Cleanliness in the Exhibition Garden
1st Oct 1997
It must be a sure sign that I'm getting older because the seasons appear to be flying past at an ever increasing rate, it seems only like yesterday when I was planting out my blanch leek plants. Now it' nearly time to be clearing up the beds and looking forward to next year with renewed enthusiasm. There is one thing in particular about exhibitors, we are eternal optimists and regardless of what sort of disasters that fell our way this year, we simply pick ourselves up and vow to have the best season ever next year.
However if that is to happen in reality some things have to be properly planned in plenty of time so that we can avoid any unnecessary pitfalls.
Cleanliness in the Exhibition Garden
Cleanliness in the exhibition garden is vitally important and of course at this time of year things are probably looking at their worst. Time of course is one element in our lives that we can do very little about apart from using it in a proper manner, and show times are the worst periods for the dedicated exhibitor, time is then paramount. We try and put off pulling our vegetables until the last minute in order to stage our exhibits in pristine condition, this inevitably means that we have a lot of clearing up to do when we return home from the shows.
It's important that all the beds in the garden whether they be onion, leeks, carrots, parsnips etc. are well and truly cleaned up of any dying foliage so that the risk if disease spreading can be kept to a minimum.
Over the past few years I have been trying to arrange my vegetable plot into, what I would consider to be a proper exhibitors garden, this has been done in such a way that it will hopefully serve me well as I get older. Nearly the whole garden has now been taken over by raised beds with concrete paths in between each one which makes it a treat at show time when it"s wet, no muddy areas at all to put up with.
Raised beds of course not only produce better vegetables because of the extended root run, they are also better for your own health's' sake so that any activity carried out is much easier on your back. There's no doubt that to collar your leeks and celery when they are growing at ground level is much more difficult than when raised well above the garden level. This coming year therefore will see the construction of a raised concrete block bed behind my polytunnel to cater purely for the celery.
There was a time when I would frown if someone mentioned growing celery in raised beds, simply because the plant in question is a bog plant and I would have thought that it's environment could be better created in soil at ground level rather than above. However I had to change my mind when I visited Bob Herbert's garden and found that he actually grows his renowned selection of Ideal celery in two raised beds. Again the reason for this is the fact that the roots can extend further down into the beds which will be heavily manured and should retain ample moisture provided the beds are well looked after.
The benefits of course are immense, the beds will warm up faster in the Spring so that you can plant earlier if you so desire for an early show. The whole surface area surrounding the beds will be concreted over to form paths around, this in itself means that the slug population won't find it as easy to get to the plants. All the activities involved with the cultivation, planting and collaring etc. will all be a lot easier, particularly the collaring as well as the regular removal of the collars for inspection and removal of split or old stalks.
The bed will be about thirty feet in length and two foot six in width and height, when completed the bottom of the bed will be free draining and the existing soil (which is already highly fertile and full of organic matter) will be used to fill up the beds. As soon as this is completed the beds will have more well rotted manure added and incorporated into them. The horse manure has already been stored under a polythene sheet since last Autumn and should by now be perfect for creating a growing environment that the celery will thrive in.
This will mean that the whole of my vegetable plot will by then have been converted into raised beds with no soil areas in the traditional manner anywhere. The real beauty of this system though is the fact that each and every bed is isolated form each other which means that any soil borne disease will predominantly be contained to a single bed. It is also much easier to tackle a bed at a time so that the whole operation can be carried out thoroughly, down to sterilising each bed on completion with Armillatox.