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Tokely's Tales - Andrew Tokely's gardening blog

Tokely's Tales - Andrew Tokely's Monthly Gardening Blog


August 2012

Onion Bunton's Showstopper - nearly ready for the show

What a difference a few weeks away make in the garden and on the allotment. At the end of last month I went away for a couple of week’s family holiday, looking for the sunshine in Mallorca and luckily I found it. It is always a worry when you are away, not knowing what is going to happen to the garden, but luckily I have a good neighbour who looks after plants at home and a fellow plot holder who waters any plants on my plot that may require attention. Well, on my return all looked well – with the mixture of sunshine, heavy downpours and some TLC the garden and plot were looking great.

One of the first jobs I have done since coming home is lift my onion sets and large exhibition Bunton's Showstopper onions. These have all been lifted, cleaned down to one skin and, this is where you may think I have lost the plot, been given a dusting of talcum powder. The talcum powder is to dry the skins out evenly to a golden brown colour, so I can use the bulbs at my local show in September. Onions need a minimum of 3 weeks from lifting and dusting in a dry airy shed before they change colour for the show. I will let you know next month how I got on at the show. My leeks look promising also and after lifting up a few pipes to see how they are developing I am quite happy with still 3 weeks more growth before show day.

Runner beans and courgettes growing by the bucketful!

The runner beans and dwarf French beans have really moved and I am picking these by the bag full, luckily this is a vegetable that all the family enjoys. To keep these plants going I am watering them regularly and on hot days a 4m (12ft) long double row gets 8 gallons of water per night. Courgettes seem to grow overnight, as soon as one batch is picked there seems to be another lot just as large the following day.

My kohl rabi have started to bulb up and are now ready to harvest along with carrots that can be pulled . Talking of root vegetables, my parsnips have really enjoyed the weather this year and continue to grow and if the bottoms are as large as the tops I will have some whoppers to harvest for the show and the kitchen.

Summer often means salads in our house and luckily I am harvesting my own - lettuce, spring onions, radish, cucumbers and tomatoes along with a few beetroot, making the perfect salad.

Andrew Tokely's spray chrysanthemums

About 14 years ago I used to grow chrysanthemums for exhibition, but sadly I don’t have as much room or time these days. So whilst missing these, I decided a couple of years ago to start growing a few spray chrysanthemums on the plot - these types virtually look after themselves and are just starting to break into colour ready for adding to a vase indoors.

One thing that has appeared whilst I was away is a few holes in my cabbages, so I am currently hunting for caterpillars, not the most pleasant job, but one that needs doing.

Lupin in its 2nd flush and tagetes 'Lemon Gem'

In the flower garden, my tree lilies look spectacular and are now taller than my 2m (6ft) fence. Lupins have put on a second flush and the annual bedding is in full bloom. Talking perennials the hardy phlox and crocosmia also look stunning in the perennial border along with the fragrant dianthus.

This year I grew some Lemon Gem tagetes and these have been spectacular, smothered in blooms and bees.

Finally the blackberry Reuben I have growing in a container are blooming and starting to set berries so hopefully it won’t be long before these will be ready for a tasty dessert.

Now off to the allotment to catch up on the hoeing as weeds always seem to grow whether you are there or not!

Happy Gardening!


Andrew Tokely, Head of Horticulture, Thompson & Morgan

Bunton's Showstopper onions lifted, dusted and nearly ready to exhibit

Bunton's Showstopper onions lifted, dusted and nearly ready to exhibit

Leeks growing well

Leeks growing well

Kohl rabi ready to harvest

Kohl rabi ready to harvest

Lettuce Cassandra

Lettuce Cassandra

Perennial phlox

Perennial phlox