Monthly Archives: December 2010

And the award goes to……

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.

Parsnips and sprouts were good this year.

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!).

My carrots were rubbish!

Best Newcomer
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.

Biggest Mistake
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.

Showing Success
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).

I can see clearly now……..

the snow has gone……..and the garden looks a right state! Oh well lots to do as soon as this drizzle stops and the ground drys out a bit….hopefully.

The broad beans I sowed about 6 weeks ago are just starting to poke through the ground, probably in shock at the moment, but I’m hoping they’ll take advantage of the relatively milder weather over the next few days and put a growth spurt on. They’ll give me early beans next year and less blackfly trouble, that’s the plan anyway.

And the onion sets have survived. They look a bit pathetic at the moment but that should change come spring and as long as I get bigger onions than last year (shouldn’t be difficult, they’re not far off now) I won’t complain.

The bargain strawberries I bought in late summer are clinging on in the greenhouse. I’ve got just the spot for them between the beech hedge and driveway which should be enough room to squeeze one long row of plants in.

So what are the main projects for next year?
Firstly I need to get on and build some compost bins. It’s been almost a year since I decided on a composting method I’d like to do full time as buying the stuff in is expensive and I think using this quick-cook method I should be able to get decent compost in 4 months. At the moment I’m getting nothing as I haven’t built the bins yet!

I’ll also have a dabble at growing some prize winning parsnips and carrots hopefully, just need to get some bins organised and filled up with grit sand and off we go. Hopefully it will be more successful than last time.

I should have a veg plot share in the next village and with a bit of luck an allotment at some point so expansion is on the cards whilst trying to squeeze the most out of the beds and borders at home.

Off the plot there will be the big New Year diet, I need to get in shape for next summer, and I’ll be entering my 39th year so I need a mid-life crisis of sorts. Another leg of the Pennine Way will be completed and I’m sure there’ll be many other things of interest to write about in the coming months.

So it’s going to be another busy year and I’ll be using this blog to record my successes and failures. As our laptop decided to attempt to spontaneously combust last night I may be offline for a while as it goes in for repair. I hope you all had a good Christmas and have a fantastic New Year and a great 2011 in whatever you choose to do! I’ll leave you with this photo of the girls destroying a Christmas tree.

So did you get what you wanted?

Well that’s another Christmas over, so did you get what you wanted?

On the gardening front Rach gave me a pair of Felco No2 secateurs which are fantastic. I have four pairs of cheap and battered secateurs in the garage which annoy and frustrate me every time I use them. They will now go in the bin and I’ll never need to buy another pair again. I’d recommend these as a must buy for any gardener, they’re in a different league to anything I’ve used before.

The Gardman frost guard will come in handy in spring to get some tender veg underway and I was also given some more seeds, well you can never have enough can you! A leaf salad mix, sunflowers and sweet peas.

Carol Klein’s “Grow Your Own Garden” will teach me some propagation techniques, I must admit I’m a bit lost with cuttings etc so this will be a great help.

I was also given a copy of Jamie’s America which has loads of great recipes to try and Mike Harding’s Walking the Peak and Pennines. Regular readers will know I’m a keen hill walker currently completing the Pennine Way in stages so this book will be well thumbed over the winter months.

I hope you’ve all had a great Christmas and got what you wanted from Santa!!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Best wishes for 2011.

And a couple of festive photos for you taken on our visit to see Santa this morning. Not quite Lapland but he was an informative Santa; for example we learnt that Harrod’s wooden toys are made by the inmates of Broadmoor Prison. There you go fact for the day!

Potato Day

The 13th Hampshire Potato Days will be on Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 January 2011 from 10am to 3pm at the Testbourne Community Centre, Micheldever Road, Whitchurch, near Andover, just off the A303. Entry for adults £2, accompanied children free.

One of the best potato days, with many stalls and a huge selection of seed potatoes for sale. For those wanting expert tips on growing great spuds both the National Vegetable Society Southern Section and Hampshire Branch will be holding stalls at the event.

Why not pay a visit? For more information click here.

More Snow and Seeds Have Arrived

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?

Looking Back…….

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??