Tag Archives: celery

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!

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!

DSCN2878

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.

DSCN2879

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.

DSCN2881

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.

DSCN2882

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.

DSCN2883

The parsnips are getting strong now.

DSCN2885

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.

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!!

Catching Up

We returned from a fantastic two weeks away about on hour south of La Rochelle (pictured), on the west coast of France, last weekend and there was lots of catching up to do on the plot.

The cucumbers (Carmen) in the greenhouse are coming on well. There’s six plants in two growbags on the staging which I’m training up and across the roof. The growbags are laid on large trays with a layer of gravel to act as a reservoir for water which is drawn up through the cuts in the bottom of the growbags – this has proved an effective method to make sure they are always well watered whilst I’m away. Picking off any sideshoots and tendrils as they develop so all the energy is concentrated into the fruits, plus removing the lower fruits that would not be able to fully develop without touching the staging. Hopefully I’ll have an unmarked pair for the New Forest Show which is three weeks on Tuesday. I won’t be giving them my full attention though with a three day stag do in Dublin and four days walking the Pennine Way between now and the show. Fingers crossed the hands off approach will pay dividends.

Alongside the greenhouse the Goldstar tomatoes are between five and six foot high with some of the fruit on the lower trusses forming nicely. As with the cucumbers I’m keeping them well watered and feeding regularly with a potash feed.

One of my main hopes for the show is a pair of cabbages (Ramco) – difficult to get a decent photo of them as I daren’t lift the net tunnels off them for fear of breaking some of the leaves. This won’t happen until the night before the show. Fingers crossed they’ll heart up by then and remain bug-free. A liberal sprinkling of pellets every so often has helped keep the slugs off them up to now.

I’m concerned the long carrots won’t be thick enough as they’re behind last year and I’m also hoping a set of stump carrots will be ready in time.

I’m not entering celery in the show as this is my first real attempt at growing this difficult veg, but I’m pleased with progress so far. I need to swap the collars for longer ones to draw the plants up further for a good blanch on the stems.

And the potatoes are looking good, with really healthy looking haulms which are in flower. These are in polypots filled with a potato mix from Medwyns so they are my best hope for the show. As with all the veg a question mark on whether or not they’ll be ready in time – never sure what’s underneath. They’re all coloured potatoes so I’m hoping for a decent matching set. Next weekend I’ll cut the haulms and move the bags under cover to dry out and let the skins harden. Hopefully I won’t be looking at a bag full of marble-sized spuds after that!

This is also the first time I’m growing peas and the pods are starting to fill out nicely.

On the harvest side we’ve had loads of soft fruit this week, the usual strawberries and raspberries and also these gooseberries for the first time which all the family loved!

Also some shallots, a mixture here of Hative de Niort and Jermor.

And finally some mangetout and calabrese as well. Not a bad harvest.

It’s not all be great news though, up at the shared plot I lost most of my squash and pumpkin plants to slugs but up at the allotment the sweetcorn are doing well and no sign of the dreaded deer so far. It’ll be a busy few weeks as everything comes to fruition and also getting in some late sowings to take us through Autumn. Have a great weekend everyone!

All In

The Two Chances Veg Plot is now fully planted. Every square inch of available space in the garden has been used and the plot is flourishing.

In the large bed (front to back) are potatoes which are coming on nicely after a slow start. They’re followed by 7 Green Ramco cabbages which I’m really pleased with at the moment – they’re perfect and putting on top growth that you can see every day. I’m just hoping I can keep the pests off them until the end of July when I’ll hopefully have a pair good enough for the New Forest Show. Then there’s some calabrese, a double row of celery, a couple of kale and a couple of late purple sprouting broccoli plants and finally a row of french beans and a row of runner beans.

In the medium sized bed there’s the pipes with the carrots which are starting to take off along with shallots garlic and onions. And in the small bed there’s a few more onions, dwarf french beans, mangetout and peas. My main hope for the Show out of that lot is the carrots although they are behind where they were last year but I guess we’re all in the same boat.

