Tag Archives: beetroot

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……

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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.

One week to go

The New Forest Show is just a week away now and I have a few potential entries coming along nicely.

carrots July 2015 (3)

My favourite show veg are the long carrots and parsnips which look good at the moment. Of course you never know what the quality is like below the surface until they are pulled but judging by the top growth they should be good enough to enter.

beans July 2015 (2)

The dwarf French beans are going crazy at the moment with loads for the kitchen and the best ones starting to be cut and saved for the show. I have 25 plants in a 6′ square area and any excess beans will go in the freezer for the Autumn.

peas July 2015 (1)

This year is the first time I’ve grown peas for show and have a lovely crop at the moment. The bottom ones will start to go over now but I will have plenty to select from on the day.

There’s two sides to the vegetable competition at the New Forest Show – the “Open” side which anyone can enter and the National Vegetable Society member’s side which is the NVS Southern Branch Championship. Classes are slightly different on each side. For example the Open side does not have long root classes but does have cherry tomatoes which the NVS side does not.

I’m entering potatoes, stump carrots, beetroot and cherry tomatoes on the Open side and long carrots, parnsips, white potatoes, coloured potatoes, peas, french beans and beetroot on the NVS side.

So this weekend will be a busy one. The potato haulms were cut back a week ago and the bags moved under cover. I wanted to leave them as long as possible to allow them to grow but also needed to give them enough time to dry out and the skins to harden. This allows cleaning without the skins breaking the day before the show. If they are lifted and then cleaned straight away the skins will break. This is the one thing that can give the edge at Village Show level as most entries will not be cleaned to the same extent as the bigger shows.

On Saturday I’ll take a look and see what the potatoes are like, hopefully I will be able to group them into sets and have the three entries I need. On Sunday I will pull and clean the roots and beetroot – keeping them wrapped in wet cloth (or dry cloth for the parsnips) right up to putting them on the show bench. This leaves the potatoes to be cleaned on Monday morning and wrapped in dry cloth with the cherry tomotoes and peas to be picked last thing. Hopefully by then I will have enough French beans cut to choose a set from.

Then on Monday evening its off down to the show to stage which takes place between 6pm and 8am on Tuesday with people travelling a fair distance to enter. Then it’s judging time with the anticipation of a possible card come lunchtime on Tuesday. We’ll see……….there’s a lot of work to do before then!!

Half way point

June is the half way point of my growing season between sowing the long parsnips & carrots back in February to harvesting the last of the chillies & peppers from the greenhouse in October.

Unlike last year it’s not been a great spring, relatively cool until recently and with high pressure currently there’s still chilly nights to contend with. This has meant the veg for the New Forest Show at the end of July is behind, particularly the long roots – disappointing as I had great carrots this time last year but was on holiday at the time of the show. Ah well you can’t predict the weather, and that’s one of the pleasures of growing your own you never know from one year to the next which keeps it interesting. Still there’s plenty on the plot that is growing well and loads of jobs to keep up with.

celery

I’m currently putting collars round my celery (Morning Star). This is thin corrugated cardboard 15 inches high which will make the celery draw up and also blanch the sticks. Not that popular these days but I do eat quite a bit during the summer and any left over will be chopped up and frozen to use in the base for stocks and stews over the winter.

broad beans

The broad beans (Longfellow) are doing well, I now need to wipe off the blackfly and pinch out the tops to encourage the pods to form. Next to them you can just see the dwarf french beans (Hawkesbury Wonder) which hit a set back after planting out affected by the cold nights they dropped some leaves but are starting to come back now. One of our favourite veg and great for freezing also. As it grows I’ll support with split canes and string to keep the pods off the ground.

potatoes

The potatoes are finally starting to get going. Next job here is to put up some canes and heavy duty string to keep the haulms upright. Lots of water and feed over the next few weeks.

calabrese

Another favourite of ours is calabrese and the plants are full size now with the heads between golf and cricket ball size. When they’re the right size the main head is cut encouraging side shoots to form. Then it’s just a matter of keeping up with the cutting not allowing any of the heads to flower as this gives them a bitter taste.

