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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………………
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!!
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!
This morning I managed to get the front bed planted up and finished. There’s various trailing plants dotted around the edge – marrow, crown prince, jack ‘o’ lantern and a tromba courgette – I’ll train these up the fence so they don’t take up space in the bed. The rest of the plants are a cabbage walking stick plant (for our Hort Soc competition in the Autumn), early and late PSB, cauliflowers (snowball), brussel sprouts (Bedford – now earthed up and staked) and some autumn-fruiting raspberries. Two mesh tunnels will keep the pigeons and cabbage whites off the brassicas.
I’ve also filled the bed under the living room window. A few scraps of mesh have been joined together to keep the birds off the strawberries – we’ll be picking our first ones later today! There’s loads of fruit forming on the raspberries and in between is a blackcurrant, gooseberry and courgettes – black beauty and rubesa fruilana.
Out the back the beds are filling up.
From front to back are root crops, spring onions, spinach, rocket, radish, mangetout, garlic, broad beans, and runners/french beans on the canes right at the back. We’ve eaten spinach, rocket, radish and mangetout which was all very nice and the broad beans shouldn’t be too far behind.
Lastly the long roots in the pipes:
The parsnips and carrots are around 8″ high now, hoping they will be good enough for the show in mid-August. Hope you’re having a good weekend.
2010 was a busy year here at Two Chances Veg Plot. So which veg gets the awards this year? Here’s my round-up of the best and the worst……..and how they compared to 2009.
Top 3 Veg
1) Late Purple Sprouting Broccoli, we waited and waited and eventually it appeared and boy was it worth the wait. Fantastic eating and filled the March-April ‘hunger gap’. Very satisfying after the the 2008 pigeon disaster – net at all costs.
2) Parsnips “Exhibition” – better than 2009s Tender & True and just fabulous straight from the roasting tray. Yes they’re in the ground for 8 months+ but well worth the investment in time and space.
3) Courgettes “F1 Orelia & Black Beauty” – summer powerhouse veg, very little work other than remembering to harvest, and provided easy meals simply roasted or thrown into a pasta bake, souped, relish etc. Don’t moan about this profilic veg, you’ll miss them in winter.
2009 was Brussels, Cucumber and Courgettes.
And the worst……
1) Onion Sets “Radar” – pitiful golf-ball sized excuses for onions – not enough water spring / early summer?
2) Garlic “Purple Wight” – where did it go? Planted too late, no cold snap to break dormancy? Some has appeared this Autumn.
3) Carrots “Javelot” – had a crack at growing some long carrots which were pretty rubbish. Crammed too many into the bin? Will try again next year.
2009 was carrots (there’s a trend developing!), Parsnips and Leeks (I haven’t even seen my leeks since I planted them round the corner in a neighbour’s plot so can’t comment yet!).
Sweetcorn “Sweet Sensation” – planted very early, survived the frosts under bottle cloches and juicy, sweet cobs were eaten through August – more please!
Veg I should have grown
The humble Swede………back on the list for 2011.
Transplanting cucumbers from windowsill to greenhouse too early – lost my prized variety “Carmen” that did so well for me in 2009 and went for a non all-female variety as a back-up which wasn’t as good. Don’t sow too early.
I had a successful Summer Show at my local Horticultural Society show. Took cups/medal for most points veg and most points overall veg/flowers. I’d like to branch out a bit this year and do more local shows.
2010 list of veg:
In the greenhouse: Lettuce (Salad Bowl, Little Gem, Red Deer’s Tongue & Lollo Rosso), Cucumber (Burpless Tasty Green), Tomato (Moneymaker, Garderner’s Delight, Brasero & Tumbling Tom), Chilli (Fresno Supreme, Cayenne, Jalapeno, Scotch Bonnet), Peppers (Etuida, Californian Wonder, Yellow Bell Pepper).
