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Yesterday was the annual Winterslow & District Horticultural Society Summer Show and we had over 300 entries at the Village Hall for veg, flowers, jams, cookery, flower arranging and childrens.
I entered the veg for the 3rd year (of course) and Rachel went in for the 5 cookery classes with Chloe entering the three 3-6 year old classes. And here’s the results list:
Master Gardener (3 veg & flowers) – not entered
Society Top Tray – 1st (3 parsnips, 3 carrots, 3 potatoes)
Onions (larger than 250g) – unplaced
Onions (smaller than 250g) – not entered
6 shallots – 2nd
Truss of Tomatoes – not entered
5 Cherry Tomatoes – 3rd
5 Tomatoes – 1st
Carrots – 1st
5 Potatoes – 1st
5 Salad Potatoes – 1st
Beetroot – 2nd
Any other Root Veg – 1st (parsnips)
6 Runner Beans – 3rd
8 Dwarf Beans – 3rd
8 Climbing Beans – unplaced
2 courgettes – unplaced
2 indoor cucumbers – not entered
2 outdoor cucumbers – not entered
Any other Veg – unplaced (pair of marrows)
Collection of Veg from Garden – 2nd (Carrots, Squash, Celeriac, Chillies, Garlic)
Collection of Salad Veg from Garden – 1st (Lettuce, Cucumber, Beetroot, Tomatoes)
5 culinary herbs – 2nd
Flowers – entered 4 Dahlia classes
Miniture Dahlias – 1st
Small Dahlias – 2nd
3 Cactus Dahlias – 2nd
5 Dahlias – 2nd
5 Savoury Biscuits – 1st (Parmesan & Rosemary)
Summer Fruit Tart – 1st (Raspberry)
5 Sausage Rolls – 2nd
Millionaire’s Shortbread – 3rd
Cake from fruit/veg – 2nd (Courgette Cake)
Potato Face – 1st
Sponge Painting – Highly Commended
Collage of items collected on a summer’s walk – 2nd
For the veg I won the Top Tray shield, the Challenge Bowl for the most points in the roots veg section (were I only dropped one point getting a 2nd for beetroot), and the Joe Kiff Cup for the most points overall in the veg classes. Rachel won the Winterslow Cup for most points in the cookery and Chloe shared the Junior Class with two other children and received a certificate. What a fantastic result!! We were very pleased if a little worn out by the end of the day!
Thanks to all the competitors, the committee, judges, stewards, helpers and our local MP John Glen for presenting the prizes.
Here’s the best of the photos:
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.
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.
Here’s my photo selection from the Spring Show were I won a trophy for most points. The theme was “Home and Garden”.
Top left was in the class “Playtime in the Garden” and features my daughter, Chloe, having fun with the bubble machine. It got first prize and some nice comments from the judge.
Top Centre is a photo of my dog Polo; the only photo that qualified for “Animal/Birds in the Home or Garden”. Not surprisingly unplaced.
Top Right was stretching the category as it’s not my garden but Mottisfont Abbey near Romsey and in my eyes qualified as a photo of a “Garden Feature”. No points for this one either.
Bottom left won second prize for a “photo of a plant in a container” – Snake’s Head Fritillary which is now planted in the garden among the daffs.
Bottom centre was a toungue-in-cheek entry into the “photo of a wheelbarrow and garden tools” class. I entered this with the caption “sometimes gardening is a messy business!” The judge agreed saying gardening was “organised chaos” at the best of times and gave me a first.
Bottom right is a picture of Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai, India. Entered into the class “Washing Day” with the caption “And not a packet of Daz in sight!”. Although this was my best picture it was stretching the theme somewhat so didn’t score.
So two 1sts and one 2nd prize was enough to win the section and pick up the trophy. I’ll try again next year!
It was my local Horticultural Society’s Annual Spring Show on Saturday which provided lots of colour on a lovely afternoon at the Village Hall.
I picked up a couple of 3rd places in the five Daffodil classes I entered. And received the Arthur Symns Trophy for most points in the Photography section. Chloe won the Children’s Cup for her Easter plate and drawing of a princess – she ended up with more prize money than I did with £7, and there was no buying raffle tickets, it all went straight in her money box – very wise indeed!
Click here to see a selection of photos from the show.
And what fantastic weather we’ve been having recently. Back on the plot I’ve been making the most of it. I’m pleased to report the long parsnips are up – Stage 1 complete! And they were Linford Christie parsnips in the germination stakes – sowed on February 20th they took around 30 days to come up (I’m not sad enough to be checking daily, yet!). Just waiting for the long and stump carrots to emerge now. I also sowed a few rows of parsnips direct in the bed.
