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Friday, 29 July 2011

A new Personal Best

After consulting a couple of people re when to lift the Onion that has been earmarked for the 6x1 collection at Harrogate it was decided today was the day, as the outer skin was still intact and I did not want to risk it splitting and having to strip it again and wait another 2 weeks for a decent outer skin to form.I lifted it this afternoon and cleaned the roots it was then weighed intact the weight was 8lb 4oz a new personal best  although I have some much bigger ones to lift yet I am really chuffed with this one the shape and condition are spot on.I then trimmed the tops and roots and the finished article weighed 6lb 9 1\2 which should look good on my collection

Thursday, 28 July 2011

More on Spuds

Today I received the dispatch email from JBA. seed potatoes for my Christmas spuds I have been informed by Iain that they should be with me tomorrow and as I have steadily been emptying my bags and sorting out the contents in to show able and non show able  specimens I now have some spare compost which will be good enough to use for the eating potatoes at Christmas I set up a small production line to deal with the bag emptying and it seems to work quite well I have a large black tray with compost in the bottom the bags are then placed in it and the bag is carefully cut away (I tried just emptying them out in order to re use the bags in true Yorkshire fashion but found that I was damaging some of the potatoes as they brushed against the plastic on their way out of the bag so cutting seems to be the best method)
The potatoes are then sorted and the ones for showing  put in to plastic boxes in fresh compost which are then placed in my shed till later when they will be sorted further and the ones for each show washed the night before
the remaining eating spuds are also stored in compost and put in my garage for use as and when needed.

I have had mixed results with most doing very well but a couple have not performed this is due to 2 reasons
I must have left too many eyes in the Nadine as I have loads of small potatoes in lovely condition but no large ones at all and as the tops are dying back these are destined for the dinner plate the other problem that I have encountered is Blackleg which has only affected Celine, these have also not made the size due to this problem
Winston have some common scab but I still have some good specimens as for the rest
Cassablanca fantastic clean good sized tubers
Blue belle are still to harvest as the test bag showed they could grow a bit more before reaching the required size.
Amour good size shape and condition
Sherine  good size shape and condition so on the whole a good crop of good spuds.

Caulis are coming thick and fast I am even supplying the local shop

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Tucked up in bed & Browned off

All my onions are now safely tucked away in one of our spare bedrooms and beginning the ripening process having been stripped back to their first unbroken skin and washed in tepid water with a small amount of washing up liquid in it. I have 23 large ones and 20 vento and some garlic now it is just a case of waiting till my first show in 3 weeks time they should be a nice color by then. There are quite a few which are similar in shape and size so i may have a set of 5 for Harrogate.I have still got the 2 larger ones to harvest in the other tunnel but as they are still growing away so there is no rush,given that harrogate is still 7 weeks away.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Ticking along nicely

I have now got 21" colars on half my celery with 18" on the rest, this task was performed yesterday they then all got a good watering with high nitrogen feed before having slug pellets scattered around the bases.I try not to use slug pellets, but with celery it is a must as it is slugs that get under the wrapping that eat the inner core of the plant this causes heart rot which I suffered from last year when I did not use any pellets, you can also water in to the core with calcium nitrate this hardens off the tender inner shoots and also helps to prevent heart rot.I did however learn at one of the NVS. meetings that if you use calcium nitrate before you have blanched the plant it is nearly impossible to blanch it afterwards, so with this in mind I have not started using it yet. I will be starting with my largest plants next week.

I also removed the collars from my remaining 10 leeks that have not gone to seed and was pleasantly surprised at their progress with most now measuring 55mm in diameter and with an 18" blanch, the 2 outer skins were removed as they were split which is quite normal and happens as they grow the insulation was then replaced and then they were wrapped with foil  insulation this is to keep them cool and also ensure no light can get to the barrel thus keeping it nice and White.

Most of  the remaining quality onions in the tunnel have stopped growing and the tops are falling over so I have started to harvest them they range in size from 15" to 18" with the heaviest weighing in at just over 3lb I have a few the same size and shape and am confident of a set of 5 for Harrogate they may be slightly under the target weight of 1500g  but at least I have a set in the bag I am not sure why they have given up growing but it could be down to the temperatures earlier on when I struggled to keep the tunnel under 90 deg, the 2 onions in the other tunnel with mesh sides are still growing away nicely but I do intend to lift them in the next couple of weeks as they are now about 5lb each.

I have potted on 40 Chard bright lights plants as well which will go in part of the onion bed when I lift the rest of them
these are for a class at Harrogate which is for Swiss Chard 1 jar of 6 leaves any color or colors
I have also got several sowings of lettuce for the class Lettuce any one variety 1 dish of 2 roots washed in standard jam jar of water the variety I have selected for this class is Red Salanova a nice shape and color it is a dutch strain grown by commercial growers.

