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Graham Rice on Trials

Updates on trials and awards from the Royal Horticultural Society by Graham Rice

Early favourites in the veg trials

Posted by Graham Rice on 14 Aug 2009 at 03:03 PM

Lots going on amongst the vegetable trials at the moment.

Cucumber 'Cucino' - looking good in the Wisley trial. Image: ©Thompson & Morgan.The all-female cucumber trial is being grown in a polythene tunnel in the way that most keen home veg gardeners will grow them. This is not a sophisticated commercial poly tunnel with heat for chilly early summer night, and fans to keep the air moving and sides which roll up for ventilation. If you need some air, open the doors! So this is a good test of which varieties will suit home gardeners and there are some early leaders.

For flavour, ‘Byblos' (below), ‘Carmen', ‘Emilie', ‘Mini Munch', ‘Naomi', ‘Socrates' and ‘Tyria' stood out. For productivity ‘Cucino' (above) and ‘Mini Munch' got special mention from the assessors, while ‘Tiffany' was appreciated for its even shape. All these were thought to be a cut above the others amongst the twenty two varieties in the trial.

Cucumber 'Byblos' - an early favourite in the Wisley trial. Image: ©Suttons Seeds.The assessors also reported that cucumbers were best cut in the morning and that any aborted fruits should be cut off neatly with a clean, sharp knife to avoid botrytis.  It was also noted that fruits left too long before being cut became watery and bland; fruits were best cut before the seeds can be seen in the centre pulp.

Of course it's early days, and the trial will continue to be assessed all summer. A smaller version of the trial is also being grown at the RHS Garden at Rosemoor in Devon.

Part one of the endive trial is now over. The trial was sown twice - in April and in June - and the stars of the first sowing were ‘Despa', ‘Natacha', 'Pancalieri a Costa Bianca', ‘Plantation', ‘Salad King' and ‘Wallone'.

In an experiment, some plants of each entry were covered with black landscape fabric to blanche the heads. Most of us use car boot sale dinner plates or paper plates held in place with wire or a stone - and judging by the result of the experiment we'd be right. It proved too hot and humid under the fabric. The second sowing will soon be ready to assess, and the trial is also being grown at Rosemoor.

I'll be reporting on both these trials again later in the season. The sweet corn trial along with the autumn-fruiting raspberries are also well worth a look.



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