About Me

Sunday, 21 December 2008

postheadericon Exhibition onions sown

Managed to find time today to sow the first batch of Medwyns re-selected kelsae Exhibition onions. Only about 50 seed in the packet so I hope they germinate at 5 quid a packet. Again I used chestnut compound just to be on the safe side, and I have placed the trays on my warming cable beds. As soon as they germinate I will leave them in the main greenhouse with a minimum night temperature of 50f. I will leave one tray under lights as a test but I'm sure my light is to strong for onions, the rest will grow in natural daylight which will produce big bulbs anyway and is probably a safer bet for now. I will plant my next batch of onions in about 10 days time.

Spent Saturday cleaning all the pots for my shallots and preparing the compost. I have gone for 4lt pots and just a general multipurpose compost with added calcified seaweed. A small indent is made in each pot ensuring I don't compact the compost in anyway and the shallot is just placed on top. I suppose I have about 90 shallots this year in pots which are sitting in my smaller polytunnel, all I need do now is keep the frost off them with some fleece and keep an eye on pests and watering. Aphids can be a problem even in winter so you really need to keep your eye out for them.

My leeks have now rooted well and the roots can be seen in the pots, so they have got off to a good start. Bubils should be pearly white at the base and I'm always slightly concerned when I receive mine from Medwyns as most have a brown colour on them, but he knows what he's doing right?, so I hope I don't have any problems with them as they receive the most care and everything is so clean and sterilized the greenhouse stinks. I have now also removed the split canes and supports because at this young stage once rooted they don't need them and will actually grow straighter without them. Sometimes the support clips can actually hinder them to one side and I like to take them off at this stage because they won't fall over now and should grow naturally straight, The support clips are replaced once I pot them off into 3inch.
Tuesday, 16 December 2008

postheadericon Next on the list

Christmas will soon be here and this is when I start to sow the first of my large exhibition onion seed. I have my own re-selection of kelsae onion, and Medwyns kelsae re-selection.

I will probably sow my first batch 20-21st December, if not then I normally sow them 26-27. It takes about 10 days for germination in the right conditions from which I will prick them out gentle at the crook or as some say the bent/loop stage. Many growers have a difference of opinion on this and over the years this changes with some people preferring to leave them until they have one true leaf. It really is preference and experience, If you feel confident you can prick them out at the crook stage with out damaging them, then I feel this is the best option as they have only one root which with some care wont be damaged. If you leave them longer they will have more roots and risk damaging the root system but the plant itself will be stronger. You can of course plant them in small individual cells or plugs and you won't need to disturb them at all. I tried this last year but I actually found the seedlings I pricked out grow faster than the ones in the cells, this is probably because I sowed them in seed base compost and pricked out into John Innes No.2, the onions in the cells of course spent longer in a weaker mix. I do honestly feel pricking them out at crook stage results in faster rooting, so I will stick to this.

Also time for shallots:

Shallots traditionally are planted on the shortest day of the year, so I will plant mine from the 20-23 December. Of course the weather is not right to plant them outside so they are planted in 4 litre pots and put inside one of the tunnels. You don't need to keep them warm just keep the frost off them, heat will just cause them to grow fast which is not what you want. I don't bother planting them in small pots and potting them up, waste of time if you ask me, has advantages but not enough to waste me hours and hours of time. All I do is plant them in Levingtion m2 or multipurpose with some added calcified seaweed, keeping them on the dry side until they really start to grow away. Normally there is no need to water for the first month or maybe two if you have sufficient moisture in the compost before you plant them. One vital tip is ensure you prepare your bulbs prior to planting, check them over for damage, rot, Disease, remove loose skins and any roots and do not under any circumstances push the bulbs into the compost, this causes the roots to grow upwards. Instead make an indent and place the bulb on top, remove any bulbs once rooted that look suspicious.
Thursday, 11 December 2008

postheadericon Leeks under way

Well my leeks turned up on the 10th Dec this week and this is really where my season starts. As soon as they root they will stand bolt upright and I will start to gently manipulate them to ensure they are straight. They look poor at the moment but this is to be expected as they are delivered it stands to reason they get a check. Also one point of note: I water my leeks with tap water at the grow room temperature, Rain water is acidic and not always clean so I prefer not to take the risk especially with leeks that are prone to all sorts of virus and fungal diseases that will spread and ruin your season.

