Sunday 29th July
I have just returned from the Royal Welsh Show last Friday morning after a tremendously hot week there. The difference in climate between Anglesey and Builth Wells where the show is held is unreal. All last week on the island here was dull, raining and windy while they had glorious weather at the show. I returned to the show after an absence of over twenty years and won a Large Gold Medal and the Best in Show. The new parsnip to replace Polar pulled very well, it only has a number so far but looks very promising with good length and carries its weight evenly along a very white skinned body.
My Sweet Candle was a disaster and I should never have moved them from the tunnel to outdoors. The foliage was yellowing after the willow aphid got at them and many had split because of the rotten weather we are having on the island here. My first batch of potatoes were good with some of the newer varieties looking like they could be excellent for the show bench. I shall wait until I empty out the later batch which is intended for Malvern before I comment further on them.
In my catalogue next year we may be selling a product called Zebba which is an organic based gel with a level teaspoon sufficient to set a pint of water. This is currently being used by some potato growers on light soils who are having a much improved yield by using it. Purely as an experiment we tried some on the potatoes using my own potato mix and adding 100 gram to 20 litres of compost and 150 gram to 20 litres of compost. The thinking is that should the bags happen to be slightly on the dry side it will prevent the potatoes from having netted or rough skins.
We used the potato Blue Belle in the experiment and when I emptied out the bags it was noticeable that the Zebba was clinging around the potatoes but rubbed off fine. It is also supposed to make the nutrients hang on in the bag longer which of course would require less feeding. One of the bags had a very even set of four potatoes which I have stored back in dry peat for use in the Malvern Autumn Show. I can see this product being very useful indeed when we have a dry Summer and when possibly the potatoes could be under stress.
I was very pleased that Darren Blick won with his white potatoes, Winston, at the NVS Southern Branch Championships as part of New Forest show, even beating Sherie Plumb into second place. He also won the Coluo
red class in the New Forest Open Show all grown using my potato mix. Well done Darren.
Monday 2nd July 2012
What a disaster June proved to be and this month is starting just at bad, it’s definitely the worst weather conditions that I can ever remember. It really is a constant battle to try and get things growing away and on an even keel. My tomatoes were struggling initially but they now seem to have filled out and the nearest row to the path is now approaching the ridge, that is from a 1st of March sowing of Zenith. The fruit however are very slow developing and this is almost certainly a case of too much difference between night and day temperatures. When the temperatures even out more, and we have some sensible weather, if we do have any at all, then things should grow away far better.
My long carrots for the Royal Welsh are really pleasing me, they are definitely better than any I have grown over the past few years. It’s a very even bed that was sown around the middle of February using my own re selection of New Red Intermediate. I went into the tunnel this morning to have my usually cursory look around when I discovered one carrot taller than any of the others. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it had gone to seed. I went into panic mode then and a went through every barrel and every station carefully and found to my dismay another two had bolted.
All however is not lost as I started off with 56 stations, with two already having died off when they were young, I still have 51 to select two lots of six for the display. Even though disappointed I was relieved when I pulled them that they had tremendous ‘Form’ and length with the weight being evenly distributed along its length. Another redeeming factor was the excellent colour, usually when carrots go to seed they end up with very poor colour indeed, so there is still a lot of hope. They have just over two weeks to go before they are pulled so, please, please, let’s have some sunshine.
My son Alwyn is really into the Giant Pumpkins and this year he’s planted two in the far section of my 100ft polytunnel. The ground has been well and truly manured with well rotted stuff from the local farm and every leaf joint has also been covered with the same stuff. Pumpkins will naturally throw out a sharp pointed root and this will work its way into the surrounding soil at each leaf joint so by doing this to the laterals as well, you are really generating a powerful network of roots. The accompanying picture that Alwyn took from underneath the foliage is interesting as you can see how much effort that goes into covering over the leaf joints.
I sowed some different types of radish seed in small sections of Link-a-Bord filled up with Levington F1, the radish don’t like a compost with high levels of nutrients. The seed were sown on the 1st June and timed to be ready for the 5thJuly when a presenter from the ‘One Show’ is coming here to have a Masterclass with me on Radish, of all the vegetables to pick! Even though I despair with the weather, things in the tunnel seem to have grown earlier if anything, with the radish as a good example, they were really at their prime a week ago. Another example is the Japanese bred turnip Sweet Bell that was ready in 7 weeks instead of the customary allowance I give them of 10 weeks. That’s Growing for Showing for you!