Sunday, 19 August 2018

The Show Must Go On

The Royal British Legion Horticultural Show, co-hosted by HAHA, was yesterday. It's a small-ish show, but still a busy time. We were pleased to hear that there were 23 exhibitors showing over 70 exhibits.
Last week Jamie had selected our best potatoes, we didn't want to pull all the plants up, though we have cut the haulms down now. Orla were selected for the whites and Kestrel for the coloured categories.

On Saturday morning we were trying to find five matching shallots from the good harvest of Longor that we got this year. We are very pleased at how they grew especially considering their early start which included getting frozen into the ground by the Beast from the East! Once found we tied them off with raffia - it's not too tricky to do and makes them look professional.
Then we met several other plotholders on site desperately trying to find items to include in the show. The trouble is the word 'matching'. This year much of our veg has grown in odd shapes, so to find two the same is a miracle 😃
That's not one of ours, but you can see the type of problems we plotholders had!

I basically picked twice as much as we needed in the hope that we could cover most categories. It did feel good walking away from the plot with a stacked trugful of veggies and a load more that wouldn't fit in the trug.

That's the first of our peppers that actually coloured all over

So after cleaning, snipping, trimming and selecting we had what we could enter and I took them up to the Legion Hall. Ted and Kerry were already there from Marsh Lane setting up their veg, flowers, baking and photo displays and lots of exhibits were already out on the tables. I put ours out and then went into Newbury to collect our judge for the horticultural sections.
Most of the time I sat outside while Jean was judging, but when the sun went in I sat at the back of the hall. I prefer not to hear the actual scoring but it's interesting watching her examining items and some of her little comments. After a couple of hours I took Jean home and I went home for a bit of grub and a rest before the evening's entertainment.
Auctioning of the exhibits is fun with Jim as the perfect host
We were pleased to see that we came 3rd in the Horticultural section - just 3 points of winning the RHS Banksian medal - well, there's always next year! Here are most of our entries which were placed.
And here's me as HAHA rep waiting to present the medal to this year's winner.
So pleased that our plot-neighbour came first, but he couldn't win the medal as he won last year and our friend Kerry won the most points across the whole show - her baking, crochet and photography were champions!
Overall it was a fun, but tiring day. Then today we had our plotholder bbq at Marsh Lane - a much more casual affair than the Open Day but I had to be the veggie-burger chef so couldn't join in the fun as much as I wanted to - well, at least until we ran out of veggie food. We had a great crowd on the hot sunny afternoon.
Such a lovely bunch!
And the tallest sunflower prize went to Roger {over 2m}- who wasn't there! He will get his prize though, £30 donated by our local Wyevale Garden Centre :-)
So the song, as suggested by Jacquie is, of course, by Queen.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Shape of You

We've had some proper rain now and yesterday we didn't need to water anything outside the greenhouse. On Saturday everything was pretty damp too but we took the opportunity to feed most things with Tomorite tomato feed - it's good for squashes, courgettes, peppers as well as tomatoes.

These cucumbers are from one of our Rocky plants - the mini cucumber variety that we've grown for the last few years. However, this year one of the plants is producing all of its cucumbers looking like this... It seems to be coincidence that we're growing Crookneck squash this year. Apparently, if squash do cross-pollinate the effect won't be seen this year; the hybrid appears in the next generation. Also, cucumbers apparently cannot cross pollinate - female flowers can only be pollinated by the male flowers of the same plant. AND Rocky doesn't even produce male flowers - it self-pollinates.. Well, someone needs to tell our Rocky that! As it certainly looks to be producing Crookneck cucumbers!
Could this Crookneck squash be affecting our cucumbers?
I managed to get a cucumber on the other plant to grow down a heart-shaped mould though - so this is more interesting, but you can see that the seeds are forming quite early :-)
Well, they taste good, no matter what the shape. As with most of the vegetables on our plots this year, they aren't likely to win us any prizes at the Horticultural Show next Saturday! Even those beetroots are a slightly odd shape because I didn't thin them so rather than being round they have flat sides!