I thought long and hard about what compost and mix to use this year and finally i decided to go for something that I could easily get hold of and have opted for Levington multipurpose with added vermiculite. I did consider levington m2 but this is expensive and only available via mail order. You can of course just buy westlands Irish moss peat and mix it with chempak potting base to the recommended amount and this in theory gives you m2. As I pot on I will add soil to the mixture, again I'm going for the levington organic range.

Also this year I have used chestnut compound, watering before and after potting the leeks. I also spray the leeks with this and mix half strength diathane and half strength bug clear to a sprayer for a final spray.

In the grow room the air temperature is ideal at 60f, with a bottom heat of 70f. I spent a week messing about with the light, heaters and fans to achieve as near as possible. Have run into a few problems with this; No heater is required from 4pm-4am as the light is on and provides a constant 60-64f with the greenhouse ventilation system opening at 66f. The heater decides to come on anyway now and again for no reason and I have tested 3 brand new heaters..hmm. If i set it on a thermostat during the day at 60f it will still heat the greenhouse another 15f when the light comes on at 4pm for no reason. If i turn the heater down then day temperature drops to 50f but the night temperature stays even 60f with a max of 67f. Really struggling to work out why this does this.

How I set it up:
With no light on during the day:
Heater on maximum until 61f is achieved
Heater turned down until click is reached for cut in point (below 61f cut in)
Day temperature minimum: 60f Maximum: 61f.

4pm Light cuts in (goes off at 4am)
Light provides the heat required for the grow room (may not as weather gets worst)
Heater doesn't realize light makes heat and still cuts in lol. Heater then proceeds to heat greenhouse up to 70f???.

I thought these bloody things were suppose to know when a temperature is reached, caused me hassle all week. Only thing I can think of is maybe a draft somewhere? The heater is about 3 foot off the ground, maybe its colder down there?.
Friday, 21 November 2008

postheadericon allotment/tractor

Heres our tractor, a t20 fergie from which I also own near all of the machinery/equipment to go with it which is handy.

Here is part of the allotment, we also have another two strips the other side of this which make up the same amount of land as this but are separated, 3 plots in total. (well the plot you are looking at here is actually two in one, so thats 4 plots)

postheadericon Greenhouse benching

After looking for some decent benching to rack my new greenhouse out I was quite surprised at the amount of money they charge for, lets face it a pile of crap. Considering I needed a bench either side of the greenhouse minus the partition section because thats the grow room, it would have cost me a small fortune. So i built it myself with timber from Clarks all for £81. I made it in such a way that I can remove it very easily, yet very strong and stable. Its basically two tier with free standing legs, the bench at the bottom in two sections for easy removal, the top bench all in one for stability and again all removable and built to fit my needs.

My greenhouse is now complete, including the grow room as I have now fitted the extractor fan, all ready for winter. I still need to decide on the bulb I will use this year for my growlight. If anyone out there uses growlights then a little tip: Leeks prefer a blue spectrum to anything else, the more lumens/lux you have the better they will grow. Just make sure you can keep a constant temperature, to much heat will destroy your leeks/onions making them leggy. More on this later when we get a bit closer to growing them.

All my seeds have come and these are put in an air tight container and placed in the fridge. This believe it or not keeps them dry, no light, cool and a constant temperature, ensuring you get good germination when you are ready to plant them. You can even freeze seed for some years, if you have any left overs and won't be using them that year, put them in the freezer.
Friday, 14 November 2008

postheadericon Grow Room

Heres my grow room that I have rebuilt for this year. I have used the back partition of my greenhouse which I insulated with Thermawrap, a type of bubble wrap with reflective foil on it normally used behind radiators to reflect the heat back into the room.

I am using again a 600 watt powerplant pro mantis metal halide grow light. One thing to mention if anyone uses a growlight: remember to replace the bulb every year, its not worth taking the risk, it may still light up but that doesn't mean you are getting the correct spectrum of light. I have yet to decide which bulb I will use this year, either a 600w Sunmaster Cool Deluxe or something with a few more lumens.

