Start of the showing season with hundreds of flower and vegetable shows being held from now right through to October.

11th Aug 2004

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e are now coming right up to the start of the showing season with hundreds of flower shows being held from now right through to October. At the time of writing this article, only one vegetable is giving me cause for concern, and that is the celery, it won't be ready for the Welsh Championships, but it may just make it for the National at Tunbridge Wells.

Leeks

All the other vegetables are really doing well, in fact the leeks were the biggest that I have ever grown and at the time of writing this article, which is on the 21st July, I could get a lovely set of three at 9.3 inches around and 16 inches to the button. My concern naturally is that they will not sustain this sort of growth, I have nearly six weeks to go to the first show and I"m positive that any day now they will burst four or 5 flags.

If they do it now I'm not unduly concerned as there is plenty of time for the leek to put on more weight whilst at the same time throwing out more roots from the area around the root plate where the burst flags were attached to. If they do burst a few flags then they will also pull upwards considerably and I shall have to be careful that the current 18 inch collar is going to be tall enough. They really look a lovely sight with no sign of any thrips or rust pustules on the flags.

Small Onions

All my small onions were lifted over a three week period commencing the third week of June, they were all one variety - Carlos. I grew a few of them last year and most of them turned out to be much taller than other onions suitable for the under 250grms class. Because of the high shoulder that this onion has, similar to the Kelsae, I had to harvest a great deal of them when they were just 9.75 inches around. I had a bed in my far tunnel at home, three beds at my friend Jims tunnel and a further single bed at my Bangor greenhouses. The ones at Bangor impressed me the most, they were grown on a bench in nothing more than the marvellous product called Link-a-Bord. This allows you to build your own raised bed to any height using plastic panels with a cavity which are cut to metre lengths and joined at the corner with plastic links.

The depth I used was only the width of one board which is about 6 inches wide and it was filled with Westlands Multipurpose compost containing added John Innes and Perlite, straight from the bag. I planted 25 plants in this metre square and with the exception of two, that were slightly oval, all the others were of showable standard. They were also the first to be harvested and were also the ones with the thinnest necks. I now have over 90 onions harvested in four large seed trays, all sitting on a two inch bed of fine saw dust. For the first time ever I have stored them in the attic of my garage which is dry and airy.

Large Onions

My large onions have done really well this year and I have no doubt whatsoever that it's primarily to do with three things, far less fertiliser than normal, the use of Nutrimate and the sterilisation of the beds with the horticultural product called Jet 5. As I said in an earlier article the beds only had 1 ounce of Vitax Q4 but they were given 3 ounces per square yard of Nutriamte. This product is not a fertiliser but Humic acid which has the ability to attract all nutrients within a growing area to itself, hanging on to them and releasing them as the plants require it. Don't ask me exactly how it works, I'm not a Scientist, but I do know enough to realise that it's working exceptionally well in my garden, particularly on both leeks and onions. I have also used it in my carrot and parsnip mixes, all I can say at the moment is that they are looking well.

Parnsips

My parsnips have been a disaster over the past three years, ever since I built the new timber cover over the bed with all the roof lights capable of being opened wide. I haven't shown a single parsnip in the last few years, last season because of the marks on the skin so the sand was thrown out last autumn and nearly ten tonnes of concreting sand imported in it's place. When you see my wife, don't tell her this obvious fact, with 32 parsnips now growing away well, they could well be the most expensive specimens in the world!

I don't usually like to scrape around the crown of parsnips as it's a dangerous habit, with their skins being white and tender they can easily scratch. However, having had such a disaster with them in the past, I was desperate to know if all the hours I has spent on them this time was again going to be in vain. I was very pleased to note that when I did clear away the sand, during the first week of July, they were about three inches across the shoulder. They were immediately covered up and I then proceeded to give the foliage a tug, just to see how tight they were. There was no give whatsoever in them so the probability is that they have really gone down this time. If they continue to grow as they have, I know one thing for certain, they are going to be difficult to pull and a lot of the sand will have to be carefully cleared away from around each specimen. This will give me a chance to pull them with one hand around the stalks and the other around the body, I'll certainly let you know how I get on.


With the start of the showing season, one vegetable is giving me cause for concern and that is the celery. It won't be ready for the Welsh Championships, but it may just make it for the National at Tunbridge Wells. All the other vegetables are really doing well, in fact the leeks were the biggest that I have ever grown.
Other 2004 articles of interest

· Soil - A Priceless Commodity
· Getting the Harvest In
· Kelsae and Toughball Onions
· The Harrogate Show - 17th -...
· Short Carrots - in particular...
· Growing Your Own Vegetables -...
· Getting Children Involved in...
· Maximising your crop of...
· Start of the showing season...
· Competitive Exhibits on the...
· Shrewsbury Flower Show 2004
· Finding space for some Lettuce
· Gringo Short Carrots
· Mix Up with the Mixes!
· Trying to take a break from the...

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Prize-winning exhibition vegetable seeds give you the advantage whether growing for show or just for the family. You can see our range of top quality selected seeds and horticultural sundries in our online shop