Saturday 23 July 2011

Sutherland Show 2011

Today was the day - Sutherland County Show, just across the water in Dornoch. Although I didn't have a lot of veg ready I did take what I could get together without leaving myself short for our own local show which is next month. Anyway, I ended up taking a cabbage (pointed Savoy type) 3 stems of Rhubarb (variety unknown), six French beans (The Prince) and 3 beetroot (Pablo). These were all entered in the Any Other Veg (Amateur) class as there are only defined classes for potatoes, peas, onions, carrots and leeks, as well as a top tray competition. After placing the exhibits and also distributing some of my own show schedules, myself and my girls went for a wander round the livestock and had a blether with some farming friends, then watched George, one of Iona's pals Dad, doing some demonstration sheep shearing - damn he was quick - I remember doing this when I used to shepherd and it was the one job I really didn't take to.
After lunch we returned to the tent whwre I was in no hurry, but Iona was desperate to see what her old man had won, convinced I would win something, whereas I was convinced I wouldn't. Results in photos below!

First prize with the cabbage

Second Place with the beetroot, regardless that one was a lot larger than the other two

And third place with the rhubarb - result for the crop most neglected by myself all year round!

 However, before I get too carried away, here are some of the winning exhibits from the other classes
Shallots (Hative De Niort)
Carrots (Sweet Candle)

Leeks (Pendle Improved)

Top Tray
I hope that some of these exhibitors will come to our show next month and was talking to quite a few who seemed very amenable to the idea, especially as we have managed to avoid clashing with any other local shows this year. Speaking to a few of them, it would appear that potatoes and onions have not faired teribly well this year up in this neck of the woods for whatever reason, though having daytime temps in the high teens or low twenties and then having it drop to anywhere from 5 - 8 degrees at night certainly has made it tricky.
And just to prove I am not a vegaholic here are a couple of the floral exhibits for you to enjoy
Vase of Garden Perennials

French Marigold Blooms
And finally , here is the NVS stand, manned all day by Neil Drummond, which seemed to attract a lot of attention and signed up quite a few new members from what I saw.
One final word of thanks to JK Ross, show convenor - my girls were delighted that they got ro take home two huge bunches of the cut flower exhibits but even more delighted when John gave them each one of his winning rosettes!

Saturday 16 July 2011

Showtime approaches

It is the Sutherland County Show next Saturday, and I have deceided that I should try and enter some veg to support it - especially as their show convenor is going to judge tyhe cut flower and pot plant classes at our local show in August. With that in mind I took a look at one of my 5 bags of Casablanca, contents pictured below
In total there was 2lbs of potatoes, with the largest weighing 3oz, so not quite there yet but I am not too bothered as ther were being grown with 20th August in mind, and anyway, I had them boiled with lashings of butter tonight for my supper and they were really tasty. One good point is that they were really nice and clean with no sign of scab.
As with the spuds a lot of my stuff is being grown with mid to late August in mind, so I don't have too much to chose from, though I will probably enter some globe beetroot (Pablo) and some french beans (The Prince) both of which are good to go from now on.
I also have two caulies left in the tunnel which are ready now but I know they won't keep in there for another week so I'll try cutting them and wrapping them in clingfilm and putting them in the fridge to try and keep them fresh for nest Saturday. This may or may not work but it has worked in the past accorsing to some posts on the NVS forum.
The only other veg I have ready is a pointed Savoy cabbage called Samantha (that's the variety name - I haven't quite reached the stage of becoming so attached to my brassicas that I give them all names, not yet anyway!), and I ahve to say that they look pretty good too.
I have lifted the first six onions to leave them to dry but they are a ways off yet so they're not going on Saturday. I grew the onions from sets (Setton) and they have done pretty well - they were lifted at a diameter of between 10.25 and 10.5 inches.and after four days drting they weigh and average of 230g - though uniformity is more impotant than weight as the class is for onions from sets as opposed to  250g.
Anyway, I'm liiking forward to next Saturday and picking up a lot of advice from the guys who have been growing for show for a long time up here.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Polytunnel update -July 5th

I was across at the tunnel for a bit this evening to see what's what. I don't manage to get across there as ofetn as I would like due to pressures of work and family but as the three ladies in my life are away at my mum's house for a couple of days I thought I better take advantage of the opperchancity, before coming home to get the bathroom painting completed for my wife coming home tomorrow.
With the exception of the stuff I am growing in my garden (tatties, stump carrots, beetroot, broad beans, turnips, shallots, culinary onions and french beans, everything else in is my tunnel as I have given myself this year to sort out growing area outside at the tunnel ready for next year.
So first off - the rhubarb - this continually amazes me in the tunnel - I have three crowns and they all produce lovely long red stalks for about 9 months of the year. All it gets in return is a thick mulch of well rotted manure every winter
 This year I want to try and get a set of tomatoes for our local show and to this end I am growing Cedrico and Shirley. After seeking some advice on the NVS forum, I am going to thin thr trusses on 5 of the 10 Cedrico plants and 2 of the 5 Shirley plants and leave the others intact . The toms are looking good, though the plants have looked better - heat stress after the last couple of days - the tunnel gets very warm even with both sets of double doors open. This is an intact truss of Cedrico.
I am growing about 80 chilli plants this year -mainly Cayenne with some Jalapeno too - these will be used solely for the purpose of making my Spitfire and Hurricane Sauces in the back end of the year, though  I might throw a couple into the show if they are ready in time.The cayennes have just produced their first flowers.
Now for something I am really pleased with. For the last 5 years I have tried to grow cauliflowers indoors without any success - I have tried various varieties but I always ended up with brown sunburnt curds, despite the seed catalogues promises of curd protection from strong leaf growth. Well, this year I tries a variety from Johnsons called Cheesy F1. Look at the photos and see what you think about the leaf protection for the curd - you would almost miss the fact that the curd was there at all. The first photo shows the cauli in situ, and the second shows the two I brought home - the smaller of the two is the one photographed in situ.

Next we have the aubergines - these were devastated last year by earwigs which reduced the leaves to lace, and therefore seriously affecting growth and fruiting - no such problems this year - really healthy plantswith  loads of flowers . Once fruits have set I will remove the surplus to leave a maximum of five per plant.
As my wife is not a fan of summer cabbage but loves the Savoy types, I have a pointed variety called Samantha in the tunnel this year and the first head is nearly ready for harvesting!

And finally Medwyn's triffid has really exploded this week. Again, as advised by those who know more about these things than I do (but I'm learning all the time) on the NVS forum, I have hand pollinated 5 female flowers and will keep an eyse on them - if all 5 set fruits, I will thin these down to two. I have also thrown soil over some of the stems - this apparently encourages the plant to put down more roots and so help feed the plant. The only problem is that my courgettes will have to be sacrificed or they will smothered by the marrow - no big deal there though as we have already had loads.