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Friday, July 28, 2017

Tales of internet idiots

I have to admit to being a bit addicted to social media but it does wind me up considerably that it is often a portal for a myriad of cock-juggling thundercunts to show the World just how stupid they are. For instance, the post below was posted on one of the many Facebook gardening pages that I subscribe to for various reasons. The photo is of a sunflower and I guess if you’ve never seen one you wouldn’t know what it was, although the spelling and grammar of this particular poster does seem to suggest he/she is thicker than a very thick plank that has been left in water to expand so it’s even thicker.

Once posted then basically the race is on for the first person with ‘knowledge’ to post an answer and to pass him/herself off as the Grand Hortimaster of the group. Once done, that should be a fucking end to it, but no, you will usually see anything up to 50 or 60 identical answers saying it is a FUCKING SUNFLOWER FOR FUCK’S SAKE. Everyone who posts ‘it’s a sunflower’ after the first correct answer is basically a total bell-end from Upper Bellendsville.

However, this can sometimes work in your favour. I once followed a post started by a chap who had taken on a plot with a very old and large greenhouse with a brick wall base. He posted a photo of a leaf shoot emerging from a border right next to the whitewashed brick wall asking group members to help him identify it. He mentioned that it had a huge woody root that he simply couldn’t budge. Bit of a clue there don’t you think? Alas, no. At least 40 ‘experts’ posted confidently, one after the other like a row of idiot dominoes, that it was a volunteer potato, probably as a result of a previous crop not being fully cleared. The poster thanked everyone and said he looked forward to an early crop of spuds, right up until the point that I intervened and said it was not a potato, that it was quite clearly a fig, which you could tell from the leaf shape which bore no resemblance to that of a potato, although the fact that it had a woody stump was also a bit of a giveaway (by this time I was taking the piss out of the soft cunts!). At this point several people posted to vehemently disagree with me and insist that it was definitely a potato, although one or two did concede that now they had zoomed in on the photograph it could possibly be a fig.

For fuck’s sake, these morons all have votes, and they would probably choose that terrorist sympathising doggyknobber Corbyn!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Where my shit's at

There really is nothing like competitive growing to bring out the inner wanker in people, and this is non more personified than in the worlds of giant veg and chilli peppers. I’ve been dipping in and out of various websites and forums devoted to these two aspects of horticultural competitiveness for a few years and they probably have higher percentages of illiterate, whiney tosspots than any walk of life I’ve ever encountered. Reading some of this garbage kept me highly entertained during my recent holiday, especially where it sudDENLY CHANGES INTO CAPITAL LETTERS FOR NO APPARENT FUCKING REASON.

Chief fucktard in the world of oversized and largely inedible vegetables is a twat called Scott Robb from Alaska who has the world record cabbage to his name, and who insists on calling it a sport not a hobby. Gareth Fortey has been running for several years and does a brilliant job raising the profile of the hobby, but his website and Facebook page are constantly sniped at by this mullet-haired moose-shagger with his constant bleats about rules and regulations over what should or shouldn’t be allowed in weigh-ins. Giant veg should be the easiest of competitions to judge, for if it’s the longest or the heaviest then it wins, it aint rocket science, and indeed it’s why lots of limited growers who were useless at growing proper veg, like Unsworth and Bastow for instance, gave up and converted to trying their hand at ‘giants’. However, not for Scott Robb are cabbages with lots of offshoots, or tomatoes and marrows that have grown from fused fruits on a single stem, for these shouldn’t be allowed to stand in his egotistical opinion. Truth is the twat is just afraid of losing his world record to someone from the Motherland.

