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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………………
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 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!
Had a busy afternoon in the garden getting most of the first and second early potatoes in. I planted a couple of rows of Charlotte and put the remainder of the Charlotte and Kestrel into 17 litre polypot bags. I’m trialing them this year to see if I can grow a good crop in bags and save space on the plot for other veg. I managed to get 15 bags filled with a mixture of compost, top soil, fertiliser and vermiculite so fingers crossed they’ll do well. Just Lady Christl to go now and then onto maincrop. The main varieties will go in my shared plot up in the next village where there’s lots of broad beans, onions and shallots that have just been planted.
The long carrots are up and there are a few of the stump carrots showing. All the seedlings in the greenhouse are doing well with the broad beans, beetroot, caulies, cabbage, calabrese, brussels, psb, sunflowers and red orache coming on nicely. I need to sow some rocket, radish and spinach direct in the beds tomorrow evening if I get a chance.
And a real April treat the PSB is out and will be ready for Sunday dinner, can’t wait to try it!!
I dead headed the first of the daffs as well and their vibrant colour is being replaced by these lovely tulips.
I hope you’re all having a colourful and productive weekend!
Spring had definitely arrived today with some glorious afternoon sunshine which made it a pleasure to be out in the garden. And I had two little helpers with me to make sure I was doing all the jobs properly!
The daffodils are out in full bloom and the tulips are coming through nicely both in the flower bed and in the pots. Around the garden there’s forsythia, primroses, hellebores, pansies, lungwort and heather all flowering. In the veg plot there is no sign of the parnsips germinating yet. I’ve also sown long carrots in pipes and stump carrots in a couple of old dustbins. Fingers crossed I’ll get some decent specimens in the summer.
The broad beans are doing well, as are the onions that were overwintered. I’m still digging up parsnips from last year but there’s no sign of the PSB yet, hopefully it will start to sprout in the next couple of weeks, it’s one of the great treats at this time of year.
Under cover all the brassicas are at pricking out stage – cauliflowers, cabbage, brussel sprouts, PSB, and calabrese. There’s a tray of Red Orache, mangetout and sunflowers germinated and I’ve just sown some Burpee’s Golden Beetroot in modules this afternoon. So much to do now for the next few weeks to keep up with everything.
And I’ll be even busier this year after meeting a chap in the next village who is happy to share his garden veg patch with me. I’ll be able to do the heavy digging work and we’ll share the crops so I should be self-sufficient in veg through the summer and autumn months this year.
It’s the Winterslow & District Horticultural Society’s Spring Show on Saturda 26th March. If you’re in the area pop into the Village Hall from 2pm to take a look at the exhibits. I may even enter a few myself this time!
In a bid for early flowers I sowed my first sunflower seeds this morning. And it reminded me of a lyric in the late 80s Tears for Fears song ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ which seemed appropriate for this time of year as we enter March and a frenzy of sowing activity. That song also included a rant against Margaret Thatcher, ‘politician granny’;by that time the gloss had well and truly come off her leadership with the Poll Tax. We’ve come full circle politically again as we do in gardening every year.
So what’s happening on the Two Chances Veg Plot at the end of February? Well on the plot I’m still harvesting leeks and parsnips with PSB eagerly anticpated. Parsnips were sown in the pipes last week and the overwintered broad beans and onions are coming on well. Tulips are starting to come through in the tubs and in the flower beds there’s crocuses, daffs and more tulips doing their thing and taking advantage of the mild spell we’ve had recently. In the greenhouse the shallots are starting to sprout and I’ve got a loads of brussel sprout seedlings pricked out into small pots.
Indoors the spuds are chitting nicely and the second batch of broad beans is starting to germinate. On various windowsills a tray of lettuce (Webb’s Wonderful) needs pricking out, tomatoes are poking through and the first true leaves are showing the peppers and chillies. The onions look exactly the same as they did last week and I’ve just sown the first batch of sugar snap peas along with cabbage, early and late purple sprouting broccoli and some asparagus peas.
