I had some disappointing news yesterday when I ordered more seed of Cedrico Tomato, I was informed by the breeder that it was no longer available and all their seed stocks had been exhausted. Even if there was any left it would be in poor condition. This means that I have now only sufficient seed left to satisfy those orders that I have taken in for Cedrico plants. So please be wary if anyone else offers you Cedrico as there definitely aren’t any available.
To those customers who are still waiting for Cedrico seed I will have to offer the Zenith which, in my mind, is every bit as good as Cedrico. For next year we may well do as we did with Goldstar, sell some rooted cuttings which we will have to nurture throughout the winter months and sell them as rooted cuttings in packs of Five.
I am however constantly on the lookout for new varieties and all tomato breeders are aware of the criteria I’m looking for. In many respects, talking to a breeder yesterday, most of the big boys are pulling the plug on all varieties if the don’t sell in their millions. This could be a worry to us as we look at our show vegetables with a different outlook to those of the commercial world such as supermarkets etc. They tend to dictate the trends and are currently looking to buy flat bottomed tomatoes as their easier to stack and you get more into a box! Time will tell where this will lead.
Ivor Mace and Paul Barlow have written an Ebook that’s called Chrysanthemums:- the ultimate ebook and it costs £10. Probably the best reference work ever written on the subject, it has everything you need to know about growing every type of Chrysanthemum containing over 400 pages with plenty of coloured picturers as well. Contact Ivor Mace on his email www.ivormace.com .
I had rather a busy time last week which was a good thing after having hardly done anything over the festive season. The Peter Glazebrook onions were all transplanted out into 60 cells a fortnight ago and I finished doing all mine last week. The Leeks that I had struck from bulbils during the middle of August, with the intention of staging them at Chelsea, are really doing well now. The onions were also sown during mid August for the same reason. However as I have pulled out of Chelsea owing to a lack of sponsor I am now concentrating on staging a display at The RHS Tatton Park Show.
The gamble I have taken is that the Pendle Leek, the Cumbrian Pot leek and my own selection of Kelsae onion, will hold until the middle of July before bolting. I decided therefore last Thursday that they were all going to be planted up in their final pots. The 32 onions were planted in 25 litre pots and the 17 Pendle leeks went into 30 litre ones. The reason the onions were planted in 25 litre pots was to able to fit them all on to the same bench.
The Pendle leeks will now be left to establish themselves before I put my first nine inch collar on them. The six pot leeks were planted up in a bottomless 5 litre pot on top of a 30 litre one. A sort of ring culture system that allows me to harvest the pot leek and the bottomless pot and re potting them into another proper 5 litre pot. This way I can stage them as if they had been grown in that pot throughout. The mix was – 70 litre bag of Levington M3, 20 litre pot of sieved soil that came from my celery bed and stored in my polytunnel to dry out. Finally another 10 litre of Vermiculite was added to open up the mixture and to allow more air in and around the root system.
This was the maximum volume I could get into the mixer, added to the whole mix was 100 grams Medwyn’s Osmocote Exact Standard 5-6 month release with an NPK of 15+9+12. This should make sure that the plants will never be lacking for nutrients and they should grow away without having any stress which will hopefully prevent them from bolting too early for me. Also added to the mix was 100 grams of Nutrimate powder to ensure the roots are best able to partake in all the nutrients available to them.
Watering is critical when growing in pots in this manner, and particularly on a bench where they can’t root into any other medium. They were given a fair amount to begin with to make sure they were well bedded in, from now on they will only be watered around the inside of the pots rim and never over the plant in the centre. I will keep you informed as they grow on.
Towards the back end of last year I had a terrible infestation of White Fly and I have now managed to keep it well under control. The main way was by using large size yellow sticky traps with a grid marked out on each in inch squares. You can clearly see how bad it was and by laying the sticky tarp flat on some pots, rather than hanging them, they do a better job. The thinking is that the fly has to drop down at some point and the larger yellow surface area will attract them faster than the foliage or a hanging trap.