In the world of hot chillis the arguments are even more bizarre, with some growers even offering to fight others. For fuck’s sake, a chilli is a chilli is a fucking chilli but there are Facebook groups with thousands of members all trying to outdo each other by developing the hottest chillies that look like my dead grandad’s wizened willy. Recently a chilli pepper called Dragon’s Breath hit the news claiming to be the world’s hottest at 2.1 million Scoville units whatever they are. Quite why anyone would want to eat a chilli so hot it could give you a heart attack is totally beyond me, but someone claimed to be selling them and managed to convince many of the gullible fuckwits to part with 15 quid per plant. This sent some anonymous clown called Ashy Moko to go on a crusade to shame these growers, and he appears to have devoted his recent life to this task and involved university professors and other reputable tradesmen in the process, embarking on an incomprehensible paper and email trail to prove his point. He has hundreds of followers all proclaiming him to be their hero. Jesus H Christ….if you spent 15 quid on an unproven plant, you’re a thick cunt, get over it, file it in the life’s experiences folder and get a life.

Anyhoo, after 5 days away from the plot it’s always a relief to come back and find everything is still ticking over nicely, although there are always one or two issues that need immediate attention. After taking advice from Gareth Cameron on 1 ½ kg onions I decided to cull them at 17 ½”circumference to be on the safe side. This meant at least a couple of them would probably reach this size whilst I was on holiday and I would be relying on the mother-in-law to do the honours, which she was absolutely terrified about. As it transpired however, growth slowed meaning she didn’t have to wield the secateurs and I was able to lift the first one on my return Friday night, with another one following Sunday evening and another one now ready for lifting tonight. I have another 5 or 6 swiftly approaching size so I’m hopeful of staging a set of 5 in the 1-1.5kg class at the National in late September, something I’d never have imagined possible on my white rot infested plot, but thanks to my double pot system I’ve proved to myself there are alternative methods to produce quality veg. Once the bulb reaches the size I require I strip any split skins back and remeasure, leaving it to grow a bit more as you would have undoubtedly reduced the size by the stripping process. Once lifted I cut a long neck which will be reduced after tying, trim all roots flush with the base and give the bulb a good clean to wash off any dirt. When dry they are stored in wooden boxes on coarse sawdust shavings, in my garage with sheets of fleece draped over them to ripen slowly. I don’t bother talcing onions anymore because I always felt a bit gay doing it. Job’s a good’un.

My spuds have been a big disappointment this year, the foliage having struggled for several weeks, suffering from yellowing at first (probably magnesium deficiency) and then dark blotching which has rendered them very messy looking and they haven’t reached a good size at all so I’m not hopeful of there being a decent crop of tubers beneath. Those that I have exposed appear to be riddled with scab so it’s going to be touch and go whether I have any to show this season. I’ve now stopped watering with a view to lifting them in another couple of weeks, although we had a biblical downpour on Friday night, drenching the peat which may in itself present problems for harvesting when you’re trying to get the skin lenticels to close down and the skins to start hardening. Growing spuds in bags is certainly not something I am going to miss when I finish with showing later this year.

My onions for the 250g class are mostly all up now and after topping and tailing as for the large onions they are tipping the scales at just over 250g which should be perfect once prepped for show, as they will lose a few grams in weight. They all look identical at this point but as sure as eggs is eggs they’ll all ripen to different shades of brown and picking a set of 3, 4 or 5 is never as easy as it should be.

My celery are looking healthy despite the usual slug nibbles. One thing I’ve discovered is that Slugclear is a total waste of money and doesn’t appear to work for me so it’s back to a carpet of pellets from now on. With 7 or 8 weeks to show time I just need the plants to bulk out now and it’ll soon be time to switch to a Chempak 8 feed for that process.

Now is the time your French beans should be popping through for the mid and late September shows, as they need 8-9 weeks from showing to showing. I’m going to be growing these in the tunnel where my onions were, but first I’ll need to give the bed a thorough drenching as I’d been allowing it to dry out in order to reduce the chance of botrytis on the onions. The variety that everyone grows is one called Hawkesbury Wonder and I’ve been saving my seed for a few years after Ronnie Jackson kindly gave me some. At all NVS Branch shows this season there is also an extra class for a bean supplied by Marshalls called Satelit with big prize money so I’m also having a go at that one with a view to getting an entry at the Welsh Branch show. Feedback from other growers indicates this is a very fast grower.

