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What a cracking Bank Holiday weekend, not often you hear those words together! The good weather’s meant that there’s been much activity at the plot, a huge amount of sowing and some urgent jobs that needed attending to. One of the main tasks was fixing the mesh frames which were getting a bit tired after 5 years of good service and had taken the worst of the snow last winter. With new timber frames I recycled as much of the old mesh as possible and the first new frame is now covering a couple of cabbages (Ramco) and a line of calabrese (Aquiles F1). Also in are some Romanesco cauliflower the first time I’ve grown them.
The smallest bed is now full, with broad beans (Longfellow) at the back, some Hative de Niort shallots, garlic and a few onion sets.
The greenhouse is starting to fill up and the lastest sowings of sweetcorn and french beans are now coming through. Hopefully the warm weather will continue!!
More like April torrential rain today! I feel like this year is already well behind with the cold winter and early spring. Hopefully we’ll get some decent weather and everything will catch up soon.
There’s three main areas of activity at the moment. Firstly the south-facing living room windowsill the best place for young seedlings. There’s a couple of pots of rocket – interesting in exactly the same conditions Runaway is far outstripping Va-Va Voom – Lettuce (Little Gem), Aubergines (Money Maker), Chillies (Joe’s Long), Celery (Morning Star) and Tomatoes (Sungold). All are making good progress and I’ll keep sowing rocket and lettuce every couple of weeks throughout the season. Later in the spring these will be sown direct into a three tier planter that I’m putting near the kitchen door for ease of picking when we need a few leaves.
Next is the cold greenhouse which is housing shallots and onion sets that haven’t gone out yet. Broad beans (Longfellow), and various brassicas – Cauliflower (Romanesque & Cornell), Brussel Sprouts (Wellington), Cabbage (Ramco), Calabrese (Aquiles), land cress and more lettuce.
And lastly there’s the pipes that I covered in the last post – and the carrots and parsnips have germinated so the cover is off and each one has the top portion of a plastic bottle protecting the seedlings which I’ll thin down to one in the next week or so. The stump carrots aren’t through yet but should be by next weekend. I’ve started three potato planters with Charlotte and the task of filling the polypots and getting the Kestrel, Winston and Amour out has begun and will be finished next weekend. On the showing front I’m aiming for the NVS SW show which is at the end of August so I have time yet.
I hope you’re all having a nice weekend and managing to get some jobs done despite the miserable weather. Here’s hoping we actually get a summer this year!!
There are a few things that mark the end of the season for me. The first ground frost about a week ago which took out my Dahlias, had to remove about 150 flowers and buds, such a shame as they had a good few weeks left in them and we haven’t had a frost since. The flowers on the Jerusalem Artichokes and the pumpkins turning a lovely orange colour mean it almost time to turn the clocks back. By then everything, bar a few brassicas, parsnips and leeks, is pretty much finished and the plot can be dug over and manured.
I had three small pumpkins off one plant this year as you can see next to the last of the Ramco cabbages. The veg for Sunday lunch was all from the garden – parsnips, potatoes, carrots and cabbage – and hedgerow blackberries and cooking apples from a friend up the road made the crumble. Not bad that, considering the weather we’ve had, you can still feed the family from your plot!
And the last of the carrots came out of the pipes as I was clearing the plot yesterday. This one was around 3 foot long and 6 inches round at the shoulder – not a bad specimen but I noticed a crack in it early on which meant it wasn’t any good for showing – tasted good though.
The plot (and blog) has been rather neglected recently due to a spate of DIY activity – normal service will resume very soon!!
We returned from a fantastic two weeks away about on hour south of La Rochelle (pictured), on the west coast of France, last weekend and there was lots of catching up to do on the plot.
The cucumbers (Carmen) in the greenhouse are coming on well. There’s six plants in two growbags on the staging which I’m training up and across the roof. The growbags are laid on large trays with a layer of gravel to act as a reservoir for water which is drawn up through the cuts in the bottom of the growbags – this has proved an effective method to make sure they are always well watered whilst I’m away. Picking off any sideshoots and tendrils as they develop so all the energy is concentrated into the fruits, plus removing the lower fruits that would not be able to fully develop without touching the staging. Hopefully I’ll have an unmarked pair for the New Forest Show which is three weeks on Tuesday. I won’t be giving them my full attention though with a three day stag do in Dublin and four days walking the Pennine Way between now and the show. Fingers crossed the hands off approach will pay dividends.
Alongside the greenhouse the Goldstar tomatoes are between five and six foot high with some of the fruit on the lower trusses forming nicely. As with the cucumbers I’m keeping them well watered and feeding regularly with a potash feed.
One of my main hopes for the show is a pair of cabbages (Ramco) – difficult to get a decent photo of them as I daren’t lift the net tunnels off them for fear of breaking some of the leaves. This won’t happen until the night before the show. Fingers crossed they’ll heart up by then and remain bug-free. A liberal sprinkling of pellets every so often has helped keep the slugs off them up to now.
