Monthly Archives: July 2011


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.

New Forest & Hampshire County Show

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.

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A great day out and I hope to be showing there myself next year!!

Firsdown Music Fayre 2011

This weekend saw the 6th annual Firsdown Music Fayre, a free festival of local bands over 2 days for the local crowd to enjoy. It was a cracking weekend, the best yet, and we were very fortunate the weather stayed dry. It all started at 6pm on Saturday evening with the bands playing until 11 finished off with a great firework display. The crowd was fuelled by a well stocked bar serving Hop Back’s finest ales and Stowford Press cider and there was also a BBQ to keep those who hadn’t brought food well fed. Sunday afternoon saw a further five hours of bands, lots of picnicing, drinking etc before the short walk home. And the kids loved it too, running around the field, acres of space for them to play in.

The festival was opened by local hero and ‘Time Team’ legend Phil Harding.

Bands included Dirty Rouge, Fenton Stack, The Wednesdays, Lasa, The Zucchinis, David Waddington, Vulcan, The Hop Back Blues Band, Silent Jim, Sarus, with the Robbie Wallace Band closing the show.

The Saturday evening crowd in front of the stage for Lasa’s reunion performance.

Looking back from the stage on Saturday evening.

For more photo’s take a look at the festival’s facebook page here. For info on last year’s festival click here or here. A great weekend roll on 2012!!

Here Comes the Sun!

At last the sun has returned and just in time for the 2011 Firsdown Music Fayre. And it’s bringing the plot into full bloom, particularly the Dahlias which are now between four and five foot high and packed with flowers.

The marrow is finally growing.

And the squash are starting to swell, I think this variety is Crown Prince.

Hope you’re getting some sun wherever you are today. Have a great weekend!

Special Delivery Service

The girls like watching Postman Pat Special Delivery Service at the moment. I don’t know what’s wrong with the original series that just had his van and the occassional trip on a steam train not all this helicopter and speedboat nonsense. Anyway I felt a bit like a special delivery service this morning clad in waterproofs going round the garden picking the veg for dinner. And here’s the harvest.

There’s potatoes (Charlotte), French Beans (Blue Lake and Purple Teepee), Runner Beans (Moonlight), Calabrese (Aquiles F1), Courgette (Black Beauty), Mangetout (Oregon Sugar Snap) and Cauliflower (Snowball). Not a bad haul!

Red Hot

After reading Mark’s chilli update post I thought I’d better take a look at my plants as I’ve been neglecting them, other than a quick watering and feed, for the other, more needy, veg on the plot.

On the greenhouse staging are the chillies (cayenne, cheyenne, scotch bonnet, apache), and peppers (bell boy, redskin, leteus, denver, etiuda). I’ve managed to fit most of the plants on the staging with only a few on the floor.

The Cayenne chillies are doing really well with one or two turning red now. I’m starting to use some whenever I cook a curry.

This is the usual pepper that you see in the supermarkets.

And I’m also growing the long pointed variety Anaheim.

I haven’t settled on the best way of preserving them yet having tried drying, freezing and in oil. What’s the best way you use to preserve your chillies and peppers? Last year I used some of the peppers in this lovely recipe.

Have a great weekend!

Harvesting on the plot – lettuce, rocket, radish, tomatoes, chillies, broad beans, french beans, mangetout, beetroot, spring onions, onions, shallots, cabbage, calabrese, potatoes

July Joy!

Approaching high summer and the garden and plot are reaching their respective heights of floral beauty and productive potential. My favourite flower, the Dahlia, is now coming into full bloom and, in my opnion, you’d be hard pressed to beat this particular bloom for summer colour. The variety is ‘Shooting Star’, a lovely cream coloured semi cactus variety.

By stopping the plants a month ago I’ve had to wait longer for the first blooms but I’ve got much bushier and stronger plants which means more energy going into producing more buds and flowers. Dahlias are relatively easy to grow if you follow a few basic principles – they are hungry and thirsty plants – so a good feeding and watering regime is essential. My Dahlia bed sits on the remains of my winter chicken manure delivery, once the plants are established I mulch with whatever compost I have left over and lawn clippings to help moisture retention. Another essential task is staking; Dahlia’s can grow to large plants around 4-6 feet high with heavy blooms so early staking is a must – it can look a bit unsightly with canes and string everywhere but the plants will soon fill out and hide this. If you want larger blooms, perhaps for your local flower show, then you’ll need to disbud, a topic I covered in one of last year’s posts.

‘My Love’ is a smaller white flowered semi-catcus variety.

‘Kennemerland’ is the largest Dahlia I have, growing to 6 feet, with large yellow flowers.

On the plot there’s lots of jobs to do. The strawberries have finished now so the foliage has been cut back and any runners pegged in the soil to help the new plants establish. At last the leeks are in, pretty tiny plants at this stage but there’s plenty of time for them to bulk up before winter. More beetroot, rocket, lettuce, radish and spring onions have been sown. Along with some winter veg, kale, brussel sprouts, cabbages and cauliflowers. There’s always something to do on the veg plot!

And the veg is coming thick and fast now. I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m growing a golden variety of beetroot this year, Burpee’s Golden. And I forgot that I’m still growing the standard red variety up at my shared plot in the next village – they’re pretty good as well.

Back home there’s loads of broad beans and mangetout, it’s my first year growing mangetout and they’ll be a firm favourite on the plot from now on.

Hope you’re all having a good weekend!

Harvesting – Lettuce, Rocket, Radish, Spring Onions, Tomatoes, Courgettes, Onions, Shallots, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Calabrese, Potatoes, Broad Beans, Mangetout, Beetroot.