What a lousy year 2012 proved to be weather wise. I have never seen so much rain with the land and my garden completely water logged. The Daily Mail confirmed this yesterday when it said that 2012 was the wettest year since records have begun . Early show were the worst victims with fewer entries than expected and even some of my vegetables for the Royal Welsh were late, particularly Radish. They were sown on the usual date, six weeks before the show, and yet I was struggling to get enough bigger than my finger nail.
Things however really caught up towards the end of the year as the NVS Championships at Malvern must have been one of the best ever. I don’t think I have seen so many exhibits of Short carrots at any National and congratulations to all the Judges who really had their work cut out and did a great job.
Can I wish all my friends and fellow growers a very Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year with hopefully much better growing weather for 2013.
Don’t forget to visit my Bin Ends section of the shop. We have now entered some Cornell Cauliflower seed which is no longer available. We have also added some Ramco Cabbage which is also no longer available as is Cucumber Naomi, a favourite with many growers. Once these have been sold that’s the la
st of them. Buy them now and put the packets in a jam jar with a sealed lid and place it in the bottom of your fridge, the seed should be viable for a couple of years.
Blog Sunday 16th December 2012
Having had a problem with my leeks bolting last year you would have thought that I would be more cautious than ever this time round. However I am taking a calculated risk with both my Pendle Improved blanch leek and my Cumbrian Pot Leek. Both of these, together with the Welsh Seedling blanch leek were started off early from some advanced bulbils during late July. The purpose of which was twofold, to have some early plants as I was hoping at the time to stage a display at Chelsea. Unfortunately I have been unable to find a sponsor on this occasion so I shall be giving it a miss. The second purpose was to have sufficient stock plants to generate enough heads for next Autumns leek bulbils.
The leeks intended for Chelsea will now also form the thrust of my display at the RHS Tatton Park Flower show next July. This will be just over two month after they would have been ready for Chelsea. I’m just hoping, given the excellent growing conditions that I have at the University glasshouse at Aber, that the plants won’t bolt on me. They will almost certainly be on the edge as they definitely wouldn’t hold out for the mid or late August shows.
They are nice plants now and nearly ready for potting on into either six inch pots or even directly into their permanent 30 litre pots. Whatever I decide won’t happen now until early in the New Year and whichever way I do it, the Pendle will be collared with a nine inch by one inch diameter DPC collar as soon as they are planted. I did this with the Pendle this year and I had a far better blanch on them than previous years. I do definitely think that they want pulling when they are young.
With Chelsea again in mind, I also sowed seed of the Peter Glazebrook onions during early August this year and they will now be hopefully be part of my display at Tatton in next July. The onion seed were broadcast sown in some Levington F2S and transplanted into 60 cells when they were showing their second proper
leaf. From these they went into 12 cells unit, (about two inch square
) and from those they went into 3½” pots using again F2S with s
ome slow release fertiliser.
Having spoken with our represenattive for Composts this year it has come to light that due to peat shortages, once current stocks have ran out, they are not going to produce Humax John Innes No1 No2 No3 range until futher notice.
Everris (the growing media manufacturer) have also given us the following statement –
Following the wettest summer since 1912 throughout Europe it is estimated that there is an 18,000,000m3 shortfall in peat supply. Recent press reports have shown that all suppliers have been affected with some harvests reduced by over 80%. Baltic and Canadian peat harvests are also affected. Needless to say, peat supplies are low and demand for peat has never been higher. Everris has made a substantial investment into peat moor management meaning that the drainage of all of our sites has improved enabling a higher level of peat harvest than the trade average. The harvest is still below what is needed to meet demand and Everris has purchased substantial quantities of peat for immediate and future deliveries. Despite this, sourcing enough quality peat to meet our customers’ needs cannot be guaranteed and therefore Everris will incorporate a professional quality coir material into all of their mixes. An innovative method of re-constituting compressed coir blocks has been developed by Everris with this material blended with peat at an early stage in the production process. Early incorporation means that the coir is included at the same fraction size as the peat and blends into the mix perfectly. An added benefit of including coir is that the lighter bulk density of coir compensates for the slightly higher density of peat due to increased moisture levels.