My Carmen cucumbers have been struggling to get going in the tunnel,  due to the heat I’m assuming, and I have lost a few to stem rot but they appear to have sorted themselves out now and I am training them up the wires to the tunnel frame where I then train them horizontally. I will pick off all small fruits as soon as I see them as I want a large plant before I allow any fruits to develop further. The idea is for them to hang down from the roof supports away from the foliage so they don’t get scratched. It also makes them easier to manipulate so they are nice and straight, and facilitates the measuring process also. Here is a photo of my tunnel from last year.

In other news there were recently appeals for gardeners to count the amount of butterflies in their gardens. I posted the attached on my Twitter feed.

Somehow the Butterfly Conservation knobs got wind of this and gatecrashed my account. I think they know my position on their fluttery little twats now.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Not everyone's cup of tea but.....

....there was a cracking episode of Naked Attraction on the telly box last night.

I'm off on me hols for a week so try not to miss me too much!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Shit happens

Pigeons. What is the point of them? No, really, what is the actual fucking point of fucking bastard fucking pigeons? I’ve always been troubled by the feathered fucktards whenever I’ve had young brassicas planted and had to resort to all manner of defence systems, but a couple of years ago settled on sticks placed around the plants at random angles, after reading that pigeons don’t like things above their heads as they think it might be a predator. I was highly sceptical at first but fuck me backwards it actually seemed to work. Or at least it did, because this year the little shitbags have obviously got over their fear and are eating my caulis with a vengeance. Next year when I have more time I am purchasing an air rifle with a view to killing as many of the fuckers as I possibly can, purely for fun, and fuck the animal lovers a few doors up, they can kiss my pimply hairy arse. Whether my caulis can recover in time from this is debatable. The pigeon attack, not my hairy arse.

Potato scab. What is the actual fucking point of potato scab? I’ve sucked fucking reservoirs dry this summer in an attempt to keep scab off my spuds but during a furtle deep into one of my potato bags last night the first fucking potato that I fucking came across had more fucking scabs on it than Jim Carrey’s poxy cock. It just goes to prove that the cockwomble from Derby who told me about giving spuds plenty of water at tuber initiation (is that even a genuine fucking term?) doesn’t know what the fuck he’s on about.

I’m going to have to get my blood pressure tested before the footy season starts! My first batch of runner beans was planted out 3 weeks ago to cover my local show and hopefully Welsh Branch a week after but all my sowings since then have struggled to germinate for some weird reason, despite being the same seed and being treated the same way, sown quite deep in 3” square pots. I can only assume the tender new shoots got ‘cooked’ in the recent heatwave before they were able to emerge. Having used up all my stock I was forced to appeal to that Liverscum supporting, filthy photo texting fellow grower Mark Perry to see if he had any spare seed. He has very kindly sent me some seed which I hope will cover my later shows if I get them in quickly. He employs a bean lettering system similar to the Plumbs but I don’t know why as they all look the fucking same to me.

Meanwhile, scientists and keyboard warriors the World over are shitting themselves about a little bit of ice that’s come away from Antarctica (it’s roughly the size of Cyprus apparently), prophesying the end of the World and blaming Donald Trump for it. Now don’t get me wrong, Trump’s a total cunt, but when you’re hurtling through space at 67,000 miles an hour on a huge oscillating rock on a trajectory that is not fixed from one year to the next shit like this is gonna happen and there aint fuck all mankind can do about it. So quit whining and help me kill some pigeons you underarm dreadlocked, new-age hippy tosspots.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Stay firm and resolute!

It’s around about now that the mind games will begin. Your fellow competitors and showing pals will be texting/emailing/messaging you on Facebook etc saying that they have the best veg they’ve ever grown and that you don’t stand a cat in hell’s chance of beating them at this year’s shows. Some will even try and put you off by texting you semi-naked photos of themselves (see previous post) so the best thing you can do is to remain calm and keep quiet about your own stuff. It’s easy to become nervous and doubt the quality of your own stuff if you let them get to you, but the judge will ultimately decide whose stuff is best, and more often than not your competition isn’t as good as they would have had you believe.

