UK Veg Gardeners

Mark Willis's Blog (23)

Tomato update - early July

How are your tomatoes doing, fellow-gardeners?

I don't have any ripe tomatoes yet (though I think some of them are nearly ready), but most of my varieties have set a lot of fruit this year so I'm hoping for a decent harvest - that's as long as the blight stays away!

If you want the full details,…


Added by Mark Willis on July 2, 2017 at 16:09 — No Comments

Review of some 1st Early potatoes

I have lifted all of my First Early potatoes now. Here's my review of the 6 different varieties.…


Added by Mark Willis on June 24, 2017 at 19:00 — 1 Comment

2017 Chillis

My chillis have certainly enjoyed the really hot weather during the middle of June. Here's a "situation report" blogpost about them...…


Added by Mark Willis on June 24, 2017 at 18:47 — No Comments

Planting peas

This year, I am growing peas again, having in the past ceased growing them because they suffered a lot from mildew. I'm hoping for better luck this time. Most of the peas I sowed outdoors in February never germinated (Did they rot? Did the mice eat them?), but I also sowed some in pots under cover, and I have now…


Added by Mark Willis on April 11, 2016 at 18:11 — No Comments

Building a new raised bed and filling it with compost

I am a big fan of raised beds, and have been progressively replacing my old ones with much deeper (40cm) ones. Filling beds of this size needs a lot of material. I recently bought a 1000kg bulk bag of "Norfolk Loam", which will be useful, but I am also using as much home-made compost as I can muster.



Added by Mark Willis on March 16, 2016 at 19:12 — 6 Comments

Hampshire Potato Day(s)

Every year, round about the end of January, a 2-day Potato Day event is held in the Hampshire town of Whitchurch, giving an opportunity for gardeners and allotmenteers to buy from a huge range of seed potatoes - plus other items like peas and beans - at very attractive prices. Having discovered this way of getting potatoes, I don't think I'll ever go back to Mail Order.…


Added by Mark Willis on February 4, 2016 at 7:33 — No Comments

What to do with an excess of chillis

If you happen to have an abundance of ripe chillis, and don't know what to do with them, why not try making Harissa?

It scores heavily in the Effort-to-Results stakes, and produces a tasty and versatile condiment. Also, it doesn't have to be so hot that it burns your tongue, because you can tone it…


Added by Mark Willis on October 17, 2015 at 10:17 — No Comments

The Hungry Gap

"The Hungry Gap" is the period between the finish of the Winter veggies and the start of the new season's ones - a time when in the past lots of people went hungry.

I have written about my Hungry Gap garden here:


I'd love to hear from other UKVG members about what they do to avoid this lean period. Do you have veggies that…


Added by Mark Willis on February 7, 2015 at 19:51 — 2 Comments

Protecting potato plants

I'm sure many UKVG members are chitting their seed potato tubers right now. I certainly am. Due to lack of space I grow my spuds in containers, so they are relatively easy to protect from frost, wind and rain.

I have written here about my strategy for protecting my young plants...



Added by Mark Willis on February 7, 2015 at 19:46 — No Comments

What's the secret behind growing good Swedes?

During 2014 I had a go at growing Swedes. It wasn't very successful, so I am hoping that some other gardeners will give me some advice about how to do better.

You can read about my Swedes here:


I hope you can help me!

Added by Mark Willis on January 18, 2015 at 9:48 — 3 Comments

The Great British Cookbook

Recently I have been involved in the production of an exciting new e-book called "The Great British Cookbook", which is being sold in order to raise funds for two very deserving charities - Macmillan Cancer Support, and Hospitality Action. The book contains recipes for 50 Starters, 100 Mains and 50 Desserts. They all look absolutely amazing! There are also sections on a number of other related themes, like food production and suppliers.


I have represented the GYO community by…


Added by Mark Willis on November 21, 2014 at 15:24 — No Comments

My garden plan

My garden is not big (about 10 x 10 metres or so), but I get a lot of produce from it. Recently some readers of my blog asked me to write about what I have been growing in it this year, so I have described it in this post:-



Added by Mark Willis on October 26, 2014 at 19:46 — No Comments

Who else grows Chicory?

Here in the UK Chicory and its cousin Radicchio appears to be not very popular. You occasionally see the ball-headed red ones in the shops, but that's about all. Why do we not like it? In the rest of Europe it is much more popular, and widely available - as indeed are Endives. Maybe most Brits find it too bitter?



Added by Mark Willis on October 4, 2014 at 14:13 — 4 Comments

PSB - my favourite veg

Well, PSB is currently my favourite veg.... (I have lots of favourites). Seriously, it is one that I grow every year because I love it so much, and good PSB is hard to buy. The stuff sold in shops is always shrivelled-up and floppy.

In recent years I have tried several of the modern cultivars, like Rudolph, Red Arrow, and Red Spear, but I reckon that the older varieties are hard to beat. "Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli" always seems to produce the biggest…


Added by Mark Willis on March 24, 2014 at 18:42 — No Comments

Chitting potatoes


Following on from Darren's fine post about chitting for those of you aiming for the showbench, I have an offering on the same subject for the perhaps less ambitious growers, who just want their potatoes for their own consumption. I grow my spuds in containers of various sorts, and have had some…


Added by Mark Willis on February 3, 2014 at 15:30 — 2 Comments

Hampshire Potato Day

I attended the Hampshire Potato Day yesterday. For me it was a real eye-opener. The range of potatoes, onions, garlic, peas, beans etc was amazing. You could buy potatoes either in bulk (eg. 2Kg bags) or individually at 17p a tuber, or £1.50 for 10. So flexible! This is the best way to do it for someone like me who doesn't want to buy a huge quantity. I must day I was sorely tempted to buy far too many potatoes, simply because of the sheer wealth of varieties on sale!

But for me there…


Added by Mark Willis on January 26, 2014 at 13:28 — 1 Comment

Over-Wintering chilli plants

There has been some discussion recently on the Chilli-Lovers group about over-Wintering chilli plants, so I thought I might share this with a wider audience...

The received wisdom is that one should prune the mature chilli plants very severely, before bringing them indoors for the Winter. For those of us who do not have a heated greenhouse, the best place to keep them is on a light windowsill, preferably near a central-heating radiator. Then it is just a question of keeping them…


Added by Mark Willis on January 17, 2014 at 12:32 — 2 Comments

In praise of Endives

Do you remember the Endives and Chicory about which I wrote a short while ago? They really are my favourite Winter salad items!  Doesn't this look appetising??



Endives are not easy to grow - well, not as easy as Lettuce, for instance. They have a habit of bolting if the conditions…


Added by Mark Willis on January 12, 2014 at 18:34 — No Comments

Miniature Broccoli "Matsuri"

I know that many members of the forum grow broccoli, so I thought I would just put in a word about a miniature variety called "Matsuri". It stays very small compared with other varieties of the Calabrese-style broccoli, so it is well-suited to growing where space is limited. I have grown it each year since 2011, and have found it to very consistent, though slow to mature (probably because I have grown it as an Autumn / winter crop rather than a Spring / Summer one). It doesn't seem to…


Added by Mark Willis on January 11, 2014 at 18:48 — No Comments

Winter Salads

Further to the recent discussion concerning Winter salads, here is a link for you to a blogpost about Endives, Chicory and Radicchio:




Added by Mark Willis on January 4, 2014 at 14:20 — 2 Comments

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