Yet again, Wonderpost Compost fuels incredible veg growth. Neville reveals the growing results with his usual panache, only this time we think he’s gone commando – “It’s not the Jungle Neville, it’s Suffolk…”
As a frequent salad eater, I sometimes feel the need to zest up my plate of lettuce with pickles, which is just as well really as I have an abundance of home-produced pickled products – try saying that with a mouth full of beetroot!
Pickling is a great way of preserving excess crops in the garden. Isn’t it just the way – you grow something and the crop produces more than you can possibly eat, so you end up giving half of it away, selling it at the roadside, trying out new and freakish recipes or of course pickling it in those jars you saved just for this purpose. I had just this experience with the beetroot we had grown on the Wonderpost allotment – when Rog and I harvested them last week there was more than our two families could possibly eat in a week so of course, out came the vinegar and jars. To pickle beetroot, I simply boil them for about twenty minutes, take off the skin and then dice into a jar. When cool I top up the jar with vinegar and add a few pickling spices and then store in a cool, dark cupboard where the jars get forgotten about!
I first grew a crop of beetroot at college in 1979 and thankfully my skills as a gardener must have developed as this recent crop on the Wonderpost allotment was fantastic – especially those beets harvested from the part of the allotment that had a liberal dose of our fantastic soil improver added to it – Wonderpost definitely increased the size of the beets as you can see from the photo. Of course, we could have grown even larger beets if I had remembered to thin out the seedlings when the seeds had just germinated as this would have enabled the beets to grow even larger. But never mind, as I have enough jars of the stuff to see me through the winter!
On a blisteringly hot Suffolk Sunday afternoon, Rog and I undertook the big onion reveal on the Wonderpost allotment. If you’ve been following our allotment posts you will recall that I planted a row of onion sets last autumn, half in the part of the allotment treated with Wonderpost soil improver, the other half planted in just the normal untreated soil. The variety I choose was called Troy and quite frankly it’s a very easy variety to grow. Apart from watering, weeding and applying the occasional dose of FastGrow chicken manure to the crop we haven’t really had to do much else to the plants… apart from of course harvest them!
Well, the harvest has just taken place (you will know when onions are ready to be harvested as the foliage will start to turn yellow) and thanks to Roger’s kids and one of their friends we dug up all the onions, washed the soil off them and then had the weigh in.
We were as clinical as possible as we made sure that there was the exact number of onions growing in each half of the allotment … after all we wanted to make sure our trial was as accurate as possible. With much excitement and bated breath we weighed the onions from each half of the allotment and (drum roll please) and we are delighted to report that the onions growing in Wonderpost weighed in heavier than those growing in the normal soil, coming in at 4.3Kg, whilst the Wonderpost onions weighed in at 5.22Kg.
There you have it folks … proof that Wonderpost soil improver increases yields.
I’m now of to make an onion tart ….
Chitting for the first time!
I love growing potatoes in the garden and delight in creating Nev’s special potato salad from a freshly harvested crop. Unusually this year I have decided to have a go a chitting my seed potatoes. For those of you that have not come across this weird horticultural term – chitting simply means encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before planting. In essence this is all about getting the tubers growing earlier which in turn encourages them to produce earlier allowing me to harvest (and gorge) earlier.
Chitting is so easy – in January or February six weeks before you intend to plant the potatoes simply get an old egg box and stand the blunt end of the tubers (where the ‘eyes’ are) upright in the egg carton and then store in a cool place with plenty of natural light. I’ve put mine in the garden shed. The tubers will be ready to plant out once the shoots that sprout from the ‘eyes’ are about 1.5cm to 2.5cm long.
The variety I have chosen to plant this year is Home Guard, a first early variety which, when planted out in late February will be ready to harvest in May. As usual I will be planting half in the part of our allotment that has had a liberal dose of our fantastic sol improver added to it and the other half in the ‘non Wonderpost part of the allotment. I’m also going to experiment with only chitting half of the tubers as well to see exactly what difference this process makes to the harvesting time.
Look out for my next blog and video when I show you how to plant potatoes.
I’ve gone garlic mad!