carrots etc

I also need to thin the parnsips (Panarama) and carrots (Sweet Candle) and then cover them to protect against carrot fly. Environmesh will do the job and I also spray with Garlic Wonder to put them off the scent. Behind the carrots is two types of beetroot, Pablo and Choggia with Savoy Cabbage at the back.

carrots

The long carrots look healthy but not as far along as I would like. The foliage is supported by onion clips and split canes. Watering from the top only at this stage, as they grow I will put a pipe into the middle of the sand box and then start watering through this. Other tasks is making sure none of the tops are exposed to sunlight and checking for sideshoots which need to removed.

parnsips

The parsnips are looking good as well but behind schedule like the carrots.

lettuce

Alongside the greenhouse I have a narrow bed with lettuce and mizuno growing. I grow various lettuce dotted around the plot wherever there is a gap. Here it’s Lollo Rosso, elsewhere is Salad Bowl and Little Gem.

tomatoes

Inside the greenhouse the biggest tomatoes are four foot tall. I’m growing Alicante and Gardener’s Delight this year. There’s also a couple of all-female cucumbers at the end of the bed.

apache

Regular readers will know chillies are a favourite of mine. This variety is Apache.

chillies

I’m growing quote a few chillies and peppers this year. The chillies are Apache, Cayenne, Jalapeno, Hungarian Wax, Hot Thai & But Jolokia. Peppers are Californian Wonder and Corno di Torro Rosso. Hopefully we’ll have a nice, warm summer to get a good crop from all these plants. There’s also a couple of Aubergines (Money Maker) which hopefully will produce a few fruits.

Hope you’re all having a good season so far. The plot is now full up and I’m just sowing some lettuce now and then to keep a supply going. Other than that it’s just a matter of watering, feeding, weeding, supporting/training where necessary and harvesting. Looking forward to a great summer!

Belated Easter update

We had some great weather during Easter week and I’ve been far to busy out in the garden to update the Two Chances blog so here’s a belated post and a quick catch up on how things are going.

Let’s start with where the season began with the prep for the long parsnips and carrots due to be entered in the New Forest Show at the end of July. How are they doing? Well they’ve germinated and are growing nicely (the pictures below are from 2/3 weeks ago).

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I protect them with small plastic cups with the ends cut off as the nights can still be quite cold. They now have two to three true leaves on each plant and should really start to grow quickly now with the warmer and longer days over the next few weeks. There’s 16 of each, the parsnips are a variety called Panorama from Medwyn Williams and the carrots are New Red Intermediate re-selected by Bob Brown, previous National Champion and the same seed I did well with last year. Fingers crossed they will come good in time.

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I’ve also been busy sowing through March. The calabrese have now been planted out as they are between 6-9 inches tall. I have 14 plants and I’ve put them in the bed in a block spaced around 9-12 inches apart. These should crop through June and July. First remove the central head when it’s fully developed and this will encourage side shoots to sprout, keep cutting making sure none flower (as this will make the heads taste bitter) and you’ll have a good harvest of broccoli over a few weeks which will be finished before the cabbage whites get going. Also broccoli tends to bolt in hot weather so I grow in late spring / early summer and then sow an Autumn cropping variety.

To go with the calabrese will be some Savoy cabbage which are in the greenhouse along with the tomatoes (Fawoyrt & Alicante), chillies (apache), aubergines (moneymaker) and peppers (Californian Wonder). The tomatoes will be planted into the greenhouse bed in the next couple of weeks. Also sown in greenhouse are half a dozen types of lettuce at various stages, broad beans (Longfellow), runner beans (stenner), beetroot (Pablo & Choggia), sweetcorn (Earlibird) courgette (Venus), squash (butternut, autumn crown, winter dumpling) and pumpkin (rouge vif d’etamps). Next will be the French Beans (Hawkesbury Wonder). I also have some celery plants (Morning Star) from Darren growing on.

Out on the plot I’ve sown parsnips and carrots (sweet candle) direct. I also have onion sets (red baron and centurion) and some toughball plants again some spares from Darren. These are in alongside the potatoes. I have ten 17L polypots each of Kestrel & Winston and various containers with Charlotte, my favourite salad spud.

