Tag Archives: Cabbage

Frostbite

The temptation at this time of year, with the greenhouse stuffed full of plants, is to get everything out into their final positions.  A word of warning though, a late frost can strike, even down here in the balmy south it can come calling up to the end of May.  It’s forecast for tonight so I’m on frost protection duty later covering any susceptible plants with fleece and newspapers – thankfully it’s only my potatoes and dahlias that I need to worry about!

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My father kindly built this potting shed for me whilst we were away on holiday last year. It comes off the north facing end of the garage and was a piece of unused land up until that point. During April and May it’s my main workstation where plants are sown, pricked out and potted on. An invaluable space that gives some protection from the weather whilst allowing me to be outside with the greenhouse door only a few feet away.

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As you can imagine the greenhouse is pretty full now. I’ve started to put the tomatoes – Alicante and Gardener’s Delight this year – into their final positions. There’ll be a couple of cucumbers at the end of the bed eventually. The tender crops – celery, beans, courgettes, pumpkins, squash – are all waiting to go out. There’s also some bedding plants to sort out as well. In a couple of weeks I’ll be left with the chillies, peppers and aubergines in pots on the staging with the tomatoes and cucumbers in the raised bed on the other side of the greenhouse. It’s amazing what you can fit into an 8′ by 6′ space.

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I have a few Savoy Cabbage that are starting to take off. Cabbage is a much maligned veg but I love them and will always eat plenty of cabbage and caulies through the year.

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You’ll remember I sowed parsnips and carrots in February. They’re starting to come on now and I’m hopeful they’ll be ready for the New Forest Show at the end of July.

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The parsnips are getting strong now.

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And finally my favourite veg for next month is broccoli and I’m looking forward to a good crop from this little lot. I plant quite close (9 inches) due to space limitations but I’ve found I still get a great crop. Cut the main head first then harvest the side shoots. Keep cutting before any of the heads flower to prevent a bitter taste developing. Can be frozen if you have too much!

That’s all for now, hope your growing season is going well with the promise of some fantastic harvests this 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!!

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!!

Growing Fast!

With the wet and relatively mild weather we’ve had recently everything is growing fast and the plot is looking lush and green.

Cabbage

The cabbages (Dutch White) are starting to grow now they’re established and well rooted. I’m hoping these will be good sized cabbages and possibly a pair for my end of August show.

Brocolli

One of our favourite family veg is brocolli (calabrese). These are planted 9″ apart and the central heads are just starting to form. When they’re slightly bigger than fist size I’ll cut them to encourage the side shoots. They should be ready in a couple of weeks and then we’ll have a continual supply for 6 weeks until it gets too warm towards the end of July.

Shallots

The shallots (Hative de Niort) are starting to fill out. These will the biggest I’ve ever grown and the trick now is judging when to lift them to try and achieve a matching set. This is not as easy as it sounds as the bulbs continue to grow slightly after lifting and can become “pregnant” which spoils the perfect rounded appearance. They taste great as we have had thinnings over the last few weeks.

Parsnips, Carrots

I need to thin the parnips and carrots that I sowed directly into one of the beds. I’ll be spraying with Garlic Wonder to ward off the carrot fly as these don’t have any mesh protection. Hopefully that will work. The Spring Cabbages behind them are ready now and have provided a tasty, nutritious veg whilst we wait for the broccoli to come through.

Long Carrots

The long carrots are looking good, a cane and some clips for support.

Long parsnips

And the long parnsips in pipes are also doing well. They’re getting plenty of water so I’m hoping for a good set in a few months.

Tomatoes

The Sungold tomatoes have been planted out in the greenhouse on a bed of manure and compost using bottomless pots. I also plant French Marigolds as I find the smell means I don’t have any whitefly and there are a few comfrey leaves rotting down to give them a boost.

Salad

We have a few herbs (chive & parsley) along with lettuces growing in a three tiered stand. It’s great having this by the kitchen door and using “cut and come varieties” such as Salad Bowl means there’s always leaves when we need them for sandwiches or salads.

new project

Sorry for my lack of posts recently I’ve been busy with my new project. I’m converting a section of the front garden next to the road in a vegetable area (possibly a fruit cage eventually). You may remember I had one bed here before (where the broad beans are). As this is in the part of the garden we use the most (as it’s south facing) I’ve gone for better quality timber rather than using the cheaper gravel boards. There’s a 12 ft by 4 ft and a 12ft by 6 ft bed at the moment with a 10ft by 6ft bed to go in behind. More on this later but you can hopefully get an idea from the photo. Have a great Bank Holiday weekend everyone!

Stonking cabbage

This is the largest cabbage I’ve grown to date weighing in at 35 pounds. The variety is Ramco and it’s gone to a friend at work as we have another one still to harvest. Whilst we like cabbage there’s only so much we can eat!!

Cabbage

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!

Warming Up Nicely

What a cracking Bank Holiday weekend, not often you hear those words together! The good weather’s meant that there’s been much activity at the plot, a huge amount of sowing and some urgent jobs that needed attending to. One of the main tasks was fixing the mesh frames which were getting a bit tired after 5 years of good service and had taken the worst of the snow last winter. With new timber frames I recycled as much of the old mesh as possible and the first new frame is now covering a couple of cabbages (Ramco) and a line of calabrese (Aquiles F1). Also in are some Romanesco cauliflower the first time I’ve grown them.

Brassicas

The smallest bed is now full, with broad beans (Longfellow) at the back, some Hative de Niort shallots, garlic and a few onion sets.

Shallots

The greenhouse is starting to fill up and the lastest sowings of sweetcorn and french beans are now coming through. Hopefully the warm weather will continue!!