Tag Archives: Brussel Sprouts

Old Fashioned Veg

In recent years traditional British veg has fallen out of favour with many growers and been replaced by the likes of courgettes and squashes. Whilst I grow a wide range of veg on the plot I’m an advocate of traditional allotment fare such as cabbage, cauliflowers, leeks and brussel sprouts for a number of reasons. Firstly they suit our variable climate – when summers can be relatively cold and wet they will thrive where veg needing warmer conditions suffer and fail to produce a decent harvest. They’re normally very cheap to buy as seed, with our local Horticultural Society discount I can buy a packet of leek seeds for 50p for example. And with modern cooking methods (i.e. not boiling them to a pulp) they taste fantastic!

Spring Cabbage

The Spring Cabbages have been eaten for a month now and still going strong. They’ve covered the gap until the brocolli and cauliflowers are ready.

Cabbage cut

Once the cabbage is cut I cut a criss-cross in the stalk from which new leaves will sprout giving spring greens which are lovely steamed with a light coating of butter and seasoning.

Leeks

The shallots have been lifted now and replaced by leeks (Toledo). I make a hole 8″ deep and pop the leek seedling in. This is then gently watered until the water reaches the top of the hole and then left alone. Over time the soil will loosely fill in the hole and allow the stem of the leek to swell until ready for lifting in the Autumn. The holes are 6″ apart and I’ve fitted 66 leeks into a 6′ by 4′ space. I usually follow shallots with leeks as they are out of the ground by end of May/early June. The shallots were put into pots mid-January and a couple of months later planted out so they have only taken up the ground for just over 2 months, perfect when space is limited.

Cucmber House

I also needed to find a home for a couple of cucumbers (Carmen). The greenhouse was taken up with tomatoes and all my chillies and peppers so I decided to put together this greenhouse extension. It’s basically two of the cheap mini-greenhouses put together with one cover put on upside down. It’s 8′ high which should give plenty of room for the cukes and secured with steel rods pinning the frame to the ground and twine around the top of the greenhouse to stop it blowing over.

Cukes

They will enjoy the hot, humid conditions of the sealed greenhouse. I keep them well watered – but watering away from the plants themselves – by watering into the grow rings that are normally used for tomatoes. Our family eats a lot of cucumbers so I’m hoping for a good long harvest from early July through to the end of October.

Other traditional veg I’m growing this year are potatoes, carrots, swede, parsnips, beetroot, broad beans and runner beans. I’m looking forward to a bumper harvest fingers crossed!!

Sprouts Away!

Brussel Sprouts

It’s always nice at this time of year to have some winter veg to look forward to and one of our favourites are Brussel Sprouts. This variety is Wellington and was actually picked up from Homebase – one of those polystyrene trays which have a dozen or so small seedlings in for £2. Well they’ve grown into pretty big plants as you can see and I’ve squeezed them into an area about 6 foot wide by 5 foot deep. Ideally they could do with more room but space is a premium on the plot. Each one is staked to prevent them rocking about. To start with they were protected by an environmesh tunnel which they’ve now outgrown so I’m now checking the leaves every couple of days to wipe off any cabbage white eggs. They can withstand some pest damage now they’re large plants so I’m not too bothered about the odd caterpillar getting a free meal!

Some of the sprouts are almost ready so it won’t be long before we’ll be having them with our Sunday roast yum!

Ready for take off!

Well my last post “Warming Up Nicely” was the kiss of death for the warm weather so I’m hoping this post isn’t similarly doomed! The majority of May has been cold in between two glorious Bank Holiday weekends, the like of which I don’t remember experiencing for a long time and then back to cold and wet this week. But over the next few days the forecast promises warmer weather and a look round the plot this evening and I think everything is ready for take off!!

So let’s start the tour………you may remember I put my potatoes into polypots just over a month ago and now they are through and will romp away over the next few weeks. They are Winston, Kestrel and Amour which I intend to show at the end of August. Behind are some Brussel Sprouts – Wellington – Brussels are one of our favourite family vegetables! I’ve earthed them up a bit and I’ll stake them as they get bigger to ensure they don’t ‘rock’ in the wind. I’ll also put some heavy duty canes and string around the potatoes to keep the haulms up off the ground.

Next up are the beans that have just gone out last weekend – a double row of Runner Beans – Stenner – and a double row of French Beans – Cobra. I’ve tied them in at the bottom to get them going, about a foot apart up 8 foot canes.

Beans

The small 6′ by 6′ bed has garlic (Solent Wight), a few shallots (Hative de Niort), onions (Stuttgarter Giant) and Broad Beans (Longfellow). I’ve supported the broad beans and also the onions to keep their stems straight but other than that they’re left to their own devices.

Small bed

The two green cabbages – Ramco – are coming on well, they’re next to a row of calabrese – Aquiles F1 – and protected by an environmesh tunnel. You can see how far they’ve come on in a month when you compare them to the first photo in my last post. Behind them are some Romanesco Cauliflowers again protected by environmesh. Lastly in that bed are the parsnips which are very slow to get going this year.

Cabbages

The long carrots and parnsips in the pipes are starting to grow noticably now.

Pipes

And the Sweet Candle carrots in the dustbins seem OK.

Carrots

And the girls have their own bed by the greenhouse in which they’ve planted some Little Gem lettuces, Land Cress and a couple of tomato plants.

