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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
A photo of the long roots, trophies and rosettes from the New Forest Show that finished today.
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!
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!
Well with all the prep and staging complete today was the big day! And after the morning’s judging was complete I was very pleased to be among the cards. As I mentioned in previous posts at the New Forest Show there are two sides to the vegetable competition – the National Vegetable Society Southern Branch Championships (NVS rules) and the New Forest Open (RHS rules). I had entries in both sides and I was particularly hopeful with my long roots – both the carrots and parsnips.
On the NVS side first up was the parsnips and I was amazed to see I won a red card – first place – the first year that I had grown long parsnips in the sand box.
Next up was my favourite class – the long carrots.
And another red card! I was really chuffed to win 1st place for both the long root classes. This was the first time I’d entered the long roots in the New Forest Show – last year we were in France and with the carrots I entered in the NVS south west DA show maybe I’d have won the New Forest Show if I’d have been there. So I knew I could grow a decent specimen and this year they did the business.
It was a well contested class too with nine entries.
I also took a third place for my beetroot.
On the Open side I was surprised to see I’d won first place for my potatoes – a set of the variety Kestrel. I thought they were a bit on the small size but the judge must have favoured their uniformity and condition over size.
I didn’t realise but there was also prize money attached which was a bonus and at the presentation dinner in the evening I picked up a couple of trophies.
The Holderness Fork for parsnips.
And the Bob & Ann Brown trophy for long carrots. It was carrot seed from Bob that got me started in the first place so I’ve come full circle now winning his trophy.
There were a few entries that didn’t get anywhere. On the NVS side white potatoes, coloured potatoes, french beans and peas and on the Open side stump carrots, beetroot and cherry tomatoes.
Finally it was good to see the Hampshire DA members well represented and in the cards particularly Darren who has given me a lot of guidance and helped me prep my entries. You can read Darren’s post on the show which has loads of extra photos here. A great day!!
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……
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.
I mentioned in my last post that the potato bags had been moved under cover 10 days ago to allow them to dry out and the skins to harden. With so much to do this weekend I wanted to get them emptied and sorted today to see whether I had any sets or not.
I’ve entered two classes in the NVS side of the New Forest Show – white and coloured potatoes, five of each – and I’ve also entered the open side which is four of any variety. There is also a South of England Potato Championship but I don’t grow enough potatoes or enough varieties to attempt this section.
The first thing to do was to empty the bags one by one. At this stage I’m keeping any between approx 5 and 8 ounces separate burying them in peat to keep them in the dark and fresh. Any under or over this size go into the eating box to be transferred to hessian sacks and the seed potato / plant material goes into the green recycling bin. Finally the used compost is bagged up for next year.
Once all the bags are emptied the potatoes are lined up according to size and as I don’t grow many it’s relatively easy to put a set together. The group at the bottom is a possible open side of the show entry and the group above is the NVS entry. The Kestrel were a bit under sized in general whereas the Winston had been left too long – some of them were massive, with one weighing in at over a pound – good for jacket spuds but no good for show. That said I also managed to get a set for the NVS and a possible set for the open from the Winston as well.
Arranging the Winston.
Then the sets are marked up in boxes of fresh peat until Monday when they will be cleaned and wrapped in dry kitchen towel ahead of staging on Monday evening.
Potatoes aren’t really my speciality and with 20 bags grown in total it’s not many to select from but you never know we’ll see what happens on the day.
The New Forest Show is just a week away now and I have a few potential entries coming along nicely.
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.
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.
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!!
Posted in Grow Veg
Tagged beetroot, Carrots, cherry tomatoes, Dwarf French Beans, long carrots, National Vegetable Society, New Forest Show, NVS, Parsnips, Peas, Potatoes, Stump Carrots
As a regular blogger going a month between posts is unusual for me but it’s been a busy few weeks. A 3 day Stag do in Dublin followed by a 4 day trip up to Northumberland for another section of the Pennine Way and then back for the New Forest Show. Pretty hectic!
I managed to get four entries into the NVS Southern Championships at the New Forest and Hampshire County Show at the Lyndhurst Showground. Long carrots, coloured potatoes, cabbages and cucumbers and I didn’t embarrass myself with what I showed although no prizes this time (to see how it’s done check out Darren’s blog, he had an excellent show). I was pleased with my carrots they just needed more weight so I’ll be trying again next year. Same with the cabbages, they were a nice, clean pair just needed more weight to get anywhere near the winner Chris Hewlett. Anyway there’s always next year! Rachel and I took Chloe and also my friend who kindly drove me back from Northumberland and we had a great day out, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky (where has the sun gone?) and there was so much to see we’ll definitely be going back there next year. And we got to rub shoulders with Alan Titchmarsh…..
Back on the home front a quick appraisee of what’s good and bad and the veg plot – decent onion harvest, garlic has been rubbish, many have just rotted in the ground, peas/beans – good so far, courgettes – very slow to get going, brassicas are generally good, cucumbers – too many to keep up with, tomotoes – very slow to ripen. Visited the allotment for the first time in a month this morning and managed half an hour of frenetic weeding before harvesting some broad beans and rhubarb. Just hope the 60 sweetcorn plants I put in there pay off, there’s quite a few cobs (2 – 3 per plant) and they need to ripen now, fingers crossed.
On the show front, it’s the Salisbury Allotment Association show next Saturday (I’m putting in 14 entries all being well) and my local Village Show the weekend after. It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks!!