Radish (French Breakfast, Albena), Beetroot (Detroit), Salad Potato (Charlotte, Juliette, Anya, Desiree, King Edwards), Broad Bean (Sutton), Runner Bean (Scarlet Emperor), French Bean (Cobra & Dwarf Ferrari), Courgettes (Orelia F1 & Black Beauty), Summer Squash (Scallop Mixed), Chard (Bright Lights), Brussel Sprouts (Maximus Hybrid), Cabbage (Golden Acre Primo), Carrots (Amsterdam Forcing, Javelot), Parsnips (Exhibition), Garlic (Purple Wight), Onion Sets (Radar), Shallots (Golden Gourmet), Broccoli (Early & Late Purple Sprouting), Kale (Dwarf Green Curled & Scarlet), Cauliflower (Snowball), Calabrese (Aquilies), Celery (variety unknown), Pumpkin (Rouge Vif d’Etamps), Leeks (Musselburgh), Sweetcorn (Sweet Sensation), Jerusalem Artichokes (variety unkown).
For comparison – 2009 list of vegetables:
In the greenhouse: Lettuce (Salad Bowl, Little Gem & Lollo Rosso), Cucumber (Carmen F1), Tomato (Moneymaker, Garderner’s Delight & Marmande), Chilli (Cayenne & Jalapeno), Peppers (Etuida).
Radish (French Breakfast, Albena), Beetroot (Detroit), Salad Potato (Charlotte, Juliette & Anya), Broad Bean (Sutton), Runner Bean (Scarlet Emperor), French Bean (Cobra & Dwarf Ferrari), Courgettes (Orelia F1), Summer Squash (Scallop Mixed), Butternut Squash (Cobnut F1).
Chard (Bright Lights), Brussel Sprouts (Maximus Hybrid), Cabbage (Golden Acre Primo & Savoy), Carrots (Amsterdam Forcing), Parsnips (Tender & True), Garlic (Purple Wight), Onion Sets (Radar), Shallots (Griselle), Broccoli (Early & Late Purple Sprouting), Kale (Dwarf Green Curled & Scarlet), Swede (Virtue), Cauliflower (Snowball), Leeks (Musselburgh), Jerusalem Artichokes (variety unkown).
We were up in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, this weekend for my friend Adam’s 40th. We stayed at a lovely guest house which we highly recommend for anyone staying in the town. Saturday was spent looking around which included tea and cake at the world famous Bettys.
Harrogate is a lovely place and well kept; the flowerbeds, packed with summer bedding, are all over the town and its open spaces and parks are treasured. Harrogate also plays host to some great horticultural shows, the Autumn Show is September 17th-19th.
It was a great party with 30 of us in full medieval fancy dress, a traditional banquet served in a bread bowl, (which you ate after the last of the main courses was served), in an amazing medieval setting. We had soup, salmon and prawns, lamb shank, chicken & pheasant, the King’s stew, poached pear & ice cream and cheeseboard (I think there was also a vegetarian option!). More food than we needed really with large jugs of ale, cider and wine on the table. Fantastic night courtesy of our hosts.
And by popular demand here we are in our medieval garb!
In the garden you turn your back for a couple of days and courgettes become marrows!
In the flower bed the asters are now in full bloom.
And my last variety of Gladioli, Mexico, are finally out. Thank you to all who entered my free giveaway competition, prizes will be despatched soon. Have a great week!
We’re having some work done at the side of the house and the scaffolding afforded me the opportunity to get a different perspective on the garden from just above the roofline.
There are a couple of veg beds in the front garden. The one by the front door you can’t see in this picture and it’s where the courgettes, squash, strawberries and raspberries live. At the far end by the road you can just see the newest bed behind the trees. In there are beetroot, brussels, sweetcorn, squash, pumpkins, celery, sprouting brocolli and cabbage. By the drive is the main flower bed and the rest is the girls domain with toys everywhere!
Most of the veg growing is in the smaller back garden where I have 3 beds and a greenhouse. Having just dug the onions and potatoes there’s quite a bit of space now, a month ago it was packed solid.
The aubergines are going mad in the greenhouse. I bought these two as tiny plants at our spring show so have no idea what the varieties are. One is producing a few standard looking egg-shaped fruits and the other is throwing out loads of long thin paler ones. Any ideas?
And so are the cucumbers, now we have more than we know what to do with.
I’m really pleased with the progress on the pumpkin front. These are Rouge Vif d’Etamps from seed Maureen kindly sent to me.
And the squash have been great this year.