Ventilation is very important and I hope to fit an extractor fan in the glass, I have an auto vent in the roof and will probably fit a louver window in the side somewhere so air circulates all around.

My bench is just made of some timber legs with a sheet of marine ply with a lip of wood at the top. This is all covered in that new roofing felt you can get that is waterproof to avoid any rot in the wood. My heating cable is sat underneath the sand which is on a thermostat providing me with bottom heat. Air temperature control will just be a 2kw electric fan. Keeping the sand moist will distribute the bottom heat evenly and avoid any hot spots.

My bench measures 8x3ft and is 2ft high, most people will grow m2 when using a growlight as you can get more plants in the light, because I don't have the room to do that I will either remove some of the leeks when mature or apply supplement lighting to them as even a 600watt grow light will only cover 1.5m2. 1000 watt ballast assisted grow lights in my opinion are dangerous, maybe future models will be better. Removing some leeks wont be a bad thing as I need to keep some back a little for late September, these will grow on in my heated greenhouse, by then we will have a good amount of natural sunlight. Despite that this light will light my entire garden up when turned on that does not mean those plants get sunlight from the bulb, the spectrum of light is only beneficial to 1.5m2 square, a mistake a lot of people make.

(Note camera adjusted to block the light out or you wouldn't see a thing, totally blinds you)

Looking from inside the greenhouse into the back partition with door open:
Wednesday, 5 November 2008

postheadericon What I'm growing for next season

Well I have made all my orders now for any seeds, plants that I'm going to need for next season. I always order the day the catalog comes out as everything goes out of stock very quick. My medwyns catalog came last week which is where I order the majority of my stuff from.


Leeks: Pendle 40 of them
Onion seedlings 30 (back ups incase mine go tits up)
Onion seed
Marco 250g onion
Celery Evening star
Marrows: blyton belle table dainty
Runner beans: Stenner
Carrots long New red intermediate
Stump carrots: sweet candle
Cauliflowers: Concept
Cucumber: Carmen
Parsnip: Gladiator, Pinnacle (Picador looks good will try that next year)
Tomatoes: Cedrico, Goldstar

Shallots: hative de niort (own selection and from a friend)
Pea: Show perfection
Beetroot: Red ace
+ Some others that I will order later as they are common.

My grow room is nearly finished so at least that will be ready before winter sets in.
Saturday, 1 November 2008

postheadericon Seed list/Ordered

Blanch Leeks: Pendle Bulbils 40 of them. I hope Medwyn can send 20 early December and 20 January so I can show leeks in September aswell. Last year I tested welsh seedling and the pendle leeks, both had there general faults and worrying factors. Welsh seedling's definitely grow slower than the pendle leeks but went over the top very quick in August where as the pendle leeks kept growing. I do like the fact that the welsh seedling leek has much stronger foliage and stands up by itself unaided, very handy when small as the leaves don't flop about the place. The pendle leeks did cause me the most concern early on in the season as they all seemed to develop footrot at some stage or another. This really put me off buying them again but I have made my choice because I feel they have more potential and are less likely to bulb at the bottom. If I can just avoid footrot this year I'm sure they will be great but I'm still very worried about this happening again as it really does destroy all your leeks once one has it. If this fails I will go back to growing Peter Clarke and the only reason I don't grow this leek any more is because they reach full potential later in the season and I don't do late shows.

Onion Seed: My own selection and Medwyns Own selection.
30 Onion seedling backups from Medwyns aswell so I have a good chance of getting some decent onions. Again Kelsae onion is the strain and being planted inside this year I hope to get at least 45 planted inside the tunnel.

Marrow: Blyton Belle, Table Dainty, Bush baby, Long green Bush. Plant them later this year as my best marrows came a bit early.

Runner beans: Stenner, will grow about 50 plants from a mixture of medwyns selection and my own.

Carrots Long: My own and Medwyns.

Stump carrots: Sweet candle and a new unnamed stump carrot trail. Will be a test this year as my stump carrots are always bankers only having to pull 4 carrots to make a set of 3 is handy. I can no longer buy this stump carrot seed and mine wont be ready for seed until the following year. The longer stump carrots are harder to grow as they wont all be straight. I'm sure they will be decent clean carrots but the majority will have a bend so getting a good set will require more carrots to be pulled.