Then I re-assembled my two plastic cold frames to cover some lettuce seedlings and carried on with some more digging and sowing. All the brassica seedlings are coming on well in the cold greenhouse and the chillies and tomatoes are doing OK on the bathroom windowsill. I’m going to sow a second batch of tomotoes this week to see how they compare. Then next month I’ll move onto the tender veg, cucumbers, squash, courgettes etc. A very busy time!
Hope you had a good weekend and are making the most of the extra hour in the evenings. Doesn’t it make a big difference?
Update – I managed to win Craig’s competition over at Dyke’s Edge Allotments. Thanks Craig! I must remember to get that Euromillions ticket, they say things come in three’s!!
The circle of life was completed today on the Two Chances Veg Plot as far as my parnsips were concerned. A few are harvested every Sunday to go with the roast dinner and today was no exception. It was also sowing day for my first ever long parnsip attempt in the pipes now installed in one section of the raised bed.
The mix had been in for three days and had hopefully settled as much as it was going to. After a thorough soaking 5 Gladiator seeds were popped into the centre of each pipe, sideways on, then lightly covered, and the end of the pipe then covered with polythene to keep them a bit warmer and protected until germination. Now it’s just a waiting game as parsnip germination can be very slow. Hopefully all the seeds will come up and I’ll eventually thin down to the strongest one. Over the next few weeks I’ll sow more directly into the beds but using a station sowing method into cores of the same mix spaced every 6 inches or so. This should hopefully give me some nice, large parsnips come Autumn. Then I’ll be preparing my mix for the long and stump carrots that will go in over the next 2-3 weeks.
Elsewhere on the plot the digging is now finished. A top layer of well rotted chicken manure is hopefully drawing up the worms to work their magic and will be lightly forked in ahead of planting. The broad beans sowed in Autumn are about 4″ high and looking strong, as are the onion sets. Two PSB plants have survived, one of which is the largest I’ve ever grown, not in height as it’s only about 4′, but it’s a monster width-wise and I’m hoping it will crop heavily soon.
Inside I’ve pricked out the chilli, pepper and onion seedlings. There’s a tray of Brussel Sprouts (Bedford) germinated and tomatoes have been sown (Marmande, Gardener’s Delight, Moneymaker, Tumbling Tom Red, F1 Incas & Golden Peardrop). I’ll be sowing more brassicas this week, cauliflower, cabbage, calabrese and PSB.
So with March approaching the activity level is starting to warm up like the weather will be hopefully. There’ll be lots to do over the next few weeks with sowing reaching frenetic levels and seed trays on every available windowsill in the house. Hopefully there will be no late cold snap, March will be nice and mild, and we’ll all be off to a flyer!!
As mentioned on UKVG there’s a new on-line publication for children and schools called Grow Time which is packed full of information to get children into growing their own fruit and veg. Well worth checking out.
It’s our local Horticultural Society’s Jumble Sale on Saturday so if you’re in South Wilts why not come along and support us.
And finally there’s a Seedy Sunday event this Sunday in Downton, South Wilts. I’ll be there as I’ve got nowhere near enough seeds .
Despite my laid-back approach to growing my own veg I can be a bit impatient at this time of year and today saw the first seed sowing for the Two Chances Plot.
Into a couple of unheated propogators went Onion ‘Globo’, Peppers ‘Etiuda’, ‘F1 Denver’, ‘Anaheim’, Chilli ‘Cayenne’, Aubergine ‘F1 Bonica’ and Tomato ‘Golden Peardrop’. The propogators will sit on the south-facing bathroom windowsill over a radiator so the seeds have a reasonable amount of warmth to germinate……..fingers crossed!
I used my standard approach to seed sowing. Filling up the cells with moist multi-purpose to about 2/3rds full, then topping up with seed compost. Sow the seeds on top of the compost then cover with a vermiculite. Seeds need a nutrient poor start hence the seed compost but it’s expensive so I keep its use to a minimum and when the roots start to form there’s a layer of multi-purpose to keep the plants going until they’re ready to prick out. That’s the theory anyway, based on an excellent talk from Ray Broughton last year. Check out one of my earlier posts for more detailed info on seed sowing.
What’s that I hear you say? Yes, I know it’s too early but I’ve been itching to get something underway since the New Year and seeds are cheap and I have them in abundance so what’s the harm? I’ll sow another batch in a month’s time and what I have left over will go into the Horticultural Society Plant Sale in May. If my first batch fails there will be less for the Plant Sale I’m afraid. Come the end of March I’ll select the strongest plants to grow on through the summer.
