Tag Archives: Carrots

All systems go!

With milder weather forecast for the next few days I decided to get started and sow my long and stump carrots. Earlier than I would sow normally as they’re for the New Forest Show at the end of July.

And there’s added interest this year as the long carrots are my own re-selected seed strain from a set of 3 carrots I put to seed two years ago.

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The seeds in the photo are just from the central seed head of one the carrots.  There’s 100s, enough to keep me going for years.

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I followed the same approach as last year coring out 16 holes in the sand box, filling with the compost mix and sowing 5 seeds in each one.

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Then covered with fleece and clear polythene to keep them all wrapped up until the seeds germinate.  The other box is for parsnips sown 3 weeks ago which should be coming through soon hopefully.  They normally germinate in 3-4 weeks taking much longer than the carrots.

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The stump carrots were sown in one of the new beds I put together last Autumn.  It’s a 6 foot by 2 foot bed filled with grit sand – half way along the bed I’ve run some threaded bar across to stop them bowing with the weight of the sand.  In this sized bed I can get 27 stations in.  Each one is cored out to 16 inches deep and the variety I’m sowing is Sweet Candle.  I’ve struggled to get decent short carrots before and I’m hoping this approach will prove successful.  As with the longs the bed is covered with fleece and polythene.  I have a small mesh tunnel to put over the bed once the polythene comes off to keep the carrot fly at bay.

So it’s all systems go on the plot and hopefully a few days of milder weather will see the carrots germinate in the next couple of weeks.  From now on it starts to get busy with sowing starting with tomatoes / chillies etc.  The potatoes are chitting indoors on south facing windowsills and will be started off towards the end of March.  Lots to do!!

 

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!

Trophies

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!

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!!

Core Blimey!

Lovely sunny day today so, with a day off work, I decided to crack on and core out for the long carrots. It’s the same approach as the parsnips, which went in three weeks ago. The carrots occupy a second sand box which is right next to the one with the parsnips in. The box is 3 foot square and approx. 5 foot high filled with 2 tonne of grit sand. This has been allowed to settle for a few months before coring. I planned to get 16 holes done which takes about 4 hours to complete. Starting off with a 1 1/2″ pipe I take out the sand to the required depth then move on to a 2 1/2″ pipe before cleaning the hole out with the final 3″ diameter pipe and going back to the smaller pipes to hoover up any sand that doesn’t come out with the 3″ pipe. It’s quite a laborious task and I core out 4 holes at a time before filling with the mix, then moving on to the next four.

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This picture shows the first few holes cored out with the 2 1/2″ pipe in shot.

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I use a tractor diesel funnel to get the mix into the hole, tamping down with the handle end of a hoe every so often to make sure the mix is settling properly. A small piece of pipe is then placed on top of the filled hole. This serves a couple of purposes early on – to mark where the hole is and to allow additional mix to be banked up around the emerging seedling so protect it in the early stages of growth. Once well developed the piece of pipe can come off.

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I then dampened the mix, sowed four seeds in each hole and covered the boxes with fleece and polythene. I’ll keep an eye on them every 2-3 days to keep the mix moist and check for germination. The seed is a reselected strain of New Red Intermediate from former NVS National Champion Bob Brown who lives over the hill from me and is kind enough to pass on his growing knowledge and spare seed.

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I also sowed some stump carrots (Sweet Candle) last weekend in an opened ended plastic container about 2 foot deep that I sat on top of one of my raised beds on a few layers of weed membrane. I filled it with grit sand and cored out a dozen holes 12″ deep. I’m hoping this will give me a few decent specimens in time for the New Forest Show at the end of July.

Glad that’s done, the roots are one of the big early season jobs which is great to get out of the way. I’ve also sowed chillies, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes in the heated propagator. Things are gathering pace now, time to draw breath for a couple of weeks before sowing cabbage at the beginning of March and then potatoes mid-March. Looking forward to milder and longer days to fit all of this in!!