Monthly Archives: January 2014

Potato Day

Today was the 16th Hampshire Potato Day as I mentioned in a previous postDarren and I were up bright and early with his Landrover loaded and off to Whitchurch which is about 40 minutes from us.

The large school hall was packed – about half was taken by the potatoes, around 300 different varieties to choose from in either packs or individual tubers.  The standard well known varities but also plenty of unusual ones to try out with expert advice on hand to guide you through the bewildering number of them!



The rest of the hall was individual stalls like ours – the NVS Hamsphire DA stand – which we use to spread the word about the NVS, “a growing society” and to fund raise by selling various plants, seeds and sundry items.  We were also promoting our veg growing Seminar in March – more of that in the next post.  It was an extremely busy day, the first hour after the doors opened at 10am was very busy and then it thinned out to a good crowd who could actually move around freely at that point!



We did well with lots of interest in our stand and what we had to say which was great to see.  We were joined by our Chairman Ted Perren a well known grower in the Hants/Wilts area and we managed to keep up with the flow of enquiries.  Many familiar faces stopped by and we were visited by fellow blogger Mark and his wife.

If you’re thinking of going there’s still a chance tomorrow between 10am and 3pm.

I bought a few varieties – Pentland Javelin, Winston, Kestrel, Bonnie, Charlotte and a new variety recommended by the owner called Carolus (supposedly fully blight resistant) which I took 5 tubers of to try out.

A very good day and it was great to see so many people there!

Getting Organised

A welcome change this morning with a crisp, sunny start and a lovely walk with the dog in Bentley Wood.  Saw some deer and plenty of birds, the walk really blew away the cobwebs and I wanted to spend some time when I got home getting organised on the veg plot.

Getting organised - potting shed

You may remember from an earlier post that my father built this handy potting shed for me  whilst we were away in France last summer.  There’s plenty of space to store compost and hang tools with a sturdy bench to work from.

My main job was to get the shallots started.  I grow Hative de Niort and want to enter both the pickling and exhibition classes in various shows this year – these are mainly my own saved shallots from last season with a few I won in the Hampshire DA raffle.  The exhibition shallots were planted out in 3″ pots of Levington’s M2 compost with the picklling shallots in the standard multi-purpose.  I had 32 exhbition and 16 pickling.  I’ve heard people say that pickling shallots are Hative grown badly – I guess there’s an element of truth in this as whilst you are looking for good shape and uniformity you need to restrict the growth to keep the size fairly small.  Hopefully they will put on some strong root growth in the cold greenhouse before I transfer them to their final postions in March.

Shallots in the greenhouse

Also in the greenhouse are some spring cabbage (Pixie), spring bulbs starting to come through and winter lettuce and land cress in the bed.

January tends to be a month when everyone organises themselves after the holiday and I’m back on the diet to shed the Christmas excess.  Last year I lost 3 1/2 stone cooking recipes from the Hairy Dieters cook books and sticking to roughly 1200 calories a day whilst on the diet.  This worked really well  and, whilst I was only eating half of the recommended daily calorie intake, I was having tasty meals which got me through the lean times.

Mince & Vegetable Pie with Tumbled Spuds

This is one of their recipes – Mince & Vegetable Pie with Tumbled Spuds – which was only 292 calories per portion.   I’d recommend the books to anyone who wants to cook great recipes with less calories.

The next job on the veg plot is to get the chillies started.  Have a good weekend everyone!



Hampshire Potato Day

Next Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th January is the 16th Hampshire Potato Day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Testbourne Community Centre, Whitchurch (just off the A34), RG28 7JF.

For more information visit their website.

There’s loads of stalls and just under 400 varieties to choose from – tubers can be bought individually so it’s a great place to buy new varieties to try.  There’ll be plenty of expertise on hand from local experts and potato merchants.

The NVS Hampshire DA will have their own stand as usual on both days and I will be helping out on Saturday.   We’ll be selling some fantastic plants and seeds so why not pop on down!




The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 2013

Awards time again

The Good…..

Plenty of decent veg this year, broad beans – Longfellow, runner beans – stenner, french beans – cobra, cabbage – ramco, carrots – sweet candle, parsnips – picador, brussels – wellington, courgettes – venus, shallots – hative de niort etc but the award goes to TOMATOES SUNGOLD – I had 12 plants (8 in the greenhouse and 4 outside) which fruited their socks off from the end of June right through until early November. We picked about two kitchen cullander fulls of the orange cherries every week and the family loved them! So sweet it beats the supermarket hands down.


The Bad………

Thankfully not much in this category but the CUCUMBERS CARMEN were awful for me this year (again) so I need to rethink. After a promising start with half a dozen huge cukes they failed around the end of July turned yellow and only produced again briefly in September. I know this variety can be amazing and have had 30+ cucumbers per plant off it before so it’s all my fault. Back to the drawing board.

The Ugly………


Has to be POTATOES. Scab, scab and more scab. With the dry end of June/July I obviously didn’t keep up with the watering. Thankfully this doesn’t affect the eating but they do look seriously ugly!!