Friday, 11 February 2011

Carrots from Pipes

These are the 3 carrots shown by Joe Proudlock at Ayr in early August - grown in the same type of pipe I am trialling this year - proof that it does work!!!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Growing Methods

Well I have finally got started on emptying my barrels (36)this week - This really is a back breaking job which involves emptying every barrel and refilling them. I empty the end one of a row and then empty the next barrel into the empty one - until you come to the last one which you need to fill with the sand from the first one emptied!!. I also give them a good soaking with Armillatox. Although it is hard work you really need to do this every year - It puts air back into the sand in the barrels and also makes the job of boring the barrels easier. I am also trying a couple of other methods this year - one is pipes mounted on to a framework which will be filled with the growing mix. The pipes are 5ft 6in in length with another 1ft of sand underneath. - and another is sleeves made out of damp course. This alleviates the need for having to have barrels with sand and the work that goes with it. I tried some parsnips in sleeves last year and had reasonable results - the 2 in the Mini Collection picture were not bad!. So at the end of all this I will have 96 Long Carrots in barrels and 24 in pipes/sleeves, 48 Parsnips in barrels plus 30 in pipes/sleeves. I still have to empty my Stump Carrot beds plus I have built a new bed so in total I will have around 300 under cover. The new structure that is in the picture will have one side with stumps and the other side has staging the full length - useful to put plants etc on but it`s main use is for French Beans in pots for the NVS National in August. The parsnips will be sown in the first week of March with the Long Carrots sown in the first week of April.

Monday, 24 January 2011


I had really good success at shows in 2010 with my pom dahlias so I am growing more of them this year. The pom tubers have been started off a couple of weeks ago as I am looking for early cuttings to allow me to have a couple of stops in them to produce bushy plants for planting out - and they will give me flowers a bit earlier than I had last year. The tubers have been in a frost free but cool greenhouse in boxes of peat. They are then taken out and put into cat litter trays with about 4" of Levington M3 at the bottom, The tubers are just sitting on the compost. At this stage little water is needed or given until they have started to get a grip in the compost. The trays are sitting on top of a heated bench - in this case one made from a 24 metre soil warming cable. I think this type of bench is better than the soil warming blankets as you have to keep it continually moist - which I think helps propagation. I have been lucky not to have lost any tubers so far- dahlia growing friends have had some of theirs decimated this year. However I have still to recieve more tubers I have ordered - hope they come soon as poms really need an early start


Just before I dissapeared on a weeks break I went down to Iain Barbours JBA seed potatoes in Annan to pick up my seed potatoes. It was only yesterday that I had the chance to sort them into trays(actually cat litter trays from Poundland at a £1 each!). Once sorted in the trays I have put them into the loft for a couple of weeks as the temperatures here are still at times getting to -6c - so no chances taken with them- plus the coolness in the loft will stop them sprouting. In around a couple of weeks I will bring them into light and some heat to start chitting them( allowing them to throw sprouts). Once they are chitting well I will then take each potato down to a certain number of sprouts - leaving them all on will mean you get possibly more potatoes but not ones of show quality.The varieties and numbers I am growing this year are : NVS Amour(70) NVS Sherine(50) Kestrel(30)Winston(30) Nadine (40) Casablanca(20) and Purple Eyed Seedling (20)


Just returned from a week in Berlin so now need to crack on with the work(wouldn`t have mattered anyway as it was hard frost all week I was away!) First job was to plant my shallots. This year I am growing 120 large Hative de Niort and 36 for the pickling class. With the large shallots I plant the bulbs into 3 litre pots of Levington M3 compost - I know a lot will say thats big pots - but I need them in these pots as I really have no guarantee weather wise up here as to when I will be able to plant out - hence the reason for the larger pots to allow them to remain in them if required.
The first step is to make sure the bulbs are still sound and are of the shape that you want. I then trim the necks to allow the new growth to come out easier( Be careful not to cut any growth in the bulb - you can normally feel it so cut above it). The bulbs are just gently pushed into the compost and sit on top - not covered or pushed right in.After that I give them a gentle water. They are currently in a cold greenhouse but
will be moved to a polytunnel in the next couple of days. The pickling shallots will be potted into smaller pots and in a less rich compost - as I am trying to keep them down in size.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Dahlias for 2011

As well as veg I have been dabbling in growing dahlias for exhibition last year. I actually started off 25 years ago growing dahlias but moved quickly on to veg. However where I grow there are 2 good growers of dahlias who are amongst the best in Scotland - so I think their enthusiasm has rubbed off a bit on me. I grew 24 poms and 24 collerettes last year and managed a fair bit of success,particularly with the poms - including the 3 vase pom championship at the Fife and Kinross Dahlia show and some other good wins..

Last year I grew Willos Violet,Monicas Willo,Hallmark, and Moor Place - with Willos Violet producing the best of all. So this year I am expanding - no collerettes and increasing to 72 poms - which to get to a good show standard take an incredible amount of time. So this year my poms will be 9 x 8 varieties.These are:
Willos Violet
Gurtla Twilight
Lakeland Polly
Minley Carol
Lismore Carol
Ivors Rhonda

Most will be cuttings from tubers apart from a couple of varieties where I will buy in plants - so watch this space for the trials and tribulations of growing poms!!!!

Monday, 20 December 2010

First thoughts of work!

The weather here has been horrendous for the last 4 weeks so there has been nothing done outside. Normally at this time of the year I would have all my barrels emptied and re-filled ( I do this by emptying one barrel on the floor and then empty the next barrel into the empty one). This gives you air into the sand and lets you remove as much of the old core as possible. However the barrels and the beds in the tunnels are frozen solid - so thats out!!. So I have been turning my attention to shallots. In 2011 I will be growing around 140 Hative de Niort for the large exhibition class and around 50 for the "pickling" class where they have to be under 30mm. I had good success this year with shallots culminating in winning the Scottish championships, but have never grown the small ones - so it will be interesting to see what happens. My shallots are stored in trays of sawdust which I have used for a number of years - and which gives me little to any losses(touch wood!!!) They are normally stored in one of my sheds but the temperatures have just been too low for too long to take any risks , so they are in the greenhouse I keep at 1 degree for my pom tubers. I start my shallots off in 2.5 litre pots of Levington M3 compost around the 18th January - but I will go through this process in more detail when I start them. At this time I am looking for the shallots that have the best size and shape - I will probably have around 80 this time that are about 50-55mm and good shape- so they will be the ones I am banking on. The rest will still give good shallots and will be used if they are OK.Having never grown pickling shallots it will be trial and error with me  - but I have about 60 or so small shallots that I will use for this class.