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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!!
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!
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!
Just to prove how little value I add with my nurturing of the veg plot in my absence the plot decided to have the best two weeks of the season so far. Thankfully I arrived back just in time to harvest some of the benefits.
The plot was starting to look like a jungle by the time I got back.
It’s the first time I’ve grown Mangetout and they are doing really well.
And the harvest, a couple of large broccoli heads, 3 cauliflowers, a load of broad beans, mangetout, asparagus peas and some garlic. Not bad at all! We were very fortunate to have a friend and neighbour keeping an eye on things although not much watering was needed with the rain we’ve had. And the strawberries and raspberries just keep on coming, definitely the best year for them so far. I should go away more often!!
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.
The unseasonably warm weather continues and you can work up a sweat just doing some light jobs around the garden. A day off work is a time to take stock of where everything is up to and what I need to get done over the Easter weekend.
Around the plot the garlic and broad beans are doing well.
And the lettuce, Webb’s Wonderful, planted in the coldframe is coming on.
The chillies have shot on in the warm weather.
And the first batch of dwarf beans have germinated. I followed Mal’s advice of sowing scar side down for the best results. Well worth checking out his experiment into bean germination.
I decided to plant out these Brussel Sprouts, a bit early, but they were bursting out of their pots. The patch they went into had been dug with a helping of well rotted manure in April and I finished it off by hoeing in a top dressing of blood, fish and bone the other day. I then dug the planting holes (2 ft apart, should be 3ft apart ideally but I wanted to get 3 plants across my 6ft bed) and firmed them in really well. When they get a bit bigger I can either earth up or stake them.
And finally the bluebells are starting to flower, which following the daffs and tulips is another welcome burst of colour.
Hope you all have a great long 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).
One of my favourite Travis Bickle quotes from one of my all-time favourite films, although not everyones cup of tea I’m sure. It rang true over the last few days with the stress and my own dis-organisation ahead of our Summer Show.
The show would not have been possible without the organisation by the Committee, Stewards and Judges. With over 300 exhibits I am told it took a good hour and a half to make all the decisions.
Our local MP, John Glen, kindly presented the prizes. Now I must admit John I switched off when you started talking about David Cameron’s Big Society, but I appreciate you giving up your Saturday to present the prizes for our Society. You don’t need to waste your words on us John, your Salisbury seat is as safe as houses (even in these toxic debt times!).
Then there’s the clean-up, the garden looks like a storm has been through, discarded veg trimmings all over the place. So that’s the first job, a good tidy.
And lastly to look ahead, as summer draws to a close, what do I need to sow to guarantee a continuation of crops? What will overwinter? Two years ago with a relatively mild winter my onions, garlic and shallots did well and got a good head start but would they have survived last winter if I’d have done the same? So many decisions to make.
Finally I’ve started to dig up the main crop spuds. The Desiree look good.
This is your last chance to enter my free Land’s End Gift Voucher and Seed giveaway. 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 this weekend.
I lifted my shallots at the weekend as the foliage was dieing back. I planted them way back on the 7th February along with the garlic and onion sets. The garlic has been a complete disaster, hardly any came through compared to last year when I had a good crop. And the onions haven’t been much better, pretty small compared to last year. I’m pleased with the shallots though, this year I’ve grown Golden Gourmet from sets and they are better than last year’s Grisselle variety.
I’ve set aside the best 20 or so to prepare for my local Horticultural Society’s Summer Show. I won 2nd prize last year and shared the Onion Cup so we’ll see what happens in a few weeks. I’ve peeled off any split skins and they’ll be left to dry for a while now. Then just before the show I’ll trim them up and tie the tops so they look the part. I think I’ll go back to overwintering my garlic, onion and shallot sets next time as it seems to produce better results.
Don’t forget my free Land’s End Gift Voucher and Seed giveaway that I launched on Sunday. All you have to do is leave a comment on the post, just click here.