Not only is the look and handling of the product similar, the technical performance of the new mixes is excellent and Everris is confident that growers will not notice a difference. By incorporating coir, Everris will be able to meet the volume requirements of its current customers throughout 2013.
We had another excellent year despite everything the weather could throw at us. We staged two displays in 2012, winning a Gold and Best in Show on my return to the Royal Welsh Show after 25 years absence. We also won a Gold and Runner up Best Exhibit at the Malvern Autumn Show in September. To cap it all the Royal Horticultural Society awarded us the Gordon Lennox Trophy for the best Vegetable display of the year for our Malvern Stand.
Medwyns of Anglesey
THE VEGETABLE MASTERCLASS WEEKEND
Friday 9th - Sunday 11th November 2012
THE ROYAL VICTORIA HOTEL LLANBERIS
PROGRAMME OF EVENTS
Friday 9th November
16.00 - 18.30 Arrive at The Royal Victoria Hotel to check in and relax before dinner.
18.30 – 19.50 A four course evening meal will be served (you may order wine at your table)
20.00 – 21.15 ‘Bring Life to your Soil’ by Paul Lowe from Symbio, The Environmental Bio Technology Company. It is said we know more about the stars than we do about our soils. Paul Lowe is technical adviser in micro biology, specialising in healthy soils and beneficial soil biology, he has been working with soil biology for over 20 years as an agronomist in sports turf. He now specialises in ‘the soil food web’ Compost Tea, organic growing and sustainable management, writing regular articles and conducting many talks.
He has a light hearted yet educational slant on the soil and the microbes that live in our growing medium. Healthy soil is a living, biologically diverse environment that recycles nutrients, captures carbon, fights disease and so on. All to create the food we eat, the plants we grow and natural environment we enjoy. Intense agriculture and horticulture has come to rely on inorganic salt based fertilisers, water and chemical pesticides to stimulate plant growth and disease control.
Organic growing is more popular today than ever before, but fertilisers are not cheap, many pesticides are banned and productivity of compromised soils is declining. Paul will talk about the fascinating roles of soil microbes, how different vegetables have a different symbiotic relationship with microbes and how you can encourage more life to your soils and how organic growing benefits from nature.
21.15 – 21.30 Question and Answer session.
21.30 - Time to relax after your long journey; share your gardening experiences with some of the speakers, fellow growers and exhibitors. Why not even enjoy a night cap at the bar before retiring.
Saturday 10th November
8.00 - 9.00 Cooked Breakfast
9.00 – 10.15 ‘Growing Vegetables Under Straw including Cauliflowers’ by David Metcalfe from Nelson Lancashire. David is well known to all exhibitors of onions and in particular Leeks being the breeder of both the Pendle and Pendle Improved. The Pendle Improved is certainly winning at the highest level now and is fast becoming more popular than the Welsh Seedling. David however is not so well known perhaps for his cauliflowers but he did win the National Vegetable Society Championship class last year Llangollen with a fantastic set of three. David grows a number of vegetables very successfully under straw, both indoors and outside. Part of the success stems from using it as a mulch which not only conserves moisture but also helps to prevent weeds developing. The talk will be supplemented with slides.
10.15 – 10.30 Question and Answer session
10.30 – 10.45 Coffee / Tea Break
10.45 – 12.00 ‘Growing Vegetables for the Millennium Class’ by Mark Hall, Wellington, Telford. Mark is Grounds Manager at Harper Adams University College Newport Salop. Mark is one of the longest reigning executive member of the National Vegetable Society and is currently the Vice Chairman of the midland Branch. He has served many positions over the years within the Society for which he has been awarded the Societies highest honour, the Gold Medal.
The Millennium Class was created with a view of having a collection of five kinds of vegetables, four of each kind, that don’t require artificial lights or heat to grow them. The requirements at the National are as follows – Potatoes: white or coloured; Carrots: stump rooted; Beetroot: globe; Tomatoes; Onions: each onion must not exceed 250 grams. Mark has won this class on more than one occasion and he will show his own method of growing each of the cultivars.
