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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.

Sowing Dates Used by Exhibitors


This is my sixth and final article on the different sowing dates used by 6 top exhibitors from different regions of the Country. So far the response that I have had to the articles has been very positive and encouraging for me and to the growers who helped me put it all together.

This is my sixth and final article on the different sowing dates used by 6 top exhibitors from different regions of the Country. So far the response that I have had to the articles has been very positive and encouraging for me and to the growers who helped me put it all together. One word of caution however; after many years of growing vegetables under all sorts of weather conditions, sowing dates is certainly not an exact science as it is so dependent on seasonal factors.

The dates given in each article by my colleagues are the dates that they use and I know for a fact that they would be the first to admit that sometimes even they get it wrong. One of the two worst vegetables for timing are Cauliflowers and Celery, they are a single specimen vegetable and therefore if they are not ready for a given date or were ready a few weeks prior to that date, then there isn’t a lot you can do about it. Multiple cropping vegetables such as peas beans and tomatoes are a lot easier as you can still get specimens higher up the plant a few weeks later than you had timed for.

Another question that I have been asked since these articles were published is what date to use if they do not live near to any of the growers dates. Well you may find it useful for instance if you live somewhere between Bob Herbert from Derby and John Branham from Aylesbury to split the sowing dates; For instance Bob puts in his first sowing of Gringo short carrots on the 8th April whilst John would sow them on the 20th April. If you therefore live somewhere between these two areas then why not sow your first batch on the 14th which is half way between the 8th and the 20th, you wouldn’t be that far away come show day.

My last sowing dates were given by Charles Maisey from South Wales who is well known throughout the country for some exceptionally fine specimens of vegetables. Over many years Charles has performed at the highest level and has excelled with Runner Beans, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Potatoes and Peas. Charles is quite a scholar at the exhibiting game, if you notice he never grows onions or leeks or shallots because he realised many years ago that he couldn’t grow them to the standard that he would like so he dropped them. Instead he concentrated on those vegetables listed above that he did grow particularly well.

There is certainly a lesson here for many up and coming exhibitors who want to make their name at the highest level, concentrate on the vegetables you know you can grow well and make your name with them. To assist Charles with sowing dates for those items that he no longer grows he asked Jim Thompson to assist him, Jim is a National exhibitor who lives only a few miles away from him.

Charles is a National Judge and Chairman of the Glamorgan District Association of the National Vegetable Society and his vegetable plot is certainly a joy to see. Charles practices what I have repeatedly said, a mixed vegetable garden at it’s peak is a work of art and more beautiful than any floral garden.

Here are Charles’ varieties and their sowing dates for those on the list that he grows:-

KindCultivar1ST Show Date 26/082nd Show Date 29/09Comments
Globe BeetRed Ace6th May9th JuneCover shoulders with soil to prevent rough skins
Long BeetCheltenham green Top15th AprilOne sowingNever allow them to dry out and feed with Maxicrop
Broad BeanOwn sel Exhibition long pod29th April3rd JuneSeed given by a good grower many years ago
Green CabbageGlobemaster8th April12th MayMatures quicker if weather turns hot
Red CabbageAutoro1st April5th MayFeed with liquid sheep manure for nice solid heads
Runner BeanStenner Selection14th May17th JuneOn no account must Runner Beans go without water, give plenty of liquid sheep manure
French BeanRe selected PrinceOutside 3rd June Under cover 17th JuneOutside 7th July Under cover 21st JulyDwarf Beans are best grown under cover in pots to prevent wind damage
Carrots LongNew Red Intermediate Re selected20th March1st Aprilgrown in bore holes in barrels of sand. Cover from rain from the 1st week in July to avoid splitting
Carrots StumpGringo8th April21st AprilBore all holes the same depth
CauliflowerBeauty Virgin Libertyfrom the 7th MayThree successional sowings every ten days.Very dependent on weather conditions
Trench CeleryEvening Star Red Star (new hybrids)1st February 21st FebruaryGreenhouse sown and potted up into 4 litre pots
CucumberCarmen20th March10th AprilGreenhouse grown
Lettuce ButterheadRobinson20th May30th JuneSlightly longer time to develop a solid head later in the season
Table MarrowTable Dainty27th May30th JunePlace developing fruit on a sheet of glass on two bricks to avoid yellowing underneath the fruit
Onions over 250 gramKelsae (Derek Raw selection)1st week in December.Greenhouse sown do not rush the ripening
Onions under 250 gramBison14th Januaryone sowinggive the bulbs plenty of air when ripening
ParsnipsGladiator19th February1st MarchKeep rain off from July
PeasShow Perfection20th May24th JuneAlmost impossible to keep clear of mildew in the Wales area after August
PotatoesWinston Kestrel 30th April7th MayPotatoes are removed when at the correct size from the compost and placed in containers in the same medium as they were grown in, remove the haulms 10 days before lifting
RadishSparkler29th July1st September.
TomatoesGoldstar18th March20th AprilGood tomato plants can be grown from rooted side shoots from earlier crops. Won in Harrogate 2001 from cuttings taken from tomatoes sown on the 1st February
TurnipsSnowball16th June20th Julykeep moist at all times, if allowed to dry out will get woody and of no use for showing

I trust that the six articles have been of use to all of you who might consider exhibiting at either the Welsh Championships on the 26th of August and/or the National Vegetable Society Championships which are held at Malvern on the 29th September.

My whole hearted thanks must go to the six contributors as without their willing assistance the job could never have been completed; Also my thanks once more to Harry Atkinson who first planted the idea in my mind.


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