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!!
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
I sowed the first of the stump carrots today, 14 stations in two old dustbins and 8 stations in a raised bed. I’ll sow some more next weekend. These are for the New Forest show at the last week in July and possibly my local village show three weeks later. The variety is Sweet Candle and I’m hoping to get a decent set out of them.
Certainly won’t win any prizes for symmetry but they should produce some nice carrots in five months time. And with a fleece over the top they will be cozy enough if we get a frost.
I’ve had the patience of a saint so far this year with no indoor seeds sowed until yesterday when I sowed 25 sweet peppers (Californian Wonder) and 15 tomatoes (Marmande, Gardener’s Delight and Moneymaker). And 140 broad beans are in the greenhouse which will be planted out at the shared plot in a few weeks. I’ll follow these with some chillies, aubergines and various brassicas over the weekend.
Have you started sowing in earnest yet??
As I was saying in a previous post carrots have been my nemisis as a veg grower with pretty feeble previous attempts. But I thinked I’ve cracked it this year with these specimens:
These are easily the 5 best carrots I’ve ever grown. The variety is Sweet Candle, a show variety of stump carrot which has a good flavour too. Since the show we’ve been steadily munching our way through them. They were grown in a raised bed and I cored out the soil at regular stations and replaced with a compost mix. I’m really pleased with the results particularly given my track record!
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I’ve finally started getting my pipes in. What’s this got to do with growing veg you ask? Well over the past few months I’ve been planning to have a go at growing some prize winning veg on a very small scale concentrating on a few carrots and parsnips (the long carrot experiment part II, some of you will remember my pathetic effort last year!).
I could only find 4″ black drainpipes in the local DIY store, in 7 foot lengths. 6″ diameter is ideal for parnsips but to be honest if I get a parsnip big enough to get stuck in a 4″ pipe I’ll be chuffed! Cut in half I buried them in a section of raised bed. The pipes will be filled with the growing medium and should I manage to grow something longer than 3 and a half foot the tap root can keep going into the soil below which I can carefully dig out at show time in August (haha who am I kidding!). By part burying them in the raised bed I hope to avoid the hassle and expense of constructing some sort of frame to support the pipes. And I avoid the need for drums and tonnes of sand – don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out Darren’s method. 8 pipes are now in and I’ll buy enough for another 8 towards the end of the month. I’ll sieve the topsoil in the rest of the bed and core out a number of stations to fill with mix and sow stump carrots directly. I’ll also grow some stump carrots in sand in half barrels – with a variety of methods I’m hoping to get a decent result from one of them!
The seeds, from Medwyns, have arrived. I’ve gone for Gladiator for the long parsnip and Sweet Candle for stump carrots. I have some long carrot seeds left over from last year. The remainder of the parsnip seeds will go direct in the bed as they don’t last more than one season.
I also got round to planting my shallots. Traditionally they go straight in the plot on the shortest day but with the weather we’ve had I’m starting them off in 3″ pots with compost and some Vitax Q4 to get them going. There’s 5 Hative de Niort and the rest are Golden Gourmet that I grew last year.
The rest of the morning I spent digging over the plot which has now all been dug apart from the patch of parsnips and PSB left. I’ll dig in some well rotted chicken manure and I should then be ready for the new season.
Tomorrow I’ll plant the raspberry canes I bought a few weeks ago and put these bulbs in containers – Rach picked them up for 50p each from B&Q. I’m hoping that I can get the Tulips to grow and flower in April and early May.
There’s been some good discussions recently on the UK Veg Gardener’s forum. If you’re not a member yet why not join and benefit from the expertise on the site?
Off the plot I’ve joined Hugh FW’s Fish Fight campaign – what a crazy policy we have were good fish get thrown back into the sea dead because the fishermen are not allowed to land them. Surely there’s a more common sense approach?
And don’t forget the Save Our Forest petition against the proposed goverment sell-off of some of our most precious woodlands. Over 135,000 of us have signed the petition so far, join us here. For more info click here.
Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Posted in Grow Veg
Tagged Bulbs, Carrots, Fish Fight, Medwyns, Parsnips, Pipes, raspberries, Save Our Forests, shallots, Stump Carrots, tulips