Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Its a Date.

Below is the planting system I will be using for next year. These dates are only suggested and will be manipulated to suit both myself and the weather. This planning is critical when growing for exhibition and I have to produce my exhibits for the middle of August. 

Giant Onions
Blanch Leeks                       Boxing Day
Pot Leeks
Large Onions                       1st week of January
250g Onions                         Mid-January

Celery                                   1st week of February
Tomatoes                              Mid-February

Parsnips                               1st week of March
Carrots (Long)                      Mid-March
Broad Beans                        End of March

Tomato (Giant)                    Early April
Runner Beans
Carrots (Stump)                   2nd week of April
Potatoes                               Last week of April

Peas                                     1st week of May

Marrows                               1st week of June
French Beans                      2nd week of June

Planning of crops and timing is extremely variable no gardener gets everything right every year, no matter what they might say, and multiple sowings will need to be made to ensure crops are available for the show period

And their off!

Boxing day signifies the start of the growing season for me. The first crops to be sown are: Giant Onion (Mammoth), Blanch leeks, Pot leeks and Shallots (Matador). The seed trays have been sterilised in the bath using supermarket anti-bacterial spray and then thoroughly dried. Each of the above crops will be sown into a compost / sand mix. This is normally a mixture of 50/50 sharp sand and multipurpose compost with no added nutrients. These seeds are placed under a grow lamp (A bright windowsill is a good alternative.) which will be on for twelve hours a day until they are ready to be transplanted into individual 3"pots in about a months time. These crops will be watered from below by placing the trays into a larger tray of water and waiting until there is    a colour change in the surface of the compost, I will not water these seeds again until they have germinated. The reason for this is so as not to disturb the newly sown seeds.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Everyone told me so!

Well I have been warned time and time again 'Order your seed potatoes in good time to get the varieties that you want!'. I have just ordered my show seed potatoes from www.jbaseedpotatoes.co.uk. I will be using white potato 'Winston', white/pink potato 'Amour' and red potato 'Maxine'. The latter variety is my second choice as 'Celine' was sold out. Both are nice potatoes but I find that Maxines eyes are deeper leading to a lack of uniformity.

With just over two weeks to go till boxing day it is time to clean out my pots and trays ready for my leeks,onions and shallots to be shown under artificial lighting. I keep the growing area in the loft as it is always warm and the roots seem to enjoy the bottom heat provided from the rest of the house. This luxury is expensive and not available to everyone, however I do know of people who have got cheap lighting from internet auction sites. (A word of warning though with private sales, all electrical appliances should be thoroughly checked and ideally PAT tested before use).

A sunny window sill will suffice as these alliums will germinate at relatively low temps although your leeks will not have the same vigour as those under lamps. Size is only a quarter of the total points available to an exhibit. The overall quality of flag condition and the uniformity of a set tend to be more important than leeks that are hanging off the table at either end.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Season Review

With the start of the new growing season only three weeks away I thought now would be a good time to review this year. I have once again exceeded my expectations for the year with both results at my local show and also with the amount of crops produced for this winter.
Firstly this year I entered my local show with a target of just beating my previous years efforts of nine prize cards and a third placed medal for the top tray. I had increased the number of entries from last year and found the preparation hard going, but in the end well worth it as I finished up with seventeen prize cards, the cup for the best basket of vegetables and the shield for best vegetable exhibit, as well as third place medal for the top tray again.
Secondly, the extra planning has paid off as I still have copious amounts of winter veg. The most successful of which is my Brussels sprout plants that I received from an offer in Kitchen Garden from Fentongollen, Devon. I have already harvested one and a half kilos with quite a way to go on all the plants.
With that trumpet blowing over and done with I can now in the coming weeks begin planning for this season. Starting with the boxing day tradition of planting the blanch and pot leeks, giant onion and shallots.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Beginning

Welcome to my blog this is my first ever blog and after seeing the unique vegetable growing community appearing on the internet i decided to have a go and try to display the fun and the dismay that the vegetable growing season has to offer. I am relatively new to vegetable growing but have had some success at local level, that no doubt I will go on about at length.
The main reasons for me staring this blog are firstly to encourage the newer growers to have a go because you would be surprised by the results you can achieve even on a limited budget. Secondly and slightly more selfishly I would like to have information shared on different techniques and growing styles so that people in my situation i.e. looking to step up to the next level can compete with the existing growers.