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Know Your Onions!

14th November 2015 @ 6:06am – by Joanna Bauldreay
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Size really does matter to John and Coral Bennington. This became apparent in their joint talk to Tattenhall Gardening Society on Wednesday evening, "From back bedroom to allotment and back again". It turns out that John not only grows but also judges vegetables at all the big national gardening and vegetable competitions, and that his 7 year old grandson is waiting in the wings to take over his champion role.

John described his life of veg growing, which has taken him from his dad's plot in Burland to a fantastic allotment near Crewe. His attention to the detail required and his passion for growing and breeding large onions, cabbages, leeks, etc. was only too clear to the audience. There is hope for us though, as his stock compost comes from the 50p shop!

Fill a 1 m2 raised bed with this and some special extras, like 3 year old manure, and you can grow enough onions for a year. It's the crafty raised beds, the repurposed back bedroom propagation centre and carrot fly repellant measures for his big veggies that might flummox most of us. Thankfully those present were able to leave with his top growing and showing tips and a planting schedule, as well as most of the example vegetables John and Coral had brought along for the talk at the Barbour.

One of his final gems, for which he has no explanation, is to include more soot in the compost for tomatoes. This makes them end up redder. Any ideas why? Trace elements and/or the acidity of the soot surface, or just the carbon as a cleaning agent? A challenge this chemist plans to answer at some point.

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