his Royal Marine companions, stormed Juno Beach on June 6, 1944.

He was a radio operator before being attached to the French unit 4 Commandos and is the last man from his battalion still with us.

Aalong with gardening, he spends his time ensuring that people at home and in Europe know what happened so that we value life and freedom.

He lives in Witney, Oxfordshire, with his German wife Karin, 84, who survived the Dresden bombing. She escaped over the Berlin Wall from Communist East Germany and was learning English in Oxford when they met.

Shallots low Patrick has been a keen allotment gardener for 20 years and has been growing fruit and veg, writing, sitting enjoying nature, spending time chatting to his mates of all ages about his life experiences.

But due to army veteran commitments and some illness, the allotment became overgrown and Patrick was in danger of losing his tenancy.

So I joined his friends and neighbours along with uniformed cadets from the Witney Detachment of the Oxfordshire Army Cadet Force.

We put on our boots, dug for victory, barrowed in tons of compost, created raised beds and took delivery of manure, herbs, seeds and bulbs and helped tidy the allotment to ensure he can continue to enjoy it. It was a joyous occasion seeing so many people turn out for a man who has given so much.

It also made me consider that maybe we could offer help more often for those who love gardening but are unable to cope. Here are my tips for easier allotment or veg garden tending: 1 IF your soil is really poor, build raised beds with sleepers and fill with quality top soil and well-rotted manure or garden compost.

are maintenance Raised beds are much easier to weed and maintain as they require less bending - you can perch on the side and use a trowel to plant and weed.

PLANT low-maintenance crops.

2 Early potatoes avoid the risk of blight and are great at cleaning up soil. Onions and shallots are very low maintenance and other easy-to-grow crops are salad, spring onions, broad beans, carrots, spinach and chard. …

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