Saturday, 25 October 2014

Blisworth Wildlife Cemetery

While walking round Blisworth last weekend i came across this little old cemetery.
Tucked behind an ivy clad wall at one end there is a set of rusty old iron gates one is held open to welcome you in. As you step through the gate you enter a little wildlife haven right in the centre of Blisworth. Although the cemetery is no longer used for new burials it still has to be maintained by the parish council. It is currently maintained for wildlife and is a great community resource. There where several dog owners making use of the cemetery while i was there nice to see the dog poo being picked up as they went. 
There is a path that winds its way round the grave stones there are several big trees they are one of the main focal points at this time of year. But in the spring summer I'm sure it will be full of lovely wild flowers and lush grass attracting the local bees and butterfly's in to the grave yard. 
In one corner there was a great bug hotel made out of recycled pallets and stuffed full of straw, broken pots and sticks all will give a home to lots of insects. If you are in Blisworth i would recommend popping in to have a look.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Apple Day

Today was spent at Wilson's orchard Apple day in Northampton.Wilson's orchard is run by South Court Environmental who are a local community group who run and maintain several sites across Northampton.
Wilson's Orchard is an orchard filled with old Bramley apples trees well over 70 years old the orchard itself is maintained for the wildlife more than for the fruit. But that dose not mean that they are not producing lots of great apples because they are the trees are left grow old gracefully. The trees are a haven for the local wild life when a tree or branch falls off it's just left for nature to do it's stuff. But today was about the apples the orchard produce and what a great day it turned out to be the sun was shining and i did not even need a coat.
Now i have never been to Wilson's orchard before and of it was not for the directions i would never have found it. Having weaved my way through a modern housing estate it was the last place you would expect to find a orchard but step through the gate and you soon forget that you are in suburbia.
In the centre of the orchard a press had been set up and there where several people busy at work chopping, crushing and squashing apples. To produce some of the best apple juice for miles it's surprising how many apples you need to produce a jug of apple juice. But apples where not in short supply every where you looked there where apples great big Bramley's you had to be careful not to slip on the odd rotten on on the ground.
There was lots going on tours of the orchard, apply talks and lots of juicing going on was a great afternoon looking forward to another apply day next October.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Pumpkins Just Keep Getting Bigger

The Weekend saw the UK Pumpkin record be smashed by the Paton twins at the UK Annual Pumpkin Festival in Southampton.
There winning Pumpkin weighed a staggering 1,884lbs it was only 218lbs short of breaking the world record. It measured 17ft round and was putting on 35lbs a day at its peak and watered it with 100 gallons of water a day to get it to swell. There hard work payed off when they received a cheque for £1000 off the sponsors Thompson and Morgan.

Stuart Patern commented  “ We’ve always been confident of getting the world title eventually and it’s brilliant to be installing  a new greenhouse for 2015 on better soil with better drainage and twice the amount of growing space. We should be all set to take on the Americans and the Swiss.”
Thompson and Morgan have committed to sponsoring the even again in 2015 and should the world record be broken on British soil have offered to pay out £10.000 to the winner.
T&M Horticultural Director, Paul Hansord said: “It used to be said that the world record would never leave the US, but if the Swiss can do it, we can do it. Our seed quality just keeps getting better thanks to the Patons’ selective pollination, and UK growers are upping the game every year. I’ve every confidence the Paton boys can bring the title to UK shores in the near future.”
 T&M will be selling seeds from the Paton twins Pumpkin under the variety name Pumpkin ‘Paton Twins Giant’.  It’s a popular line with amateur growers at just £9.99 for two huge seeds with the genetics to become a record breaker.
If you are wanting to grow a big one next year then this is the seed you need to get your hands on.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Video of the week

This was a great series produced by Channel 4 in 1999 presented by Monty Don one of his best series.
This episode is all about Pumpkins and Squashes.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Getting Squashed

It's that time of year again when the squash and pumpkin harvest comes in from the garden. It's been a good year for Squashes and Pumpkins they just wanted to grow and did not get any mildew till late on in the season. All i had to do was keep them watered and they just romped away particularly the Pumpkins they seemed to grow before your eyes. Like blowing up a balloon although some of them did pop and rot into a soupy mess but luckily they did not all go that way.
Gourds growing over the arch
I grew a lot of gourds this year over our pergola probably too many judging by the harvest we got off them. But they do make great decorations around the house and garden and if dried will last for many years. They can be painted as ornaments and in some African country they use them to eat out off instead of plates they are the ultimate disposable plate.
Gourds and squashes drying in greenhouse.

They are a great vegetable for the self sufficient gardener as they will last months if stored well and can be turned into many dishes from soups to pies. Keep them frost free and dry leave a slight gap between each fruit so that if one dose rot it wont spread to the others. Fingers crossed they will last till way into the spring when we should have some new crops in the garden to eat and we don't have to eat out of the store.
Pumpkin Harvest

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Entering the land of the giants

