Vegetables for the August and September Shows
19th May 1999
The remainder of this week will probably be one of the busiest periods of the gardening year for me as it is the week leading up to Chelsea when all the vegetables have to be pulled, washed and boxed up. One vegetable that appears to be performing really well is the parsnip Dagger, I'm really looking forward to pulling these from the 6 inch pipes that they are growing in. What makes this week increasingly busy as well is that I still have to pay some attention to the other vegetables that are going to be required for the August and September shows.
CeleryLast year I delayed the planting of the Ideal celery until after the Chelsea show which means that it was June before they were planted and were too root bound to really grow away until later on in the year. This time I intend to have them planted this week. The bed that they are going into has been thoroughly prepared early on in the year with copious amounts of well rotted horse manure. The fertiliser, 3 ounces to the square yard of Chempak BTD was also added ten days ago so the actual planting won"t take a lot of my time but once in, the roots can work their way into the deep fertile soil whilst I'm at Chelsea.
Whatever you do, make sure that you have purchased enough slug pellets to scatter around every individual plant as the slugs love the moist damp conditions that celery require if they are to grow really well. On top of that, the constant nibbling of the stalks, particularly during the last few weeks of growing will most certainly spoil any chances that you might have of winning on the show bench.
Large Exhibition Onions
My large exhibition onions seem to be growing away well now. Initially they always seem to take a while to re-establish themselves into the soil in the raised beds even though the soil is warmed up to planting with soil warming cables. The foliage is still encased between plastic plant support clips to take up some of the weight from the lower stem. Over the years I have realised that in order to be awarded the first prize card at the highest level you must have onions that are not only large butthey must also posses good form. This last criteria is only achieved by spending time with each onion making sure that the lower stem, from where the actual bulb will swell out and develop, is kept perfectly erect. Keeping this stem erect means that as the bulb is swelling out, so the shape or form of the bulb is developing and bad form is generated when the stem of the bulb is leaning to one side or other which gives the onion a malformed shoulder and any good judge should down point an entry on that criteria.
Once they were planted each onion was given about a pint of water through the planting aperture in the black and white polythene. This was to ensure that the onion root ball and the surrounding soil were as one. After this watering they were kept dry for about three weeks in order to allow the roots time to permeate through the bed in search of nutrients and water.From now on they will be given water through the seeping hoses that are positioned in between each row of onions. The amount of water to give the onions depends to a great extent on the surrounding temperatures inside the polytunnel as well as the permeability of the soil. If you have raised beds, then you can certainly water the onions much more frequently than someone who is growing them on the flat, simply because the water applied to a raised bed will soak away much faster then on the flat.
I intend to sow my exhibition peas this weekend. The variety is my own selection of Show Perfection and hopefully these will be ready for the end of August shows which will include the Welsh Championships at Margam Park. At this time of year I prefer to sow the peas direct, one against each 8 foot cane which are attached to a strong plastic coated wire which is in turn attached to firm end and intermediate posts. The last few canes will have two peas sown, one either side of the cane as insurance should one or two fail to germinate within the row. Once the peas have germinated, the Pea and Bean Weevil can be a slight problem munching around the outer edges of the leaves leaving them serrated like the teeth on a saw. A scattering of some Derris dust around each seedling should prevent this happening.