Tony Cuthbert has always taken great pride in cultivating top quality vegetables for his village show at Warkworth and this year was vintage stuff, all five horticultural judges agreeing that three huge, ripened, well-matched onions he benched were ‘best exhibit in show’.
His collection of vegetables also caught the eye. It comprised two each of parsnip Panorama, celery Evening Star, blanch leek Kendal Improved and the onions were from Tony’s own strain which he has developed over several years. It is a cracker.
Onions we have grown are big enough to impress but they’re not quite show standard.
They’ll go into store very soon and last us throughout winter.
Meanwhile, the leeks are doing very nicely. A batch of 50 plants, started in pots, went into the island bed in late May and will continue developing for several weeks yet.
They will stand firm through wind, rain, snow and ice until next March if needs be and remain perfectly fresh.
They are much underrated as a winter vegetable and will always have a place in our garden.
Nor will they be without company. The Brussels sprouts standing nearby are at their best as the weather closes in.
They too have benefitted from an early start to the year. There are only nine plants, more than enough for us, and as each one is levelling out at around one metre high, they’ve all been given cane supports.
The sprouts we’ll harvest from November onward have already formed and will bulk-up more before frost adds the finishing touch.
A batch of late purple sprouting broccoli is just about ready for canes alongside.
If you planted some several weeks ago and are wondering when a crop is going to appear, as one anxious gardener was last year, be patient and it will happen but not until February.
Meanwhile, I notice that our perpetual spinach is looking a bit ragged with leaves that have lost their vigour.
We normally use the hedge clippers to reduce everything to ground level in late November and anticipate lots of fresh growth.
But these plants are so resilient that I’m sure they won’t mind a summer clip as well.