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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?

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