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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!!
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!!
Unless you want to spray your brassicas for the dreaded cabbage white butterfly’s caterpillars some sort of netting is essential at this time of year. A couple of years ago I made 4 enviromesh tunnels that you can see here which do the job nicely. But the purple sprouting broccoli have outgrown this tunnel and I needed to rig up a new net.
Using 4 long stakes I attached the mesh with a staple gun and then wrapped it arround the stakes leaving one end secured with wire so I can access. The extra material on top was wired together as a roof over the plants. This just needs to in place for a couple of months until the cabbage white season is over and then I can carefully remove it and replace with a cheap net to keep the pigeons off over winter.
Under the net the second batch of calabrese is coming along nicely.
And a cabbage walking stick plant.
My local Hort Soc runs a competition to grow the tallest walking stick plant (also with prizes for the shortest etc). The following year there are prizes for the best implement made from the plant, either walking stick or other – I think last year someone fashioned the stick with a shoe iron attachment on one end. Anyway my plant is doing OK at the moment approaching 4 ft high and hopefully by November’s AGM it’ll be over the 6 ft mark.
And finally to add a bit of colour to this post, here’s the latest Dahlia in bloom, Bristol Stripe.
Harvesting – Lettuce, Rocket, Radish, Spring Onions, Beetroot, Potatoes, Onions, Shallots, Calabrese, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Mangetout, Broad Beans, Runner Beans, and French Beans.
The girls like watching Postman Pat Special Delivery Service at the moment. I don’t know what’s wrong with the original series that just had his van and the occassional trip on a steam train not all this helicopter and speedboat nonsense. Anyway I felt a bit like a special delivery service this morning clad in waterproofs going round the garden picking the veg for dinner. And here’s the harvest.
There’s potatoes (Charlotte), French Beans (Blue Lake and Purple Teepee), Runner Beans (Moonlight), Calabrese (Aquiles F1), Courgette (Black Beauty), Mangetout (Oregon Sugar Snap) and Cauliflower (Snowball). Not a bad haul!
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!!
At this time of year it’s amazing how quickly the veg grows. This is how the veg plot looked 3 weeks ago (there’s also a link on that post to how it looked 6 weeks ago) and this is how it looks now!
I’m lucky to be growing in the garden so watering in such a dry Spring hasn’t been a problem. And the brassicas in particular have really shot on over the last few weeks.
The cabbages are looking good, starting to heart up now.
And the calabrese and cauliflowers are packed in and growing well.
No sign of the cauliflower heads yet but if you look closely at the calabrese they are starting to form; the girls will love eating these.
We’ve been eating the Webbs Wonderful lettuce for a while now and in the gaps I’m planting some Tom Thumb to keep the supply going.
And finally a new veg for the Two Chances plot this year – Asparagus Pea – it has a low sprawling growth with pretty crimson flowers, I’ll let you know what they taste like. Hope you all have a great Bank Holiday!
With the warm weather the plot has really come on in the last 3 weeks. Compared to the post back then this photo shows how far the veg has developed.
From front to back in the main bed are onions, shallots, calabrese, cauliflower, cabbage, celeriac and charlotte potatoes. This time of year is great you can see real progress week on week.
The parsnips in the pipes are coming on too. I’m really pleased with how they are growing into strong plants. They have just over 3 months to go before the Summer Show so they should start moving fast now. Fingers crossed.
Finally, I’m happy to say everything survived the weekend’s thunderstorms. We had a fair amount of rain in Salisbury and everything looks much better for it!