Cauliflowers: Not that impressed with Beauty to be honest which is what i grew this year. Dok elkon? is what i use to grow, amazing cauli..cant get this anymore. Despite Beauty being very white I found the curds went out of shape and sometimes slight gaps on the larger heads. This year I will be giving Concept a go as i like the sound of tight self wrapping leaves. I may grow a few coloured varieties aswell for fun.

Celery: Evening Star: I still feel this is the best celery to grow for the show bench. I have tested Starburst, Morning Star, Ideal and Redstar and Evening Star always stood out as the best. I did grow Redstar last year aswell which i was very impressed with and comes a close second. I would grow Redstar again but growing one variety ensures I have more sticks to select from in what little good ground I have to grow my show celery in. I hope to make another raised bed up to grow some Redstar in the future.

Cucumbers: King George and Carmen.

250g onions: Marco, amazing onion when grown well very hard to beat.

Parsnip: Gladiator and pinnacle, would love to try picador aswell but don't have the room. I will only grow a few pinnacle, as I do every year I test just a few of anything that i feel has potential. Gladiator has always worked for me so there is no need to change that. I grow 25-30 gladiator until I grow something that when i pull up is better and then grow 25-30 of them. Last year I tested a few albion, good parsnip, not as white as you would hope, carries its weight but not better than gladiator so won't grow again.

Peas: Show perfection, own selection.

Shallots: Hative De Niort, aristocrat: Own selection and some mail order.

Tomatoes: Goldstar and Cedrico
Tuesday, 21 October 2008

postheadericon Mental note to self..get a move on.

*Insulate entire greenhouse with proper bubble insulation (not packing crap)
*Finish raised beds inside greenhouse.
*Thermawrap entire back section partition of greenhouse for grow room. (Thermawrap Radiator reflective Foil)
*Put in restraining wire to carry the electric wire across the aluminium posts (already concreted in)
*Install new weather proof sockets in greenhouse and poly tunnel.
*Set up grow light and refix strip lights in tunnels.
*Order/make some more staging for greenhouse
*Set up propane bio green heater in greenhouse and electric frost protection
*Order new autovent for greenhouse as one doesn't seem to be working.
*Put in foundations for blocks to go into large polytunnel, if I ever get the blocks.
*Order compost/manure/soil in 1 ton bags to fill raised beds.
*Install heating cables in onion bed
*Install seep hoses in raised beds
*Set up leek flag supports
*Order polythene/battens/enviromesh/extra support clips for new polytunnel
*Finnish new polytunnel
*Set up pipes, raised beds inside new tunnel ready for the parsnips in Feb/March
*Order compost for onions/leeks etc for over winter potting up (4000 litre)
*Finnish paths inside greenhouse/polytunnel
*Sort out allotment which is a massive job
*Cut down a crap load of trees
*Move and sort bonfire on allotment so entire neighborhood don't dump there crap on it anymore. Full of metal and glass, ash will come in handy on the onion bed.
*Put up sign telling them all to p*ss off.
*Fix fence that my dad hit with tractor.
*Sort out lifting arms on the tractor as back up lifts to much, resulting in cracked back end and a massive dent in my wallet.
*Kill all the chickens, they don't lay lol.
*Get a new pig(s) taste great.
*Wash all pots ready for winter
*Order all seeds and leeks.
*Side vent large tunnel where onions and leeks will be grown

I'm sure there is lots more, but that will keep me going for a while.
Monday, 20 October 2008

postheadericon Getting there...

Over the weekend the old polytunnel that I took down has now been put back up next to my greenhouse. I have got the frame in place but still requires a lot of work to be done. I need to get hold of a load of timber battens (treated) and fix them so I can make a framework up for the side vents.

Here you can see the modified straight sides that I have made. Its basically a 4ft scaffold bar rammed into the ground with concrete. I have then slipped in a 8ft strong aluminum bar with approximately 3.6ft above ground level, from which then the polytunnel frame sits 3ft inside this tube all bolted together. The joke is "are you growing palm trees" every time someone comes round, or the zoo rang and asked if you had room to house two giraffes. surprisingly this will only cost me £98 to cover from "" with the most expensive being the timber and enviromesh for the vents.

