Root Vegetables - Enviro Mesh and Polytunnels
27th Apr 2000
I am very pleased with the progress of my first sowing of parsnips this year; they were sown on 21st February and even though they are under cover, they have taken a little longer to germinate this year. Both beds are covered over with Enviro Mesh which is then covered with thin polythene. The polythene will be removed as soon as the weather settles down and warms up enough. The parsnips at home are planted in two concrete block beds divided in half, so I get 16 parsnips in each section giving me a total of 64 Javelin from my first sowing. As I need to stage a display at Southport Flower show again this year, I have also sown some extra barrels to make sure that I have plenty from which to pick. At my son's garden, I have three drums of 4 parsnips which I have planted with a brand new F1 hybrid variety called Polar. This is the last in the current breeding line which started off with Panache which was quickly followed by Paragon; Polar is supposed to be the best but time will tell. One advantage that this parsnip has over others is a much heavier density and they might actually sink in the bath that I wash them in; all other parsnips float on top. As my father hasn't been well over the past few months, I have also taken over all his drums and I have sown 6 drums of 3 Polar there. Finally I have drums at my friend Jim"s garden, so to complete the picture I sowed 6 drums of four Dagger there around the middle of March; I have a total of 118 parsnips. If I don't get any decent ones from this amount of hard work, then it"s time I packed it in!
After my article about Enviro Mesh a few weeks ago I had a letter and photos from a really keen user of this product. Mr G Hichisson from Skelmersdale, Lancashire has been using it regularly for over three years and can't praise it enough. He grows most of his vegetables under it, including his long and short carrots as well as his small and large onions and shallots. Mr Hichisson likes it"s robustness; he has had it over the vegetables for three years without removing it at all, during summer or winter.
My first lot of short carrots will go in this week and my big dilemma is which ones to sow; there are now some very good carrots on the market so every grower has to sow those that perform best for him in his locality. I have four beds to be getting on with and one will certainly be growing my Own Reselcted Chantenay, a very stumpy short carrot with good uniformity and having most of the attributes to satisfy the NVS judging guide. Another bed will grow Barbados so now the dilemma comes; should I sow Corrie, Goliath, Gringo or Boltex -the list is endless. Going mainly on the strength of Jim Thompsons' results last year with Gringo, I have decided to have a bed of those and a bed of Corrie which never lets me down. Many will ask why I grow so many different types making it more difficult to select an even set from one type of carrot. The answer is that I do need to show a range of short carrots when I put up my trade display.
This year I intend to sow some roots inside my very tall tunnel. Along one side, I have ten plastic drums and, on either side of those plastic drums, I have two half drums. All the drums were filled with concreting sand a while back and five drums have four bore holes in each for my own selection of long carrot which was sown during the first week of April. The other five will have 4 stations in each for my Own Reselected Long Black Beet which will be sown this weekend. The four half drums will be sown with two brand new F1 hybrid carrots that currently have no name; if the ones that I pulled up at a trial ground last September was anything to go by, they will take some beating. I intend to have six of these per barrel, giving me a dozen of both types. One of these has already been sown for Chelsea and currently looks very good with large tops and plenty of vigour in evidence. If you intend to be at the Chelsea Flower Show, hopefully you will see it displayed there. Finally I must put down some Yellowstone carrots, the first F1 hybrid yellow carrot; these will go in the last of my three long carrot beds for this year.
My mix for the short carrots is exactly the same as the one used for my long carrots and will be the same as I shall use for the long beet with one difference in that I shall not be adding any lime at all to the mixture. The mix is as follows: 2 builders buckets of Levington Multi Purpose worked through a quarter inch sieve and 1 bucket of Moss peat, again passed through a quarter inch sieve in order to make sure that there are no hard lumps left in the mixture. Finally add half a bucket of washed concreting sand and half a bucket of Vermiculite. The above four buckets nicely fill up my electric concrete mixer and once the material has been thoroughly mixed I add the following nutrients: 2 ounces of fine Calcified Seaweed( it's important to use the finest particles so I pass the material through a very fine sieve), 2 ounces of superphosphate of lime, 2 ounces of sulphate of potash and 4 ounces of carbonate of lime.