12.00 – 12.15 Question and Answer session
12.15 – 14.15 A buffet lunch after which you have an opportunity to take a walk around the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hotel or perhaps a walk down to the Snowdon Mountain Railway in the village of Llanberis.
14.15 – 15.30 ‘Growing Vegetables for the Table at Cilgwyn Lodge Llangadog Carmarthenshire’ by Keith Brown. – As a boy growing up in the post war years in rural Gloucestershire, from a very early age Keith fell in love with plants and the countryside. His father, no natural gardener, grew vegetables of necessity, and by the age of 6 he remembers being given a patch in which to grow his own. His first successes were with lettuces, radishes and strawberries. That thrill of growing plants has never left him, (Gertrude Jekyll once remarked that “the love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies”) and now nearly 60 years later and in retirement he is even more passionate about plants and gardening. Over the years he has substantially extended the range of plants he grows to encompass hardy and tender plants, displayed in large colour themed borders within his one acre plot – and of course his beloved vegetables.
Keith will give an overview of growing vegetables from the perspective of a non – shower grower! How growing vegetables fits into his garden year, the yearly sowing and planting calendar /summary of key stages throughout the year. Size of his plot, aspect, soil and planting regimes. Range of vegetables grown, favourite varieties and those which perform well in his garden and many more. Keith truly has an amazing garden that is in the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) for which, together with his wife, he has raised nearly £20,000. You can check his garden out if you visit www.cilgwynlodge.co.uk
15.30 – 15.45 Question and Answer session.
15.45 – 16.00 Coffee / Tea Break
16.00 – 17.15 ‘How to grow a Giant Marrow and other Vegetables’ by Kevin Fortey from Cwmbran, Torfaen. Kevin has grown the second largest marrow in the World weighing in at an incredible 12 stone. He was also the National winner in the grand final of the Great British Village Show held at ‘Highgrove’ with a marrow weighing 110lbs. Kevin as a young lad followed his dad all round the giant vegetable shows starting off at the Mill Tavern in Cwmbran. He was soon hooked on growing vegetables and his Dad gave him the means to carry on by giving him his own plot.
Kevin will give his talk through the medium of Power Point cover the whole spectrum of growing from seed germination (which can often be tricky with these giant specimens) how to pollinate them as well as lots of other useful tips. Guidance on how to grow other vegetables will also be given
17.15 – 17.30 Question and Answer session.
17.30 – 18.15 Time to relax and do your own thing before your evening meal, you may even feel the need to enjoy a drink at the bar!!
18.15 – 19.30 Time to indulge yourself in a four course evening meal. (you can order your wine at the table from the Victoria’s reasonably priced selection)
19.30 – 20.45 ‘Growing Long Beetroot for the Show bench’ by Jim Thompson from Undy, Caldicott Gwent. Jim Thompson is certainly one of the top exhibitor of vegetables at National Level. Jim has always grown a very wide range of vegetables both on his allotment as well as on his fairly recent new garden at Caldecott. Jim has converted this garden to his own specialist needs where he grows a range of vegetables. One vegetable that he has excelled at over the past few years has been the longest beetroot, not the easiest of vegetables to grow and quite rightly up graded to 20 points a few years ago by the RHS.
Jim has won the National Championships 3 times and the Welsh Championships on many other occasions. Jim will discuss how he has managed to cross the old Long Black Beet with Cheltenham Green Top, a cross that has proven to be very successful. His talk, through the medium of Power Point, will cover sowing times as well as his own special mix. To complete the talk Jim will give a resume of the Parsnip trial he has been conducting for me this year where 17 new varieties were grown. It should make interesting viewing.
20.45 – 21.00 Question and Answer session.
21.00 - For the next hour or so as you will be entertained by the singer Chris Mitchell from Holyhead.
Sunday 11th November
8.00 – 9.00 Cooked breakfast
9.00 – 9.15 Photo call, bring your camera along and take a group photo as a memento of the occasion.