I’m concerned the long carrots won’t be thick enough as they’re behind last year and I’m also hoping a set of stump carrots will be ready in time.
I’m not entering celery in the show as this is my first real attempt at growing this difficult veg, but I’m pleased with progress so far. I need to swap the collars for longer ones to draw the plants up further for a good blanch on the stems.
And the potatoes are looking good, with really healthy looking haulms which are in flower. These are in polypots filled with a potato mix from Medwyns so they are my best hope for the show. As with all the veg a question mark on whether or not they’ll be ready in time – never sure what’s underneath. They’re all coloured potatoes so I’m hoping for a decent matching set. Next weekend I’ll cut the haulms and move the bags under cover to dry out and let the skins harden. Hopefully I won’t be looking at a bag full of marble-sized spuds after that!
This is also the first time I’m growing peas and the pods are starting to fill out nicely.
On the harvest side we’ve had loads of soft fruit this week, the usual strawberries and raspberries and also these gooseberries for the first time which all the family loved!
Also some shallots, a mixture here of Hative de Niort and Jermor.
And finally some mangetout and calabrese as well. Not a bad harvest.
It’s not all be great news though, up at the shared plot I lost most of my squash and pumpkin plants to slugs but up at the allotment the sweetcorn are doing well and no sign of the dreaded deer so far. It’ll be a busy few weeks as everything comes to fruition and also getting in some late sowings to take us through Autumn. Have a great weekend everyone!
The Two Chances Veg Plot is now fully planted. Every square inch of available space in the garden has been used and the plot is flourishing.
In the large bed (front to back) are potatoes which are coming on nicely after a slow start. They’re followed by 7 Green Ramco cabbages which I’m really pleased with at the moment – they’re perfect and putting on top growth that you can see every day. I’m just hoping I can keep the pests off them until the end of July when I’ll hopefully have a pair good enough for the New Forest Show. Then there’s some calabrese, a double row of celery, a couple of kale and a couple of late purple sprouting broccoli plants and finally a row of french beans and a row of runner beans.
In the medium sized bed there’s the pipes with the carrots which are starting to take off along with shallots garlic and onions. And in the small bed there’s a few more onions, dwarf french beans, mangetout and peas. My main hope for the Show out of that lot is the carrots although they are behind where they were last year but I guess we’re all in the same boat.
In the greenhouse I’ve got the cucumbers set up on the staging to grow over the roof and tomotoes, salad crops and aubergines in the bed. The greenhouse is being optimised for cucumbers so it’s shut up 24/7 apart from a few minutes of watering each day or damping down so the tomotoes in the greenhouse will have to fend for themselves. In the 3 mini greenhouses alongside the main one are the Goldstar tomotoes which I’m hoping to get some decent fruit off.
In the front garden is a bed full of summer and autumn fruting raspberries and strawberries and another bed with marrows, cauliflower, courgettes, carrots and parnsips and that’s it there’s no more room. I have a couple of trays of celeriac seedlings with nowhere to put them – up at the shared plot or allotment I can’t water them as much as they’re going to need so they may not get planted at this rate. There’s some leeks which I’ve got room for at the shared plot alongside the 24 squash and pumpkin plants I’ve just planted out up there. The last of the runner beans will go in tomorrow along with sowings of carrots and beetroot and then that’s it, I can do no more, and to be honest I haven’t got the energy even if I wanted to!
With today being the best of the long weekend weatherwise it’s a BBQ and a few drinks with friends and 24 hours off the gardening – well apart from watering the greenhouse, tieing up the peas, supporting the potato haulms………………
At last some sun and a few days of dry weather after the deluge of the last five weeks or so. With lots of jobs to do I’ve concentrated on the home front this weekend and thought I’d give you a virtual tour as I haven’t focused on this for a while.
I started with the onion bed finding a few spaces for the last of the vento onion plants I’ve been growing on from Darren. There’s also shallots, Hative de Niort, and garlic, purple wight, in this bed.
Next were the peas, show perfection on the canes, and oregon sugar snap up the netting.
The cabbages, green ramco, have been out for a couple of weeks now and should reach a good size by the end of July. There’s seven in all aiming for an entry at the New Forest Show.
The stump carrots in two dustbins of sand are coming along nicely.
And after a slow start the long carrots in pipes are starting to take off.
The greenhouse is starting to clear slowly. There’s lettuce, radish and rocket in the bed on the right hand side. And celery, calabrese, cauliflower, brokali, purple sprouting, sweetcorn, runner & french beans, celeriac and leeks on the staging. These all need to planted out over the next three weeks.
And the hardening off area is pretty full. The tomatoes are about two foot tall and ready for planting out as soon as the weather warms up. There’s also marrows, beans, brussels, beetroot, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins waiting to go out. It’s all a bit of a jam waiting for the end of May when I’ll be confident the threat of a late frost has passed. Then it will be a frenzy of activity to get this lot all out into their final positions before we go on holiday!