Last weekend was the Malvern Autumn Show which i mentioned in my last post one of the competitions that takes place is The National Giant Vegetable Championships.
457kg Pumpkin grown by David Thomas
The show takes place in the Wye hall at the top end of the show ground where the Floral displays are held. I am always amazed by the shear size some of these vegetables can grow too it is like Entering The Land Of The Giants. Where the Pumpkins are big enough for cinders to use as a carriage and cucumbers so big they would make a Nun blush. Now i was inspired to have a go at growing some giants after visiting the show last year and  although what i grew did well they where no where near big enough. To have a chance of competing with the big boys at Malvern but i must admit after visiting Malvern this year my Pot Leeks would not have  embarrassed me. So with a bit more effort next year should see me placing some monsters on the bench although i am going to hold off booking the folklift and artic lorry until nearer the time.
New world record long beetroot and long parsnip
This year was another good year for new records it is amazing that these growers still keep on managing to grow them bigger and bigger every year. This year saw two world records and one British record where smashed. David Thomas managed to grow the UK's biggest cabbage a whopping 56.4kg. Which is big enough to keep a small town in cabbage for there Sunday lunch.
David Thomas 56.4kg cabbage
But the highlight had to be the two world records Joe Atherton managed to grow a beetroot 667.30cm long and he also managed to grow a whopping 628.10cm long parsnip. 
Heaviest 3 onions 20.20kg grown by Peter Glazebrook
All the results of this years Giant Veg Championships are available on website. This is also a good site to get all your growing information and also where to get your giant seeds from.
There where many entry's in the Tomato class

Leek 6.2kg by J Dirden
You will need a lot of stuffing to fill one of these marrows

Malvern Autumn Show

Malvern Autumn show has become one of the annual highlights of the gardening year for me and the family. I have been going every Autumn for years now and it seems to get better every year i go.
Medwyns seeds gold medal display
There is always something for all the family even if you are not the slightest bit interested in gardening. There are vintage cars, animals, lots of shopping to be done some great entertainment in the arenas and of cause all the flowers and veg. Some of the country's best Vegetable growers come to Malvern every year to battle it out for the most wanted red card or the ultimate accolade best in show. One class that I'm always impressed with is the collection of five veg and they did not disappoint this year. J Thompson was the winner of this class The collection had some fantastic blanch leeks on it.
Collection's of veg
The Wye hall is always the place to find the best plant nursery s from around the country the amazing floral displays are fantastic. Even if you where blind you would know where you are as soon as you walk in to the hall you are hit by the heady aroma of all the flowers jumbled up into a sent you only get at a flower show. The highlight for me this year was Medwyn's of Anglesey with his gold medal winning display which was also awarded best display in show. The display shows how colorful vegetables can be whether it be from the roots, leaves or fruit and can beat any floral display for colour.
Chrysanthemum display
Now Malvern would not be Malvern with out fruit lots of fruit and there was plenty on offer. RV Roger's from North Yorkshire. Had a lovely display of apples and pears the quality of the fruit was superb and really shows off what good nurserymen they are. The perry pear was being highlighted with the Festival of Perry showing off how good real perry is compared to mass produced pear cider. There was also the annual Apple and Pear show where commercial growers compete against each other to see who has the best fruit this year.
A new addition to Malvern this year was pumpkin carving Simon Mcminnis. Who is said to be the UK's best pumpkin carver was there all weekend carving several pumpkins. It was certainly the best pumpkin carving i have ever seen on the Sunday he was challenged to carve a likeness of Joe Swift from Gardeners World. By the end of the day he managed to get a very good likeness. The only problem i have now is the Girls now want a bit more carved into there pumpkin than the standard triangle eyes and mouth.
Simon Mcninnis Pumpkin carving
My daughter Gwyneth was very pleased to see the Dahlia that is names after her had won first prize. My dad bred this Dahlia many years ago now and names it after my daughter when she was about two years old. It is a water lily type that has become quite popular over the years and is a regular prize winner.
Gwyneth stood next to her Dahlias
Malvern is such a big show and you really do need both days to get to see it all properly there where lots of parts of the show that i never got to see. It would have been nice to have had time to watch some of the entertainment in the arenas and do a little shopping. by 5 o'clock the legs and feet where aching and it was time to go home. Eleanor had already given up while i was talking to Medwyn and parked her self in front of the display next door.
I am already looking forward to Malvern next year and the date is in the diary 26th-27th September 2015 but we still have the spring show before them to look forward too.
 Eleanor had had enough by the end of the day

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Grumpy products for a grumpy gardener

Now my Wife and Girls will completely agree with the fact that i am grumpy a lot of the time. So i was very pleased to learn that there is a range of gardening product called the Grumpy Gardener ideal for me and any other Grumpy folk out there. The Grumpy Gardener Range is produced by Grean Base you may remember them from Dragons Den with there wheel barrow booster. They now have a whole range of gardening products sold under the Grumpy Gardener Name I have been trying out one of there products this week The Grow Grid.
The Grow Grid is a woven polypropylene sheet with ready cut out 75mm holes to plant through. The holes have been cut out using heat so you will not get any frayed edges. The sheet it's self is 1.5m x 2m now i have been trying out Grow Grid size D which has 77 holes in it there are another 3 sizes available with a different number of holes in each. Each pack also comes with six pegs t help secure it to the ground and stop it blowing away.
I placed the Grow Grid on one of my new raised beds unfortunately the grid was slightly wider than the bed So i had to tuck the sides into the soil it was then pegged down to the soil to stop it blowing away. Now as i was planting out spring cabbage ideally i should have used one of the other Grids but all i did to get around this was miss out a row. Now when we first laid the Grow Grid it is a bit bumpy but as soon we watered the bed it flattened out and seemed to stick to the bed. But why go to the expense of the Grow Grid instead of just planting straight in to the ground. Well no one likes weeding for starters Grow Grid smothers all weeds so saving you hours of weeding. The Grow Grid also prevents water evaporating from the soil so reducing the need for so much watering. I would defiantly recommend this product to any veg grower as it will save you loads of time that you would have normally spent weeding and watering. Giving you more time to spend doing other gardening jobs in your garden or you could just put your feet up in front of the telly.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014