Cabbages to Sweetcorn, The rush to sow
9th Mar 2000
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This is undoubtedly the start of a frantic time in the garden, there is so much to achieve, particularly in the greenhouses and as the day lengthens, at least you have more time to carry out the tasks. Both greenhouses are now full to bursting with some items such as early red cabbage plants having to be placed in the cold frame. I shall be at it sowing some cabbage seed this week in order to have specimens for staging from early August onwards. Some of my introductions to the show scene via my seed catalogue have really performed well, Augustor is a beautifully shaped large globe heading cabbage that if sown now, in either a cold or a heated greenhouse, will be perfect for your August Shows.
Another variety that has top quality coupled with a large size is Globemaster, this one, given plenty of room between plants will grow to an immense size whilst staying in good condition, even when mature. Another popular variety is Ramco which again grows to an immense size whilst having excellent cooking qualities and has won at many shows.
New Cabbage Variety
Next year I shall be selling a brand new introduction called Brigadier, this is a mid to late season F1 hybrid cabbage that grows to an enormous size and well worth keeping your eye open for. Though not in my current catalogue I have some small amount of seed for sale now if you contact me at Llanor Old School Lane, Llanfairpwll Anglesey LL61 5RZ. When you are growing cabbages with the intention of having them as large as possible it's important to consider the spacing of these plants. To plant these large varieties at 12 inches apart is really not going to allow the cabbage to develop to it's full potential. Of course you will still have nice cabbages at that sort of distance which will be thankfully received in the kitchen, but if you fancy having a go at the really large ones, you need a minimum of a metre between each plant and between each row as well.
This sort of distances might appear to be excessive, particularly after you have just planted them, but believe me, once they are growing away you will find it difficult to walk between them. Prepare the ground well before hand, digging in plenty of decayed organic matter and do make sure that the PH of the soil is at least 7 in order to get the best out of your cabbages. If you happen to have land that is infested with club root then the best treatment is to maintain a high PH together with soaking thoroughly the planting hole with the recommended dilution of Armillatox. I know gardeners that have stopped growing brassicas in general because of this disease, but when they have reverted to using Armillatox on a regular basis, I have actually seen growers staging very good quality curds with the minimum signs of the notorious root swelling which has given the disease the common name ‘finger and toe'
Broadcast sow your seed on top of some good quality seed compost, giving each seed it's own little bit of space and cover them over with the same sieved compost or fine vermiculite. They will germinate in a cold greenhouse at this time of year with no problem and can withstand a small amount of frost, however some warmth initially to start the germination process is advisable as some seed could rot if the temperatures were to drop too low. Once the seedlings are large enough and just before the true leaf develops, pot them up individually or prick them out into deep seed trays using either a Multi purpose compost, John Nines 2 or Levington M2.
Time to sow Capiscums and Aubergines
It is also time now to sow some of the capsicums and Aubergines if you intend to use them in collections or to have a go at some of the individual classes as they do take time to fully develop. As a sweet pepper try growing Gypsy F1, one of the most prolific or croppers as well as being the easiest that I have ever grown. Not all flower shows cater for these in individual classes around my area which is a shame, however I recently had the Shrewsbury Flower Show schedule which always has an extensive range of vegetables and they have a class for 3 capsicums and another class for 3 Aubergines.
There is also a class for a Basket of Vegetables and a class for a Basket of Salad, both of the above vegetables when well grown would greatly enhance any of these classes. They also have a class for 3 cobs of Sweetcorn, which you can sow now, also a class for 3 Kohl Rabi. It's much too early to sow Kohl Rabi now for exhibition use during August. The Shrewsbury Show is held on the 11th and 12th of August and if you want to compete, the Schedule of competitive classes is available from the Show Secretary, Shropshire Horticultural Society, Quarry Lodge, Shrewsbury. SY1 1RN or phone them on 01743 364 051.
I have found that the best way to grow Kohl Rabi that is pretty near unmarked from pests etc. is in pots, this way you can move them about from indoors to outdoors depending on their growth rate and the quality of the bulbs will be superb. Try some of the newer F1 hybrid varieties such as Korist F1 a pale green variety which featured prominently on my Chelsea Gold Medal winning display last year. Also Kolibri F1 a mid early purple skinned variety that is so eye catching and on top of all that they are fast becoming one of my favourite vegetables in the kitchen.
Sow the seed in the greenhouse during early June and pot on the individual specimens into small pots or plantpak 24s. These can then potted up individually through to maturity in 7 inch pots or pot up three plants in a nine inch pot. The Kohl Rabi when mature has a lovely deep bloom, do take great care when cutting it for showing that you don't have your finger marks showing all over it. The bloom unmarked, if I was judging them, has to be worth a point out of the five for ‘Condition' from a possible maximum of 12 points.