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What a glorious day to be out in the garden and about time too! Today I needed to get the first batch of potatoes in using 17 litre polypots filled with Medwyn’s Potato Mix – these are aimed at the SW Show at the end of August. There’s 12 bags of Winston, 10 bags of Kestrel and 8 bags of Amour. A week later than last year.
These were then sunk into the large raised bed with some Vitax pellets in the bottom of the trenches. It’s now just about managing the water and any feeding through the season until they come out in the middle of August.
I’ll fill up some more polypots to go in the trench along the back edge of the lawn and the rest of the spuds will go in up at the allotment next weekend, along with the onion sets which are coming along nicely.
Other jobs to do today are plant out the broad beans and shallots and get on with more sowing and potting on. I can really feel the new season starting to kick in now, it makes a big difference having the sun on your back for a change! Have a great weekend all!
More like April torrential rain today! I feel like this year is already well behind with the cold winter and early spring. Hopefully we’ll get some decent weather and everything will catch up soon.
There’s three main areas of activity at the moment. Firstly the south-facing living room windowsill the best place for young seedlings. There’s a couple of pots of rocket – interesting in exactly the same conditions Runaway is far outstripping Va-Va Voom – Lettuce (Little Gem), Aubergines (Money Maker), Chillies (Joe’s Long), Celery (Morning Star) and Tomatoes (Sungold). All are making good progress and I’ll keep sowing rocket and lettuce every couple of weeks throughout the season. Later in the spring these will be sown direct into a three tier planter that I’m putting near the kitchen door for ease of picking when we need a few leaves.
Next is the cold greenhouse which is housing shallots and onion sets that haven’t gone out yet. Broad beans (Longfellow), and various brassicas – Cauliflower (Romanesque & Cornell), Brussel Sprouts (Wellington), Cabbage (Ramco), Calabrese (Aquiles), land cress and more lettuce.
And lastly there’s the pipes that I covered in the last post – and the carrots and parsnips have germinated so the cover is off and each one has the top portion of a plastic bottle protecting the seedlings which I’ll thin down to one in the next week or so. The stump carrots aren’t through yet but should be by next weekend. I’ve started three potato planters with Charlotte and the task of filling the polypots and getting the Kestrel, Winston and Amour out has begun and will be finished next weekend. On the showing front I’m aiming for the NVS SW show which is at the end of August so I have time yet.
I hope you’re all having a nice weekend and managing to get some jobs done despite the miserable weather. Here’s hoping we actually get a summer this year!!
The 15th Hampshire Potato Days will be held on
Sat 26 & Sun 27 January 2013
10am – 3pm
Testbourne Community Centre, Micheldever Road, Whitchurch RG28 7JF
Entry adults £2, accompanied children free
Sorry I’m a bit late in posting this as it’s on tomorrow and Sunday but if you’re in the area why not pop in to stock up on your seed potatoes, onion sets, shallots etc. The great thing about this event is there’s dozens of varieties and you can buy tubers singly for just under 20p each. I’ll be there on Sunday on the NVS stand so come and have a chat if you’re there. This is a good site to see what potato days or seed fairs are near you.
I’m slowly coming out of hibernation after being offline for most of the last 3 months so you’ll start to see more activity on here and I’ll be stopping by from time-to-time to catch up with my favourite blogs as well. Hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year and here’s to a successful growing season!!
There are a few things that mark the end of the season for me. The first ground frost about a week ago which took out my Dahlias, had to remove about 150 flowers and buds, such a shame as they had a good few weeks left in them and we haven’t had a frost since. The flowers on the Jerusalem Artichokes and the pumpkins turning a lovely orange colour mean it almost time to turn the clocks back. By then everything, bar a few brassicas, parsnips and leeks, is pretty much finished and the plot can be dug over and manured.
I had three small pumpkins off one plant this year as you can see next to the last of the Ramco cabbages. The veg for Sunday lunch was all from the garden – parsnips, potatoes, carrots and cabbage – and hedgerow blackberries and cooking apples from a friend up the road made the crumble. Not bad that, considering the weather we’ve had, you can still feed the family from your plot!
