National Vegetable Society Championships 2004
15th Sep 2004
The Annual Championships took place this year within the Royal Borough of Tunbridge Wells and by kind invitation of Alan Maynard, chairman of the Hawkenbury Allotment Holders Association, (known fondly as the HAHA show). The wonderful thing about this show is the fact that every penny of profit is given to support local charities within the Tunbridge Wells area. Through the endeavours of Alan, his wife and family, as well as the never ending support of his committee, £16,000 pounds was donated last year alone and over half a million pounds have been donated over the past 27 years or so.
The entries were slightly down this year but the quality certainly was not with John Branham showing some of the best long carrots that I have probably ever seen. The three New Red Intermediate variety on his winning collection, (which was also awarded the best exhibit in the show) of six kinds of vegetables were superb possessing good colour as well as superb uniformity. Johns other five vegetables were Evening Star celery, Harmony potatoes, Welsh Seedling leek, Kelsae onions, and Gladiator parsnip.
There is no better supporter of the National than Trevor Last who has won numerous Firsts over the many years that he has competed. Trevor has recently moved to a new garden and the change of soil certainly helped him win the celery class with three heavy heads of Red Star. The seed was sown at the end of March and the plants were planted out during May. Trevor believes in potting on plenty of plants, usually double the number that he needs to plants out. This allows him to select the strongest and more even plants at every potting on stage. The soil was well manured with horse manure and Nitro Form (a high Nitrogen fertiliser) was raked into the top level of soil at the rate of 2 ounces per M2. The bed is covered overhead with Roklene as well as on the South side, 5 ft above soil level, to prevent the sun from causing problems such as sweating of the heart and possible heart rot. Should Trevor have some dull days the roklene can them be removed in a few minutes.
Andrew Jones certainly had another excellent Championships winning the mini collection of three kinds of twenty pointed vegetables with his Kelsae onions which measured 21 inches around, his five foot six Gladiator parsnips and 4ft six New Red Intermediate long carrots. Andrew believes in giving his parsnips plenty of time to develop to their optimum growth and to achieve this the seed are always sown around the 20th February to give them a long growing season.
Gerald Treweek travelled all the way down fro Derbyshire and the journey proved to be worth while winning the class for five large exhibition onions. Gerald grows his onions in two raised beds, 26 in each one. His seed was sown on the 15th December and as soon as they were germinated they were left under the artificial lights for 6 weeks, 24 hours a day. After this period the light is reduced to 14 hours a day for two weeks after which they are ready for planting out under cover at 18 inches apart in their heated beds which will be around the end of February. Prior to planting, the bed is sterilised by using the Horticultural disinfectant Jet 5 and is then given 4 ounces of Vitax Q4 and 1 ounce of Sulphate of Potash per square metre. The onions were 23 inches around and those for showing were all stripped down to their last skin in the beds during the first week of August and were lifted after a further 10 days. His onions are always kept in the dark in his garage.
Graeme Watson and his family travelled down from Whitby to stage an unbeatable set of 5 Gringo in the other than long class of carrots. Graeme is certainly an immaculate presenter of his vegetables which, when he has quality such as he had, is sure to catch the judges eye. Graeme has constructed raised beds 2ft high, 2ft wide and 20 ft long from corrugated steel which are filled with sand to grow them in at about 6 inches apart. Each carrot is grown in a bore hole cored out with a pipe that is 2.625 diameter and two foot deep. The holes are filled with 4 gallons of Levington F2S to which is added 3 ounces of finely ground Calcified Seaweed. The bed is covered over with polythene but it has a two foot high mesh ventilation just above ground level. The seed is sown during the 2 week in May and as the plants are approaching maturity they will be sprayed with a foliar feed of Tomorite.
Sherie Plumb is now well known for her quality potatoes, this time winning both the white and the coloured class with Winston and Kestrel. However her marvellous dish of runner beans were probably as good as any I have seen over the past few years, not only were they young, long and fresh they also had good width on the pods. The great thing is that her beans came from adversity, her leeks in the polytunnel weren't growing at all well so Sherie decided to throw the lot out. This happened during early June, rather than leave the tunnel empty, she decided to grow her beans in the same polytunnel. They were started off in pots around the middle of June but it soon became evident that the setting of the flowers was poor as no bees were getting in. This was soon solved by sending out her two daughters with jam jars to catch bees and release them in the tunnel.
The NVS General Secretary David Thornton had an excellent show as well winning the Millennium Class for five dishes of four kinds. David staged Carrots Gringo, Beetroot Pablo, Onion Hysam, Potato Kestrel and Tomato Maribelle. This was the first time for the class to be formed and I"m convinced this will be one the biggest classes in the future as other exhibitors get to know of it.