Monday 30 May 2011

Thought I better update this blog !

It's been a while but I have been quite busy what with one thing and another recently. Anyway, where to start?
Well the van has gone - the 4 year lease contract was up and so I have purchased a Volvo 940 to replace it - got it locally and it'll do for me - £600 all in, with a new exhaust (incl Cat) front to back, new battery, two new winter tyres, new brake discs,152K on the clock but only 3k since it's last MOT so should be good for quite a while.

On the work front, here are a couple of pics of the most recent garden I have been asked to work at - it's at Cullisse Farm near Fearna and is well established and well looked after so there is no real heavy work involved, just general maintenance and weeding, which singles it out from my other gardens!

And so onto my own veggies. Things have progressed a bit but due to the cold weather and biting winds (and yesterday and today we even managed hailstones!) things haven't grown on as much as I would have hoped, so I think on the show veg front, changes for next year will involve a lot more stuff going in my polytunnel. Anyway here we go with a pictorial update for you to peruse at your leisure - feel free to pass comment on anything you want - all advice gratefully received!!
To start us off, here are the toms in the polytunnel - these are Cedrico (x 10) and Shirley (x5). They are watered via the pots sunk into the ground at the base of each cane. I also have 2 x Favorita which is a cherry tom.

Next we have the 5 aubergines - I have grown these before but they has a very slow start last time due to the seemingly voracious appetite that the local earwig population developed for the leaves - hopefully thais problem has been addressed and they will not suffer any setbacks this time around.

And here is a shot of the various brassicas - cabbage, savoy, calabrese, PSB, cauliflower and kale.

The tunnel will also play host to a second of Medwyns Giant Marrow - the first one I think was planted too early and has suffered as a result, and Stenner Runner Beans, with the remaining spaces being filled with chillies, capsicums and salads.
Back at home in the garden I have some Sweet Candle. These took an age to germinate (dunno if it was to do with the blue clay coating or not) and are not really growing on as quick as I would have liked so these are one veg that will be destined for polytunnel growing next year.
Next we have the parsnips - these are a variety called Albion that I received in error from Medwyns so after I was told just to keep them I thought I might as well have a go at trying to grow them for show. Again, these will probably find their way to the tunnel next year.
The beetroot are looking quite good, though one station failed to germinate. These are Pablo and I'm quite happy with their progress to date

As for the tatties, the first pic shows the polypots of Maxine and Harmony, and the other pic shows from right to left, Casablanca,(1 x row) Kestrel (2 x rows) and Winston (1 x row). There is also one polypot with a solitary Charlotte tuber at home - this for the local gardening club class at the Horticultural Show.

The Hative De Niort shallots have been thinned to four bulbs and I have about ten (that's 40 bulbs) that look like this at the moment. Hopefully they'll turn out okay though these were planted primarily to build up a stock of this variety for next year.

And finally, still in the greenhouse we have the second of Medwyns Giant Marrow plants in a 5 litre pot , Stenner Runner Beans, some more aubergines and some spare toms all waiting to go over to the tunnel this weekend,  Thre are also 4 Dwarf French Bean The Prince again in 5 litre pots, along with some newly germinated ones (in smaller pots natch), some Festa Red Lettuce in cells, ready to plant out, two pots of baby leeks for culinary use, a second sowing of each of the following, summer cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and spring onion and some more beetroot for culinary use
There are also three Pendle leeks that I was given to try this year, but I have just transplanted these into 5 litre pots, put some foam insulation round the barrels and left them to it for now.
And finally there are 7 courgette plants waiting for a home, two more Carmen cukes which have just germinated, and a sowing of Pea Show Perfection in root trainers. I sowed 18 peas in the trainers but i=only about half have germinated - dunno why?  Same sowing compost, same water, same sowing date,  same depth of sowing - everything the same.

Anyway, feel free to comment. I will try and update again next week, time and wife allowing!