And the last of the carrots came out of the pipes as I was clearing the plot yesterday. This one was around 3 foot long and 6 inches round at the shoulder – not a bad specimen but I noticed a crack in it early on which meant it wasn’t any good for showing – tasted good though.
The plot (and blog) has been rather neglected recently due to a spate of DIY activity – normal service will resume very soon!!
We returned from a fantastic two weeks away about on hour south of La Rochelle (pictured), on the west coast of France, last weekend and there was lots of catching up to do on the plot.
The cucumbers (Carmen) in the greenhouse are coming on well. There’s six plants in two growbags on the staging which I’m training up and across the roof. The growbags are laid on large trays with a layer of gravel to act as a reservoir for water which is drawn up through the cuts in the bottom of the growbags – this has proved an effective method to make sure they are always well watered whilst I’m away. Picking off any sideshoots and tendrils as they develop so all the energy is concentrated into the fruits, plus removing the lower fruits that would not be able to fully develop without touching the staging. Hopefully I’ll have an unmarked pair for the New Forest Show which is three weeks on Tuesday. I won’t be giving them my full attention though with a three day stag do in Dublin and four days walking the Pennine Way between now and the show. Fingers crossed the hands off approach will pay dividends.
Alongside the greenhouse the Goldstar tomatoes are between five and six foot high with some of the fruit on the lower trusses forming nicely. As with the cucumbers I’m keeping them well watered and feeding regularly with a potash feed.
One of my main hopes for the show is a pair of cabbages (Ramco) – difficult to get a decent photo of them as I daren’t lift the net tunnels off them for fear of breaking some of the leaves. This won’t happen until the night before the show. Fingers crossed they’ll heart up by then and remain bug-free. A liberal sprinkling of pellets every so often has helped keep the slugs off them up to now.
I’m concerned the long carrots won’t be thick enough as they’re behind last year and I’m also hoping a set of stump carrots will be ready in time.
I’m not entering celery in the show as this is my first real attempt at growing this difficult veg, but I’m pleased with progress so far. I need to swap the collars for longer ones to draw the plants up further for a good blanch on the stems.
And the potatoes are looking good, with really healthy looking haulms which are in flower. These are in polypots filled with a potato mix from Medwyns so they are my best hope for the show. As with all the veg a question mark on whether or not they’ll be ready in time – never sure what’s underneath. They’re all coloured potatoes so I’m hoping for a decent matching set. Next weekend I’ll cut the haulms and move the bags under cover to dry out and let the skins harden. Hopefully I won’t be looking at a bag full of marble-sized spuds after that!
This is also the first time I’m growing peas and the pods are starting to fill out nicely.
On the harvest side we’ve had loads of soft fruit this week, the usual strawberries and raspberries and also these gooseberries for the first time which all the family loved!
Also some shallots, a mixture here of Hative de Niort and Jermor.
And finally some mangetout and calabrese as well. Not a bad harvest.
It’s not all be great news though, up at the shared plot I lost most of my squash and pumpkin plants to slugs but up at the allotment the sweetcorn are doing well and no sign of the dreaded deer so far. It’ll be a busy few weeks as everything comes to fruition and also getting in some late sowings to take us through Autumn. Have a great weekend everyone!
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………………
It’s slow progress at the moment up at the allotment, every time I have a spare hour to nip up there it’s been raining. So far I’ve planted a few rows of potatoes and a double row of broad bean plants. But with the asparagus crowns arriving this morning I had to get up there come rain or shine and thankfully dodged the showers this afternoon.
It’s looking a bit better since I first started. From bottom to top is rhubarb – one large clump I inherited and three small crowns I put in. Then there’s the ‘soon to be gone’ weed patch – I’m planning to put sweetcorn in there. Next is the new asparagus bed – two rows of 6 plants, varieties Backlim, Darlise and Gijnlim – in 3 years time I’ll be harvesting the first full crop! Then there’s the beans and potatoes.
And today is the first time I’ve harvested from all three of my sites. Some rhubarb from the allotment, cabbage, cauliflower and parsnip from the shared plot and purple sprouting broccoli from home. It’s great to have some fresh produce at a typically sparse time of year.
