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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.

Up-dating the RHS Show Handbook in readiness for the Millenium


The RHS show handbook sub committee have a very extensive task on their hands as they try and bring the current show handbook up to date so that it will be ready for judges to use by the year 2000. We have already had two long meetings and I’m afraid, because of the amount of revision that”s being carried out, it will take a few more long meetings before the new handbook will be ready to go to print.

Consititution of Dishes

There have been already some drastic change to the constitution of dishes, I was always against such high numbers of vegetables required to constitute a given dish and I’m sure that many growers, particularly at the October show would find it hard to enter some of the classes. One anomaly was that there was no quantity specified for long beetroot, they were all placed together under the one heading “Beetroot” Consequently if you wanted to stage long beet, you would have to stage 6 in the class and 6 in the collections. In the new handbook the sub committee suggests that the numbers be amended to 3 in both single dishes and collections. This sort of reduction will I hope induce more growers to exhibit as well as having higher quality exhibits in place of high quantity.


One of the contentious problems we need to address is the matter of carrots, over the years they have changed in both wording and points allocation so I personally would dearly like to have a standard set that is clear, concise and easily understood by both the grower and the judges. A few years ago carrots used to be listed in show schedules as “Carrots long, Carrots intermediate and carrots stump. Confusion then arose because it was unclear to some judges and growers when an intermediate became a long and when was a stump an intermediate etc. There was no doubt that the whole wording needed to be altered to the one that is currently in use today; two classes, Carrots, a long, pointed cultivar and Carrots, other than a long, pointed cultivar.


Over the past few years there have been some extensive breeding of carrots where we are now capable of growing hybrid carrots that are indeed long but have a stump end and therefore not fitting in reality either of the above category. In other words it could well be long but not pointed whilst on the other hand considered by some to be far too long for the other than long classes, confusing isn”t it.

Which Class?

One way we have been looking at it is to set strict measurable parameters so that everyone would know which class to stage a particular variety in. A long carrot for instance could be anything with a body that measures over 400 mm (just under 16″) from the top of the shoulder to a given point along it’s length where it changes to the long thin root. This sounds simple enough, however a problem arises, where would the 400mm end and where would the judge specifically measure to?

We haven’t agreed on any of these points yet, but it may well mean that judges could carry with them another couple of extra rings as they do when judging pickling shallots. One ring could for example have a bore size of say 8mm, 25 mm long with a slit along the side so that it could be placed over the long thin root and gently moved upwards to meet the body. Where it meets with resistance, this could be the point to where the judge would measure.


This way there would be no dispute; if it was less than 400mm, then it would fit into a lower criteria, this means that we can have an added class for carrots so that the newer first class hybrids could have their rightful place on the show bench. The next class could be for an intermediate carrot measuring between 200mm (Just under 8″) and 400mm and the stump carrot could be up to 200mm, these could have a ring with a bore of say 15mm, I append below a sketch of how I think this would work in practice.

I have to say that these are merely ideas at the moment and far from fact, if such an idea however could be adopted, I would certainly be in it’s favour as it takes away the risk of a grower making a mistake because he wouldn’t know which class to enter his variety of carrot and the judge would know precisely how to judge them.

This is a very important matter and one, when finalised, will be the criteria for judging through to the next century. The committee would therefore be pleased to have your constructive comments or ideas, either through Garden News for my attention or directly to the RHS, please don’t be shy of replying you now have an opportunity to have your say on what I know is a contentious issue by some growers..


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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