What a brilliant venue The National Botanic Garden of Wales situated near Llanarthney in the Towy Valley, Carmarthenshire proved to be. It was through their kind generosity that the Welsh Branch of the National Vegetable Society were able to host their Championships there on the 22nd and 23rd of August. The show was held inside the huge domed glasshouse and the exhibitors were able to drive their cars right up to the doors with all the tabling laid out right along the full length of one side of the glasshouse.
Having had such a dismal July the standard of the exhibits were extremely high with the most meritorious exhibit going to Owain Roberts from Cerrigydrudion North Wales for a superb dish of five Amour. They were grown in 20 litre polybags using Medwyns of Anglesey Potato mix. They were planted on 25th April and were given exactly 14 weeks before the tops were removed on the 2nd of August. What was very noticeable about this set were the shape of the potatoes, they were much longer than most other growers get them with a superb skin finish. They were given a foliar feed a few times with Liquid Gold.
Whilst on potatoes, Sherie plumb was not to be outdone winning the White potato class with a dish of Five Winston. These were planted on the 14th April and Sherie found this year to be very difficult with little rain so everything had to be hand watered. Sherie also won the National Potato Championship of Great Britain staging five dishes of four potatoes per dish which included Sherine, Winston, Purple Eyed Seedling, Amour and Blue Belle.
Terry Harman from Three Crosses near Swansea won the class for three onions over 250 grams with onion plants given to him by a fellow friend and grower Mal Jones whom he beat into Second place! The condition of the onions were spectacular and when you consider Terry only had 7 plants growing in three gallon buckets. The compost used was Humax which includes Nutrimate and they were grown inside his 8 x 6 greenhouse so it really was a great win on his first attempt. They were planted in the unheated greenhouse towards the end of April and harvested on the 1st of August.
There’s no doubt that Ivor Mace is a top all round grower and he must have been extremely pleased to have won the Welsh side of the show with 3 Welsh Seedlings Leek. Ivor also won the National leek championship of Great Britain with another three Welsh seedling, a leek of course that he himself bred over ten years ago. Initially his plants were so poor after potting them up that he very nearly didn’t plant them. He did prepare the bed adding some Microlife to it which has added beneficial fungi and they motored on from that point.
The class for a pair of blanched celery was won by David Thomas from Llanharan with the variety Morning Star. The seed were sown early March and planted out into a well manured bed during the first week in May. David limes his plot with lime that he gets from the builders merchant that contains Calcium which he believes prevented him from getting any heart rot.
The ‘beetroot King’ as he’s known by his friends, Trevor Humphrey from Pontyclun, is fast making a name for himself with Globe beetroot. The dish of Five Cardeal were superb and they were his sixth consecutive win this year. Trevor grows both Cardeal and Pablo but he does have a leaning towards Cardeal as it has a better globe shape and nice long roots, and only seven beetroot were pulled to get the set of five. They are grown in a raised bed a metre wide and 5 metres long made up of used Multipurpose compost as well as used peat with added Vitax Q4 and dried blood. The bed is in sections to cover different timings for different shows and as soon as the bulb is swelling they get earthed up to prevent corking around the shoulder.
The Collection class for six kinds of vegetables was won by Marcus Powell from Waddesdon nr Aylesbury. It was great the see the Apprentice beating the master here as John Branham, who came third has been coaching him with Jim Thompson in Second position. Marcus showed New Red Intermediate Carrot, Pendle leek, Evening Star celery, Victor Parsnip, Amour potato and Cornell Cauliflower. The first lot of cauliflowers were sown on the 1st May followed by a further five sowing, 24 seed each time and 12 plants are eventually grown on which should cover all his shows.
Andrew Jones won the cucumber class with a very smooth dark green pair of Carmen that were grown in Florist buckets using Multi Purpose compost and fed regularly with a tomato feed. The greenhouse floor is kept damp at all times to increase humidity levels as well as keeping the Red Spider Mite at bay. A good tip from Andrew regarding timing is to remember that it only takes 14 days from a tiny cucumber 2 inches long to cutting it from the vine when the plants are well grown.
Mike Davies from Newent Gloucestershire had a great day winning, for the first time at the Championship with Long Carrots and Parsnips. The long carrots were the reselected New Red Intermediate from Medwyns and the parsnip was Panorama. It just shows how important it is to have clean fresh sand as Mike emptied everything out and had a new raised bed with clean sand in all his barrels