Here are our new plot signs made by our plotholder buddy Alfie - a donation will go to the HeadsUp charity based in Oxford.
He's very creative with metalwork, as you can see and they won't go rotten like all our wooden signs have. They're great - this second photo is for Plot3 - it does have a number 3 on it, as well as the three wise monkeys.
We haven't put them up yet as we had other stuff to do today - before the rain started again.  I planted our leeks! They've been waiting in the raised bed for months - the ground was too hard to attempt to plant them.
So today I borrowed a very heavy metal pin to hammer into the ground to make ~30cm deep hole and wiggled it about to make it slightly wider. I had to chop quite a lot of root and tops off these leeks, then dropped them in the hole and then puddled them in (e.g. filled the holes with water). We can't remember where the leeks came from - I just know that they aren't ones we grew from seed, so we don't know what variety they are.
I was pleased to find this Autumn Crown squash growing in the grotto - I've only found one, but it's quite well camouflaged, so there may be another in there..
This is the biggest squash I've found so far - I think it's the Boston Winter squash - though I expected it to be orange... it doesn't look like it's going to go orange, but maybe it will..
So, the slightly spurious link is to Ed Sheeran. I do really like this song, but perhaps mainly because there's still no escape from it on the radio!

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Sun is Shining

The sun continues to shine, the temperatures are still fabulously high and the rain didn't amount to much, but after my grumpy post last week look what we saw today! It's very small and maybe not quite as Amazing as the variety name suggests, but still it's our first ever cauli!
This variety is meant to get large and be bright white - perhaps it has sunburn(!) so I've covered it with a leaf, which apparently should protect it and maybe it'll still grow a bit bigger and keep the florets tight.
So that was a turn-up for the books! And last week we had a nice meal with courgettes, garlic, aubergine and shallots (with some added paprika). I had to add some shop-bought tomatoes (criminal) but they added a bit of colour.

There's our first Summer Crookneck squash in there. And the spare courgettes went to work - always gratefully received.
The taste isn't that special, but there are plenty more to eat and they're getting quite big - the plant survived the gales I'm pleased to say.
The trailing squash on Plot 46 are growing well too - I keep trying to encourage the vines to grow over the frame but they really want to go the opposite way - which is rather typical. Still, there's so much growth that the ugly structure will soon be hidden!
 There are several fruits on 3 of the plants but so far I've only seen one Festival.
The Borlotti beans have filled out nicely. We may end up drying them after all.
There's one plant which appears to be Borlotti but it's a little different...
And the Edamame beans are strange. They aren't filling out very quickly and are much smaller than other beans - I need to read up on them. I'm watering and watering to encourage them to fatten up.
The Aviditas tomatoes have begun to change colour. We were hoping to keep a truss for the Horticultural Show on 18th August - but I think the red ones will need eating before then and they're too delicious to waste!
Tonight we're having potatoes with caramelised shallots and green beans - from our one and only Speedy French bean which germinated! The potatoes (Kestrel) haven't got much of a skin, but we're attempting to bake them - they smell nice while they're cooking.
These Geum flowers are lovely. All the stems have been chopped back a couple of times and they re-grow with lovely blooms - we bought this as a small plant at last year's HAHA plant sale.
And these Rudbeckia were a present from my niece a few years ago. I transplanted a tiny part last year and it's very happy in a pot in this warm spot.
A colourful post deserves some Rainbow chard - I'm going to use it like spinach in a spanish omelette during the week - Jamie still refuses to eat chard :-) I'll use a big frying pan so that I can fit lots of courgette in there too and maybe that's what the tomatoes will be added to...
So it's the beginning of August and the hedgerow is already full of red berries, blackberries and even sloes. Harvests have certainly been a bit short-lived for us this year, but we've enjoyed it and there's still more to come...
Lark and Double Red Sweetcorn
So, with a lot of  red, gold and lots of green in this post it deserves a bit of reggae, from Bob Marley - how many times I could have used this song this year?