March 2016 – Vegetables for Value – Rodney Tibbs

At our last meeting, the club was treated to an entertaining talk about growing vegetables for value from Rodney Tibbs. Rodney’s credentials are impeccable. He has been growing vegetables for 50 years and is a recognised author and journalist who lectures on a wide range of horticultural subjects.

Rodney reminded us of the war years when we were encouraged to dig for victory, but he believes our current enthusiasm for fresh home-grown produce is more about our drive for quality, taste and security of provenance. The fact that home producers are doing their bit to reduce the carbon footprint is also a key eco factor.

Most agree, there is nothing like a home grown vegetable for freshness and flavour! Rodney believes produce can be grown easily in large and small garden areas, raised beds, containers or on allotments. With careful planning, a gardener can produce delicious edibles all year round. His favoured crop list includes beans, brassicas, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, leeks, onions and courgettes….and Rodney’s view on peas? “Too difficult, leave them to Mr Birdseye!”

Digging into detail, we were taken through each suggested veg in turn and given useful tips on planting, growing and dealing with pests. We learnt about starting some seeds in growing pots and planting out seedlings in stages so that “everything doesn’t come at once”. Rodney’s preferred fine compost is John Innes No.1 or Jacks Magic Compost. The ease of planting carrot seeds in tape was explained, as was planting onions next to carrots to deflect the effect of carrot fly. Rodney shared his method of cultivating tomatoes in grow bags. He found Tornado F1 was a particularly successful variety.

Watering growing crops is of prime importance. Rodney uses a leak hose in his own garden and recommended a clockwork timer to ensure regular watering. He admitted that before he got the timer, there were times he’d had to steal out in his pyjamas at midnight to turn off the forgotten hose pipe!

Need some present ideas for vegetable gardeners? Why not consider one of Rodney’s favourite gizmos; a Brother P-Touch PT-1010 plant labeller for weather resistant labels, a Vegetable Planting
Wheel chart, a Gardeners Journal to keep a year on year record of planting successes and failures and the easy-to-use Earth Maker Compost Bin.

Thank you for inspiring us Rodney.

Rosemary Jones

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