After much heated debate on UKVG following the announcement of the peat ban due to come into force I’m trialing a new peat-free compost this year from New Horizon which was highly recommended in recent Which magazine trials. I picked up half a dozen bags at Wyevale.
Have you got any compost recommendations? And any seeds on the go yet??
Well why not? It’s a bit like children, when you have one you may as well have a second!
Regular readers will know I’m now a member of the Winterslow & District Horticultural Society Committee. As I already have a blog up and running I was appointed website officer and I thought it would be a good idea to start a blog to keep members and the general public updated on upcoming events and involved in garden-related discussions. I’m hoping it will be a way of attracting new members to the Society particularly the young families just discovering the benefits of growing their own fruit and veg for example.
So please click here and take a look. Anyone can join in the discussion and I’d welcome any comments and suggestions you have for future content. It’s early days yet but I’m hoping it will be a success!
More snow fell in South Wilts yesterday morning around 6am, a couple of inches creating a beautiful scene across the gardens and fields.
But that didn’t stop the Royal Mail delivering my seeds. I order through my local Horticultural Society who get 50% off all seeds from Dobies.
It’s that time of year when plans are made and many a packet of seed is bought which may, or may not, get used. The new varieties for this year are:
Mangetout – Oregon Sugar Pod
Runner Bean – Moonlight
Dwarf French Bean – Purple Teepee and Borlotto Firetongue
Swede – Invitation
Tomato – Golden Peardrop and F1 Incas
Sweetcorn – F1 Earlibird
Lettuce – Webbs Wonderful
Rocket – Runway
Aubergine – F1 Bonica
Brussel Sprouts – Bedford
Celery – Loretta
Beetroot – Burpee’s Golden
These will be added to the 50-odd varieties already in the seed box. I’m going to need to organise myself next year! What new varieties are you planning too grow?
With the big freeze continuing there’s absolutely nothing happening on the plot apart from the odd sprout and snip harvest. So I thought I’d get all nostalgic about 2010, the highs and lows, and the obligatory next year I’m definitely going to……..
The year really got going when I attended a series of talks from expert Ray Broughton, got my soil tested and learnt a great deal about sowing seeds. I even had a go at growing long carrots which ended in disaster! I dug a new bed in April, picked my first cauliflower and broccoli in June, and by July I was lovin’ the veg, well apart from my pitiful onions. In August I took a different perspective on the plot, the beans went crazy and I picked my first ever sweetcorn. In the Autumn the greenhouse really came into its own and by October the last of the peppers had ripened finally. I also took some prizes at the local Horticultural Society Summer Show and later joined the Committee. In November I started thinking ahead to next year, and we were briefly front page news before the snow arrived and the big freeze set in!
It was a colourful year particularly in the Spring Show and the garden was in bloomin’ good form right through to October. I embraced the dark side of flower growing and became a real fan of Dahlias which I stopped, disbudded, and generally pampered all year until Jack eventually took his revenge!
Off the plot I gave something back to the Southampton General Hospital PICU and Teenage Cancer Trust and raised some money for The Stroke Association with a charity plant sale. There was also and unexpected trip to Wembley with Saints who won the Johnstone Paint Trophy. We had the odd family day out here, there and everywhere, and a nice, long break in Brittany. I cooked some curries, got my first taste of foraging and started brewing my own beer. I also completed another leg of the Pennine Way and got round to writing about it at long last. There were one or two free giveaways as well thrown into the bargain.
On the blog writing front I hit my 50th, and 100th post and Blog Anniversary this year. I’ve really enjoyed writing, reading your blogs and, of course, all your comments and kind words of encouragement.
What a year! So what do I want to do in 2011?
Firstly expanding my empire and growing more veg. Starting that composting regime I posted about 10 months ago. Encouraging more people into gardening and growing their own if I can. Getting out there and learning as much as possible. Enjoying the seasons, our beautiful countryside and wildlife. I may also have a dabble at some prize winning parnsips. If you want to see the work that goes into setting up for a go at growing prize winning veg take a look at fellow Salisbury chap Darren’s blog. Hats off to his dedication to the cause and I’m sure he’ll have some great results next summer, definitely one blog to follow.
But most of all having fun with the family and enjoying the lifestyle that comes from this hobby. Not getting too bothered about things and letting nature take its course is what it’s all about. Hopefully it’ll be a great year.
So what are your goals for next year??