How to Become a Better Grower
16th Dec 1998
Join the NVS
A question I'm very often asked when visiting gardening clubs to give a talk on growing vegetables is "How can I become a better vegetable grower than I am now'. My answer to them has always been the same; your knowledge and skill will certainly improve if you join the National Vegetable Society.
It was many years ago when I first heard about this society at the Shrewsbury show .Dad and I had been around most of the vegetables in the marquee when we came across a few tables that had vegetables staged on them that looked as though they came from another planet. I was mesmerised by the sheer size and quality of the exhibits to such an extent that I stood talking there for the remainder of the afternoon, after first filling up an application form to become a member of the NVS.
A few years after that, I had my first attempt at their National Championships which was held as part of the Ayr show in Scotland. It was at Ayr that I met people of the caliber of Allister Gray, the late Al Stirton, and the great onion growers Bill and the late Bob Rogers and George McSkimming. Again I was overawed by the sheer quality that I saw being staged; I was a young grower who had won most of the prizes locally now entering into the much wider arena and feeling the warmth of the Society all round me.
My first of many long trips wasn"t in vain either as I gained my first ever card at the National, having second prize for my peas which must have been good for Allister Gray had some seed from me afterwards. What I learnt at that show dispelled all the old rumours about secret potions etc. that so many people, even today, think the top growers are using. For me, joining the NVS has widened my circle of friends immensely and I can now travel all over the country to any championships and be greeted with that lovely affection built up between one top grower and another.
The NVS is dedicated to further excellence in vegetable growing and one way they have of doing this is by holding their Championships which acts as a shop window for the Society. It was formed in London on 26th February 1960 and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. It has five branches comprising the Southern, Northern, Midlands, Scotland and Wales and anyone joining can be a member of any Branch he chooses. In addition to the National Championships, each branch also hosts their own show, all of which are to an extremely high standard. The Society further widens its aims through District Associations which are small localised groups spread all over the country and they hold monthly meetings during the winter with guest speakers on gardening. They also have a section for Junior members and it would be exciting if even more youngsters joined up; who knows, one day you could be a top grower. Don't forget all the top growers started off somewhere. I recently spoke to Ivor Mace and after what he has achieved, I wasn't really surprised when he said that he had his first allotment when he was 12 years old, started showing at 14 and won his first RHS Banksian medal at the Treorchy show in 1963 when he was only 15.
Bulletins and Newsletters
The Society distributes 4 bulletins a year plus two National Newsletters as well as individual Newsletters from each branch which help enormously to keep members in touch. There are some free vegetable seeds distributed as well during the year to each of the 2,700 current members. I would like to urge you to join this excellent Society if you have any interest at all in growing vegetables. It's certainly not just about vegetables for showing eitheras there are some excellent recipes on how to cook some of the more unusual vegetables appearing regularly in the bulletins. If you get as much out of the Society as I have, then you too will feel that it was well worth the equivalent cost per week of your cheapest daily paper to join up, and you don't get half as much information from them.
Send your subscription to the General Secretary Mr Len Cox FNVS, 33 Newmarket Road, Redcar, Cleveland. TS10 2HY.