Monthly Archives: August 2012

Cut Your Losses

Why did I ever bother to grow tomatoes outdoors this year? With blight lingering I decided to cut my losses and salvage the green fruit before it too was riddled. Having just finished the last batch of green chutney made three years ago at least we’ll have a new supply and I won’t ever bother growing outdoor tomotoes again!

A long overdue job was digging out the compost heap that I started last year. As you can see it was well rotted and has reduced from three and a half foot in depth (after being regularly topped up) to two foot. I’ve learnt a couple of lessons along the way – firstly don’t put any woody material in no matter how small in diameter – unless the heap is going to stand for years it’s not going to rot down. Secondly remove all plastic, that’s every scrap of tape on the cardboard and don’t bother including the hoover contents – especially if you have kids – as you’re always going to have scraps of plastic in there. But apart from that it was good stuff that’s now been spread over the beds.

I used the quick cook method which I can recommend – it’s based on heat rather than worm action (that’s about as technical as I get). If you want to know how to use this method check out my earlier post.

Today’s main job is the annual hedge cut – a mixture of beech, conifer and a few other assorted trees – I find it best to do the job once a year in August and I usually blitz it all in a day. As I left it until the Bank Holiday weekend I’ll have to endure the traditional heavy downpours but at least I won’t upset the neighbours trying to enjoy their gardens!

Hope you all have a great Bank Holiday weekend!

Village Show

It was my local Horticultural Society’s Summer Show yesterday and we had superb weather at the Village Hall. Whilst the vegetable entries were down understandably, the flower entries and other classes held their own for another successful local show.

After winning the cup for most points in the vegetable classes for the last three years I didn’t want to enter all the individual classes again – and I’d entered a few in last week’s Allotment Association Show, so it was just my shallots and any other veg (marrow) which achieved 1st and 2nd respectively. And I won the top tray although I was the only entry!

In the 4 Dahlia classes I entered I had a 1st (small), 2nd (minature), 1st (5 mixed) and 2nd (3 cactus) which I was pleased with.

And it was great to see some new faces taking prizes and cups which is what it’s all about!

This was my top tray entry of onions (Vento), Runner Beans (Stenner) and Potatoes (Kestrel).

And my shallots (Hative de Niort) – the same set I won with last week.

Finally my winning vase of 5 Dahlias (minimum 3 varieties). The girls entered their classes as well with Chloe taking the prizes for her leaf print picture, picture made from recycled material and play-doh flower. Winning £8 she took home more prize money than I did!

Salisbury Allotment Association Show

I decided to enter a few classes in my local Allotment Association Show. It’s open to anyone and has the full range of classes you’d expect at a good local show.

I entered Long Carrots (3), Shallots – culinary (6), Runner Beans (5), French Beans (5), Coloured Potatoes (4), Cabbage, Cucumbers (2), any non-root veg (3), any root veg (3), heaviest cabbage and 3 Dahlias, one variety.

By the time I left the hall after staging there looked to be a good standard of exhibits building up.

And the results were Long Carrots 2nd (behind Darren), Shallots 1st, Runner Beans 1st (winning a £5 seeds voucher), French Beans unplaced, Coloured Potatoes 3rd, Cabbage, 1st, Cucumbers unplaced, any non-root veg 2nd with celery, any root veg 3rd with parsnips, behind Darren (again) in the heaviest cabbage and 1st for the Dahlias. Not enough entries to challenge for a cup but I did win one for the Dahlias which was a nice surprise at the presentations as I didn’t realise there was even a cup for that class until it was announced. I was impressed by the standard of the exhibits, certainly a step up from most of the Village Shows I’ve seen.

A couple of the judging decisions were interesting. Not sure I should have won the cabbage as it had taken a bit of a beating from the slugs and didn’t look as good as the second place entry. And I had 3 decent celery (a 20 point veg) which was beaten by 3 garlic (a 15 point veg) – anyway the judges decision is final and it evened itself out in the end.

I was quite surprised with the Runner Beans as I picked them on Tuesday night so they were 4 days old by show time. Just goes to show if you store them right (wrapped in a damp cloth in the bottom of the fridge) they will be OK.

A good day all in all and I’m looking forward to our Village Show next Saturday and then that’s it for another year!!

Here’s some photos (on the long carrots mine are at the top and Darren’s winning set are on the right, on the parnsips mine are on the left and Martin’s winning set are on the right).

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We are now awash with veg which is OK as the girls love eating it.

Although not sure we can eat this much cabbage, this pair weigh in at 11 pounds each!!

It’s been a while……..

As a regular blogger going a month between posts is unusual for me but it’s been a busy few weeks. A 3 day Stag do in Dublin followed by a 4 day trip up to Northumberland for another section of the Pennine Way and then back for the New Forest Show. Pretty hectic!

I managed to get four entries into the NVS Southern Championships at the New Forest and Hampshire County Show at the Lyndhurst Showground. Long carrots, coloured potatoes, cabbages and cucumbers and I didn’t embarrass myself with what I showed although no prizes this time (to see how it’s done check out Darren’s blog, he had an excellent show). I was pleased with my carrots they just needed more weight so I’ll be trying again next year. Same with the cabbages, they were a nice, clean pair just needed more weight to get anywhere near the winner Chris Hewlett. Anyway there’s always next year! Rachel and I took Chloe and also my friend who kindly drove me back from Northumberland and we had a great day out, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky (where has the sun gone?) and there was so much to see we’ll definitely be going back there next year. And we got to rub shoulders with Alan Titchmarsh…..

Back on the home front a quick appraisee of what’s good and bad and the veg plot – decent onion harvest, garlic has been rubbish, many have just rotted in the ground, peas/beans – good so far, courgettes – very slow to get going, brassicas are generally good, cucumbers – too many to keep up with, tomotoes – very slow to ripen. Visited the allotment for the first time in a month this morning and managed half an hour of frenetic weeding before harvesting some broad beans and rhubarb. Just hope the 60 sweetcorn plants I put in there pay off, there’s quite a few cobs (2 – 3 per plant) and they need to ripen now, fingers crossed.

On the show front, it’s the Salisbury Allotment Association show next Saturday (I’m putting in 14 entries all being well) and my local Village Show the weekend after. It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks!!