Monthly Archives: January 2012

Potato Day and a Load of Muck!

A busy day today. I took delivery of a pile of muck from a local farm, Stanleys, in the next village. He was round 10 minutes after my phone call in a JCB with a £20 load and a promise of more if I needed it. I’ll dig this in around the plot were it’s needed as it’s really well rotted stuff avoiding the areas where I’m planning to grow root veg.

After taking the girls swimming we drove up to Whitchurch for the 14th Hampshire Potato Day. Whilst they slept in the car I had a quick look round and bought my seed potatoes for the year plus a couple of bags of onions sets. There was around 150 varieties to choose from, many of which you could buy as single tubers. And good value with 2.5KG bags for between £3.50 and £4 or 15p per tuber (7 for £1), and bags of onions sets for a £1.

I bought three 2.5KG bags of Casablanca, Kestrel and Bonnie. And smaller bags of Arran Pilot, Charlotte, Lady Christl, Pink Fir Apple and Salad Blue. I’ll set them out in egg boxes later to chit.

The show varieties will be grown in 17litre polypot bags using Medwyns Potato Mix and whatever is left over will be in the ground at the shared plot or alloment. I can’t wait to get started.

Had a quick chat with Darren who was manning the NVS stand and then it was back home for the football……..

Pipes are In………again!

Another job on the show veg front is almost complete. The pipes are in the raised bed and ready to be filled. Eventually I’ll construct an environmesh cover to keep the dreaded carrot fly out. There’s 12 6″ diameter pipes and 16 4″ diameter (the ones that I started with last year). The first job is to fill up half a dozen of the larger pipes ready for the parsnips. I’ll be sowing in a couple of weeks so will fill the pipes up next weekend and allow them to settle before sowing a few seeds in each one and covering with fleece until they germinate and can be thinned.

Looks like an alien installation at present!

Medwyns order arrives

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!

More seeds……

After a chat with my friend I share a plot with in the next village I’ve come away with some more seeds. I think between us we could cultivate half of Wiltshire! So I’m consolidating our collections and planning what to grow. And there’s a few varieties I’ve not heard of:

Radish – Rudi, Sparkler 3
Cucumber – Stimora Mix F1, Marketmore, Paska F1
Courgette – Patriot F1
Lettuce – All the Year Round
Radicchio – Palla Rossa
Cabbage – Derby Day, Winnigstadt, Drago F1, Durham Early
Cauliflower – Goodman
Beetroot – Golden Detroit, Cylindra
Carrot – Merida F1, Autumn King 2
Leaf Beet – Canary Chard

If you’ve grown any of these varieties I’d be interested to hear what you thought of them.

Potato Days

UKVG readers will know that I have been seeking their advice on what seed potatoes to purchase this year.

Last year I visited the Hampshire Potato Day at Whitchurch which was excellent with 100s of varieties of potatoes plus onion sets, shallots, garlic and various stalls selling seeds etc. Well worth a trip and I shall be popping down there again on Saturday 29th January. For more info visit their site.

Then I started looking for other events locally and was amazed to find they are popping up all over the place – here’s a list of ones that I can reach within a 40 minute drive for example.

And the great thing about them is I can buy single tubers (were normally from seed companies you have to buy at least 10) so I can try out new varieties and have a greater selection.

So here’s what I’m going for:

First Early – Arran Pilot
Second Early – Charlotte
Maincrop – Pink Fir Apple

I will also be growing Kestrel and Blue Belle for show (and eating) as well as Winston (as I’ve heard some people like the taste so I thought I’d give it a try as it’s the no1 white potato on the showbench as well). Plus a few other single tuber purchases that take my fancy.

Most will be grown in 17 litre polypots that was quite successful last year although it’s important to keep up with the watering.

Well let me know what you think and if you are visiting a Potato Day near you that you can recommend.

Flower Power 2012

You may know that I don’t just grow veg in the Two Chances Plot, I am partial to some colour and dedicate a  bit of space to flowers either as companion planting to the veg or in their own bed.

I grow quite a few from seed and here’s the current stock list:

Swan River Daisy – Summer Skies

Sweet Pea – True Fragrance Mix & 20th Anniversary Mix (although I may not grow these again since I discovered I’m allergic to the cut flowers)

Sunflower – Harlequin F1 Hybrid, Giant & Russian Giant

Nicotiana Sylvestris

Aster Apollonia Appleblossom

Dwarf Candytuft – Fairy Mix

Rudbeckia – Marmalade

Alyssum – Golden Queen

Nasturtium – Jewel Mix

Pot and French Marigolds – which are my main companion plants and grown in bulk from seed to put in the greenhouse and around the plot.

And then there’s the Dahlia tubers which I stored overwinter last year (with some failures) but have left in the ground this year (under a thick mulch) to save time and space.   The Dahlia bed at the height of summer:

So what’s your most effective companion plant on the plot? And is there a flower(s) you just can’t do without in the garden?

2012 Projects

There are a few projects on my mind for this year. Regular readers will remember I had some success at this last year.  And I finally got round to building a proper compost bin and took on my shared plot in the next village. I even grew some long carrots and parsnips in pipes for the first time. So what’s on the cards for 2012?

  • A covered potting area – I currently have 2 options for potting on, either on the bench in the greenhouse or in the workshop at the back to the garage.  In between the end of the garage and the greenhouse is a 8 foot square area which is north facing, so has no real growing potential as it’s shaded by the garage and is just gravelled at the moment with a log pile and compost bin.  The project is to build a covered area with two sides that will house a bench for potting and store compost bags etc underneath and have space to store logs down the side.  With easy access to the greenhouse and back garden it would be ideal and allow me to do some useful in those winter and spring nights were you still need a bit of shelter to be comfortable.  A great way of increasing the usable space in the garden and relatively low cost as well.  Not a simple project though (for me) so I’m hoping my Dad will be on hand to assist!
  • Extend the compost bin and have a cage for leaf mould.
  • Get the new half allotment into shape and add some well rotted manure to the shared plot to improve the soil.
  • Dedicate a small area for the children to grow stuff.
  • Be more wildlife friendly – a few bird boxes and places for bees etc.
  • Add more to the Hort Soc website and blog (I am now Treasurer as well so I hope the books will balance at the end of the year!).
  • An Asparagus bed up at the allotment.
  • Sort the two lawns out – they’re a bit of a mess and need some attention this year to get rid of the worst of the moss and weeds.  I don’t want a Titchmarsh standard  lawn but something that looks less like a field will do!

I’m hoping that by writing this stuff down I’ll actually get round to doing it.  Time will tell!

So what garden projects do you have planned?