Kids veg

The greenhouse is starting to fill up. The beds have Sungold tomotoes underplanted with basil and french marigolds which I’ve found to be the best companion plants to keep white fly away (just don’t deadhead them as that’s where the best smell comes from). The tomatoes are in bottomless pots of compost on top of a bed of manure and top soil and are tied into bamboo canes at regular intervals. Side shoots are pinched out and I’ll feed regularly once the first truss has set. On the floor are a few chillies and peppers in pots, some more tomotoes to go in containers – Tumbling Tom – and a cabbage – Duchess White – in a large pot waiting for a spot outside.

Tomatoes

On the shelving are all sorts of veg growing on, some a little tender for the cold nights, and others being held back until space becomes available.

Greenhouse

There’s a few leeks (Musselburgh), two varieties of squash (Butterbush F1 and Hunter F1), Pumpkin (Rouge Vif D’Etamps), Lettuce (Little Gem), Aubergine (Moneymaker), Cucumber (Carmen), Dwarf French Bean (Ferrari), Courgette yellow (Soleil F1) and green (Venus), Mangetout (Oregon Sugar Pod), Beetroot (Pablo), more brassicas – cabbage, romenesco cauliflowers and calabrese – celery (Morning Star) and Sweetcorn (Sweetie Pie). Not sure where this lot is going to go, only the sweetcorn is earmarked to join the potatoes, rhubarb and asparagus up at the allotment.

On the shelf below are more lettuces (Little Gem, Tom Thumb, Salad Bowl & Webb’s Wonderful), Peas (Show Perfection) and more sweetcorn and mangetout.

Greenhouse 2

The soft fruit bed is full to bursting with strawberries, summer and autumn raspberries, a blackcurrant and gooseberry bush. I must make more room for soft fruit as it’s one of the things we enjoy most, picking ripe fruit right by our front door is a real treat – not that I see any of it!

Soft fruit

Well that’s enough of the veg, what else is going on? Well 3 months or so ago I mentioned I started a diet – mid life crisis and all – well I’ve lost just over 3 stone so far and started cycling on a regular basis, doing 20 or 30 mile rides around the country lanes between home and Romsey. Also coming up in a couple of months is the final leg of the Pennine Way the last 3 days from Bellingham in Northumberland, through the Kielder forest and up over the Cheviots to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland. Can’t wait to get out on the hills, something to look forward to and hopefully summer will have arrived by then!

April showers…..

More like April torrential rain today! I feel like this year is already well behind with the cold winter and early spring. Hopefully we’ll get some decent weather and everything will catch up soon.

There’s three main areas of activity at the moment. Firstly the south-facing living room windowsill the best place for young seedlings. There’s a couple of pots of rocket – interesting in exactly the same conditions Runaway is far outstripping Va-Va Voom – Lettuce (Little Gem), Aubergines (Money Maker), Chillies (Joe’s Long), Celery (Morning Star) and Tomatoes (Sungold). All are making good progress and I’ll keep sowing rocket and lettuce every couple of weeks throughout the season. Later in the spring these will be sown direct into a three tier planter that I’m putting near the kitchen door for ease of picking when we need a few leaves.

Windowsill

Next is the cold greenhouse which is housing shallots and onion sets that haven’t gone out yet. Broad beans (Longfellow), and various brassicas – Cauliflower (Romanesque & Cornell), Brussel Sprouts (Wellington), Cabbage (Ramco), Calabrese (Aquiles), land cress and more lettuce.

Greenhouse

And lastly there’s the pipes that I covered in the last post – and the carrots and parsnips have germinated so the cover is off and each one has the top portion of a plastic bottle protecting the seedlings which I’ll thin down to one in the next week or so. The stump carrots aren’t through yet but should be by next weekend. I’ve started three potato planters with Charlotte and the task of filling the polypots and getting the Kestrel, Winston and Amour out has begun and will be finished next weekend. On the showing front I’m aiming for the NVS SW show which is at the end of August so I have time yet.

I hope you’re all having a nice weekend and managing to get some jobs done despite the miserable weather. Here’s hoping we actually get a summer this year!!

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!!

Veg Update

This morning I managed to get the front bed planted up and finished. There’s various trailing plants dotted around the edge – marrow, crown prince, jack ‘o’ lantern and a tromba courgette – I’ll train these up the fence so they don’t take up space in the bed. The rest of the plants are a cabbage walking stick plant (for our Hort Soc competition in the Autumn), early and late PSB, cauliflowers (snowball), brussel sprouts (Bedford – now earthed up and staked) and some autumn-fruiting raspberries. Two mesh tunnels will keep the pigeons and cabbage whites off the brassicas.

I’ve also filled the bed under the living room window. A few scraps of mesh have been joined together to keep the birds off the strawberries – we’ll be picking our first ones later today! There’s loads of fruit forming on the raspberries and in between is a blackcurrant, gooseberry and courgettes – black beauty and rubesa fruilana.

Out the back the beds are filling up.

From front to back are root crops, spring onions, spinach, rocket, radish, mangetout, garlic, broad beans, and runners/french beans on the canes right at the back. We’ve eaten spinach, rocket, radish and mangetout which was all very nice and the broad beans shouldn’t be too far behind.

And the cabbages are coming on well tucked up in their mesh tunnel.

Lastly the long roots in the pipes:

The parsnips and carrots are around 8″ high now, hoping they will be good enough for the show in mid-August. Hope you’re having a good weekend.