So it’s been a busy few weeks and the next month is the key time when the beds will fill up and the greenhouse will really start to take off. Lets hope the recent good weather continues and we have a great growing season!!

Summer into Autumn

There’s been a real change in the weather over the last week, an autumnal feel of cold evenings and nights. It’s one of my favourite times of year, change is in the air, and the veg being harvested starts to change as well.

The greenhouse is coming to the end of its’ productive phase with the last of the tomatoes, peppers and chillies being harvested.

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I’m really pleased with my leeks this year. I planted 66 of them in the area vacated by the shallots at the end of May. They were tiny – here’s a picture in my post “Old Fashioned Veg” if you can see them! But in 4 months they’ve grown to a decent size.

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The parsnips are pretty good too. We like to roast them along with beetroots, garlic, potatoes and carrots. Whilst the frosts haven’t come yet two or three days in the fridge chiller box does the same trick. Lovely and sweet.

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And lastly one of my favourite veg – beetroot – are still going well, if a little large now. They’re so easy to prepare, wash, top ‘n’ tail, roast with skins and all. If you eat as many as I do your pee will turn red!

I hope you’re enjoying the changing season as much as I am and your plot is still giving plenty of delicious veg!

Last of the Summer veg

It’s not been a great September temparture-wise and the summer veg is now winding down.

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The Courgette plants have finally succumbed to mildew with just a few fruits left. In the greenhouse the last few dozen Sungold tomatoes are ripening, there’s Joe’s Long chillies to pick and the Etuida peppers have ripened. All in all there’s not much summer veg left. So it’s over to the parnsips, leeks, beetroot and brussel sprouts to keep the harvest going along with the potatoes in store.

The seed catalogues are hitting the doormat and the planning for next year starts again!

Sun at last!

At last some sun and a few days of dry weather after the deluge of the last five weeks or so. With lots of jobs to do I’ve concentrated on the home front this weekend and thought I’d give you a virtual tour as I haven’t focused on this for a while.

I started with the onion bed finding a few spaces for the last of the vento onion plants I’ve been growing on from Darren. There’s also shallots, Hative de Niort, and garlic, purple wight, in this bed.

Next were the peas, show perfection on the canes, and oregon sugar snap up the netting.

The cabbages, green ramco, have been out for a couple of weeks now and should reach a good size by the end of July. There’s seven in all aiming for an entry at the New Forest Show.

The stump carrots in two dustbins of sand are coming along nicely.

And after a slow start the long carrots in pipes are starting to take off.

The greenhouse is starting to clear slowly. There’s lettuce, radish and rocket in the bed on the right hand side. And celery, calabrese, cauliflower, brokali, purple sprouting, sweetcorn, runner & french beans, celeriac and leeks on the staging. These all need to planted out over the next three weeks.

And the hardening off area is pretty full. The tomatoes are about two foot tall and ready for planting out as soon as the weather warms up. There’s also marrows, beans, brussels, beetroot, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins waiting to go out. It’s all a bit of a jam waiting for the end of May when I’ll be confident the threat of a late frost has passed. Then it will be a frenzy of activity to get this lot all out into their final positions before we go on holiday!

Hope you’re all enjoying the sunny weather!

What’s Growin’ On

With March and April being the busiest sowing months you’d expect there to be loads of seedlings growing on at the Two Chances Plot. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Here’s a few progress photos from the three growing areas; the greenhouse, cold frames and good old windowsill.

The sweetcorn is growing on well in the greenhouse. Two varieties, Earlibird and Lark, around 40 plants destined for the allotment towards the end of May, possibly earlier with bottle cloches if I need the space in the greenhouse.

Brussel Sprouts (Bedford) hardening off in the cold frame. Around 150 plants for the shared plot, possibly a few for the Hort Soc plant sale. Even though they are one of my favourite veg I think 150 may be overdoing it a bit!

Continuing the brassica theme there’s cabbage (green ramco), calabrese (aquiles F1), brokali (apollo) and cauliflower (cornell).