9.15 – 10.45 ‘Growing Long Carrots for Exhibition’ by Ian Stocks from Dunipace in Scotland. Ian is a retired Fire Service Officer (2010) who had 34 years service, culminating in being awarded the Queens Fire Service Medal in the 2009 New Years Honours List. Ian has been growing for exhibition for over 25 years and is currently the Treasurer of the Scottish Branch of the NVS and a member of the National Executive Committee.
Over the last 5 years he has concentrated on carrots, both long and stump winning the long carrots at the Scottish Branch for 4 consecutive years 2008 -2011. Ian also was 2nd in the National Championships in 2010 in the stumps class and won the same class at Llangollen in 2011. Ian will talk us through how he grows his long carrots from the preparation required and seed sowing, through to the mix he uses and finally to staging them on the bench.
10.45 – 11.00 Question and Answer session.
11.00 – 11.15 Coffee / Tea Break
11.15 – 12.30 ‘Gardeners Question time with the Speakers’. A roundup of the weekend. It doesn’t matter how well you listened to the talks, there’s always that gardening problem or question that you forgot to ask that may be still bothering you. It allows you the opportunity to ask the speakers further questions on vegetable growing that may not even be related to any subject discussed during the seminar – why not challenge them with a problem that’s been a source of worry to you for so long .
12.30 – Traditional Welsh Sunday Lunch before departing .
*Please note that the time limit allowed for each speaker will have to be adhered to but may have to vary to suit circumstances outside of my control*
2013 Seminar will be from the 8th to the 10th November.
For further information please ring on 01248 714 851 or email
Leeks, Carrots and Runner Beans.
There’s about two and a half weeks to go before my last harvest for Malvern Show as we shall be travelling down on the Wednesday to stage our display on Thursday and Friday. There will be six of us working on the stand this time and I’ve just had a look through my leeks for the central position on the stand. I have been bothered badly this year with both Red Spider Mite and Thrips, and before I knew it the damage had been caused.
A number of exhibitors now use Admire to control The thrips on Leeks, you use it as drench with enough to cover the surface of a 2 pence piece in 2 gallons being the correct amount. However it didn’t seem to work with me as I was probably too late with the application and I could clearly see the Thrips crawling around on the leaves.
The next thing was an application of Dynamec and this seems to have done the trick as there are no more pests visible on the leaves. Dynamec is good also on Red Spider Mite. Next year I shall use Admire early on when still in the pots in the greenhouse and then further control after planting out using Dynamec.
Another problem that I have had with my Pendle leeks is secondary growth appearing between two sets of foliage or flags. This is the first time for me to get this phenomenon and I’m convinced it’s to do with the plants metabolism when the plants are close to bolting. From 34 leeks planted I now only have ten left which haven’t bolted and enough to cover my last display at Malvern.
Those that haven’t bolted are also now throwing up these side shoots and they must obviously come from the root plate. It won’t affect me with the display but for anyone showing on the bench it could be a serious matter.
The reason for this is because as the growth increases in strength it will change or alter the shape of the barrel of the leek as it pushes outwards in between the flags.
I was late sowing my final bed of Sweet candle Carrots at home, in fact it was bored and filled by my grandson Owain and I simply the sowed the seed, (he does come in handy at times!!) This was around the middle of May and I thought then they might come in useful for the kitchen later on or I could possibly manage a few for my stand.
As the picture shows they are much better than I thought they would be with no trace at all of any fly with beautiful fresh green foliage on them. Whether the bottoms will be rounded is something else but that criteria certainly won’t bother me when I’m eating them!
In one of the beds next to the leeks I have a row of Jescot-Long-Un (Cat N0 3200) Runner bean growing away ( even though they were also severly hit with pest damage) and the longest at the moment is 28 inches long. This is showing no sign of beaning and it will certainly grow longer than that.
I grow these at home as I don’t want them to cross pollinate with the my 800 plus Stenner bean plants growing in the fields for seed production which is about 4 miles away. What is more, this is a fantastic bean to eat provided you pick it when it’s still young, it’s very fleshy and tasty.