Hope you’re all enjoying the sunny weather!
With March and April being the busiest sowing months you’d expect there to be loads of seedlings growing on at the Two Chances Plot. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Here’s a few progress photos from the three growing areas; the greenhouse, cold frames and good old windowsill.
The sweetcorn is growing on well in the greenhouse. Two varieties, Earlibird and Lark, around 40 plants destined for the allotment towards the end of May, possibly earlier with bottle cloches if I need the space in the greenhouse.
Brussel Sprouts (Bedford) hardening off in the cold frame. Around 150 plants for the shared plot, possibly a few for the Hort Soc plant sale. Even though they are one of my favourite veg I think 150 may be overdoing it a bit!
Continuing the brassica theme there’s cabbage (green ramco), calabrese (aquiles F1), brokali (apollo) and cauliflower (cornell).
I grow beetroot in modules ready to plant out. This is Boltardy and I will be sowing Pablo later.
Moving indoors, the tomatoes are going well. Goldstar, Marmande and Gardener’s Delight around 8-10 inches high.
The cucumbers (Carmen) are just starting. I’ll be devouting the greenhouse to them this year with the tomatoes outside in the mini-greenhouses for cover with the rest at the shared plot greenhouse.
Last, and defintely least, aubergines (bonica F1). After a disastrous performance last year I’ve been suckered into trying them again. No doubt only bitter disappointment will follow but that’s gardening, without failure you can’t fully appreciate your successes.
In various states of germination are french and runner beans, leeks, parsnips, courgettes, pumpkins and squash. There’s also celery, pea and onion plants in the greenhouse with lettuce growing on and more lettuce, rocket, radish and spring onions sowed. In the garden there’s potatoes, carrots, parnsips, peas, cabbage, shallots, onions and garlic growing away with PSB coming to an end. On the shared plot there’s potatoes, broad beans and onions with a few of last season’s cabbages and cauliflowers left. And the half allotment has so far been planted with more potatoes, broad beans and asparagus.
I think it’s going to be a busy year!!
One of my favourite songs and very applicable to anyone attempting to grow veg for showing. Most of my veg growing is for the table but I do have a few plans for showing some of the veg this summer, hopefully at the NVS Southern Championship at the New Forest Show at the end of July (here’s what I’m aiming for!). Most people growing veg for show rely on a little help from their friends from time to time. Be it seeds, a few plants or some advice and guidance.
This morning I planted 7 Green Ramco cabbages from friend Darren after my sowings had been slow to grow on. I’ll pass mine back to Darren for the NVS Hampshire DA plant sale on 12th May which I can’t attend as I’ll be at my neice’s baptism.
I’ve also been kindly given some long carrot seeds from former National Champion Bob Brown and much advice from him and Darren along the way. Now I’m only dabbling really compared to others who have expert set ups and lots of time and dedication to devote to the pastime. But without the help of friends I wouldn’t have a chance. And that’s what it’s all about for me.
It’s slow progress at the moment up at the allotment, every time I have a spare hour to nip up there it’s been raining. So far I’ve planted a few rows of potatoes and a double row of broad bean plants. But with the asparagus crowns arriving this morning I had to get up there come rain or shine and thankfully dodged the showers this afternoon.
It’s looking a bit better since I first started. From bottom to top is rhubarb – one large clump I inherited and three small crowns I put in. Then there’s the ‘soon to be gone’ weed patch – I’m planning to put sweetcorn in there. Next is the new asparagus bed – two rows of 6 plants, varieties Backlim, Darlise and Gijnlim – in 3 years time I’ll be harvesting the first full crop! Then there’s the beans and potatoes.
And today is the first time I’ve harvested from all three of my sites. Some rhubarb from the allotment, cabbage, cauliflower and parsnip from the shared plot and purple sprouting broccoli from home. It’s great to have some fresh produce at a typically sparse time of year.
Tomorrow, with the girls off to a birthday party, it’s time to get some Ramco cabbage plants in at home and get the dreaded mower and strimmer out for a long overdue garden tidy up. Maybe it’ll rain so I’ve got an excuse to put that job off for another day!
At last it’s been raining steadily for most of the day which is much needed for the veg plot. And I decided to harvest a few veg for Sunday dinner.
This is the first cabbage of the year and the best one I’ve ever grown.
And the first broccoli head – although it’s a bit smaller than I would normally harvest as we’re going away soon and there’s plenty more to cut – with a few more broad beans as well.
The cornflower patch is now in full bloom.
I stopped my first Dahlia, a month earlier than last year, as they are growing quite quickly now. There’s another that I’ll stop before we go away and the rest will have to wait until we get back.
Hope you’ve had some rain too – funny we wouldn’t be so grateful for it in any normal British summer!!