Here's the largest on my tunnels which I have cleaned out. I will be growing my leeks and onions in this next year. Again I hope to put side vents in this for as little money as I can. I also need around 400 blocks to make the raised beds either side, or I may have to go the cheap route this year with wood. One of the beds for my onions will also have a heating cable installed so I can warm the ground when I come to planting, seep hoses also need to be put in place..nearly forgot the soil/compost/manure needs to be ordered aswell to fill them up. I cleaned this tunnel after I took this picture with armillatox, anyone using this stuff inside a tunnel please use protective clothing, goggles, gloves, mask, It really does stink and wont come off for a few days, your lungs will hurt, your eyes will be sore and your ears will burn, even with a mask my throat was sore.

Well here she is, my greenhouse that I traveled miles to get, dismantle, fix and rebuild, well worth it. We put this up extremely solid and we spent at least two weeks making a proper base and cutting the greenhouse in once it was up. Putting the actual greenhouse up took only 4 hours including glass and clips, the prep and work after took some weeks. Yes I'm not a believer in cleaning up as you go and the garden is looking like a construction site.

My old tunnel is now planted up with spring cabbage:

Still have cauliflowers growing under the enviromesh outside, note I have not covered the heart as they are just for eating.
Tuesday, 7 October 2008

postheadericon Few jobs done

Well I have made a start to my mammoth task's ahead of me.

Managed to get the old polytunnel down, clear the ground and lay the foundations for the greenhouse, along with the breeze blocks to sit the actual greenhouse on. I have just about finished putting the 16.5 x 8.5 greenhouse up at the weekend despite the rain, nothing can wait as I'm running out of time.

(Pic here later)

I have a few paths to lay now which will have to wait until it dries up I'm afraid. So while it is raining I will make a start on rebuilding the old tunnel with high sides for my stump carrots and parsnips for next year.

I still have 7 ton of sand to shift outside from my main large tunnel which next year will be used for my leeks and onions. I am hoping I can move the sand this week so I can make a start at building the raised beds ready for the mix to go in. I also want side vents in this tunnel but to be honest that can wait until May if not later. My onion bed will have heating cables underneath so I can warm the soil and plant my onions a lot earlier. Air temperature is not a big concern for onions when strong healthy plants, and I only cover them if we have hard frost for a few nights. I should in theory be able to plant out March/April with the leeks being planted out around May.

My 3rd tunnel will again be used for cucumbers unless I decide not to bother with them as they do take an entire tunnel up. I may well just grow more tomatoes as they are more productive and are used up quicker, unlike the 40 cucumbers I threw away just last week. My greenhouse will be used mainly to grow on my onions, leeks, cuttings, seeds etc over winter with a heater and after that planted up with tomatoes.

Need to get the tractor out this week and sort the allotment out aswell, and work the 24 ton of manure in. I have so much to do I will be amazed if I get it all done before winter is here.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008

postheadericon N.A.S?

Well as stated by myself and Simon over at smithyveg a collection should really be "Distinctly different types".

At two of my show two sets of potatoes were entered on the same board with the schedule stating "A collection of 6 different types of vegetables as scheduled" as scheduled means chosen from the list of vegetables in the schedule itself. The problem being is the schedule lists potatoes twice, sometimes three times: class for whites, class for colours, and a collection of 3 plates any varieties.

This was truly bought to my attention at my second show when a very experience judge who goes along to all the shows (not judging either show mind you here) stated that the board should have be disqualified. He argued for some time with the steward about it eventually quoting "If you were making dinner and wanted to use 6 different types of vegetables you wouldn't peal a coloured potato and then peal a white potato and mash them both separate. The argument was the wording on the schedule can be misleading but as he said "If you read it correct its not". The big word being "TYPES", two sets of potatoes are in the schedule but they are not Distinctly two different TYPES of vegetables.

The worst part is the boards on both occasions were awarded first and at one show the judge had even written "you need a sixth type of vegetable, two sets of potatoes". So in theory I've lost out a few times this year by poor judging.


