Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!  It’s been a while since I’ve posted after finishing the re-vamped veg beds in the back garden in October.  It’s been a busy couple of months since then but not much happening on the Two Chances Plot to report.

Today saw the traditional “Christmas leek lift” to go along with the leftover turkey in this lovely pie that we make every year.


The leeks were planted quite late so weren’t huge but they’ll taste great all the same.  They’re the only veg left on the plot with just potatoes, beetroot and a couple of pumpkins in store now – and some bags of French and Broad Beans in the freezer along with a few hundred chillies!

It’s been another fantastic year on the plot with loads of superb veg for the family.  My most successful show year as well taking my first top-level NVS red cards at the Southern Branch Championship staged at the New Forest Show back in July.  I finished off with Best in Show at my local NVS DA show in September.

Away from the plot I’ve also enjoyed some hill walking, long cycle rides and charity fund raising for Southampton General Hospital’s Friends of PICU.

What will 2016 bring?  More of the same on the veg plot – I’m looking forward to using the new raised beds and finishing off the back garden.  I’m sure I’ll be at a couple of shows again.  We’ll continue our Ridgeway walk and I’ll be fundraising again possibly with a run & bike challenge in July.  And lastly I’ll be looking for a new job sometime in 2016 after 17 years with my current employer so another challenge to add to my list!

Whatever you decide to do next year I hope it’s a fruitful one for you!




Re-vamped raised beds

It’s been 8 years since I put up the original raised beds in the back garden and started growing veg and it was long overdue for an overhaul. I used gravel boards which have done well considering they were a cheap material and quite thin but I now wanted something that looked better and would last for a long time.


Originally there were two beds – one of 18ftx6ft and one of 12ftx6ft.


These were replaced by six new beds of various sizes with shingle paths all round.



The timber is much thicker and should last for 15 years. I’m looking forward to planting these up next spring.

Last show of the season

My last show of the season this Sunday was the NVS Hampshire District Association Show which over the last couple of years has developed into a very good intermediate level show open to all NVS members. Having put most of my veg into the New Forest Show earlier in the year I only had a couple of entries to enter – parsnips and coloured potatoes – and I was really pleased with the results.

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I managed to get a cracking set of parsnips (variety Panorama) which ended up winning first prize, overall best in show and best exhibit by a DA member. The potatoes came second in class as well.

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The trophy haul, more than I was expecting with two entries!

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A great end to the season!

Ride London-Surrey 100 mile charity bike ride

With the New Forest Show over I’ve now turned my attention to tomorrow’s 100 mile charity bike ride – the Prudential Ride London-Surrey. I was in London today to register and early tomorrow I’ll be there again to start from the Olympic Park, through London, around the Surrey hills and back again to finish on the mall.

I’m raising money for a fantastic charity that’s close to my heart based at Southampton General Hospital. The Friends of PICU care for critically ill children across the south of England and are made up entirely by volunteers to raise funds for additional equipment the intensive care unit needs. There are 9 of us completing the ride tomorrow, 9 of 25,000 cyclists who will raise over £10 million for charity with their combined efforts tomorrow.

You can sponsor me by clicking on this link thanks very much.

A few photos from the registration today and the charity cycle top I shall be wearing……….

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And here’s my medal for finishing…..



After the show………

A photo of the long roots, trophies and rosettes from the New Forest Show that finished today.

Veg & trophies

I will put the carrots down to seed as I did last year. The parsnips are F1 seed so may not come true so I will just eat them instead!


As I mentioned in the previous post my mate Darren also did very well at the show. We decided to have a joint pic of our haul….a successful week all in all!

NVS Southern Branch Championship at the New Forest Show

Well with all the prep and staging complete today was the big day! And after the morning’s judging was complete I was very pleased to be among the cards. As I mentioned in previous posts at the New Forest Show there are two sides to the vegetable competition – the National Vegetable Society Southern Branch Championships (NVS rules) and the New Forest Open (RHS rules). I had entries in both sides and I was particularly hopeful with my long roots – both the carrots and parsnips.


On the NVS side first up was the parsnips and I was amazed to see I won a red card – first place – the first year that I had grown long parsnips in the sand box.

Next up was my favourite class – the long carrots.


And another red card! I was really chuffed to win 1st place for both the long root classes. This was the first time I’d entered the long roots in the New Forest Show – last year we were in France and with the carrots I entered in the NVS south west DA show maybe I’d have won the New Forest Show if I’d have been there. So I knew I could grow a decent specimen and this year they did the business.

Long carrot display

It was a well contested class too with nine entries.

I also took a third place for my beetroot.


On the Open side I was surprised to see I’d won first place for my potatoes – a set of the variety Kestrel. I thought they were a bit on the small size but the judge must have favoured their uniformity and condition over size.

Potatoes open side

I didn’t realise but there was also prize money attached which was a bonus and at the presentation dinner in the evening I picked up a couple of trophies.

Holderness Fork for parsnips

The Holderness Fork for parsnips.

Bob & Ann Brown Trophy for Long Carrots

And the Bob & Ann Brown trophy for long carrots. It was carrot seed from Bob that got me started in the first place so I’ve come full circle now winning his trophy.

There were a few entries that didn’t get anywhere. On the NVS side white potatoes, coloured potatoes, french beans and peas and on the Open side stump carrots, beetroot and cherry tomatoes.

Finally it was good to see the Hampshire DA members well represented and in the cards particularly Darren who has given me a lot of guidance and helped me prep my entries. You can read Darren’s post on the show which has loads of extra photos here. A great day!!

Show Rejects

Busy day today in the rain, I had to start early with my prep for the New Forest Show, there’s no way I would have fitted it all in tomorrow.

As always there’s a few reject. Here’s some of the roots that didn’t make the grade……


I have a good set of long carrots – there was 11 to choose from and I had a set for this show and I also “laid down” my second set to see if they will keep for the local NVS DA show in mid-September.

Cleaning the carrots is always a time consuming task. First a hose off to remove any soil and also use the hose from the top to get rid of any soil that may be between the leaf stalks. Then using a soft sponge clean around the carrot (not up and down) and remove any hairs. Then using a tooth pick carefully clean around the top and wipe clean. Then store in damp jay clothes and keep wet and out of the light.

The stump carrots were ok to enter in the Open side but nowhere near as good as Darren’s.

And with the parsnips I had the usual shower’s problem, with only a couple left I had three matching pairs – unfortunately I couldn’t get a third for my largest pair which are the best set I’ve ever grown but I did get a match for my medium pair so I stopped there leaving the smaller ones to grow on for the DA show. Cleaning parsnips is similar to carrots however they need to be bone dry after cleaning wrapped in kitchen towel and again kept in the dark.

I also cleaned up a couple of sets of beetroot wrapping in wet clothes.

Tomorrow – another full day with cleaning 14 potatoes, sorting out 12 french beans, and picking the peas and cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes are my only doubt just not sure I’ll get all 15 perfectly ripe that I need. We’ll see tomorrow evening.