Vegetables grown to Show Standard taste better than those from the Supermarket
21st Jun 2001
It's official at last, vegetables grown to show standard taste better than those from the supermarket. This verdict was given by the BBC at Chelsea this year when a top chef stir fried some of my vegetables against those from a supermarket and they came out on top for texture and flavour. Bearing in mind that the cooking didn't take place until the Wednesday of Chelsea and that my vegetables had been pulled a week previously and been boxed up under my stand until required, it says a lot. When I mentioned this to Ivor Mace when he called to seed my stand at the flower show, his immediate comment was 'so what, it's only what we growers have known all along anyway"
Sixth consecutive Gold medal at Chelsea
I must say I was very pleased to have received my sixth consecutive Gold medal at Chelsea and pleased as well that I knew that the quality of the vegetables displayed was the best that I have ever grown and staged there.
The onions had improved no end after having been grown in a raised bed on a bench and the best onion was nearly 17 inches around with all the other fourteen around the 16 inch mark. Their shape was very uniform which I had expected as they were all grown from really large pips or bulbils that had developed on the onion heads last Summer.
The leeks were also very good with a girth of nearly 7 inches and a length to the button of 18. These were all grown to maturity on the benches in florist buckets and given the occasional granular feed on top well watered in. The celery Starburst and Redstar were also excellent standing well over 4 feet in height with good strong girth. One point to note, the Redstar didn't seem to pull as well as the Starburst, so those of you growing this particualr one for the Summer shows should bear this in mind when putting on your final collar.
My long carrots grown in wheely bins certainly attracted a lot of media attention which is always par for the course if they spot anything out of the ordinary. What pleased me no end was the lack of time and effort that I had to impart into their growing. The bins were filled with nothing more than fine peat and the four bore holes in each bin made with round fence posts were filled with straight Levington F2S from the bag. They received one supplementary feed, that was all, right through the season and the skin quality was absolutely superb, as fine as any I have pulled for the August shows.
Another vegetable which performed really well were my own selection of Show Perfection Peas, they were 6½ inches in length and over an inch wide with one pod having 12 peas in it. These were all grown individually in 4 litre pots using Levington M3 and given the occasional balanced liquid feed, they were 18 plants and all were stopped after five peas per plant.
The best and most pleasing of all however were the cauliflowers, from the 48 that I had potted on right through to a 7 litre pot, I was able to stage two triangles of 10 as well as some slightly smaller that were used in two large wheel barrows. The variety that I sowed was one of my newer introductions 'Aviso' and this proves what a versatile cauliflower this is going to be. No wonder it's the cauliflower that is most widely and successfully grown in the commercial world today. The one mistake I made was to have an automatic watering system overhead which came on for three minutes every 6 hours, this was fine until we had a week of very high temperatures. At this point the foliage started to burn up and some of the water getting through the tied up foliage damaged the curd with the intense heat. Next year, If I do Chelsea again, I shall still have an automatic watering system but one which will discharge the water directly into the pot at compost level.
French beans are a very popular class at most shows and are now part and parcel of the National scene as well. I always use either my own my own re-selection of the climbing prince or my own re-selection of the dwarf prince. The first has already been sown and planted and each plant will climb up a cane to well over five feet, however I prefer to stop each one at around three feet and then keep on stopping all side shoots when they get to this height as well. This means that you will have a densely covered tepee like growth with masses of beans to select from.
My own dwarf beans can be ready for showing in 10 weeks from sowing if each plant is potted up individually into 4litre pots and kept in either the polytunnel or greenhouse. The beauty of growing them in pots is that they are movable so that if they appear to be maturing a little too early they can then moved outdoors. My first sowing went in on the first of June with another ten days later and today's sowing will be the last. This should ensure that I have beans to stage for the National in the right condition regardless of what sort of Summer it will turn out to be.