On the ‘to do’ list this weekend is the mix for the long carrots which I need to get into the pipes and sown. More brassicas to be sown – cauliflower and calabrese which can grow on in the greenhouse. So that’s it you’re up to speed on everything going on!!
Hope you all have a great weekend!
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 .
Well with a new season looming and the last few weeks of preparation wiped out by the weather there’s so much to do on the plot.
I’m glad to say that the PSB has bounced back, it was looking pretty forlorn in the cold weather, but I’m hoping to get a decent crop off a couple of the larger plants. It’s the only resident left in the front bed as I harvested the last of the Brussel Sprouts.
In the back garden I cleared the remainder of the kale and harvested a few more parsnips. So just the snips and PSB left from last year and overwintering onion sets and broad beans, with a few garlic coming through that I planted in March only never to appear in the summer. I’ve cleared the rest of the beds and will add some more well rotted chicken manure around the plot. I tested the soil in January last year and it had a pH of 7.7 so I’m happy to keep adding manure to bring the alkalinity down but I’d like to have another go at testing to see if it’s making any difference. Adding manure is a job I’d normally have done in November but with the rock solid ground it was impossible. It’s almost like soil it’s so rotted down so I will get away with it.
I’m also making plans for some prize winning veg growing. I’ve ordered some stump carrot (Sweet Candle) and parsnip (Gladiator) seed from Medwyns. I’m planning on growing the carrots in a couple of old dustbins I have and the parsnips in drainage pipes sunk into sand in a raised bed. More on that later.
I’ve taken inspiration from reading blogs written by people who show veg as a serious pastime and have been impressed by the dedication and hours they put in and their openess to share all the top secrets. I am only planning a very small effort by comparison and entering a local show or two. I met fellow Salisbury blogger Darren for the first time this morning, had a brew on his allotment and then saw his parsnip/carrot set up back at home. Having grown on an allotment for 5 years he’s decided to branch out into showing veg and is well ahead with his plans for this year. Take a read of his blog for an insight into what it takes to get started, mainly a lot of hard work and tonnes of sand at the moment!
Off the plot Rachel transferred her elderberry wine into a new demijohn, we had a quick taste, it has promise. And we sampled the sloe gin that we started 3 months ago, it’s tastes really good already, and it should develop to be even better in a few months. My favourite winter tipple.
I hope you’re all having productive weekends and managing to get out there and catch up with those jobs!
Update: just realised this is my 150th post, where did that time go!
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).
The garden has been a bit neglected recently with my trip away so this morning I had a good clear up. There’s not much left now just the Autumn and Winter veg. I took down the runner and french beans and have about a 100 pods to take beans from for stews and soups over winter. The kale and chard looked a bit miserable so I stripped the worst of the damage and they’ll survive for a while to give some welcome winter greens. There’s around 70 parsnips which I’m looking forward to harvesting to go with the roast dinner tomorrow. I always wonder about parsnips as they take up space for pretty much the whole year but the doubt is disspelled when they come out of the roasting tray!
In the front bed I harvested the last of the beetroot.
They won’t win any prizes but will provide some welcome colour and sweetness on the plate at this time of year.
I tidied up the brussels which had fallen over.
There’s some good sized sprouts already.
And the sprouting broccoli has survived the cabbage white attack.
The Onion sets I planted a few weeks ago have sprouted nicely, I am hoping they survive the winter.
The Jerusalem Artichokes are looking good, still in flower, and will provide another different vegetable over the long winter months. Well worth growing as they are very easy, I gave them no attention at all, and provide a useful screen about 6-8 feet tall.
If you would like some seeds to try next year just send me an email with your address and I’ll post some to you. I have loads to go around and they are a great variety for anyone trying pumpkins for the first time or looking to expand their number of varieties.
Have a great weekend!