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Been busy recently

Have been busy recently with work - it's that time of year I suppose, and actually travelled down to Glasgow to help my mum and Jim sort out their garden over the weekend.
On the home front, things are progressing apace, all five varieties of potatoes (Casablanca, Kestrel, Winston, Maxine and Harmony) that are being grown in polypots are showing the tips of their shaws, those shallots that were deemed worthy have been thinned down to four bulbs with the thinnings being used in the kitchen, the broad beans are starting to put on some growth of the vertical kind, the carrots and parsnips are growing away steadily now and the beetroot has been thinned to one plant per station. In the greenhouse, there are still some young tomato and cucumber plants for clients, but of my own stuff, the next two Carmen cucumbers are just showing their first true leaf, the courgettes has two true leaves each, the Stenner runner beans have just germinated, the first batch of dwarf french bean The Prince have been potted into their large growing pots and the second batch sown into 3" pots tonight. The lettuce Festa, the turnips Snowball and the second batch of beetroot Pablo have all just germinated. The one pressing job is to pot on the chillies and Capsicums - tomorrow night hopefully - unfortunately I have paperwork to catch up with tonight.
Over at the tunnel, the brassicas are growing pretty darn quick - too quick in some cases I think, so I may have to make another sowing of cabbages and caulies at the weekend. The onion sets (Setton) in the raised beds are doing really well and are on target for harvesting at the end of July. The tomatoes seem to have settled in are are now beginning to grow away, the aubergines are looking fine and healthy, the first cuke is not doing a lot at the moment but I am not too worried - previous years have taught me that they are slow to get going then absolutely fly when they decide to get started. And the rhubarb is just awesome this year!! and I have already got myself another 4 blue barrels for next season so I might grow more parsnips, and try long carrots and long beetroot too - it's getting a wee bit of an obsession now - wish I could devote more time to it this year but I can only do what I can do.
It was the May meeting of our local gardening club (of which I am secretary) last night and we were treated to a very amusing and informative talk on how to stage exhibits for showing, both flowers and vegetables. More than a few valuable tips were passed on to the assembled audience, as well as recommended varieties that work up here - most of the well known show varieties but also the favoured onion for the onions from sets class seems to be Hercules, and the favoured broad bean is Inperial Green Longpod. For onions from seed, these guys recommended Marco as opposed to Tasco. So thanks must go to JK Ross, John McKay and also to Wattie McBeath, a local exhibition grower who joined them. John brought along a cell pack of a dozen Celeriac plants (variety "Brilliant") that I got hold of at the end of the night, however by the end of today there were none left for me!! However JK is going to pass me a few spare Pendle leek plants that he has so that's another new show veg I shall be dabbling in this season.

Monday 2 May 2011

Starting to plant up the polytunnel

Well, things have moved on quite a bit since my last post, courtesy of my greenhouse, heated propogator and a whole week of excellent weather up here. My parsnips, which seemed to take forever to germinate now have their first true leaf,

the Sweet Candle carrots, which seemed to take even longer, are just showing signs of their first true leaf,

the Hative de Niort shallots are starting to split so will be ready to thin out to four bulbs each soon, with the thinnings being replanted for culinary use,

the Bunyards Broad Beans are all through, except for the five that the mice took, though I had ten replacements in pots so the mice loss was not such a big deal and the first sowing of Pablo beetroot are through.
I have also sown my Stenner Runner Beans and the first batch of the Prince Dwarf French Beans as well as another two Cucumber Carmen in the heated propogator

The other tomato plants etc in the propogator are for some of my clients greenhouses.

My greenhouse was getting a bit crowded, so on Sunday afternoon, I took a load of plants over to the polytunnel - 10 x Tomato Cedrico, 5 x Tomato Shirley,

5 x Aubergine Half Long Violette and a tray each of Hispi Cabbage, Samantha Savoy Cabbage, Cauliflower Cheesy, PSB Red Arrow, Calabrese Marathon and the first of the Cucumber Carmen plants. The cauliflower are planted to the left of the cuke frame -the idea being that the cuke foliage will provide some shade - but if it doesn't, I have some shade netting I can attach to the cuke frame uprights. Hopefully this will  help keep the curds white.

These were all duly planted out and each of the tomato, aubergine and cucumber plants have one litre pots sunk into the soil beside them This is to ensure that when I water them, the water (or feed for that matter) gets to where it needs to go - the roots! It also stops (or at least lessens) the chances of water soaking the base of the stems and causing rots. The Medwyn Triffid has slowed a bit but is sooking up water like a good 'un - 1 x 5 gallon drum every second day during this warm spell, even with the tunnel door open.
And to finish, tonight I have sown my peas (Show Perfection) in root-trainer pots, sown my first batch of Snowball turnips, a second batch of Pablo beetroot and a dozen Red Lettuce Feska (this will be successionally sown every ten days of so from now on.