I'm not bitter, but next year they might have a shock when i enter 3 dishes of 5 potatoes, 1 dish of white a dish of coloured, 9 large shallots and pickling shallots with some onions.. I may even stick the top tray on top as that was also listed in schedule.

postheadericon Ideas for next year: 1. Parsnips

Well my 4ft pipes were not long enough for my parsnips this year so I have started on my plans on how I may be able to overcome this. The one problem I have is I cant just get 8ft pipes and sit them on the ground, I don't have the head height room in the tunnel for that. I also don't want to buy any more pipes as they cost a fortune (not that i payed for any of mine, donated by my father who had some going spare that were 24ft long).

So I'm pretty much stuck with digging down, but with one problem to overcome is, how to stop the pipe from sinking down further than you actually want them to. My first plan includes a wooden board for the pipes to sit on with a hole in each board for the bore hole to go down further into the sand below. The pipes will be supported via another 2 foot of sand on top of that to hold them in place before we get to ground level. I'm also considering using pipe extensions which not only gives me extra height but also i can remove these when my parsnips are ready and have a look at the first 10 inches or so before I even pull them. I'm hoping to add in total at least 3-4 ft extra to what I had this year, about 7-8 foot in total should do it.

Another problem I have to think about is watering, with a board in the way getting water down at the bottom will be difficult, so I will probably add an extra hole in the board at intervals with hose pipes so I can easily water the tap root.

The lengths we go to...

Saturday, 13 September 2008

postheadericon Final pics of everything

p.s I forgot to mention, the flowers in this picture are not mine, kindly donated for effect by a great grower.

postheadericon Thats it folks

Well my last show is over and now I will spend the rest of my time sorting everything out for next year. I need to move one of my poly tunnels and modify it to suit my onions and leeks and erect my greenhouse. I also have to reset all my parsnip pipes, remove all the sand outside to allow the rain to get at it to wash away any nasties and remaining mixture. Everything also has to be sprayed with armillatox to keep things clean and sterile, I will also let off a few bug smoke bombs in the tunnels over the next few months to kill off any breeding bugs that will hibernate over the winter.

The first real job of the season as far as growing vegetables is concerned is when the leeks arrive in December and the onions from seed get planted. I hope everything is in place by then to start a fresh season.

Didnt have much left for this show, but I did pretty well considering.

Didnt show the really big parsnips in this pic as they were just to huge so lacked in quality.
Friday, 12 September 2008

postheadericon Second show results

I forgot to post my final results from the last show, so before my 3rd show starts here they are:

This includes members and non members, the reason why you see some veg crop up a few times in this list:

Veg collection 4 kinds: 1st
Potatoes (any): 1st
Sweet peppers: 1st
Tomatoes: 1st
Carrots Long: 1st
Table marrows: 1st
Shallots large: 1st
AOV: Celery: 1st
Carrots short: 1st
Tray 3 veg: 1st
Onions 3 (from seed): 1st

Leeks: 2nd
Courgettes: 2nd
Onions 4 (sets): 2nd
Tomatoes: 2nd
Runner beans: (9) 2nd
Potatoes: 2nd
Runner beans (6) (again) 2nd
Carrots short: 2nd
Tomatoes cherry: 2nd

Beetroot globe: 3rd
Beetroot globe: 3rd (again)

Two trophies: Most points and one for the veg collection.

I still have one more show to do but I wont be entering much, I'm really just going along to see what everyone else has. I will try next year to grow more for this show but I do find it a bit late for my liking as i grow most of my veg for August.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008

postheadericon Celery

Well all the hard work with the celery this year payed off. I have staged celery at both my shows so far which i was very happy with. Despite my celery being behind by about 3 weeks for my first shows because my first sowing all died, Im pretty happy with the outcome. I would say next year I will try and improve on the blanching as i think the reflective foil, as its double sided also reflects light into the celery. This problem will be solved with using black damp proof sheeting as an internal layer with the reflective foil on the outside.

Many people at the shows ask how I keep it so clean, and the simple answer is you have to spray every 5 weeks and slug pellets every time you water if they are washed away. Most people turn there nose up at this and don't like the fact you grow your veg for the show bench rather than eat it. The only veg I don't eat in the beds (in the garden area) is the celery due to the vast amounts of spraying. I don't care as every professional grower does this, and I'm not going to show celery half eaten alive and full of rot to please people I don't even care about. One tiny bite turns into a small brown mark, this gets bigger and bigger and turns into a big brown rot on the sticks that renders it useless.