I grow beetroot in modules ready to plant out. This is Boltardy and I will be sowing Pablo later.

Moving indoors, the tomatoes are going well. Goldstar, Marmande and Gardener’s Delight around 8-10 inches high.

The cucumbers (Carmen) are just starting. I’ll be devouting the greenhouse to them this year with the tomatoes outside in the mini-greenhouses for cover with the rest at the shared plot greenhouse.

Last, and defintely least, aubergines (bonica F1). After a disastrous performance last year I’ve been suckered into trying them again. No doubt only bitter disappointment will follow but that’s gardening, without failure you can’t fully appreciate your successes.

In various states of germination are french and runner beans, leeks, parsnips, courgettes, pumpkins and squash. There’s also celery, pea and onion plants in the greenhouse with lettuce growing on and more lettuce, rocket, radish and spring onions sowed. In the garden there’s potatoes, carrots, parnsips, peas, cabbage, shallots, onions and garlic growing away with PSB coming to an end. On the shared plot there’s potatoes, broad beans and onions with a few of last season’s cabbages and cauliflowers left. And the half allotment has so far been planted with more potatoes, broad beans and asparagus.

I think it’s going to be a busy year!!

Review of 2011

Where do I start? There’s been lots going on at the Two Chances Plot this year as there was in 2010. First of all a recap of the veg growing successes and failures:

Top of the Class
My best ever carrots and parsnips this year.
And it was a cracking year for beetroot, we had barrowfuls of them.
Strawberries and raspberries – not that I saw many of them as the girls picked and ate them as soon as they were ready!

Pretty good effort
Quite a few in this category – all the brassicas, beans, spuds, mangetout, overwintered onions, leeks, tomatoes, peppers, chillies and courgettes.

Could do Better
Sweetcorn, cucumber, aubergines, squash and pumpkins.

Weatherwise it was a strange year again. A really hot, dry spring but with cold nights running through into July. When we left for our annual holiday to France in mid-June it was with some trepidation as the weather had been fantastic – why were we going abroad? Thankfully we did as it chucked it down in Salisbury for 2 weeks and continued to be damp and miserable for the main part of summer only drying up in September and October. No wonder all the veg that need a hot, dry summer did badly. Oh well there’s always next year.

Best Newcomer
…….was celeriac…..only grew a few but they were great and I’ll definitely be growing more next year. Closely followed by mangetout, not many made the steamer as they were great eaten raw.

Never again
Aubergines…..what’s the point? Maybe in 20 years once global warming really makes an impact on the South of England! That said I expect I’ll try again next year.

This year was the first for my shared plot in the next village and it was filled with onions, brassicas, beans, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, spuds, sweetcorn, squash and pumpkins. Next year the Empire expands further to half an allotment in the same village as my shared plot. Can’t wait to get stuck in! And I finally got round to building a much needed proper compost bin which will bear fruit next year.

On the show front it was the last year of entering all the vegetable classes in my local Horticultural Society village Summer Show were I won cups for most points overall veg, root veg and Top Tray. I’ll just stick to the Master Gardener and Top Tray next year with my sights firmly set on the NVS competition at the New Forest and Hampshire Show after seeing Darren pick up his first red card for long carrots. I have 30 pipes to use for my carrots and parsnips and the mix is already shredded and ready for the mixer. Bring on 2012!

So what will I be doing next year? Well more of the same really. Loads of good quality family time, cooking and eating great homegrown food. Producing loads of veg and enjoying the fresh air as much as possible. Raising the bar on my show entries and expanding to the allotment so we can have more veg on the table. The annual trip to France – same place as last year as we loved it so much – and the next leg of the Pennine Way hopefully. As always lots to do!! I hope you’ve all had a good Christmas and are looking forward to a great 2012!!!

Thanks to everyone who reads and hopefully enjoys this blog. I haven’t been online much in the last couple of months due to working longer hours – the last thing I needed was more time in front of a computer screen! But I have the whole winter to catch up with what you’ve been doing so I’ll see you soon!!

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.