Multiple Sowing of Celery + Tomatoes
14th May 1997
Those of us who want to compete at the August shows will be planting the first sowing of Celery around this time and it should peak from the middle of August towards early September. To expect Celery from an early sowing such as from the end of January towards the middle of February to keep after this date is asking a bit much, hence the need for multiple sowings. As most of my shows are usually over by early September I can get away with two sowings but bob Herbert from Mossborough will have four sowings to take him through from the middle of August to early October.
My earliest sowing are now in 4 litre pots and this year there is no sign of any browning of the roots and the plants are looking really well with a lovely sheen on the leaves. They were placed in the cold frame over a week ago with slug pellets scattered on top of each pot and this week they will be spaced out along the edge of the beds for a few days prior to planting. Acclimatising your plants to the outdoor conditions is of the utmost importance, particularly when they have been grown all the time in a warm greenhouse. You must always me mindful that any check to growth can result in the plants eventually going to seed prematurely and spoil your chances of staging them.
My celery this year is going to be planted in two different positions, this first batch of fifteen will be planted right behind my far polytunnel on the only piece of open cultivated ground that I have left. This was really well manured at the back end of last year with horse manure that was well rotted and the horse breeder in question offered me as much as I could take. Believe me I was more than willing to take up his offer and in the end I stopped wheeling it to the back garden after seven heaped trailer fulls behind my car, two of which have been piled up at the far end and covered over with polythene.
My second sowing and the one I hope will be in peak condition towards the end of September for the Nationals will be planted in the raised beds at the front end of my vegetable garden. This batch will be planted out on my return from the Chelsea Flower Show as I have numerous plants currently growing for this show in pots at the exact location.
The ground prior to planting will be well rotovated using my small Mantis rotovator which has served me so well over the years and for it's size is a real work horse. Four ounces to the square yard of Chempak BTD will then be incorporated into the top layer and the whole area raked level. Prior to planting make sure the previous evening that the plants in the pots were given a good watering. Use a string line to make sure that the plants are going to be in a neat straight line and space them out a minimum of eighteen inches apart. They need this space to grow well but you will also need this sort of space to be able to get at the plants for collaring them without damaging the foliage of those close by.
Plant them with the top of the compost in the pot level with the top of the bed and compact the soil around the plant gently, just sufficient to ensure that there won"t be any large voids between the root ball and the soil. Finally give each one a good watering, some slug pellets and also a loose collar to support the flags. This collar is not intended for blanching, although it will extend the growth somewhat, and what I used last year was an upturned ring culture pot which proved perfect for the job at the early stages..
My tomato plants are now growing away well and as I have a few brand new varieties on trial, it's interesting to see how different the growing pattern is, one or two are much taller than the others with plenty of space between the foliage which makes it easy to work around them. Pay regular attention to tying and remove all side shoots as they become easy to handle, never try to remove them when they are too small you will only scratch the main stem and any wound on a plant is always a possible entry point for disease.
As my plants are all in Gro bags, as soon as they are seen to be growing away strongly they are given some liquid fed at every watering, in the early stages I like to use a little bit of Chempak 3 and towards the end this will be changed to Chempak 10 which is a high potash feed with no phosphates and just enough nitrogen to keep the plants growing away.