In truth I love all the pre-show banter, not to mention the put downs at the show itself. I well remember one of my first ever shows where someone remarked of my cabbages as I entered the marquee “They’re big brussels lad”. Other common ones you’ll hear are;

“Did you pull those carrots in the dark?”

“You’ve left the price sticker on those caulis”

“I reckon your radish will be up for best in show”

“Did you not bother feeding your onions this year then?”

“Judging by all the caterpillar damage on those cabbages you’d be best entering them in the livestock section”

A couple of weeks ago I was starting to become quite concerned about my parsnips, as they appeared to be throwing up weird side shoots not dissimilar to the way that long carrots do. This was not something I had ever have happen before so it threw me at first. I assume it was caused by the extreme hot weather we have been experiencing although I have been watering regularly. I pulled them off sideways after pushing my fingers down towards the crown (parsnip crowns tend to be much deeper than carrots) and they did come away quite easily so hopefully there will be no lasting problems, but I’ll only know for sure come harvest time. Until then they are looking otherwise pretty good, with strong, thick stalks signifying that there should be some decent roots growing down below. However, from photos posted by other growers on various Facebook pages it’s apparent that there’s going to be a lot of good parsnips on the benches come September time. You see, I am already starting to doubt myself! Bollocks.

My long carrots continue to grow well, the foliage now pushing up against the enviromesh top of the frame. It’s all a lovely deep green and because they are totally enclosed on all sides by polythene, top and bottom by mesh, it means that the dreaded carrot fly can’t get in to lay their eggs, although I also use a systemic insecticide as belt and braces. You simply can't afford the slightest chance of any damage, no matter how minute. I also make a note of going through each station every week, making sure that the crowns are covered with more compost as they will turn green otherwise and cause you to be downpointed. The only feed they get is a weak solution of Maxicrop at every other watering which I hope will enhance the colour.

My stumps Sweet Candle are also looking pretty uniform from the tops at least, and a few weeks ago several even started to push their shoulders above the surface. In one way this is good, as it means they have probably started to form a defined stump end which is something I have often struggled to achieve, so it could mean that my gamble of a simple cored hole 12” deep has paid off. On the other hand it means I have to be extra vigilant and ensure I’m ready to cover any exposed root otherwise it will go green and never turns orange again, so you have to make regular checks. Taking advice from other good stump growers I really need to make sure the bed is never allowed to dry out so I am watering every day in this hot weather. Ever since 2010 when I pulled over 100 forked Sweet Candle which I put down to insufficient water I’ve been very careful to make sure they never go dry. Remember, they are growing in free draining sand and we need to give them much more water than if they were growing in the ground.

Over the weekend I harvested the first Tasco onions for the 250g classes, pulling them when the tape measure had them at 10 ¼” circumference or 3 ¼” diameter. From the photo you will see 5 bulbs all pulled at the same diameter, but I’m fairly sure the bottom two will weigh well in excess of 250g because they are much rounder in profile. These were growing a bit deeper in the bed and so I hadn’t noticed they were swelling mostly below ground, their true size only becoming apparent when I exposed them a bit by grubbing out the soil from around them. The top three should be bang on size once the necks have dried out so the trick now is to harvest as many as I possibly can before white rot ruins everything, as I have now lost a total of 4 bulbs to this disease.

Once thoroughly dried off I’ll rub some talc on them and store in wooden boxes of sawdust in my garage, which is cool, dark and airy, ideal for ripening onions. The problem is you need a big selection as they will all ripen to slightly different hues, some will develop the odd wrinkle and need re-skinning, some may be marked in some way etc etc. In fact, of the three the one on the right has slightly lower shoulders if you’re being critical, which just goes to show how difficult it is to match veg up for showing. In fact, I'm now starting to worry about all of my veg, so I may have to start some mind games of my own. I'm just off to take a photo of my arse to text to Mark Perry.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Warning; This post contains nudity that may offend. It’ll certainly make you very, very sick.

