NVS Welsh Branch Championships 2004
1st Oct 2004
The above Championships, held on the Sunday and Monday of the August Bank holiday was certainly a show of pure quality, the vegetables on display were simply the best of their kind that you could possibly see anywhere in world.
There's no doubt that the show stopper at any vegetable show are the collections, in the Welsh they are a collection of six kinds and John Branham staged what must have been his best ever comprising of Evening Star celery, Welsh seedling Leek, New Red Intermediate carrot, Gladiator Parsnip, Kelsae onions and harmony potatoes.
John grows his long roots in strong plywood boxes with steel corner pieces 4ft square and 3 ft deep. These are positioned on top of a bed which has a further depth of 3 feet so his long carrots and parsnips are grown in a 6 ft depth of sand. He sows 25 carrots in a domino style in each box and 13 parsnips in other boxes. John never had a weak dish amongst his collection for which the judges awarded the best exhibit in the show. Too bad for Jim Thompson who came second with probably the best collection that he has ever staged, no doubt Jims turn will soon come around if he continues to grow such high quality vegetables.
A regular supporter of the show for many years has been Vin Throup and I have to say that he must be the most consistent quality onion grower of all time. Again he was successful in winning the class of five large onions with a superbly harvested dish. The seed are broadcast sown early, around the end of November, and left to grow on in their trays without any artificial light until January. When they have reached their second leaf, Vin selects the most even to be potted on into 3½" pots using Levington M2. The lights remain on until the middle of March when they are switched off and the onions are planted in raised beds in his polytunnel. They are harvested around the middle of July and left in his small airy wooden shed with two windows in it, they are left to lie on their sides to complete their skin condition which Vin reckons takes five weeks.
On the other side of the table was the class for three quality large onions and the winner of this, Ivor Mace, had a marvellous three that measured 23 inches around.
No Welsh Championships would be the same without Jack Arrowsmith and his parsnips, a class he has won on numerous occasions. However, this time, the tables were turned on him and he came second to Andrew Jones with a clean uniform set of three. A classic case of the apprentice beating the master as Andrew has been following every move Jack makes for a few years now.
Jack did have a successful show however winning the runner beans class with an excellent dish of the variety Stenner. Jack didn't sow them until early June and they were eventually planted out a foot apart in a single row from 5 inch pots. Two weeks prior to planting out he rakes in 1½ ounces of Sulphate of Ammonia to the yard run, the same amount is given again when the flowers are setting. The row is watered overhead with a sprinkler every day when the weather is dry.
Andrew won four classes in total with the class for a collection of onions being the second time he has won it .Carmen was the cucumber variety that won him another red card, 15 plants were grown in 2 ft deep buckets and 18 inches across. From the fruit being two inches long to being ready for staging takes him just two weeks and they are liquid fed with Chempak 2 once a week.
A good class this year was the collection of potatoes, five plates of four kinds which was won for the second time by Sherie Plumb with the following varieties Nadine, Amour, Kestrel, Winston and Malin. Sherie grows 300 polythene bags of these potatoes and starts to shred and sieve the moss peat during the Winter months.
Three good growers travel annually, together with their families, all the way down from Cumbria to support the Welsh show, on this occasion it was a very successful venture for two of them. Mark Winder from Egremont won the class for a pair of Cauliflowers with the Variety Amerigo.
His cauliflower bed is well manured in the Autumn as well as being well limed at a later stage. Prior to planting Mark rakes in a few ounces of Nitram to the yard run of bed, a high Nitrogen Fertiliser. However a week before harvesting he gives those cauliflowers that he intends to harvest a double strength feed of Phostrogen to really harden up and solidify the curd.
His friend Ron was really pleased when he saw the Red Card for his wining set of three Welsh seedling leeks in the British leek championships. The leeks measured 9 inches around and 18 inches to the button. Ron is able to strike his bulbils as late as the end of November and they are kept under lights for a short period, until mid January. From that point on they are taken from the growing cabinet and into his ordinary greenhouse where they continue to grow on with no extra artificial lights. Planting out takes place towards the end of April under covers from 4 litre pots with a mixture of 50/50 Multipurpose compost and soil.
I also had a very successful show having seven cards in total and winning the new Millennium class for five plates of the following - Tomatoes Goldstar (from my own stock of cuttings) Potatoes Malin, Carrots Gringo, Onions Carlos (which have been excellent for me this season) and Beetroot Pablo. I was disappointed to see that there were only four entries for this class. I am sure though that next year, when the Championships are up in Wrexham North Wales, more exhibitors will have seen this class and will have a go so I shall have to pull my socks up even higher.