At last I have managed to get a giant Marrow to set, it is from a 150lb strain and is also destined for Harrogate if it grows OK

All onions now harvested in small tunnel and are safely tucked away in the spare room they have 3 weeks to ripen before my first show which is Huddersfield where I had mixed fortunes last year.I hope to do better this year as I have a lot more idea this time. I have already started planting the onion bed with some pepper and aubergine plants with show lettuce for Harrogate in front 
The big onions are still growing and both measure 26" so hopefully I have now grown a ten pounder which is what I set out to do 

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Dodging the rain

I spent most of the day in the tunnels because of the weather I did however manage to get some of the bags of spuds away in to the shed they should dry out and the skins harden up then in a couple of weeks I will empty them and sort them in to sets they will then be placed in compost till my shows.
My first proper go at caulis seems to be working as they are now coming thick and fast I have more coming on behind so hopefully I should have some to show
I also have some nice swedes  for kitchen use the variety I grow is Gowrie as I have club root in the land this is a resistant variety which I can plant anywhere without worrying about the disease 
The giant tomatoes are gaining weight thy look ugly not sure if this is how they are supposed to be as I have never grown them before

Both large onions are now taping at 26" they are still growing but not throwing out any more leaves

Finally the Onion that I am planning to use for my 6x1 collection at Harrogate has gained another inch and now measures 21" I will give it another couple of weeks then get it out  to ripen

Abaco stumps vs Sweet Canle

Curiosity got the better of me this morning. For a few weeks now I have been noticing that the foliage on the 2 rows of Abaco carrots in the stump bed was a lot stronger than the sweet candle and as the subject of Abaco had come up at Kendal earlier in the year at the carrot talks where Ian Simpson and a few others said that they were just the same as sweet candle I thought I would take a look what a surprise was in store for me when I lifted it it is considerably shorter than the sweet candle sown at the same time and is also larger in diameter, with another 8 weeks to go when it stumps up hopefully I should have some crackers I did not sow many as the Kendal incident put me off. I will however be sowing more of these next year if this one is anything to go by.
Smithy reckons I should not have pulled it maybe he is right for once but I still have 9 that feel roughly the same size and only need one as a backup 18 pointer for the 6x1 at Harrogate.


Saturday, 16 July 2011

Out of the Bag

My spuds needed checking today to see if they were ready,as I have 100 bags I was able to empty a few to check the size the results are as follows

 Nvs Amour
 The contents of one bag of Blue belle these all came from 1 seed Potato
 The ones for eating 
I still need to check Celine and Nadine which I endeavour to do this next week

My show perfection peas are starting to form the first pods and as you can see from the photos there are 11 peas forming in them which is very pleasing some have 12. I have never grown them before but will definitely be growing them again

As my Onions seem to not be growing very much I have decided to try and match a set at 1200 g I would have liked bigger but would rather have a set than be struggling later at the moment I have 3 which all tape at 17.5" and weigh within 20 g of each other so I just need another 2 which I hope to get within the week, The soft fur that they are sat on came from Smithys car seat covers he has now changed them for pink furry ones so let me have the old ones for my onions. 
No more dramas with the Leeks I have 12 which have not gone to seed they now measure 53mm in diameter  with an 18" blanch photo to follow.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Pickled Pink

On the Shallot front I have had mixed results I lifted them while they were still throwing out shoots and placed them in trays covering the leaves but the dam things kept growing and some have gone double good job I don't need any for Harrogate. On the pickling shallot side of things the results have been better I have managed to get a set of 12 for my local shows,and as it is my first proper attempt at picklers I am quite pleased.
Vento Onions are continuing to be harvested I now have 5 wrapped in newspaper ripening the last one was lifted at a definite 10.5"  and is very near the target weight
I bit the bullet and lifted the first of my quality onions to get an idea of the weight as my target is as near to 1.5 kilos as I can get I need a set of 5 for Harrogate.The onion I lifted measured 17.5" and weighed 1200 grammes which means that Dans formula is a pile of S***E he now reckons that 18.5" will be the target size I am not sure what to do now as I can probably match 5  now but they would be a bit lighter than I would like on the other hand if I do get them up now there is less risk of anything going wrong.
I sent a message to Smithy and he reckons I should leave them another couple of weeks and get bigger onions 

I also stripped back on of my Giant onions which is nowhere as big as the others and was pleasantly surprised at the shape and quality this will hopefully be the one I use on my 6x1 collection at Harrogate it tapes at 20" which means it should weigh just a bit under 5lb  so in an other week or so I should have a decent sized and shaped onion 

Celery just needs to bulk up now as nearly all have 18" collars 
On the Leek front I spoke to Dave Metcalfe and he reckons it could be down to too much water early on as of now no more have gone to seed he also said I will get some grass from them this year and there will be no problems  with the plants they produce as long as I look after them properly that is.I asked him about the seed from them and as they are a hybrid they would not be true to the strain so that is a non starter 

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Gone to seed part 2

Disaster has struck yet again with some of my Pendle leeks going to seed I was tidying up the bed this afternoon when I noticed the seed heads on 4 of them I have resigned myself to the fact that the rest will follow.I have no idea what has caused them to do this as they have never got cold or dry while they have been in my care and the onions which have shared the same environment are all fine.

I have also been experimenting with Caulis for my collection of 6 at harrogate I have been sowing 10 per week for the last ten weeks with the hope of hitting the show with at least one good un. we are now eating the first batch both White and Purple  the ones in the photo have gone over a bit but that is just down to having too many to eat at once.The Purple ones are for a class of 2 caulis other than white also at Harrogate.

I have cleaned back all the dead skins on my Quality onions today as they are nearing the size I require the idea is to let them go another few days for the ridges to grow out from where the outer layers have been removed the majority are around 17" circumference and I will start harvesting as they reach 17 1/2"
Dan reckons this should be just right for the 1 to 1.5 kilo class

the giant tomatoes grown from seed Dan sent me are looking like mutants and would not win any prizes for good looks but they are intended to be only for weight

Mt corn is romping along with all the cobs now fertilised it is a case of making sure every little strand that comes from the start of a cob gets pollinated if not you will have blank patches in your cobs.

I have placed 4 Carmen plants in tubs and intend to grow them up the hoops on the tunnel so that the fruits hang down and do not get marked.
I also had a visitor today