Oh, the joys of growing for showing. Tatton Park Flower Show is now just over three weeks away and the recent consistent hot weather has played havoc with my timing. All the beetroot grown in metre square Link-a-Bords have grown already far too large and most of them have been eaten. I do have some more in the field but whether they will be ready on time is something else. My radish, usually the easiest of the vegetables to grow, has also matured far too early, particularly the brand new variety called Solito F1.
This is undoubtedly the fastest growing globe red radish that I have ever grown, I sowed it on the 4th of June and it would have been ready for showing on the 26th, that’s just three weeks – unbelievable. I sowed another lot on the 27th and I’m hoping that these will make it in time, with my lick this year the weather will now turn cold and they won’t be ready on time. My Radish are grown in Link-a-Bord narrow boxes with plenty of space between them to allow light to get at the plants all round. Three varieties are grown, Solito, Lunar (a white globe) and Amethyst (a purple Globe) which is a slightly later developing variety. Solito will be available in my 2014 – 15 catalogue.
This year I had four boxes of each variety with half grown on the bench in the glasshouse and the other half on a bench outdoors. As the weather has been so good there was hardly any difference between them as regards their development. The only way really to grow clean unblemished specimens of Radish is to grow them in any container and not in the open garden where soil pests can mark them. Remember also that Radish like a low nutrient compost, and as they are only in it for a few short weeks I use Levington F1. This year though I used Levington F1S, this is a special mixture that Everris made a pallet full for my use and I have to say that the radish, though early, were the best quality I have had in years. Ian Stocks had two bags of this for his carrots other than long and he appears to be very happy with it as well.
Another disaster has been my large exhibition onions, they were pulled up over a month ago as they were never going to make decent bulbs. My onions were all grown in the university glass house at Aber, and all my friends had their plants given to them from the same bench as my own and they are doing brilliant. The reason mine have been a disaster is that they were left on the bench for a further 2 weeks before I brought them down to the land to be potted up into 30 litre pots. As the artificial lighting at Aber is under the control of the University I have no say on time setting. When I checked afterwards the lights are on continuously for 16 hours a day and my lot had already started bulbing up when I planted them.
Never mind, there’s always next year!!. On the plus side it appears that I may well have some really excellent parsnips, long carrots and long beetroot.
The parsnips in particular look the part being very strong with good foliage without a blemish on them. This is an early variety with only a number at the moment from the breeder, and if it pulls as good as it looks, it could well be a winner for the July – August shows. If you look at the picture of parsnips, they are grown in different types of drums and it’s noticeable that the second drum from the right has smooth sides with no grooves in it. This is the barrel that’s producing the parsnips with the tallest tops, about 6 inches taller than the others yet they have all been treated exactly the same, I wonder? I also wonder if there will be any difference in the parsnips pulled.
Every year I am badly pestered with Red Spider Mites on my Aubergines and tomatoes that are growing inside my polytunnel.
This year, being BASIS trained, I bought a new professional product called Borneo, and this has definitely stopped the Red Spider Mite in its tracks. You are allowed one spray a year to avoid the development of resistance and it has a residual action of around 45 to 60 days and a harvest interval of three days. A very useful product indeed.
The leeks are also looking good as are all the carrots in the tunnel which includes Sweet Candle, the New Poseidon, Solar Yellow and another New Purple carrot aptly called Purple Sun. There is one thing very noticeable this year in the way these are grown, the Sweet Candle is grown in two solid heavy plastic boxes, a metre square, that are actually used to import oranges in. They have a strong base on them that is off the ground level. The remainder of the carrots are grown in metre square Link-a-Bord boxes three boards high. After about two weeks of the hot weather in June I noticed that the Sweet Candle carrots foliage was looking very tired and lacking in colour.
I gave them a couple of foliar feeds which did help a little.
The carrots in the Link-a-Bord were still lovely and green throughput the hot weather and are still the same as I write this.
The only explanation I can give is that the sand within the orange boxes retained so much heat that it pretty near cooked them. The Link-a-Bords are cavity walled panels as well as having corner pieces that allow air to circulate through them. It’s the only reason I can think of.
The Faulds parsley is growing away well now after an initial bad start so I should have plenty of 4 inch pots of it for garnishing. I have also potted up a few into 7 inch pots and they are looking superb and may well from specimen dishes on the stand.
Another vegetable performing well are the twelve Scorpio Aubergines that I had from Suttons Seed, these are grafted plants and the growth rate on them is phenomenal. Mine are now in 30 litre pots with plenty of fruit developing on the first batch of six. The second batch of six are intended for the Malvern Show. There’s is certainly no comparison between these grafted plants and the ones that I grow from seed, they are really worth the money. Fennel is doing well and should be on time so all is not lost!