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One of my favourite songs and very applicable to anyone attempting to grow veg for showing. Most of my veg growing is for the table but I do have a few plans for showing some of the veg this summer, hopefully at the NVS Southern Championship at the New Forest Show at the end of July (here’s what I’m aiming for!). Most people growing veg for show rely on a little help from their friends from time to time. Be it seeds, a few plants or some advice and guidance.
This morning I planted 7 Green Ramco cabbages from friend Darren after my sowings had been slow to grow on. I’ll pass mine back to Darren for the NVS Hampshire DA plant sale on 12th May which I can’t attend as I’ll be at my neice’s baptism.
I’ve also been kindly given some long carrot seeds from former National Champion Bob Brown and much advice from him and Darren along the way. Now I’m only dabbling really compared to others who have expert set ups and lots of time and dedication to devote to the pastime. But without the help of friends I wouldn’t have a chance. And that’s what it’s all about for me.
With today’s rain receding I managed to get my shallots out this afternoon. A few sets of Hative de Niort and Jermor went in next to the overwintered onions. And some onion sets left over from those I planted out at the shared plot which I filled any gaps with.
I attended my local NVS DA vegetable seminar last weekend (see Darren’s blog for all the details). This was the first weekend event the DA had put on and they’d lined up two excellent talks for us. The first was a year on the allotment from NVS national chairman Barry Newman and he pointed out some great tips that he had picked up from the showing side of the Society and applied them to his allotment growing to get better results for the kitchen table (this is the way the NVS willl attract new members I think as the show tips and disciplines can be translated to the garden/allotment with great results). The second talk was from the legendary Charlie Macey on cucumbers and tomatoes. What Charlie doesn’t know about these subjects isn’t worth knowing. I learnt that you can’t really grow cucumbers and tomatoes in the same greenhouse effectively as they like different conditions with cucumbers preferring the humid, steamy greenhouse conditions that are achieved in summer by keeping the doors and vents closed and regularly damping down. We also saw slides from Charlie’s tomato greenhouse were he was still getting a great crop off the 12th truss of the plant which was growing across the top of the greenhouse. This was some serious tomato growing but nothing that anyone with a greenhouse or polytunnel couldn’t achieve. I came away with plenty of notes and a plan to concentrate on cucumbers in the greenhouse this year (the family favourite) and grow my tomatoes in a bed alongside the greenhouse using 3 mini-greenhouses side by side as protection in the early part of the summer. My main tomato variety will be Goldstar (recommended at the seminar for both its excellent taste and show qualities) and the cucumber variety is Carmen (which all the family love eating and is the top show variety).
And there’s plenty of sowing done and to do. So far Brussels, Celeriac, Broad Beans, Tomatoes, Chillies, Pepper and Lettuce are all in various trays indoors or the greenhouse. I’ve pricked out some celery plants that Darren kindly gave me and there’s the very first signs of carrots coming through in the pipes. Fingers crossed I’ll get decent germination from the pipes as I’ve only got one chance for the New Forest Show at the end of July. Well off to do some more sowing now. Have a great weekend!
Today there was a welcome delivery on the doorstep, an order placed with Medwyns of Anglesey had arrived, the final piece for my show veg attempts this year.
After grinding up calcified seaweed last year (never again) I’ve invested in a bag of the powdered version which will go in the long carrot mix. There’s also some Nutrimate Gold, Perkla, SB Plant Invigorator (an expert at our Hort Soc Gardener’s Question Time swears by the stuff so I thought I’d give it a try), green split canes, plant support clips (for the onions), and some more seeds. Yes more seeds! Beetroot Pablo F1, Parsnip Gladiator, Stump Carrot Sweet Candle, Marrow Table Dainty (with Cabbage Ramco and Cauliflower Cornell to follow) and interestingly some free trial seed packs of courgette and stump carrot which I will try out.
And the last bit of shredding is finally complete. 8 bags of 75L F2S done.
So in the next couple of weeks I’ll be mixing and getting the pipes in ready for sowing mid-February. Whilst most sensible veg growers take it easy over December and January, those that want to show to a decent standard are kept pretty busy. Fingers crossed I’ll be exhibiting at the NVS Southern Championships at the New Forest & Hampshire County show this year. I already have the feeling of being behind after having a break over Christmas. Ah well I’m sure I’ll catch up. Have a good weekend everyone!
Following on from my last post when I showed you my latest carrot growing success I put the 3 long carrots on the showbench at our NVS Hampshire DA mini-show last night. It was really interesting to hear newly appointed NVS Chairman Barry Newman’s expert judging feedback and he gave my carrots some favourable comments and 2nd place to Mr Blick’s superb set that also took overall best in show. Considering it’s my first attempt and I only had 3 long carrots to choose from I’m pretty happy with that. Pictured below you can see how great Darren’s set is and they would have graced any showbench at any level. No wonder he’s smiling and a nice little trophy for the mantlepiece too! You can follow Darren’s progress over at Blicky’s Blog.
So that’s it for this season. Good luck to all those entering the Midland Championship at Malvern a week on Saturday. Next year it’ll be an all out assault on the NVS Southern Championship at the New Forest & Hampshire County Show for me. I’m going to busy over the winter planning for that!!
