Post Chelsea and concentrating on vegetable growing for the National shows in August and September
28th May 1997
t last I won't have to worry any more about my vegetables for Chelsea, It"s all part of History by now which means that I can concentrate fully on my vegetables growing for the National shows in August and September. The long carrots are growing away well in their new raised beds and they were all thinned down to the single specimen in each station much earlier than normally. There is no doubt that both March and April were really remarkable months giving us exhibitors a perfect start to most of our vegetables.
One very noticeable difference this year has been the early germination of seed, Chris Hewllet for instance from Broughton Hants phoned me to say that his parsnip seeds were all germinated within fourteen days, and that is after directly sowing dry seed without prior chitting. Quite remarkable when you consider that Parsnips are notoriously slow at germinating early on in the year with four to five weeks being the norm and up to seven weeks sometimes being the time span required.
The stump carrots are all sown in my own garden, two beds of Corrie and one bed of my own selected seed of Chantenay Red Core. This seed was also through the compost within a fortnight showing how important soil temperatures are to an effective and early seed germination. I have one further sowing of Corrie to be carried out during the coming week at the University college complex at Bangor.
Steel Drums and Pipe Corer
Earlier in the year, after I completed building my new long carrot beds, the surplus steel drums that had done so well for me over the years were all taken over to Bangor and the short carrots for Chelsea were sown in them. The intention now is to loosen up the 1:1:1 mixture in the drums and then use the new pipe corer that I have had made to pull out cores of the mixture and fill the resulting bore holes with my normal stump carrot mixture.
I saw this pipe method in use for the first time by George Armstrong from Chester and he had some wonderful carrots and parsnips last year after using it. It's a very simple system, all you need is a length of plastic downspout and across the top you have a steel bar that is kept rigid in position through a piece of wood wedged into the pipe. I am fortunate to have a retired bench joiner, William Jones who helps me immensely on such things and was responsible for so much of the mechanics that went unseen underneath my display at Chelsea.
The pipe is three feet long, all you do is push it down in varying stages into whatever mixture you have in your bed and every time you withdraw it, you also pull out a core of the mixture with you. For the Carrots other than long, all I shall use is the actual pipe, but for the long roots you finish off the job with the normal steel bar that will create enough room for the long root tail to grow in. I must admit that it works really well on clean sand but not so easy if your mixture contains a lot of soil as you have to constantly tap the side of the pipe in order to release the core. It is definitely a system that I shall be using more and more from now on.
After utilising most of the drums for growing short carrots at Bangor, I still had 14 left over and these will be used for a late sowing of Parsnips, again inside the large greenhouse. One pipe is going to be wedged into and on top of the other so that I shall have effectively a drum of around 18" in diameter and 4" - 6" high which will be filled with neat sand. The variety of parsnip is a brand new one that I have on trial from the USA, the roots are very distinctive in having rounded crowns with a more cylindrical shape and has been bred to be resistant to canker. If it turns out to be a winner I hope to be selling it next season in my seed catalogue.