Stourport 2010

Stourport 2010
Winning vase 5x 'Sarah Louise'

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Leeks and worm poo!

I cant believe twelve months have passed and its time to start the leeks off again. For the second year running i have ordered my blanch leeks from David Metcalfe (Pendle Improved) and i have some that Paul NVS kindly sent me. They are all under my T5 8 tube flourescent growlight with bottom heat and air temperature of no less thn 10oC.
Naturally, they look a little limp at the mo as they've only just been potted up. I'm using evergreen potting pro mix at this stage before moving onto M3 during the subsequent pot changes. Something i always like to include in my leek and onion mixes is wormcasts which, last year, i bought from a garden centre in the sale at £3.49 a tub. Now, however, they are £13.00 full price! So this is my back-up plan:
This is my own compost out of my wormery. This is in the greenhouse drying off a bit as its quite wet and 'claggy'. When its dried sufficiently i shall run this through i sieve before adding it to the compost when potting on my leeks. Another addition is SEER rockdust; a product which i've had great success with over the years.
And now to plug the great institution that is the NVS...The National Vegetable Society. A society that has something to offer every vegetable grower amateur or professional. Showman or not. Its full of like-minded and very helpful growers from across the country. Two very kind members i've had dealings with this year are Helen and Paul. Helen has kindly sent me some of her pot leeks and Paul his blanch leeks. My thanks go out to them. Cheers Guys! There is a great website for the NVS which is also home to their online forum where members can chat about their various growing techniques etc. If you are not a member (and i strongly advise becoming one) then there public pages also have some cracking advice and tips.
So whether its to talk about leeks, lights, onions or worm poo have a look at the NVS website today and see what you're missing...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Pheasant Plucker

 I'm not the pheasant plucker,
     I'm the pheasant plucker's son,
     And I'm only plucking pheasants
     Till the pheasant plucker's come
You try saying it even before you've had a few!
Yesterda a good mate of mine rings me up with a very appealing offer of an oven-ready pheasant shot the the previous day. Well, how could one refuse such an offer? As it happens the pheasant arrived plucked and cooked. My mate had kindly done everything leaving the bird ready to be devoured.
I appreciate some people may find this sort of thing distasteful or offensive so if you feel as such and are reading this...GET A LIFE! After all it's n ature and we are top of the food chain.
Nobody loves the countryside as much as i do and i feel no anxiety of a pheasant now and again.
And, after all, its all good cos the feathers go on the compost heap and all thats wastedare the bones.
Such circumstances reminded me of the above song...go on see if YOU can say it without straying.LOL!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Top tatties...

Following a request from a certain seed potato supplier (mentioning no names...) i thought i'd dedicate this post to the one and only JBA seed potato merchants. I've never gone anywhere else for my tatties purely because the quality has always been spot on from JBA. Here are some pics of my various sets of tatties from this years shows...
These were a small set of Sherine.
Blue belle has been very consistent this year and has earnt me a nice deck of shiny red cards. Anyone who hasn't grown it before, please do so as they take some beating.

I came second to myself with this set of 'Amour'. Again, a very reliable variety and i have it on good authority that this is the one that was winning at the nationals. They're not the best set shape wise but the condition was good.

And finally, this was a set of 'Sherine' that i incorporated into a collection that was awarded a red card. As you can ...hopefully...see the spuds had a beautiful natural bloom, looking as if they had been polished.
All these spuds have been grown in polypots using only peat and nothing else. Maybe a dollop of FYM in the trench that the polypots sit in and that's that! Despite alot of growers losing the majority of their crop to scab rendering it unshowable, i still managed to find at least two good sets of each variety.
So, hats off to JBA potatoes for their first-rate service and top quality spuds. In fact i have already ordered next years seed.
P.s Iain- you can give me that £5 when you see me or just knock a hefty chunk of next years order!Lol!

Friday, 18 November 2011

John the Baptist...

Earlier this year a chap i'd never met before came walking round the allotments looking, on the off chance, for someone who grew and had some spare xanth plants. Needless to say he found me after several people mentioning 'the young lad on plot 1' and i was more than happy to oblige. We got talking and he told me he had one and half plots several miles down the road. His name was John Knight now known as 'Knighty' or 'John the Baptist' and is a major in the salvation army and, funny as it seems, only lives in the next road from me! Naturally we have become very good friends and i have now given him the showing bug. Only yesterday i went up to his plot to see him and he had built a new xanth enclosure and dahlia frame, raised troughs for his onions and leeks and had a regimental line of half barrels lined up for his stump carrots.
I really wanted to encourage him so way back in April i sorted him out with some spare blanch leeks i had and told him which shows to put in for as a newbie. He has a a few successes and the bug has really bitten him now!
John hasn't got any form of lights or heating and these leeks were just grown outside under a make shift cover so he has done well. Each and every time he speaks to me he has built something else or has sent for another show veg catalogue! At just over 70 years old it just goes to show you can never be too old to join the showing game. If you know anyone who might have even the slightest flicker of interest in growing for show do all you can to encourage them. They'll get a lot of pleasure out of it but you'll get twice as much from getting them involved.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

It's been a while...sorry folks!

WOW! Its been about 8 months since my last post- i hope somebody missed me! I cant believe where the time has gone. As gardeners yourselves, you know as well as i do how busy it can get at times but this year everybody seems to have been asking me to help them out or to do this or to do that. Only this friday just gone i was planting 9000 daffodil bulbs with a local primary school in the local park. It seems i shall be getting involved with yet another school gardening club and my commitments as vice chairman and letting officer continue to eat away at any spare time i seem to acquire.
Anyway enough about that, first of all i want to send my best wishes to Smithyveg (Simon) after his recent scare. Here's hoping that little Oscar soon gets better mate!
Seen we last spoke, the show season has finished and what a year i've had. I entered 8 shows in total and came away with at least one trophy from each one. Also, i was awarded best in show at three of them. I've been in four newspapers with my winning leeks and chrysanthemums. Even Garden News phoned me last week to see if i was interested in having a xanth ad in next month- didn't bother far too expensive for me!
My collection at Belbroughton.

Collection at Chaddersley Corbett.

Vase of five 'Cornetto' at Stourport. Awarded most points in xanths in the whole show- well pleased.

Best in show with these three 'Gental Giant' dahlias.- that was a great surprise. These plants grew over 6ft tall! They were an absolute nightmare to cover as i hadn't intended them getting this tall!
Finally, i'll leave you with a picture of my 'Bluebelle' spuds. My tatties have done brilliantly this year and have stormed the shows. I grew bluebelle, sherine, amour and winston. 10 bags of each and had no problem in finding at least two sets of each variety...