Tuesday, 12 August 2008

GOLD for Bedfordshire Champions ! 12.08.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, the home of how to "Grow your own veg in Raised Beds".

Today saw the harvest start of the Bedfordshire Champion Onions. In my mind, they're all Gold medal winners, considering that I grew these all from seed, and they easily out grew the onion sets that were planted out in the raised beds about 2 weeks earlier. Next year I'll be planting more of these little ( er - not so little ! ) gems, and staggering the planting to get a longer lasting harvest.

As you can see, young Ruby was happy to help, as she willingly posed with her first onion. To be totally honest , I'm surprised that any of them grew at all, considering that Ruby's favourite pastime of late has been to pull the outer leaves off as soon as they were within reach.
I noticed that the seed grown onions all grew beneath the soil; as opposed to the sets that grew virtually on the surface of the soil, with the former producing much larger specimens.
Following good advice from Steve and other regular readers of my blog, I patiently waited for the stems to fall over before pulling the crop up. With the weather forecasting wet for the next few days, i decided to harvest most of them today to avoid the stems rotting.

As this image shows, there's still a few more Champions in the raised bed - still growing strongly. This specimen is well over cricket ball size already, so although it wont be a show winner, and the taste may deteriorate, it's gonna be a big one !
That is of course assuming the foliage stays intact for a bit longer.
I really want to encourage our daughter to help and get involved in the garden, but despair at the sight of new seedlings being pulled from the soil.
Oh well, onwards and upwards !

Some of the rest of todays harvest can be seen here, laid out in a warm and sunny, and most of all dry location, for the stems to dry out.We've had a really good crop overall, and I'm more than happy with our little stab at growing onions.
Next season there will be a whole bed reserved for this crop. It's not just about the excitement of growing onions, the key for me - that you just don't get with shop brought onions - is how well they retain their flavour after cooking. You've got to try this for yourself to understand what I'm saying !

If I may be so bold, I've taken a leaf out of a fellow bloggers book, (Thanks Matron) and decided to keep on sowing seeds. It's nice to have harvests, but it seems such a shame to have a bare patch of soil. Yesterday afternoon I prepared this bed (formerly home to the Stuttgarter Giant Onions) and planted 2 x 3' rows of Beetroot (v.Boltardy). With the current spell of warm/hot and damp weather upon us, there's no good reason why these seeds should not germinate. It also gave me the opportunity to tidy up the Leeks. I read recently that any foliage from the Leeks that touches the ground should be removed, preventing easy access for slugs and snails, and therefore promoting better growth. We'll have to wait and see!

On the same theme, I today prepared this bed, and planted 2 x 3' rows of Kohl Rabi. I prepared drills, and sowed the seed rather more generously than my earlier in the year efforts. This bed was previously home to my Red onions (v.Red Karmen) and the soil was in really good condition. A gentle rake over the seeds once sown, then gently pressed down and watered in well. I'm looking forward to another crop here - all being well.
I'm a strong believer in not always believing the information contained on the seed packets, rather I use it as a guide. The seed manufacturers must obviously provide some guidance on growing, but with the ever changing seasons, there surely is some latitude in the information provided ?

Again, about six weeks after the books tell us, we took our last harvest of the year from my Rhubarb crown (v.Timperly Early), and the secret squirrell created 2 delish Rhubarb & Ginger crumbles. Try it ? The taste is amazing! After harvesting, the crown was thoroughly drenched, then a thick mulch of potting compost , mixed with slow release fertilizer, was poured over the crown. This will now be left until next spring, letting the plant build up its reserves, before I again start forcing the plant for an early crop. Mmmmm I can hardly wait!

The Pot Marigold's planted here and there on the raised beds, are still flowering well. In fact, there's an abundance of flowers all over the garden, but we are not seeing many bee's. I hope it changes as we progress through the summer, but I'm not sure it will.
Elsewhere on the plot, all is going well. The Runner & Broad Beans are flowering well, and producing crops, albeit only small amounts at the moment. The Turnip seedlings are now about 1" tall and I'll soon have to start thinning them out, we've bucket loads of Carrot seedlings (v.Autumn King 3), and Chard seedlings beginning to take over. So you see, there's loads of work still to be done. What fun!

I hope you're still enjoying your gardens as much as I am. I've got a little project underway that I will bring you news of soon. The only hold up on it is funds, but I'm trying to scrounge bits and bobs, and am slowly getting there. Watch this space ! Till then,


1 comment:

Matron said...

I'm interested in how your rhubarb tasted!! Some people say you shouldn't pull rhubarb after the longest day (June) but I read in the Ken Muir catalogue that you can go on till September. Hmmm any views?