I have a massive allotment full of veg that is organic for eating, with wildlife patches that are untouched, so I do my bit for nature on ground that we pay for.

essentials for show celery:

Calcium Nitrate: You cant always get hold of this, but the normal calcium in a blue box you get up the garden center is just as good. Used once a week, watering down the heart of the celery and around each plant to help avoid heart rot.

Liquid deris and alternate with Provado to prevent pest damage.

Slug pellets/slug clear: obvious one, slugs love celery and will gather in there 1000s.

Dithane fungicide: spray from june onwards to prevent celery leaf spot, celery leaf minor (small maggots form) celery blight etc.

Feed: Chempak No. 2 and switch to no.8 during july. I feed once a week as soon as they are planted out. In August any celery in pots get fed twice a week, and the end of August the celery in pots get fed every other day.

Finally any celery you pull up should be composted, i use a shredder and put it back in the bed for next year to produce even better celery.

Monday, 1 September 2008

postheadericon Second show success

The weekend at my local show had quite a turn out considering its size. The quality was very good as usual, commented on by the judges who were impressed compared to other shows they had judged at.

This show to be honest the same person takes all the trophies every year except normally second most points (ours) and the veg collection which we also normally win. This year was different with the trophies being split by many with more competition. I finally got my hands on that most points trophy and won both boards for the first time ever. This year they also gave "Best exhibit" medal but I lost out on that, being awarded to some very nice runner beans. Anyhow more specific updates later heres a few pics.


Tray. 3 veg:

Tray. 4 veg:

Everything i showed:

Thursday, 28 August 2008

postheadericon General pictures of the show

Note nothing in these pictures is mine incase anyone gets confused.

Best in show:

Winning veg collection:

Part of the tent:

Excellent tomatoes, some of the best Ive seen at a local:

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

postheadericon Tray disapointment

Garden News tray 3 veg: 3 carrots 6 tomatoes 3 potatoes

Collection of 6: 1 celery 5 tomatoes 2 marrows 2 parsnips 3 carrots 2 cauliflowers

I can never seem to win the trays at some of the shows i go to and to come so close always makes things worst. Before the judging began I already knew id lost the garden news tray, from experience you can judge just how many points your going to get and i was right. The collection of 6 on the other hand i thought i had due to my only real contender having very bad rust and i mean bad on his leeks, slight rot on the bottom of the celery and discoloration on the parsnip foliage tops. The judges dont actually pick the veg up at these shows for some unknown reason as they are always untouched when we come back in the exact same place. Not one to complain I'm happy with second and always respect my competitors and the judges. The nvs actually advised the winner who previously had rang them about showing leeks with rust to throw them away which really rubbed it in considering he won.. Never mind always next year, well done.

postheadericon A closer look: Parsnips

My dad:

One thing that was obvious despite my parsnips having a good 7 foot of room to grow down is that was no where near enough. The problem we had was they didnt have any where to go once they got to the bottom and the root didnt taper instead tried to force its way down even further. This resulted in lumpy ends, this is not due to the tail snapping off either as the pipes are lifted so the parsnips are not pulled, avoiding breaking any part of the parsnip. Despite this i only had to pull 6 parsnips to make a set of 4 with 5 being good and one with two tails right at the end. Next year I'm going to have to rethink as im pretty sure i could grow something very special but would require 9-10 foot of growing room. Despite the end of the parsnips they were pretty near perfect and I'm 100% sure i can grow them much longer than this and look forward to next years modifications.

postheadericon Slideshow of first show

Well heres the results of my first show with a slide show of my veg that i entered. Slightly disappointed losing out on both trays by 2 points. On a better note i did pick up a second for my Winston potatoes which is my first ever card on potatoes. The big classes were heavily contested again this year by some top growers one of which shows at nationals but was impressed with my parsnips that came first. More on that later heres a quick slide show for now of my veg that i entered.

