The Vegetable Masterclass Weekend

Friday 3rd - Sunday 5th November 2023


16.00 – 18.30 arrive at The Royal Victoria Hotel to check in and relax before dinner.

18.30 – 19.50 A four course evening meal will be served (you may order wine at your table)

20.00 – 21.15The role of Pheromones and other Semiochemicals in insect Pest Management for Gardens and Commercial Growers’ by Dr Owen jones 

After defining the behaviour modifying chemicals that make up pheromones and other semiochemicals, the talk will focus on their use in monitoring pest populations, their use in direct control of pest populations by mass trapping, ‘lure and kill’ as well as mating disruption. Additionally, their role in manipulating beneficial insects such as pollinators, predators and parasitoids will also be discussed. Particular attention will be given to their increasing use in the control of sucking insects such as Thrips, whiteflies and aphids.

Dr Owen Jones is an entomologist by training and a partner in the consultancy company Lisk & Jones Consultants Ltd that specialises in benign pest management technologies. He advises clients on subjects related to semiochemicals, microbial products, biostimulants and plant-derived products.

Prior to his semi-retirement in 2012 he was responsible for Global Strategy at Suterra LLC, a global pheromone company, and was based at AgriSense BCS Ltd in Pontypridd, South Wales, a company which he helped establish in 1984 to develop and commercialise insect monitoring and control systems based on pheromones.

He was also the President of the International Biocontrol Manufacturers’ Association (IBMA) for two years until December 2012 and on the board of IBMA for 5 years prior to that.

Dr Jones’ academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Science Degree from Bangor University and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the University of Cambridge (Churchill College). Dr Jones has been a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London since 1978, an Honorary Professor in the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University and an Honorary Fellow of Bangor University.

21.15 – 21.30   Question and Answer session.

21.30 – Time to relax after your long journey and perhaps share your gardening experiences with some of the speakers, fellow growers, and exhibitors. Why not even enjoy a night cap at the bar before retiring!

8.009.00 Cooked Breakfast.

9.00 – 10.15 ‘I Like Growing Vegetables’ by Gerald Stratford.

I’ve been a gardener all my life and I’m 75 now. My father gave me my first plot of land and a packet of radish seeds when I was 5 years old, and I’ve been toiling the soil ever since. Over the years I’ve had lots of success equalled by lots of failures.

Life went on as normal until February of 2020 when a friend mentioned to me the idea of going on social media, Twitter, Instagram etc. now I must tell you that I am no expert when it comes to technology, but my nephew Stephen is, and he came over and got me going on Twitter.

Over the next few months, I tweeted once or twice a week, I followed a few people and gained a few followers, all garden related, until May 16 2020, when Elizabeth took some photos of me with a bucket of Rocket new potatoes which I had just harvested. I put a couple of pictures of this on Twitter with the caption “My first early Rocket well pleased”. A short while later my iPhone started pinging and it just went on and on every few seconds, at the time I didn’t know how to silence it ( told you I wasn’t Techno minded ) so I started hiding the phone and that didn’t work so I phoned Stephen up and told him what was happening, he investigated and came back a while later with “ You’ve gone viral with your spuds “ which I thought was hilarious.

Over the next 48 hours I went from 96 followers to over 9K, and I had over 78K likes and it’s just been a juggernaut ride since with over 300K followers to date. I also have 79K followers on Instagram.

With this newfound fame thrust upon me I have had to deal with media requests for interviews from all over the world though I am enjoying talking to all these people I will never stop being first and foremost a gardener. Over the last 10 years as an offshoot to normal gardening I do like to grow bigger than normal veg, marrows of just under 100lb, my largest cabbage last year was 88lb, onion 8lb, I could go on and on but it might become boring. If a world record came my way I would be over the moon but I work on personal best which takes a lot of pressure off. This year for the first time I am growing onions and celery in the Autopot system and I’m very excited to see the results. Most of my big veg I grow traditionally outside.

    1. – 10.30  Question and Answer session

10.30 – 10.45  Coffee / Tea Break

10.45 – 12.00Tales from the Allotment’ The Pitfalls and Victories of Growing on Allotments by John Bebbington.

The talk will cover the pitfalls of growing on an allotment such as the diseases and pests that beset you on an allotment. It will also cover the victories that we experience when we win on a show having grown veg away from home without electricity or heating.

John is a Fellow of the NVS and an Experienced Judge and Exhibitor

  • John has had an allotment for 30+ years
  • He grows a wide variety of vegetables and always keen to try new introductions.
  • John is looking forward to retirement when he will be able to try out new methods of growing.
  • John will be ably assisted by Coral who is John’s technical expert and gopher in the garden.