Tomorrow, with the girls off to a birthday party, it’s time to get some Ramco cabbage plants in at home and get the dreaded mower and strimmer out for a long overdue garden tidy up. Maybe it’ll rain so I’ve got an excuse to put that job off for another day!
I was up at the shared plot this morning getting the rest of my potatoes in, Casablanca, Kestrel and Bonnie. about 60 in 5 rows around 2ft apart so there’s plenty of room to earth up as they grow. Also planted a double row of broad beans to complement those I put in at the alloment last week.
Looking around the plot I noticed that the row of overwintered caulies were starting to heart up and I took one home for dinner. There’s about 20 which should all grow ready for harvesting in the next few weeks. It’s a great time to have caulies to eat in the typical ‘hungry gap’ at this time of year. The pigeons don’t seem to bother with the mature plants and we’re a few months away from the worst of the cabbage whites plus we’re not quite on the salad meals of high summer. So they are a very welcome crop indeed!
This afternoon I’ll be out in the garden with the children getting a few jobs done when I can making the most of a dry day. Hope you all have a great weekend!
There were a few problems with the delivery of the potato mix but it finally arrived last night. So after collecting my share (5 x 75 litre bags) this morning I set about filling the fifteen 17L polypots. Half will have Kestrel and half Bonnie and the leftovers will go into bags with a sieved soil/compost mix. This is the first time I’ve used a specialist potato mix and it certainly beats all the hard work of shredding/mixing a homemade version. Time will tell if it produces some decent spuds.
At the end of one of the raised beds I dug out a trench and threw in some manure, fertiliser and slug pellets. Then placed two rows of bags side-by-side and filled in the surrounding soil so it was almost up to the level of the bags. Each bag was filled with the mix and a seed potato (with 1 or 2 strong chits) was plunged to the bottom of the bag. The idea is that the potato roots grow out through the holes into the trench with the manure and fertliser and the bag fills up with spuds. I don’t bother filling the bags as they grow; starting off with a full bag is easier! Then it’s just about the watering and supporting the haulms properly so they don’t fall over and grow as vigorously as possible producing the energy to form new tubers. That’s the theory anyway!
I’ve already got Arron Pilot, Lady Christl, Charlotte, Pink Fir Apple and Salad Blue in at the allotment and Casablanca will go into the shared plot hopefully this weekend. I also planted a double row of broad beans at the allotment and have plans for a serious amount of sweetcorn and an asparagus bed. I’m really enjoying the allotment, it was so peaceful down there yesterday and I’ve now met three of my immediate plot neighbours. It’s great to have a quick chat and share a few tips.
I’m lucky to have gained a greenhouse when we moved in next to which I’ve built three raised beds which form the main part of my plot at home. At this time of year it’s invaluable to grow on seedlings and take pressure off the indoor windowsills which can get a little crowded.
There’s onions (from Darren), beetroot (Boltardy), peas (show perfection), mangetout (oregon sugar snap), broad beans (longfellow and an unknown variety), leeks (porvite), celery (from Darren), sweetcorn (lark and earlibird), cabbage (green ramco), cauliflower (cornell), brokali (appollo) and calabrese (aquiles F1) all jockeying for space. I’m converting the growing area on the other side of the greenhouse into a space for salad veg and I’ll be growing cucumbers (carmen) from the staging over the roof in the summer. My tomatoes (goldstar) will go into 3 mini-greenhouses in a narror bed by the side of the greenhouse.
As tradition dictates Easter weekend is potato planting time. Whilst waiting for a potato mix to arrive for my show potatoes which I’m growing in bags (Casablanca, Bonnie & Kestrel) I need to get on and plant the rest. I’d like to put some in my allotment as they’re good for working the ground which was pretty compacted when I took over. Most of the seed potatoes I have are 1st and 2nd earlies, Aarron Pilot, Lady Christl, Charlotte, Salad Blue with Pink Fir Apple as well. So planting now will mean some lovely spuds to eat in late July through to September.
The only problem I have at the moment is celeriac germinating. I was given a few seedlings last year which I grew on and we really liked the taste. So I bought a packet this year but I can’t get any to germinate – a bad packet or user error? Any tips for me?
Whatever you’re doing this weekend I hope you have a lovely Easter!