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.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Friday, 10 December 2010

To cover or not to cover - That is the question?

Well at last the snow is beginning to thaw a bit here. The long carrot house I built last year has suffered a bit of damage due to the amount of snow but nothing irrepairable. This led to this post on the issue of whether you grow carrots for show under cover or not. There are several schools of thought on this - I grow my stumps under cover in tunnels, however I grow the long carrots in a mixture of polythene and enviromesh covers, although this year I will also be growing 36 completely under cover(more about them in later posts). The stump carrots without a doubt perform better under cover. Why? - Well one of the reasons may be a better and constant temperature. Research on carrots has shown that the root length and glucose content decreased as temperature increased.The carotene content stays unchanged at temperatures between 10 and 21c,but decreased as the temperature rises from 21 to 27c. Most experts also agree that the best colour and the highest content of carotenoids are obtained at temperatures above 16c and below 21c.So thats one of the reasons I cover,in that I am trying to keep as constant between these two temperatures as possible(not always easy!!).

These pictures show the structure for the long carrots and the tunnel for stumps.

Monday, 6 December 2010

What to do in this weather!

Well we have had another 6" of snow today stopped snowing around 2pm but the road network here has just stopped - I have never seen so much snow!. So what do you do as an exhibitor in this weather. Well I for one am looking back to what happened last year and looking forward to the 2011 growing year( with a large glass of Glenlivet beside me!). I have been fortunate to have won the Scottish Championships the last 3 years with Long Carrots and won the stumps at the same championships in 2007,2008,2009( was unplaced this year but was 2nd in the National Championships at Dundee) so as you can see my main thrust is towards carrots. I also won the Nationals with peas and had various other wins throughout the season. So the first thing I do is always look back and see what I could have done better- were the timings right - were the conditions right - could I do something else. Like anybody else I make mistakes as well so I will take you through these at later postings. So looking forward what will I grow next year. Firstly I will give a list of what veg I am growing and the variety. I also will go through how I grow poms later on as well. So veg and varieties.

Stump Carrot - Sweet Candle( I just cannot see past this. Various new varieties like Abaco may challenge it but I still will go with Sweet Candle)
Long Carrot-New Red Intermediate - my own re-selection
Peas-Show Perfection(my own re-selection -even gave some to Mr Smith!)
Parsnips - Gladiator under cover and Duchess outside(Have tried Pinnacle but don`t really like it)
Potato - Kestrel,Winston,NVS Amour,NVS Sherine,Casablanca,Nadine
French Bean - Prince re-selected plus some from Gareth Cameron
Celery - Evening Star
250gr Onions - Vento
Shallots - Hative de Niort reselection
Onion Sets - Hercules and Centurion
Tomato - Cedrico
Globe Beet - Pablo
Long Beet - Reselected Long Black

So thats my list of varieties for 2011. The main shows for me are the NVS Nationals at Llangollen in late August and the Scottish Championships in the middle of September

Friday, 3 December 2010

First Post

A warm welcome to my blog from freezing Scotland. After following Smithyveg for a couple of years and watching a couple of other NVS members creating blogs I thought - why not. So here I am following in the footsteps of the master Mr Smith. I hope my blog can show you my way of growing exhibition veg( and pom dahlias) and hopefully somebody can learn from the mistakes I made along the way.Last night the temperature was around -14c here on top of about 14" of snow - so there is not a lot happening apart from having to clear the snow from tunnels.The picture should give you an idea of how cold it is here.