Parsnips 1st
Any other veg (celery) 1st
Beetroot 1st
Carrots Stump 1st
Heaviest onion 1st

Potatoes white 2nd
Carrots long 2nd
Garden News tray 2nd
Open veg collection (6 veg) 2nd
Cucumber 2nd
Peas 2nd
Large shallots 2nd
Marrows 2nd
Leeks 2nd

Non placed
Potatoes coloured

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

postheadericon Next years plans already

Well with just over one week left to my first show its time to sit back and learn from your mistakes and say next year I will do this.. So note to myself for next year:

Exhibition leeks will not grow in england any more outside due to global warming with the constant rain. I will be removing one of my poly tunnels this year and replacing it with two large green houses. I hope to able to keep one warm during the winter costing me less than a tunnel would. I will use one as a cold frame and grow my tomatoes in both of them after that next season. I hope this will improve my constant battle with heat that builds up inside my tunnels as a greenhouse is more adjustable when it comes to ventilation.

My leeks have all decided to discolour in the past week or so on the barrel which looks like a copper rusty mark that runs down the leek getting worst as you remove more flags. I think this may well be due to the amount of rain we have sitting in the flags and working its way down the barrel. The tunnel I remove from the garden will be replaced in the allotment and modified by myself with side vents and enviromesh. I hope this will keep them protected but cooler in the summer? if we have one!. I will be doing the same for the onions so the winter months will be a busy one and I will just have to see if I have time/money to do all this.

I will also be changing from John innes number 1/2/3 to the Humax range which i will bulk buy from

I'm sure the Johns Innes compost is partly to blame for my problems with the foot rot I have had this year that I have never had using other types of compost. One problem being the amount of grit being added to the John Innes range, I have even found lumps of orange tile in the bag which can damage young leeks while growing.

I already have a contact for trailer loads of eco compost to be delivered which will help bulk up my new raised beds in the greenhouses and the tunnels with 12 tonne of 25+ year old manure coming.

My main aim next year is really to beat the weather and start growing at the same level as a few years ago when we had sunshine in summer, if this means growing everything inside so be it.

Anyone showing at this time of year I wish you the best of luck and have fun!.
Monday, 4 August 2008

postheadericon Now thats a cucumber

Well i picked my long cucumber as i felt it was starting to jepodise the smaller ones that are coming on that i will require for the show in three weeks time. I'm sure this variety of cucumber would grow well over 24 inches with time. This one measures 20 inches and tasted fantastic even the skin was still soft. I will probably try and look to pick my cucumbers for show at around 17 inches long. Anyone wanting to try this variety next year its called "King George" and is quite common to find in the garden center (at least all of my local ones). I will probably get some seed at the end of the season so if you get stuck let me know.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

postheadericon cauliflowers

I have so many cauliflowers planted Id be amazed if I dont get any for showing this year. I have 3 tunnels planted up, one bed outside with another 2 to fill along with another 20 later ones going inside the tunnel this weekend. One problem I have had is caterpillars even after using deris dust in vast amounts to the point of people saying its snowing inside your tunnels.

postheadericon Tomatoes ripening

Tomatoes are ripening fast now and I might struggle to hold on to my best tomatoes at this rate. I have two tunnels full of them and even the later ones are turning red because of the heat.

postheadericon marrows

I have been picking marrows for about a month now and all have been of show quality so I hope to get quite a few decent marrows from here on. Yes any show masters out there will say "I should have picked that marrow off as they are to close" but I have so many I don't care and they look so pretty together I didnt have the heart.

postheadericon Celery

The celery that I'm growing in pots are coming along a lot better than I expected and it just shows you can grow some great veg in a pot. I admit these wont be as big as the celery that are growing in my raised bed which have caught these up, but still if your pushed for space or money it could be a life saver and I will certainly be showing some celery this year from these pots.

These are now on 23 inch collars.

postheadericon Cucumbers

There is a few veg that I dont really mention in my blog much, one being the cucumbers mainly because all you see is green leaves for months on end. Heres a cucumber I have left on to see how long they will get before they lose there quality.

I always leave one on so I can judge what size I should be picking them at, any early cucumbers are picked off when they are small. Now is the right time to start leaving the cucumbers on for the shows and straightening young cucumbers.