12.00 – 12.15 Question and Answer session

12.15 – 14.15  A buffet lunch after which you have an opportunity to take a walk around the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hotel or perhaps a walk down to the Snowdon Mountain Railway in the village of Llanberis.

14.15 – 15.30   Harnessing Biology in Vegetable Growing’ by Guy Barter from the RHS 

Guy Barter has been Chief Horticulturist with the Royal Horticultural Society since 2016 after running the RHS members’ advisory service for 18 years. He is a keen vegetable grower with a strong interest in horticultural science. He is a qualified agronomist with the commercial FACTS and BASIS certificates in plant nutrients and pesticide use respectively.  In his talk he will be looking at the new opportunities to replace chemicals with biostimulants, biological pesticides and improved soil health for sustainable vegetable growing.

15.30 – 15.45  Question and Answer session.

15.45 – 16.00 Coffee / Tea Break

16.00 – 17.15  Cross Pollination and Hybridisation of Pot Leeks’ by Peter Kerry.

Peter Kerry is one of Pot Leeks most committed growers. He has successfully grown and exhibited Pot Leeks for over50 years. As a young man he learned his trade from Jack Davison (champion grower) and other top growers of that era, and he has passed on his knowledge to many of today’s top growers. Peter is never frightened to try new growing methods and growing systems. One of his biggest success’s has been to switch from traditional leek trenches into 45 litre containers. He is one of today’s top breeders of giant quality hybrid pot leeks. His talk will consist of his method of Hybridising pot leeks and how to grow these giants in pots rather than trenches, this has enabled him to grow his beloved pot leeks to a circumference of over 20″.

17.15 – 17.30  Question and Answer session.

17.30 – 18.15  Time to relax and do your own thing before your evening meal, you may even feel the need to enjoy a drink at the bar!

18.15 – 19.30  You can now indulge yourself in a four course evening meal. (you may order your wine at the table from the Victoria’s reasonably priced selection)

19.30 – 20.45  The Orchard Year’ by Adrian Baggaley 

The talk will start showing various kinds of orchards, some very old, some new. Then proceeds through the year month by month, showing blossoms, flora and fauna, pests and diseases, varieties, crops and ends up on Christmas Day. The actual fruit content is, funnily enough, minimal. So something for everyone. 

I started exhibiting fruit and veg, mostly veg, not long after my wife said “why don’t you put something in the show then” (Lowdham Horticultural Society Show), eventually I did, and in 2018 accumulated 132 first prizes for fruit and veg in eight shows, four national and four local. – So it’s her fault.

20.45 – 21.00  Question and Answer session.

21.00 – Entertainment will be provided, yet to be decided.

8.00 – 9.00 Cooked breakfast

9.00 – 9.15 Photo call, bring your camera along and take a group photo as a memento of the occasion.

9.15 – 10.45 ‘Judges v. Exhibitors – A game of Cat and Mouse?’ by Simon Smith.

I’m delighted to return to Medwyn’s annual seminar to give a brand-new presentation. I have been exhibiting vegetables for nearly 30 years, at NVS shows since 2009 and managed to win a few National titles in the process. Passing the NVS judges exam in 2011 undoubtedly helped improve the quality of my exhibits, as it forces you to think like a judge when you’re preparing your entries. After being involved in several heated debates on social media regarding judging decisions I realised that some exhibitors can either be very blinkered, or don’t realise what qualified judges are actually looking for, and they will often resort to ill-advised tactics to try and hoodwink them.

The idea of this presentation, by demonstrating how we work to a guide and not a set of rules, is to give people an idea of what decision-making processes the judge goes through (I’ve judged a couple of NVS branch championships as well as many local & village shows), whilst giving exhibitors and schedule makers some food for thought. My judging mantra has always been ‘the judge must do all he/she can to judge every single dish by avoiding NAS (Not According to Schedule) as far as possible’, so there will be some slides where the audience, especially if they are fellow judges, may disagree with me. But both sides of the argument may well be right, and I hope to explain why.

10.45 – 11.00 Question and Answer session.

11.00 – 11.15 Coffee / Tea Break

11.15 – 12.30 ‘Gardeners Question time with the Speakers’. A roundup of the weekend.  It doesn’t matter how well you listened to the talks, there’s always that gardening problem or question that you forgot to ask that may be still bothering you.  It allows you the opportunity to ask the speakers further questions on vegetable growing that may not even be related to any subject discussed during the seminar – why not challenge them with a problem that’s been a source of worry to you for so long.

12.30 – Traditional Welsh Sunday Lunch before departing.

*Will all speakers note that the time limit allowed will have to be adhered to and will only vary to suit circumstances outside my control*

The 2024 Seminar will be held from the 1st to the 3rd November. (If im still here!!)