I went to the New Forest & Hampshire County Show yesterday for the first time since I were a lad. Mainly to support my mate Darren who was entering his first ever show. He doesn’t take the easy option as his first ever veg show was the National Vegetable Society Southern Championship which is hosted every year at the New Forest. It’s open to all NVS members, not just those from the South and attracts some of the top veg showers in the country.
Darren had entered 3 classes in the NVS side of the competition (there’s also an open vegetable show that’s a lower standard than the NVS but still a good standard). Long carrots, parsnips and cabbages. I’d driven down with him the previous evening to help lift the cabbages and it was a good experience seeing the top showers staging their exhibits and picking up some tips for next year hopefully. The next morning I arrived around 10am to see them all stood at the entrance to the marquee and the judging still going on. You could feel the tension but it wasn’t long before the results were in.
And he’d only gone and done it, a 1st place for the long carrots, beating his mentor and ex-national champion Bob Brown and another ex-champion Jim Thompson into the places. What a result! I can safely say from knowing Darren over the last few months nobody has put more effort into this than he has and it was well and truly deserved, I was made up for him! To read more on the stress of the last few days visit Darren’s blog.
He also picked up a 3rd place for his cabbages, the class was won by Chris Hewlett (who ended up getting the most points overall). I’m very interested in showing veg so I took a few pictures of the other top exhibits and from around the county show.
A great day out and I hope to be showing there myself next year!!
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!
This afternoon I got the rest of my pipes in. Regular readers will know I’m starting to dabble with growing some long carrots and parsnips. I’m going to grow these in pipes, black 4″ soil pipe that I bought in 7′ lengths and cut in half. They are buried in a raised bed and the pipes will be filled with a growing mix which will hopefully produce some lovely, long roots. I’ll also grow them direct in the main bed but rather than just sowing in the soil I’ll core out at regular spaces and fill with a compost mix to see if I can grow a better quality veg. Darren popped up to take a look and on his advice I spaced them out a bit more to allow room for the top growth.
I’ve started chitting my first and second earlies today in the cool conservatory. Lining them up in egg-boxes seems to be everyone’s preferred method and I’ll plant them out in six weeks time as long as the soil feels warm enough.
In my quest to learn more about growing veg I’ve joined the National Vegetable Society (NVS). It’s £17 a year, you get an excellent quarterly magazine, regular talks and visits run through county district associations and access to the on-line forum where members share advice and experience. The first meeting of the Hampshire DA is on Tuesday with a talk from Sherie Plumb on Runner Beans and Cauliflowers. Sherie is renowned as an expert potato grower sweeping all before her at National level, and her runners aren’t bad either. I’ll shall learn a great deal on Tuesday I’m sure.
There’s lots to do in the garden in February, for a list of jobs click here. Please add anything you can think of in the comments.
It’s our Horticultural Society Jumble Sale on Saturday 27th Feb from 2pm at Winterslow Village Hall, Middleton Rd, Winterslow, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 1PQ. All manner of jumble, bric-a-brac, books etc will be on sale to raise money for the Society. Come along if you’re in the area. For more information click here. For a map click here.
If your in the South Wilts/West Hants area look out for the ‘Seedy Sunday’ event on 27th February between 2 and 4pm at Downton Memorial Hall. A seed and plant swap plus advice on growing veg and many other topics, it looks like a good event. Free entry, refreshments and children’s activities. For more information click here.
Downton Memorial Hall
The Borough, Downton
Lastly, if you have young children, don’t forget Mr Bloom’s Nursery starts Monday on Cbeebies, 10.05am and 2.05pm. I first heard of the programme reading Dawn Issac’s Little Green Fingers blog, who was involved with it’s development. We’ll be watching!!
Ok, that’s my cup of tea finished, now back out to get the raspberry canes in. Hope you’re having a good weekend!
We went up to the Hampshire Potato Day at Whitchurch and I couldn’t believe how many people were there. The place was packed full of people buying seed potatoes by the sackful. Not sure how much Rach and the girls enjoyed it but I had a good hour wandering around looking at the different types of potatoes (made it up to them with a pub lunch afterwards). Had a chat with Darren who was helping out on the NVS stall and he signed me up for a years membership and I bought some Stenna Runner Bean seeds (more seeds!). Then it was down to the business of selecting some spuds (as if I haven’t got enough already!).
After a word with one of the chaps filling the baskets with more nets of seed potatoes I went for Rubesse, a lovely coloured skinned potato that apparently easily outcrops Desiree. And from the JBA rack a packet of NVS Amour which looked great in the photo.
Chloe and Emily were given a free potato each so they’ll have their own little bags to grow them in. Their faces lit up when they received their gift but I quickly took them when Emily was just about to take a bite out of hers!
I’ll start chitting my earlies in a week which will be 6 weeks before I plan to get them out on the plot in mid-March. Can’t wait, that’s when the season really gets underway!
For a list of February jobs check out the Horticultural Society Blog here and please add anything I’ve missed as a comment.
Hope you’re all having a productive weekend!!