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Where do I start? There’s been lots going on at the Two Chances Plot this year as there was in 2010. First of all a recap of the veg growing successes and failures:
Top of the Class
My best ever carrots and parsnips this year.
And it was a cracking year for beetroot, we had barrowfuls of them.
Strawberries and raspberries – not that I saw many of them as the girls picked and ate them as soon as they were ready!
Could do Better
Sweetcorn, cucumber, aubergines, squash and pumpkins.
Weatherwise it was a strange year again. A really hot, dry spring but with cold nights running through into July. When we left for our annual holiday to France in mid-June it was with some trepidation as the weather had been fantastic – why were we going abroad? Thankfully we did as it chucked it down in Salisbury for 2 weeks and continued to be damp and miserable for the main part of summer only drying up in September and October. No wonder all the veg that need a hot, dry summer did badly. Oh well there’s always next year.
…….was celeriac…..only grew a few but they were great and I’ll definitely be growing more next year. Closely followed by mangetout, not many made the steamer as they were great eaten raw.
Aubergines…..what’s the point? Maybe in 20 years once global warming really makes an impact on the South of England! That said I expect I’ll try again next year.
This year was the first for my shared plot in the next village and it was filled with onions, brassicas, beans, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, spuds, sweetcorn, squash and pumpkins. Next year the Empire expands further to half an allotment in the same village as my shared plot. Can’t wait to get stuck in! And I finally got round to building a much needed proper compost bin which will bear fruit next year.
On the show front it was the last year of entering all the vegetable classes in my local Horticultural Society village Summer Show were I won cups for most points overall veg, root veg and Top Tray. I’ll just stick to the Master Gardener and Top Tray next year with my sights firmly set on the NVS competition at the New Forest and Hampshire Show after seeing Darren pick up his first red card for long carrots. I have 30 pipes to use for my carrots and parsnips and the mix is already shredded and ready for the mixer. Bring on 2012!
So what will I be doing next year? Well more of the same really. Loads of good quality family time, cooking and eating great homegrown food. Producing loads of veg and enjoying the fresh air as much as possible. Raising the bar on my show entries and expanding to the allotment so we can have more veg on the table. The annual trip to France – same place as last year as we loved it so much – and the next leg of the Pennine Way hopefully. As always lots to do!! I hope you’ve all had a good Christmas and are looking forward to a great 2012!!!
Thanks to everyone who reads and hopefully enjoys this blog. I haven’t been online much in the last couple of months due to working longer hours – the last thing I needed was more time in front of a computer screen! But I have the whole winter to catch up with what you’ve been doing so I’ll see you soon!!
In the veg world celeriac probably takes the prize for being the ugliest crop on the plot. But don’t judge a book by its cover, hopefully there’s beauty within, particularly in the taste.
I grew 4 plants this year from seedlings given to me by a fellow Hort Soc Committee member. This was the size of them 6 weeks ago. 1 was around the size of a small football and the others cricket ball size. Not bad for a first go, they need quite rich soil and plenty of water so they don’t dry out. And I started stripping back the stems once they got to a decent size to focus growth to the bulb. I’ve never eaten celeriac before and the inaugral dish will be HFW’s celeriac and chilli gratin, as I have chillies in abundance, a good kilo of celeriac and garlic. It’ll give me an excuse to get the mandolin out – a five year old wedding present still pristine in it’s box – and practice my first aid skills afterwards! Is there an uglier veg out there?
This weekend has been all about tidying up after our Bristol trip. The Dahlias had been caught by the first couple of light frosts this week so I took the blackened tops off them. It’s important to leave the tubers in the ground as long as you can as they are still growing at this time of year and any remaining foliage protects them to a certain extent. I normally wait to all the foliage has been hit before I lift them, hopefully not for a couple of weeks yet, we’ll see.
The compost heap I built has been worth its weight in gold, it’s taken so much plant material and is almost full now. I’d recommend anyone with a spare corner building one out of a few old pallets and paving slabs.
I should be taking over my half plot at the local village allotments soon. They’re run by the Winterslow Land and Allotment Charity (previously known as the Winterslow Poor Folks Charity) and will cost me £10 a year for the half plot. I can’t wait to get started and have lots of plans for what to grow up there.
So with the season winding down now thoughts turn to next year and what to grow to feed the family and what might do well in the shows I plan to enter next year. And I’ve already got some Hative de Niort and Jermor shallots ready to start off in pots in the greenhouse.
Hopefully I’ll get good results with these next year!
This is the latest Dahlia in my collection, the large lilac flowered Sir Alf Ramsey.
Whilst quite a small plant this year it’s producing 3 or 4 large blooms and will be a real stunner in the Dahlia border next year.
For the first time in ages I watched GW last night and actually saw a couple of jobs that I could be getting on with over the weekend. So this morning the summer fruiting raspberries have been organised by removing last years canes that bore this years fruit and tieing in this years new growth which will bear next years fruit. There was about four new stems per plant once I removed the weaker growth and about 25 stems in all which should give a decent crop of fruit next year. They’ll be joined by half a dozen autumn fruiting plants that I’ll move over once they finished cropping.
And I realised that I should be removing some of the stems from my celeriac which are starting to bulb up. It’s the first year I’ve grown them after being given some seedlings from a friend on our Hort Soc committee. They’ve done really well and now by removing the stems this will hopefully encourage the bulb-end to swell further.
Whatever jobs you decide to get on with this weekend I hope you have a good one!
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!
The Two Chances Veg Plot is getting full to bursting at the moment. All the first and second earlies are now out along with the brassicas planted this morning.
The large bed (18ft x 6ft) has overwintered onions, shallots, calabrese, cauliflower, cabbage, celeriac and a couple of rows of Charlotte potatoes.
The medium bed (12ft by 6ft) has parsnips and long carrots in pipes, stump carrots and parsnips sowed direct along with spring onions, spinach, beetroot and mangetout. The small bed (6ft x 6ft) has garlic, broad beans and a trench for runner beans. The beds are surrounded by 20 polypot bags of spuds and a couple of old dustbins with stump carrots. The girls really enjoyed helping me fill up the spud bags!
That’s it really there’s a few spaces for some lettuce and radish but it’s pretty much full up. There is a strip along the back garden fence that will take the dwarf beans and the rest of the brassicas (brussels, swede, sprouting broccoli) will go into the front bed (12ft x 6ft) where there is already a few Autumn fruiting raspberry canes. In the other front garden bed there’s already summer fruiting raspberries, strawberries and a gooseberry and blackcurrant bush but I should be able to squeeze in some courgettes. The tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, chillies and aubergines will go in the greenhouse.
So anything else will be going up to the shared plot in the next village. At the moment that’s maincrop potatoes, sweetcorn, summer and butternut squash. These will join onions, shallots, broad beans, parsnips, carrots, beetroot and cabbage that are already in. Not sure when we’re going to eat all this veg!!
As you can see crop rotation and advanced planning are not my strong points. The crops rotate every year but I don’t follow a strict crop rotation plan I just try and ensure that nothing is grown in the same place for consecutive years.
And we had a bumble bee visitor today.
On Tuesday I went to a talk on bees given by a local bee farmer at our Hampshire NVS DA meeting. It was fascinating stuff, I didn’t realise bees were such a complex subject. Bee pollination supports every third mouthful of food we eat so they are vital to the environment and us. There’s a number of challenges ahead for bee communities under threat but it was good to hear there’s a lot of money going into research at the moment and progress is being made. Fingers crossed they can come up with a solution to the problems.
Anyway time to get back out in the garden. Hope you are all having a good weekend!