Preparing for the Vegetable Display at the Chelsea Flower Show
17th May 2001
Preparing for Chelsea Flower Show
This week is the start of a very hectic fortnight culminating in the whole of next week being spent at the Chelsea Flower Show with my display of Vegetables. The year of growing has gone relatively well but I could have done with more sunshine during April. Even though the vegetables are grown under glass with adequate lights and heating, it's not the same as having real sunlight. When I did get the occasional warm day the ventilation system would open the large lights in the roof and fresh air would move around the greenhouse. This certainly makes a great difference and I can sense that the plants are responding to this fresh change of air.
New and Old Potatoes
Because I have to travel down to London this coming Friday the work of harvesting the vegetables has to begin very early on otherwise I just wouldn"t get the job completed in time. Last Tuesday the potatoes were lifted having first removed the haulms a week prior and then the watering was completely stopped. This means that the skins were set hard on the potatoes and I was able to clean them without fear of removing the tender skin. One new variety that I shall be showing is a new small round red variety bred my Dr Jack Dunnet and not yet on general release. This only grows to the size of a golf ball and is ideal for washing and boiling just as they are, this will make a big impact when it becomes freely available.
Conversely I have also grown a variety over 130 years old called Pink Fir Apple, I had almost forgotten how tasty this potato was until I grew a few tubers of it last year, the real taste of a salad potato and one that's making a big comeback
Hanging Basket Tomato
Another first this year and will be launched by my sponsors Suttons on the Monday, press day at Chelsea, It's a new variety of hanging basket or patio tomato called Tumbling Tom Red and Tumbling Tom yellow. This is undoubtedly an improvement on the current variety tumbler as it is naturally prostrate and one plant in a pot or basket will naturally fall over and give you loads of tender small juicy and tasty tomatoes. Watch out for the adverts regarding this one as a limited amount of young plants will be available from Suttons by mail order immediately after Chelsea. Also throughout the show at Chelsea we shall be exclusively selling seed of this brand new variety.
Another new release will be Indian Summer, a multi coloured Sweet Corn that tastes absolutely beautiful, I know because I have already tried some! It is just as easy as any other corn to grow and well worth giving it a try next year. My long carrots, which this year are grown in old wheely bins have been superb and they should look great on the stand. For the first time this year the long roots are going to be displayed in a triangle formation of ten rather than six as in previous years, this I hope will give the display increased height.
The cauliflower Aviso, a new variety released in my seed catalogue this year has really performed well in pots. I have 48 plants of these and each one has been continually potted up right through to their current 8 litre pots, The cabbage Estron and red Cabbage Autoro are also looking good. The Cauliflowers have certainly taken up a lot of bench space and for most of their growing cycle have been in a large unheated greenhouse and fed regularly with Hydro Complex pellets scattered on top of the pots and watered in.
For the first time also I shall be staging some large exhibition peas from my own selection of Show Perfection. These were started off in early February in a warm house and during early March the 20 individual plants were potted up and moved to a cold greenhouse and grown up 8 ft canes on the cordon system.
Even though I am right up to my eyes in preparation for Chelsea I still have to remember that the vegetables for the Summer shows need my attention and today, regardless of rain or sunshine, the celery has to be planted. The plants are superb and in 5 inch pots, they have been sitting on the beds in their final grwoing position for a week, I have two varieties to be planted in two beds. Twelve of my exclusive Starburst which is an F1 hybrid cross between Ideal and the self blanching Moonbeam. The other 12 are new for the first time this year and called Redstar, a cross between Ideal and the self blanching Red Lathom.
The plants will be well watered first thing this morning and as the soil has alreday been rotovated the actual planting won't taken a great deal of my time. Two rows will be planted in domino fashion in two raised beds that measure ten feet in length and four foot wide. The irrigation system that I had set up for last year will aslo be re positioned as it was kept intact and can be placed in position relatively quickly. I shall plant the celery on the level with the top of the compost in the pots level with the fine tilth of the soil. I shall make sure that no slugs will destroy my work by applying slug pellets in a circle around each plant.
Finally each plant will given a 9 inch tall by 9 inch diameter loose collar made from builders damp course. These are positioned over each plant and are there primarily to support the outer petioles or leaves from falling over. The actual final collaring will take place about seven weeks prior to the actual show date.