Picture of Medwyn Williams

Medwyn Williams

Hello. I'm Medwyn Williams – eleven times Gold medal winner at the Chelsea Flower Show, Past Chairman of the Royal Horticultural Society Fruit Vegetable and Herb Committee and President of the National Vegetable Society.



I have three lots of large onions on the go this year, the ones at the University glass house outside Bangor, there’s another  24 just been planted up in 30 litre pots inside my glass house on the land.  I also have another 20 that are currently in 6 inch pots ready for planting directly outdoors when, or perhaps if, the weather improves. These are going to be planted up in the raised concrete block bed where my celery has grown over the past three years.

Onions just planted in 30 litre pots
Onions just planted in 30 litre pots

This particular bed has some class one soil incorporated with the some well rotted horse manure and the whole lot was rotavated together with some Levington M3 on top of the bed.  Some slow release fertiliser was added as well as some of my own Leek and Onion Fertiliser with added magnesium as well as some Nutrimate powder. Once these are planted I shall erect some protection all round them using fine mesh to cut out any possible wind damage.

I haven’t grown exhibition onions outside for many years,  going really with the flow of offering protection to them with either glass or polythene. It will be interesting to see how they perform without overhead protection and the result will of course depend to a large extent on what sort of Summer we get.  If we have a proper warm to hot dry Summer I would expect to harvest some really good bulbs. Time will tell.

I have really gone to town on short carrots this year having 740 cored holes in one raised bed which consists of five different varieties including a yellow and a purple variety, all of course for my late display at Malvern. The other raised bed has 430 Sweet Candle sown ten days ago and these are also for Malvern and possibly for a set at the National in Harrogate, provided they have a distinct stump end.

Inside the polytunnel on the land I have another lot of around 400 growing well away now for my  Tatton Park display.

Different containers to grow a range of short carrots for Tatton Park Show
Different containers to grow a range of short carrots for Tatton Park Show

They are in square containers and deep 150 litre pots. All these will remain inside the poly tunnel through until they are ready for harvesting. One square bed consists of Sweet Candle

A bed of around 60 Sweet Candle Carrots thinned down to one per station ten days ago
A bed of around 60 Sweet Candle Carrots thinned down to one per station ten days ago

whilst the others are again a mixture.  I also have 150 round carrots growing away in 10 litre pots on the bench and these are now ready to be thinned down to one. Last Friday we finished coring and filling the twenty large grey pipes on the field. Ten pipes of Parsnips, three in each pipe of a new early variety that we may stock next year if it performs well, it’s called Pacific F1. The other ten pipes have three of my own long carrots in each one.

In my tunnels at home I also have a further two sowing of thirty long carrots in blue barrels with the first lot about two inches tall.  These are meant for Tatton but with the cold late Spring they may well be a little light. So, all in all, I must a have  over 1600 carrots in total.


Growing Parsnips

25th July 2007 I am often asked what is the best method of growing both long carrots and parsnips for the show

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7 thoughts on “Carrots

  1. Hi Medwyn, a quick question on onions, do you bother pulling off the dead leaves and brown skins as these appear. I suffered a lot with botrytis last year and wondered what the best option might be.

    1. I always pull off any dead or brown skins as they grow as I believe these will rot with water getting on them through watering and could well be a start for Botrytis disease. However is there is still some green in the leaf then leave it on as it is still a functioning part of the plant. Make sure you keep your bulbs perfectly erect in order to get the best shaped bulbs. Remove soil or compost from one side, underneath the bulb, and carefully and gently push the bulb over until upright. You can then pack the compost or soil underneath that side.

  2. Medwyn following your onion growing this season my onions growing for heavyweights are looking good they were planted in a heated tunnel with additional lighting mid febuary and despite the poor weather the best is taping at over eighteen inches.tall bulbs with very strong tops.a long way to go yet anything can soon go wrong very quickly but fingers crossed I may beat last years weight of eleven pounds. Kind regards bill.

    1. I’m very pleased to hear that your onions are doing so well for you Bill, particularly with the weather we have experienced, or perhaps I should say in spite of the weather we have experienced. If they are taping up at 18 inches now then you should certainly beat your previous weight of 11lbs. My onions, the ones that were intended for Chelsea have done really well and I have one or two there approaching 22 inches now. However they won’t grow much bigger and I’m really hoping that I can show 15 very god onions on my display at Tatton during the third week of July. I shall still try and get as much out of them as I can before lifting them. I really do hope you have a very big onion this year Bill, there can’t be many growers out there like yourself who have been trying so hard for so long.

  3. Medwyn, sorry to hear that you are having a problem with botrytis as it is heartbreaking to find it on the onions as it always seems to attack the best bulbs. I had it a couple of years ago and lost most of my best onions.up to now I have not been troubled with it but it can soon strike my best onion is now taping at twenty three inches still with a strong top.giant runner beans on my outside raised bed are flying up the canes.giant marrows inside a covered bed seem to be moving as are the cumbrian and yorkshire giant pot leeks but lost a couple to fusarium. Last chance for pendle improved this year following problems with going to seed and suckers last year have planted six welsh seedling to compare to see if it is a cultural problem or just the poor weather.half my giant swedes have seeded must have had a check after planting out so many things out of our control wonder why we bother.still better than sitting in the pub. Kind regards. Bill.

    1. Looks like you are having a good year Bill with your onions, I really do hope you end up with a good one. I remember the first time I met you, it must have been well over thirty years ago, when you knocked on my door on a Sunday morning in January with a strong young leek and an onion in pots in your hand. I could see immediately that your first love was going to be onions. Keep us posted as to how they are doing. What variety is the onion and when did you sow them?

  4. Medwyn it is over forty years since I first tried to grow onions after seeing robinsons display. At shrewsbury flower show.around that time I would buy the plants in boxes from roberts of ruthin who you have mentioned recently you could pick your own and they cost a fiver which was quite a lot as I only earned twelve pounds a week wages. This years onions are peter glazebrook strain and were sown on the Monday following your masterclass at llanberis.as there was no john innes compost available the large tubs were filled with clover multipurpose compost to which I added nutrimate and mycorriza.lighting was given using tfive eight tube light.
    They were planted in the tunnel mid feb and a gas heater was used to keep them warm due to the extreme weather the tunnel was also lined with bubble insulation and lights were used on dull days. Hope it was worth it time will tell. Kind regards. Bill

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