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.

Tomatoes, Long Carrots, Giant Pumpkins and Radish


Monday 2nd July 2012

Carrot long gone to seed
Radish were ready for showing in Four weeks inside the polytunnel

What a disaster June proved to be and this month is starting just at bad, it’s definitely the worst weather conditions that I can ever remember. It really is a constant battle to try and get things growing away and on an even keel.  My tomatoes were struggling initially but they now seem to have filled out and the nearest row to the path is now approaching the ridge, that is from a 1st of March sowing of Zenith.  The fruit however are very slow developing and this is almost certainly a case of too much difference between night and day temperatures.  When the temperatures even out more, and we have some sensible weather, if we do have any at all, then things should grow away far better.

My long carrots for the Royal Welsh are really pleasing me, they are definitely better than any I have grown over the past few years.  It’s a very even bed that was sown around the middle of February using my own re selection of New Red Intermediate.  I went into the tunnel this morning to have my usually cursory look around when I discovered one carrot taller than any of the others.  Yes, you’ve guessed it, it had gone to seed. I went into panic mode then and a went through every barrel and every station carefully and found to my dismay another two had bolted.

All however is not lost as I started off with 56 stations, with two already having died off when they were young, I still have 51 to select two lots of six for the display. Even though disappointed I was relieved when I pulled them that they had tremendous ‘Form’ and length with the weight being evenly distributed along its length.  Another redeeming factor was the excellent colour, usually when carrots go to seed they end up with very poor colour indeed, so there is still a lot of hope. They have just over two weeks to go before they are pulled so, please, please, let’s have some sunshine.

My son Alwyn is really into the Giant Pumpkins and this year he’s planted two in the far section of my 100ft polytunnel.  The ground has been well and truly manured with well rotted stuff from the local farm and every leaf joint has also been covered with the same stuff.  Pumpkins will naturally throw out a sharp pointed root and this will work its way into the surrounding soil at each leaf joint so by doing this to the laterals as well, you are really generating a powerful network of roots.  The accompanying picture that Alwyn took from underneath the foliage is interesting as you can see how much effort that goes into covering over the leaf joints.

I sowed some different types of radish seed in small sections of Link-a-Bord filled up with Levington F1, the radish don’t like a compost with high levels of nutrients.  The seed were sown on the 1st June and timed to be ready for the 5thJuly when a presenter from the ‘One Show’ is coming here to have a Masterclass with me on Radish, of all the vegetables to pick! Even though I despair with the weather, things in the tunnel seem to have grown earlier if anything, with the radish as a good example, they were really at their prime a week ago.  Another example is the Japanese bred turnip Sweet Bell that was ready in 7 weeks instead of the customary allowance I give them of 10 weeks. That’s Growing for Showing for you!

Tomatoes shifting at long last
Giant Pumpkin  growing away now

Pumpkin picture taken underneath foliage with leaf joints covered over



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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4 thoughts on “Tomatoes, Long Carrots, Giant Pumpkins and Radish

  1. My show carrots which I sowed exactly at the right time for the August show, in 45 gallon drums with a very expensive mix, all sieved weighed and measured< the above said carrots have now started to go to seed! is there anything at all that I can do to stop this? `still 7 weeks until the show, should i pull up the ones that have gone to seed, cut the tops off or just leave them and hope that they dont all do the same?

    1. It’s all to do with the weather this year, it’s not your fault and it’s not the fault of the seed. The weather at night has been so cold that the difference between day and night temperatures have given the plants a shock. It would be quite unusual from my experience for them all to go to seed, keep your eye on them for a week or so and pull out any that go to seed. Once they go to seed they won’t be any good, they will stop growing and the plants energies will be diverted towards creating seed rather that making a carrot. They will also loose their colour and turn to a yellowish colour. All is not lost, keep the faith!

  2. Wanting to show this year at poynton nvs show and in the schesule one catagory states it has to be a collection of vegetables other than 20 pointers i was wondering where i could find a list of these vegetables and what points they are ?

  3. Funny you mentioned the early maturity dates on the turnips, grew Sweet Bell last year for Shrewsbury when it was called something else and to be honest could have showed them after just 6 weeks but I had allowed 12 weeks (still picked up a card though) this year I have split the difference and gone for 9 weeks.

    Changing the subject, do you know if the NVS National champs been held at Shrewsbury on any other occasion than in 1969?

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