What's Growing down at Jim's Garden?
29th Jul 1998
The vegetable plot I use down at my friend Jim's garden has some wonderful soil in it as it has received at least 40 bales of straw over the past 5 years. In addition it has also had loads of manure, leaf mould and spent peat, all of which came to the garden for growing exhibition potatoes in trenches. By now it has all naturally broken down into valuable humus and it"s a lovely friable soil to work with.
There are over 140 poly pots filled up with a peat mixture growing a range of potatoes in rows that were opened out to half the depth of the bag and 12" wide which is the diameter of the bag. The varieties I am growing are as follows:- Kestrel, Mona Lisa, Merlin, Winston, Harmony, Purple eyed seedling and the new pink eyed variety similar in size and shape to Kestrel called Osprey. There's no doubt that the most vigorous growers for me this year are Kestrel and Mona Lisa, both of which grew away from the beginning with no gaps at all in the rows. The others however have been showing gaps in the rows and an irregular growth rate which may be attributable to the very fluctuating weather that we had during June. Indeed Anglesey was probably the wettest region of all but one consolation is the fact that I haven"t had to spend hours on watering.
Next to the potatoes, I have two rows of eighteen cauliflowers which were kept back from my field planting and by now they are really looking strong and powerful. The variety is Plana and they were planted on the longest day, 21st June, at a spacing of 18" between the plants and 2 feet between the rows. The ground had already been well cultivated and prior to planting about 4 ounces of Vitax Q4 HN were applied as a top dressing together with the same amount of calcified seaweed. As cauliflowers are vigorous and hungry growers, they require plenty of nitrogen to produce strong upright foliage and solid well protected curds later on, hence the use of Vitax Q4 HN, the HN standing for 'high nitrogen'.
As a result of my onion bed disaster with white rot where I lost about a third of the onion plants, I thought I would make good use of the available space in the beds so I have planted more Plana cauliflower in between them. These are now showing some remarkable growth and very soon they will be enveloping the onion plants, but as most of the best ones have already been harvested, it doesn't really matter. These cauliflowers were planted the day after those in the field and the same time as the ones in Jim's garden so it will be interesting to see and compare their development.
The next row at Jim's is of Show Perfection peas followed by two rows of my own re-selection of White Broad Bean. This is a really vigorous grower with wide leaves and is capable of producing pods with up to 12 beans per pod. I have had more trouble than usual with black fly but this soon disappeared as it happened when it was time to remove the tops anyway.
Parsnips and Carrots
Along the back of the rows there are twelve 50 gallon plastic drums which are full of building sand. Four have parsnips in them, five Gladiator in each drum. The next two drums are taken up with trials of long carrots with which I am very hopeful of having some success; I have five different types and they are all F1 Hybrids so that if I can get some fine specimens from them, it will be a new breakthrough in the long carrot varieties. Owing to a lack of space, I only have two of each variety growing, but George Armstrong from Eccleston also had a few to experiment with and he has more stations sown than I do.Unfortunately during late June one of the varieties had an attack of the dreaded willow aphid so I carefully pulled it out of the bore hole and I have to say I was over the moon with the result. Even though the carrot was only an inch across the shoulder, it had excellent length and very smooth skin texture with an absolutely brilliant orangey colour on what was really a very young specimen. So bright and vivid was the colour that it reminded me of Corrie when I first pulled it some 8 years ago: like Corrie the colour extended way down into the long thread-like root as well as going up into the leaf stalks. This could well be something quite special.
The next four drums have my own long carrot seed in and the last two have the Cheltenham Green Top - mono germ beetroot; this is the long red variety that has been making a comeback on to the show scene over the past few years. As long beetroot are now classified as a 20 pointed vegetable when judged under NVS rules, I'm sure we will see a lot more long beetroot being staged as part of collections from now on.
Over at Llanllechid near Bethesda, in my farmer friend's field, I planted 510 different types of Cauliflowers on 20th June and they are growing better than ever, having had plenty of rain initially to really bed them in. There were a further 90 cabbages planted as well which consisted of thirty Augustor, thirty Globemaster and thirty Ramco.