Tag Archives: Courgette

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!!

Last of the Summer veg

It’s not been a great September temparture-wise and the summer veg is now winding down.

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The Courgette plants have finally succumbed to mildew with just a few fruits left. In the greenhouse the last few dozen Sungold tomatoes are ripening, there’s Joe’s Long chillies to pick and the Etuida peppers have ripened. All in all there’s not much summer veg left. So it’s over to the parnsips, leeks, beetroot and brussel sprouts to keep the harvest going along with the potatoes in store.

The seed catalogues are hitting the doormat and the planning for next year starts again!

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………………

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!!

Special Delivery Service

The girls like watching Postman Pat Special Delivery Service at the moment. I don’t know what’s wrong with the original series that just had his van and the occassional trip on a steam train not all this helicopter and speedboat nonsense. Anyway I felt a bit like a special delivery service this morning clad in waterproofs going round the garden picking the veg for dinner. And here’s the harvest.

There’s potatoes (Charlotte), French Beans (Blue Lake and Purple Teepee), Runner Beans (Moonlight), Calabrese (Aquiles F1), Courgette (Black Beauty), Mangetout (Oregon Sugar Snap) and Cauliflower (Snowball). Not a bad haul!

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.

And the award goes to……

2010 was a busy year here at Two Chances Veg Plot. So which veg gets the awards this year? Here’s my round-up of the best and the worst……..and how they compared to 2009.

Top 3 Veg
1) Late Purple Sprouting Broccoli, we waited and waited and eventually it appeared and boy was it worth the wait. Fantastic eating and filled the March-April ‘hunger gap’. Very satisfying after the the 2008 pigeon disaster – net at all costs.
2) Parsnips “Exhibition” – better than 2009s Tender & True and just fabulous straight from the roasting tray. Yes they’re in the ground for 8 months+ but well worth the investment in time and space.
3) Courgettes “F1 Orelia & Black Beauty” – summer powerhouse veg, very little work other than remembering to harvest, and provided easy meals simply roasted or thrown into a pasta bake, souped, relish etc. Don’t moan about this profilic veg, you’ll miss them in winter.
2009 was Brussels, Cucumber and Courgettes.


Parsnips and sprouts were good this year.

And the worst……
1) Onion Sets “Radar” – pitiful golf-ball sized excuses for onions – not enough water spring / early summer?
2) Garlic “Purple Wight” – where did it go? Planted too late, no cold snap to break dormancy? Some has appeared this Autumn.
3) Carrots “Javelot” – had a crack at growing some long carrots which were pretty rubbish. Crammed too many into the bin? Will try again next year.
2009 was carrots (there’s a trend developing!), Parsnips and Leeks (I haven’t even seen my leeks since I planted them round the corner in a neighbour’s plot so can’t comment yet!).


My carrots were rubbish!

Best Newcomer
Sweetcorn “Sweet Sensation” – planted very early, survived the frosts under bottle cloches and juicy, sweet cobs were eaten through August – more please!

Veg I should have grown
The humble Swede………back on the list for 2011.

Biggest Mistake
Transplanting cucumbers from windowsill to greenhouse too early – lost my prized variety “Carmen” that did so well for me in 2009 and went for a non all-female variety as a back-up which wasn’t as good. Don’t sow too early.

Showing Success
I had a successful Summer Show at my local Horticultural Society show. Took cups/medal for most points veg and most points overall veg/flowers. I’d like to branch out a bit this year and do more local shows.

2010 list of veg:
In the greenhouse: Lettuce (Salad Bowl, Little Gem, Red Deer’s Tongue & Lollo Rosso), Cucumber (Burpless Tasty Green), Tomato (Moneymaker, Garderner’s Delight, Brasero & Tumbling Tom), Chilli (Fresno Supreme, Cayenne, Jalapeno, Scotch Bonnet), Peppers (Etuida, Californian Wonder, Yellow Bell Pepper).

Radish (French Breakfast, Albena), Beetroot (Detroit), Salad Potato (Charlotte, Juliette, Anya, Desiree, King Edwards), Broad Bean (Sutton), Runner Bean (Scarlet Emperor), French Bean (Cobra & Dwarf Ferrari), Courgettes (Orelia F1 & Black Beauty), Summer Squash (Scallop Mixed), Chard (Bright Lights), Brussel Sprouts (Maximus Hybrid), Cabbage (Golden Acre Primo), Carrots (Amsterdam Forcing, Javelot), Parsnips (Exhibition), Garlic (Purple Wight), Onion Sets (Radar), Shallots (Golden Gourmet), Broccoli (Early & Late Purple Sprouting), Kale (Dwarf Green Curled & Scarlet), Cauliflower (Snowball), Calabrese (Aquilies), Celery (variety unknown), Pumpkin (Rouge Vif d’Etamps), Leeks (Musselburgh), Sweetcorn (Sweet Sensation), Jerusalem Artichokes (variety unkown).

For comparison – 2009 list of vegetables:
In the greenhouse: Lettuce (Salad Bowl, Little Gem & Lollo Rosso), Cucumber (Carmen F1), Tomato (Moneymaker, Garderner’s Delight & Marmande), Chilli (Cayenne & Jalapeno), Peppers (Etuida).

Radish (French Breakfast, Albena), Beetroot (Detroit), Salad Potato (Charlotte, Juliette & Anya), Broad Bean (Sutton), Runner Bean (Scarlet Emperor), French Bean (Cobra & Dwarf Ferrari), Courgettes (Orelia F1), Summer Squash (Scallop Mixed), Butternut Squash (Cobnut F1).

Chard (Bright Lights), Brussel Sprouts (Maximus Hybrid), Cabbage (Golden Acre Primo & Savoy), Carrots (Amsterdam Forcing), Parsnips (Tender & True), Garlic (Purple Wight), Onion Sets (Radar), Shallots (Griselle), Broccoli (Early & Late Purple Sprouting), Kale (Dwarf Green Curled & Scarlet), Swede (Virtue), Cauliflower (Snowball), Leeks (Musselburgh), Jerusalem Artichokes (variety unkown).