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.

North East of England Horticultural Society Show


This is the third time that the North East of England Horticultural Society have held their show at the Causey Inn, and what a splendid venue it is. It’s not easy these days to find sponsors for flower shows, but John Soulsby has worked hard to gain the support of his local council as well as other sponsors including the Causey Inn themselves. Jim Thompson made a long journey from South Wales and was able to win the big collection class for 6 kinds, two of each kind. (picture attached) Jim staged Welsh seedling leek, Morning Star celery, Raleigh cauliflower, New Red Intermediate long carrot, Kelsae onions and Countess parsnip. Jim rates Countess very highly being very easy to clean up and carries its weight evenly along its length. The only drawback is that it doesn’t appear to be a heavy parsnip and it’s difficult to get weight on it.
There’s no getting away from it, David Metcalfe is having a phenomenal season with his onions, winning the championship class for five beautifully veined onions as well as the class for three and the class for three between 1kg and 1.5 kg. The best set were the set of five with each onion 23 inches in circumference, the others were 22 inches around. All the 23 inch onions were grown from pips taken off last year’s onion heads whilst the ones at 22 inches were a mixture of both pips and from seed, both pips and seed were sown the same time during early December. David grades the onions out in his garage on shelving with a shelf allocated to all the different sizes. the veining on his onions makes them stand out from all the rest and is definitely a part of his reselection rather than produced culturally. His selection originally was Kelsae cross which David has now crossed back with the Derek Raw strain of Kelsae.
The Championship potato classes were all sponsored by JBA potatoes with Ronnie Jackson winning the dish of five white with the variety Winston,this dish was also the best dish of potatoes in the show. They were grown in black Polypots in a mixture of half wool compost and half sieved peat. Added to 70 litres of this mix was 6 ounces of Vitax Q4, the plants were foliar fed once a week with Calcium Nitrate and Maxicrop. The bags were left sitting on top of his soil after being planted up towards the end of April. During a period of nearly a month in the Summer the haulms seemed to stop growing so Ron gave them a boost of high nitrogen liquid feed which seemed to kick start them again. This probably accounts for them being harvest at 14 weeks rather than around the usual 11 weeks.
Ian Stocks continued his winning ways with long carrots after his success with them at the NVS Championships at Harrogate, however on this occasion he also won the class for three short carrots with a well matched set of Sweet Candle.They are grown in his Polytunnel in a raised bed – 12 foot long and 2.5 inches wide that’s filled with sand. The spacing of each cored hole is very close being 6 inches apart each way with the cores being made with a plastic 3 inches in diameter pipe going down to a depth of 22 inches. The seed are sown 140 days before the show dates and the mix is the same mix that he uses for his long carrots which is – 1 bag Levington F1, 1 20kg bag of silver sand pus 12 ounces of the equivalent of Q4 and 12 ounces of finely ground Calcified Seaweed. Ian considers watering the bed to be paramount with Sweet Candle if you are to harvest roots of even length. From the minute they are growing away the bed is never allowed to dry out with copious amounts of water applied, sometimes on a daily basis during hot weather. Remarkably, Ian pulled three to get the three staged on the bench.
The heaviest onion in the show was staged by none other than Peter Glazebrook (picture attached) with a very tall bulb weighing in at 6.4 kg – 14lbs 1 ounce. Peter thinks that his bulbs grow so tall because of the T5 lights he has reflecting on top of the bulbs as well as from the North side of his bed.
Ron Hill from Brombrough continued his success last year winning yet again with a dish of nine Zenith tomatoes. (picture attached) Twenty plants were grown in his glasshouse border where the soil is well manured every three years. He changes the location from one side of the greenhouse to the other and after that to the Polytunnel to prevent a build up of disease. Being grown in such rich soil, Ron never reverts to supplementary feeding of any kind after applying his initial base top dressing two weeks before planting. The seed were sown on the 10th March and planted deeply (up to the first proper leaf) in the soil from 6 inch pots on the 10th of May.

There were twelve collections of four kinds of vegetables, one of each kind which was very challenging to judge. Peter Holden was the winner with specimens of Kelsae onion, Pendle leek, Albion Parsnip and New Red Intermediate long carrot. (picture attached) His long carrot was outstanding, smooth of good form and excellent colour. His carrots are grown in 45 gallon drums on a bed of sand with 5 carrots in each drum, 4 spaced around with one in the middle. Peter uses a 4 inch post hole borer down to 18 inches, he then uses a 2 inch pipe to go further down and every hole is completed with a steel bar. His mix is 6 gallons of F2 (without sand), 2 gallon of silver sand and 1 gallon of Fine grade Vermiculite. Added to this mixture is 4 ounces of Q4, 4 ounces of ground calcified seaweed and 4 ounces of Nutrimate. The seed of this particular carrot were sown on the 17 April. Peter always pulls his carrots wet really soaking the sand underneath the barrels.


Growing Parsnips

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

Read More »
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *