Stourport 2010

Stourport 2010
Winning vase 5x 'Sarah Louise'

Friday, 29 June 2012

Peas de resistance!

Its been dry here today after the flash floods yesterday that saw most of birmingham and wolverhampton come to a stand still let alone the rest of the black country! Went to the plots today and spent a good 7 hours there finishing saft little jobs like collaring the celery and removing any split sticks and sideshoots; tying the peas up and lifting the last few shallots.
Noticed the first signs of RSM on some of the onions in the polyhouse so i've increased ventilation and sprayed with dynamec.
I was also able to go and collect some hoss muck aswell. There were 30 bags all ready to be collected. These have half filled the designated bay and i have covered it with old carpet to keep the worms active and to keep the rain from washing out all the lovely nutrients. As most of its fresh hoss muck i shall keep it covered up until i need it next year by which time it should have rotted down enough to be used.
I'm hopeful of my 'show perfection' peas this year. Its been a few years since i last grew them so it should be an experience! They are grown cordon style (the same as with sweet peas)  so all tendrils and sideshoots are removed. If two pods decide to form on the same truss then the weaker of the two is removed leaving the strongest one to go on and grow into what will hopefully be a well-filled 10-12 podded pea! There are several Scottish growers who excel at growing perfect peas so lets see if they grow as well in the Black Country!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Moving on up...

As promised i've been able to get down the plots and take some snaps of how certain things are doing.
Today i turned the collars round on the leeks so they now have 18" collars on as opposed to 15". I still havent got round to erected a proper support system to support the weight of the flags so i've just quickly put up a temporary measure. However, i am determined to get the proper thing set up at the end of this season!
Pendle Improved. This one was slightly bent but with a bit of gentle manipulation it will straigten up.
This year i've opted to grow a little less for showing and more for the kitchen so the one side of the tunnel i have planted peppers and yellow tomatoes.
All xanths are now secured to two breaks. All tied up, all thats left to do is to pinch out any sideshoots as and when they appear. The end of next month we should see some colour in the buds and this is when the covers go on.
Everybody keeps saying how bad this year is and things are moving much. True as this is for me with things like beans and sweetcorn; my brassicas really are loving all this wet cool weather. Inside the brassica cage theres kale, cabbage, sprouts and lots more.
One of the early 'Bosworth' sprouts destined for a september show.
The brigadier cabbage is doing well. These were planted 3ft apart and have already grown together.
'Autoro' red cabbage- the first time i've grown this variety which i've read is supposed to be one of the best for the showbench.
As you can see the long carrots are putting lots of growth on up top....
....and they dont look too bad down below. Notice how i've drawn the soil around the top of the carrot to prevent any greening of the shoulders should they become exposed.
My newly erected cover over the new celery bed. This is to provide some shade on the odd sunny day that we may encounter.
And this is what its covering...
Parsnip 'Pinnacle' looks promising. The only thing they'll get now is the odd foliar feed of maxicrop.
Onions in the polyhouse. All those planted in the bed are from David Metcalfe.
This is one of peter glazebrooks onions. This is probably the biggest one. Not bad considering they've had no special treatment.
Davids onions.
Cedrico toms are now at the top of the greenhouse so i shall now train them up the eaves of the house to get an extra two or three trusses.
And last but not least each year i like to try something new and this year it is exhibition broad beans. These are giant exhibition sown back in march/april. They are growing up 5ft canes and are about 12" from the top now and are loaded with flowers. Touch wood there is no sign of blackfly yet but i shall be giving them a spray this week as prevention is always better than cure!
Now thats your lot for this post so clear off!

Monday, 25 June 2012

The summer solstice has been and gone...

I remember when summer used to mean warm muggy evenings when one could sit in the garden with friends; a time when the sun shone and all was good with the world. Not this year! The lack of sunshine is having a real effect on the crops, especially runner beans. They do not seem to be moving much, and they do look pale poor things. Still, we should be in for a late crop this year. Funny enough i planted a row of The Stenner about two weeks later than the culinary beans and they seem to be doing much better as a result. Well as the title says the summer solstice has been and gone, from now on the nights slowly but surely start to draw in, the light levels dwindle and, most importantly, the onions begin to bulb up!
The onions i purchased from David Metcalfe are doing splendidly in the polyhouse (will post some photos this week on my days off) as are Peter Glazebrooks in the 20ltr pots. Cucumbers are not doing well at all this year due to the cold nights earlier on and i have had alot of people coming to me and telling me theyve lost their cucumbers.
This pastweek i've been emptying my greenhouse here at home, kitting it all out with new staging, painting this white (for light benefits) and sterilising everything with good old Jeyes. All this preparation is ready for next yers batch of leeks and onions- thought i'd start preparations early to avoid having to do everything at the last minute.
I have built a very useful screen for my celery bed for the odd day when the sun does decide to shine. As and when required, the netting can be rolled up or down to provide useful shade on the celery plants. If they get to hot and start to flag, this is when calcium uptake is hindered and heart rot becomes more likely. Needless to say, i am watering weekly with calcium nitrate also to prevent this disease which otherwise would render an otherwise good celery plant unshowworthy. In fact, last year a very good friend of mine decided to enter two heads of celery in his collection that he had earlier told me had heart rot. They looked fine when we were staing bt when we came back after the judging had taken place there was a brown puddle under each celery where the moisture from the rot had oozed out. Nice!
The shallots have been lifted his week and are in our old fashioned entry where they are out of direct sunlight and where a nice bit of air can circulate round them so they dry steadily at an even temperature. Some people i know dry them in their greenhouse, and i used to be among them, but i found that they dried too quickly and temperatures fluctuated in the greenhouse and this produced wrinkled, mis coloured bulbs. The shallot bed will now be weeded and sterilised ready for next years crop.
The brassicas in the new brassica cage are doing well, especially the Brigadier cabbage. I planted them 3ft apart and already they have filled this space and they are showing very little evidence of a solid heart yet. Autoro cabbgae is a good strong red cabbage well suited to the show bench aswell as the kitchen and these are doing really good too. A second sowing of kohl rabi has gone in this week ready for the late august early september shows as have two lots of french beans.
Ther first two trusses of toms have set and i have strated feeding with sheep manure, comfrey and soot.
The broad beans i sowed for shrewsbury show are doing nicley and are nearly at the top of their 5ft canes and are full of flower. There is very little to do with them other than remove any sideshoots that should appear and keep them tied in regularly.
All the xanths have been secured to two breaks and all tied in. Judging by the plants themselves we should be in for some good blooms again his year. Unfortunately, the slugs have taken a liking to several of the plants and they have reduced a 4-4 1/2 ft xanth plant to little more than a 9" stump!
Oh well, the forcast is better for this week, which is lucky as i'm judging our allotment competition this week. So, as promised i should get some decent sunshine to go out and take some photos of how everythings progressing so you can all look and laugh...