Tag Archives: brassicas

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!!

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Little Helpers

Spring had definitely arrived today with some glorious afternoon sunshine which made it a pleasure to be out in the garden. And I had two little helpers with me to make sure I was doing all the jobs properly!

The daffodils are out in full bloom and the tulips are coming through nicely both in the flower bed and in the pots. Around the garden there’s forsythia, primroses, hellebores, pansies, lungwort and heather all flowering. In the veg plot there is no sign of the parnsips germinating yet. I’ve also sown long carrots in pipes and stump carrots in a couple of old dustbins. Fingers crossed I’ll get some decent specimens in the summer.

The broad beans are doing well, as are the onions that were overwintered. I’m still digging up parsnips from last year but there’s no sign of the PSB yet, hopefully it will start to sprout in the next couple of weeks, it’s one of the great treats at this time of year.

Under cover all the brassicas are at pricking out stage – cauliflowers, cabbage, brussel sprouts, PSB, and calabrese. There’s a tray of Red Orache, mangetout and sunflowers germinated and I’ve just sown some Burpee’s Golden Beetroot in modules this afternoon. So much to do now for the next few weeks to keep up with everything.

And I’ll be even busier this year after meeting a chap in the next village who is happy to share his garden veg patch with me. I’ll be able to do the heavy digging work and we’ll share the crops so I should be self-sufficient in veg through the summer and autumn months this year.

It’s the Winterslow & District Horticultural Society’s Spring Show on Saturda 26th March. If you’re in the area pop into the Village Hall from 2pm to take a look at the exhibits. I may even enter a few myself this time!

So much to do!

Now is the time of year when everything on the plot comes to a head. The weeds are growing, space in the greenhouse is at a premium, plants need hardening off, watering if it’s hot, keeping an eye on the cold nights still to come, successional sowing, potting on, the list is endless. So whilst I’m indoors keeping an eye on the girls whilst Rach is out I thought I’d take stock of where I am and what needs to be done this weekend.

The large bed is full up. The front half is potatoes, Charlotte, Anya and Desiree. Then cauliflowers and calabrese, broad beans and, at the back, the purple sprounting brocolli plants which will be replaced with runner and french beans eventually.

The shallots and onions are doing well. Some of the garlic didn’t come up so I’ve filled in the gaps with onions that I grew from seed.

The front garden bed gets full sun most of the day. Strawberry plants line the edge and are in full flower. There’s some raspberry canes at the back and I’ve planted gladioli all along the house wall. There’s also a gooseberry and balckcurrant (I will be getting a couple more of these to put in). This will also be the courgette and squash bed, there’s one courgette already in and it’s protected at night by the water cooler bottle.

In the middle bed the spring cabbages are coming on, I planted them out quite late so they are not as big as I’d hoped yet and I desperately need the space for other plants that are in the greenhouse.

I’ve not been very successful with carrots so this year I’m growing some in containers, these are Amsterdam Forcing.

The purple sprouting is in full flow now, eating it pretty much every night.

The lettuce are coming on well, there’s a mixture of Artic King, Winter Density and Little Gem here. I’ve also sown salad bowl, lollo rosso and red deer’s tongue.

The greenhouse is full to bursting point as always!

The next crop of brassica seedlings and lettuce are coming through. I’ve not sown direct as I don’t have the space at the momemt. At the back are some more sweet peas and various pots with the mixed salad leafs from the BBC DigIn packets coming through. To the right are pansies ‘Joker’ that I’ve grown from seed.

The squash and tomatoes are coming on nicely.

It’s the first time I’ve grown Red Orach, they are ready to plant out now.

The chilli and peppers need potting on too.

And finally the dahlia tubers I put in pots have sprouted.

There is so much to do, here’s my list, I’m sure I’ve missed something!

1. Plant out / pot on courgettes and squash.
2. Pot on brassica seedlings (space not available yet).
3. Move beans into bigger pots until space becomes free on plot.
4. Tie up sweet peas and plant out remainder.
5. Pot on greenhouse tomatoes into final bottomless pots which will go on top of the gravel bed.
6. Plant cucumbers in their final spaces in the greenhouse.
7. Plant more gladioli bulbs.
8. Plant out unsprouted dahlia tubers.
9. Harden off and plant out rest of bedding plants that have been growing on in the greenhouse.
10. Mow lawns and tidy up edges.
11. Weed everywhere.
12. Sow successional radish, lettuce and beetroot.
13. See what is surplus to requirements for the Horticultural Society plant sale on May 22nd.
14. Pot on chilli and sweet peppers.
15. Plant out Red Orach.
16. See what containers are available and what I can plant in them to save space.
17. Get last of salad potatoes into compost bags.

Hope you all have a great Bank Holiday weekend whatever you’re doing and we get some sunshine in between the showers.