There’s also plenty of colour in the garden, these are Asters, Appleblossom.
And the glads and the sweet peas are still going strong.
Lastly I’m really pleased with my first attempt at Dahlias, definitely going to grow more next year, I don’t think you can beat them for colour.
Well the countdown to the village show run by my local Horticultural Society has well and truly begun. It’s 6 days away so I’m going around the garden checking on progress and seeing what I think will be ready for the big day. For last years write-up click here.
The main classes are Master Gardener and Society Top Tray.
Master Gardener (display space 24″ x 24″) – One vase of flowers and 3 vegetables from the list. One from Sweet Peas – 9 of any variety, Gladioli – 2 of any variety, Dahlias – 3 of any variety, or Perrenials – 9 of any variety. And 3 from Runner Beans – 6, Cabbages – 2, Cauliflower – 1, Carrots – 3, Onions – 3, Peas – 6 (pods), Potatoes – 6 (one variety), Tomatoes – 6.
I didn’t enter this class last year as I wasn’t growing any flowers, it’s most likely going to be glads or dahlias with runners, carrots and potatoes I think. Or I don’t enter again this year and pool my best veg in the other classes. Decisions, decisions…..
Society Top Tray (display space 18″ x 24″) – 3 vegetables from the list:- Carrots – 3, Onions – 3, Parnsips – 3, Peas – 6 pods, Potatoes – 3 one variety, Runner Beans – 6, Tomatoes – 6. I’ll probably be relying on parsnips, runners and spuds for this one, possibly carrots if I have enough decent ones.
The Dahlia bed is looking good. I should be able to enter some of these into the show. The varieties I’m growing are Shooting Star, My Love, Firebird, Hayley Jane, Kennermaland, Vancouver, Black Cat, Le Baron and Pompon Flow Mix (various small ball types). In containers I have Bristol Stripe, Babylon Bronze, Atika, Kenora, Purple Gem and Kelvin Floodlight. For more Dahlia posts click here, here and here.
This is Shooting Star.
The Gladioli are looking good, should have some ready at the right time.
Courgettes are a tricky class as I need three around 6″ long with flowers.
I need two cucumbers, they have their own class and can go into the salad veg selection.
The squash will go into the any other veg and selection of veg from my garden categories.
Peppers will go into the selection of veg category. Possibly some of the aubergines and chillies too.
The pumpkins are doing well. I’ve grown a couple of plants from the seeds Maureen sent me, the variety is Rouge Vif d’etamps.
And Chloe and I were in the garden harvesting the plum tree which produces hundreds of these tiny plums. Chloe loves them!
Don’t forget my free Land’s End Gift Voucher and Seed giveaway that I launched earlier this month. All you have to do is leave a comment on the post, just click here. I’ll be drawing the gift voucher winners and despatching the seeds towards the end of the month.
At this time of year there is one family of plants that starts producing serious amounts of veg on the plot. Cucurbits include cucumbers, squash and courgette which are all in full production now.
I finally cut my first cucumber of the season today. It’s been a bit of a disaster after the first plants (Carmen) sucumbed to a greenhouse move when it was still too cold, if I’d have waited another week or two we would have been picking them a good 6 weeks ago. Last year two plants produced over 40 cucumbers from the end of May to the end of October, Carmen is a great all female flower variety that I will definitely grow again. But it wasn’t to be and my back up is not all-female, I think it’s called burpless tasty green or something like that but it’s nowhere near as productive. Still there’s one in the fridge now so can’t complain.
I’m leaving this squash to grow on but cut the rest when they are fairly small. One or two rot off but most make it to the oven.
The variety is Mixed Scallop, a packet of seed I’ve had for three years now, some plants produce yellow fruits and others are a light green colour.
The courgettes are flying along, this one is Black Beauty.
And this one is F1 Orelia.
The girls love picking courgettes!
The Sweet Peas, Cornflowers & Red Orach are still going strong.
Whilst I’ve been trying to grow more exotic flowers this year the old stalwart the pot marigold is still one of my favourites. These two pictures do it some justice, great colour.
Off to the village music festival tomorrow, fingers crossed that the weather will hold out. Hope you are having a great weekend!