Protective Covers for Root Vegetables - Part 1
13th Jul 2000
What a difference protective covers makes to growing vegetables to the highest quality, we all know how good the leeks and onions grow under polythene or glass but this year some of my carrots and parsnips are responding particularly well to the treatment too.
My parsnips, 64 of the F1 hybrid variety Javelin were sown on the 20th of February in bore holes five foot deep in raised beds filled with sand. The beds already had a wooden structure constructed over them some years ago which was made so that I could slide some glass panes into them. The problem with those was the intense heat that the plants got on a sunny day so the constant opening and closing was quite a burden. When the panes were eventually taken away around early June the plants seemed to receive a check to their growing pattern and took a few valuable weeks to recover.
This year the beds were covered over with fine nylon type mesh that actually prevents any flies or insects from getting at the plants and this fine mesh was then covered over with some light gauge polythene to increase the temperature inside. This worked a treat apart from the winds regularly having a go a t it and I had to have my stapling gun at hand regularly to pin down the polythene. The growth rate was amazing and by early June the foliage was over two feet in height and looking very promising indeed.
Polythene & Nylon Fleece
On a nice warm calm day during the middle of June the polythene was completely removed but the nylon fleece was retained and will stay on now until the plants are approaching maturity, it might even stay on right through to the end of the growing season. I will have to decide on its removal or not as the plants grow depending on whether or not the foliage will have enough room to expand naturally. The mesh has been secured to the timber rail above them using a staple gun and then rolled over a batten at compost level allowing me to roll it up to get access to the plants.
They have had a regular foliar feed every ten days or so using Phostrogen and they seem to be responding well to that treatment. Towards the end of June the four beds, and there are sixteen parsnips in two rows of eight in each bed, were given some added lime which seems to do them no harm at all and if anything I believe that it improves their skin colour. A handful of Hydrated lime is given to a gallon watering can and stirred well and that gallon was then given to each bed of sixteen parsnips.
Colour of Stalks
Last year I particularly noticed that those parsnips that had reddish stalks were a better quality than those that were all green and this year I have again noticed that I have a few of those in the bed. I spoke to the breeder Dr Dawson about this aspect and he knew of no reason why they should be any different to the others. Unfortunately they can not be spotted when at the thinning stage otherwise I would have thinned them all down leaving, whenever possible just the red stalk plants. I shall once more this year make a mental note of all those that I pull with red stalks just to see whether or not they are superior to the green stalked once. I wonder if any of my readers have also noticed this and if so I would love to hear from you.
My short carrots outside have been alarmingly slow to grow this year, I fully intended to have those beds covered over with mesh as well but with Chelsea Show happening at that time I just wasn't able to get round to it. Towards the middle of June they were just a few inches tall and they will certainly need to grow faster if they are going to be of any use for exhibiting during August.
However the twenty four stations that I grew in my polytunnel in half plastic drums full of sand are really doing well. They are all brand new varieties and both will be featured in my new seed catalogue along with other new exiting cultivars which will be available from September onwards. My regular customers will automatically receive one, if however you would like a copy, please forward three first class stamps to Medwyns, Llanor, Old School Lane, Llanfairpwll, Anglesey. LL61 5RZ
Long Carrots and Long Beetroot
The long carrots, my own re selected seed, that I have growing in plastic drums in my tall polythene tunnel are also doing very well indeed as are the long beetroot.
National Tap Root Championship
All of these have been specifically grown for the special tap root collection calls at the Welsh Branch Championships which are this year being held on the 19th and 20th of August at Pembroke as part of the Welsh Millennium Horticultural Show and have been very kindly sponsored by the Pembroke Town Council. For this special class which is called The National Tap Root Championship of Great Britain, you need two parsnips, two beetroot long, two carrots other than long with a definite stump and two carrots long. There is an entry fee of two pounds and the prize money is £120.00 for the First, £60.00 for the Second, £30.00 for the Third, £10.00 for the Fourth and £5.00 for the Fifth.
If you fancy having a go at this class which usually has well in excess of twenty entries, every one of which would win at any provincial show, then send for full details of this class as well as three other major classes all with the same prize money to Mr R Griffiths, 3 Cae Gwyn, Rhyd Uchaf, Bala, Gwynedd LL23 7SD.