In the greenhouse I’ve got the cucumbers set up on the staging to grow over the roof and tomotoes, salad crops and aubergines in the bed. The greenhouse is being optimised for cucumbers so it’s shut up 24/7 apart from a few minutes of watering each day or damping down so the tomotoes in the greenhouse will have to fend for themselves. In the 3 mini greenhouses alongside the main one are the Goldstar tomotoes which I’m hoping to get some decent fruit off.

In the front garden is a bed full of summer and autumn fruting raspberries and strawberries and another bed with marrows, cauliflower, courgettes, carrots and parnsips and that’s it there’s no more room. I have a couple of trays of celeriac seedlings with nowhere to put them – up at the shared plot or allotment I can’t water them as much as they’re going to need so they may not get planted at this rate. There’s some leeks which I’ve got room for at the shared plot alongside the 24 squash and pumpkin plants I’ve just planted out up there. The last of the runner beans will go in tomorrow along with sowings of carrots and beetroot and then that’s it, I can do no more, and to be honest I haven’t got the energy even if I wanted to!

With today being the best of the long weekend weatherwise it’s a BBQ and a few drinks with friends and 24 hours off the gardening – well apart from watering the greenhouse, tieing up the peas, supporting the potato haulms………………

Jack’s Back!

Jack has returned with a vengeance in South Wiltshire this week. He first hit on Sunday and then lingered on and off for the next five days. Reducing the Dahlia bed from this:

To this:

In less than a week. My favourite plant, a summer powerhouse of growth and flowers, reduced to something resembling wilted spinach in double-quick time. Summer is officially over!

I had to keep the mourning period brief as I was setting off to Derby in a few hours and the tubers had to be lifted to guarantee their survival through the winter. I took a knife to the thick stems, some of which I could barely wrap my hand round.

And cut the foliage down to ground level. The stems are amazing, more like drain pipes with water trickling back out when cut. An important point to remember Dahlias need lots of water through the summer months.

Using a fork I lifted each tuber remembering to label and note the bloom colour for next year.

After an hour the job was done.

The tubers have really grown in size since planting. The prize has to go to Kennemerland, the largest tuber by some distance. I took off what soil I could before putting them in the garage to dry out. I’ll deal with them properly next week. They need to be dry and frost free to get through the winter successfully.

The last job was to dig up the celery, which was in a more sheltered spot so unaffected by frosts so far. I’ll clean them up and freeze most of this for winter use in stocks and soups. I’ll keep a few stalks wrapped in tin foil in the bottom of the fridge as this keeps them fresh for ages.

It’s been a great first year for growing Dahlias. They are easy to grow, I’ve had no real problems this year. If you want great flowers in your garden or for cutting all the way through to October then I would recommend giving them a go. If you want to have a dabble in the local show then you can go further by stopping and disbudding. And who knows I might try a higher standard next year.

Have a great weekend!

First Foraging Trip and Veg Update

I mentioned in my last post that this blog would start to diversify a little as the garden winds down for the winter. One of the things I’ve been interested in for a while now is foraging. Now I’m not talking running the gaunlet with wild mushrooms just yet but simple “get out into the fresh air and fill up some plastic tubs with stuff” type foraging.

So off we went for a drive and stopped in the first likely looking spot by a track alongside a lovely looking hedgerow.

Chloe spotted them first, although Emily didn’t seem too interested……….

Elderberries!

Whilst the girls sat down to share the blackberry spoils I went about stripping a couple of kilos of elderberries from the hedge. A batch of wine was the goal, more on that next time.

We spotted a nice patch of teasels and lots of sloes and rosehips we’ll be back for.

On the veg plot I decided to tackle the front bed which I’ve been neglecting for a while. The sprouting broccoli are getting quite large now so I earthed them up and staked them to protect from rocking. This year I’m growing early white and late purple varieties. The sweetcorn came out, I’ll be growing more next year as it was superb. The last of the cabbages will make some more coleslaw.

Still not sure what I’m doing with the celery, it must be a self-blanching variety as it tastes quite good.

I tidied up the brussels and picked the first handful which the girls loved with their roast dinner. Elsewhere in the garden I belatedly staked the raspberry canes, took out the sweet peas and red orach and started to pot up 120 strawberry plants! After which I deserved a sit down with a beer. More foraging and brewing to come!