 Apologies for an error in my previous post on kohl rabi. As Liverscum supporting ex-British tap root champion Mark Perry pointed out to me in a text Friday evening;

“You will never win the kohl rabi class. Why? Because you need a set of 5 not 4 you knob head”

I think you’ll agree, quite remarkable and admirable bravery shown there by someone who really should know better, obviously forgetting about the power of blog at my fingertips!!!

Now, moving on, we all need to know our limitations in life, whatever the situation. For instance, when I go out on the piss with my mates I carry a couple of photos in my wallet to let me know when my limit has been reached. This is the first one;

However, sometimes I may have gone too far so in that case I have to refer to this one;

The same is true with me and quality onions. Due to a mixture of not having the right equipment and having much better things to do during the cold Winter months (watching footy, watching beach volleyball, watching paint dry and wanking) I don’t grow large onions from seed under lights, instead buying them in from a supplier such as Medwyn’s. This saves time, energy and electricity whilst giving someone else the problem of nurturing the plants. Medwyn needs to be kept busy at his advanced age anyway. I ordered 10 plants which arrived mail order during April and were potted on and kept in the warmth of my conservatory until they were ready to go into the tunnel. Even then I couldn’t plant them into the tunnel border as my soil is totally infested with white rot, and as I’ve discovered many times in the past this disease can devastate your crop in days. Instead I had to grow them to harvest in large 12” diameter pots, a bottomless one on top of another for a really deep root run, the growing media being a mixture of sterilised soil, M3 and vermiculite, and it has been successful in the past where I’ve managed to get onions to over 3lbs which is plenty heavy enough for me. 

The length of the roots is a sight to behold when they’re emptied out. The internet is full of growers using something called an air pot which I have no personal experience of, basically a large plastic pot full of holes all round the sides. The idea is the root gets ‘air pruned’ when it emerges. I have absolutely no idea why you would want to air prune your roots or what advantage such a practice brings to the party, but a lot of growers are currently swearing by them.

However, I wasn’t about to experiment with something I didn’t understand in my last season of showing so stuck to my double pot system, using a metal ring supported with canes to keep the foliage upright. This promotes good form on the eventual harvested bulbs. These onions will need to be lifted by early August to have them ripened in time for the shows I do in September so I have started putting a cloth tape around them daily, and making a note of the measurements. At the moment they are all between 13 and 14 ½”, and my aim is to try and get them as close to 18 ½” as I can. They should then weigh approx. 1 ½ kg and I’m hoping to get an entry of a set of FIVE in a class at the National for the 1-1.5kg onions. At the moment they are expanding by ¼” per day, so I need to make a judgement call on a size when I think they may be all be running out of steam. It may be for example that I have to settle on 18” rather than 18 ½”, if I think they won’t all make it. The idea is to harvest one at your optimum size (there’s always one that seems to be ahead of the rest) and then harvest the others when they reach the same size, which can take a couple of weeks. They are all roughly the same shape so I should have decent uniformity I’m hoping.

My onions for the 250g class Tasco are also all starting to swell and will need to be harvested at the magic size of 83mm diameter, at which point each bulb should be bang on 250g once prepped for show, depending on the shape profile. 

I have an old cardboard template which I have used for a number of years and which serves me perfectly well for this purpose. These plants are planted in the tunnel border and are having to take their chances with the white rot, as there are just too many to mess about growing them all in pots. For the past 3 years I have used a product called Basamid on the soil during mid-Spring which has depleted the white rot but I still suffer a few losses. I have lost 3 bulbs so far and expect more will follow, but hopefully it won’t be the 40-50% of previous seasons. Last year I lost about 15%. The only possible problem I may have is that we’re going away as a family for a week in a couple of weeks and I think most of the bulbs will need harvesting during that week, so I don’t know what I’m going to do about that. I may have to give my neighbours young son a crash course in onion measuring for some financial recompense.

In the meantime, not all growers are quite as busy as I am, preferring instead to lounge around like drunken layabouts drinking cheap west country beer when they should be tending their crops. I do hope he didn’t use all that contaminated water on his tomatoes? And any serious grower would have all that useless lawn turned over to veg surely?