Medwyns of Anglesey
THE VEGETABLE MASTERCLASS WEEKEND
Friday 9th - Sunday 11th November 2012
THE ROYAL VICTORIA HOTEL LLANBERIS
PROGRAMME OF EVENTS
Friday 9th November
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 – 21.15 ‘Bring Life to your Soil’ by Paul Lowe from Symbio, The Environmental Bio Technology Company. It is said we know more about the stars than we do about our soils. Paul Lowe is technical adviser in micro biology, specialising in healthy soils and beneficial soil biology, he has been working with soil biology for over 20 years as an agronomist in sports turf. He now specialises in ‘the soil food web’ Compost Tea, organic growing and sustainable management, writing regular articles and conducting many talks.
He has a light hearted yet educational slant on the soil and the microbes that live in our growing medium. Healthy soil is a living, biologically diverse environment that recycles nutrients, captures carbon, fights disease and so on. All to create the food we eat, the plants we grow and natural environment we enjoy. Intense agriculture and horticulture has come to rely on inorganic salt based fertilisers, water and chemical pesticides to stimulate plant growth and disease control.
Organic growing is more popular today than ever before, but fertilisers are not cheap, many pesticides are banned and productivity of compromised soils is declining. Paul will talk about the fascinating roles of soil microbes, how different vegetables have a different symbiotic relationship with microbes and how you can encourage more life to your soils and how organic growing benefits from nature.
21.15 – 21.30 Question and Answer session.
21.30 - Time to relax after your long journey; 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.
Saturday 10th November
8.00 - 9.00 Cooked Breakfast
9.00 – 10.15 ‘Growing Vegetables Under Straw including Cauliflowers’ by David Metcalfe from Nelson Lancashire. David is well known to all exhibitors of onions and in particular Leeks being the breeder of both the Pendle and Pendle Improved. The Pendle Improved is certainly winning at the highest level now and is fast becoming more popular than the Welsh Seedling. David however is not so well known perhaps for his cauliflowers but he did win the National Vegetable Society Championship class last year Llangollen with a fantastic set of three. David grows a number of vegetables very successfully under straw, both indoors and outside. Part of the success stems from using it as a mulch which not only conserves moisture but also helps to prevent weeds developing. The talk will be supplemented with slides.
10.15 – 10.30 Question and Answer session
10.30 – 10.45 Coffee / Tea Break
10.45 – 12.00 ‘Growing Vegetables for the Millennium Class’ by Mark Hall, Wellington, Telford. Mark is Grounds Manager at Harper Adams University College Newport Salop. Mark is one of the longest reigning executive member of the National Vegetable Society and is currently the Vice Chairman of the midland Branch. He has served many positions over the years within the Society for which he has been awarded the Societies highest honour, the Gold Medal.
The Millennium Class was created with a view of having a collection of five kinds of vegetables, four of each kind, that don’t require artificial lights or heat to grow them. The requirements at the National are as follows – Potatoes: white or coloured; Carrots: stump rooted; Beetroot: globe; Tomatoes; Onions: each onion must not exceed 250 grams. Mark has won this class on more than one occasion and he will show his own method of growing each of the cultivars.
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 ‘Growing Vegetables for the Table at Cilgwyn Lodge Llangadog Carmarthenshire’ by Keith Brown. – As a boy growing up in the post war years in rural Gloucestershire, from a very early age Keith fell in love with plants and the countryside. His father, no natural gardener, grew vegetables of necessity, and by the age of 6 he remembers being given a patch in which to grow his own. His first successes were with lettuces, radishes and strawberries. That thrill of growing plants has never left him, (Gertrude Jekyll once remarked that “the love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies”) and now nearly 60 years later and in retirement he is even more passionate about plants and gardening. Over the years he has substantially extended the range of plants he grows to encompass hardy and tender plants, displayed in large colour themed borders within his one acre plot – and of course his beloved vegetables.
Keith will give an overview of growing vegetables from the perspective of a non – shower grower! How growing vegetables fits into his garden year, the yearly sowing and planting calendar /summary of key stages throughout the year. Size of his plot, aspect, soil and planting regimes. Range of vegetables grown, favourite varieties and those which perform well in his garden and many more. Keith truly has an amazing garden that is in the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) for which, together with his wife, he has raised nearly £20,000. You can check his garden out if you visit www.cilgwynlodge.co.uk
15.30 – 15.45 Question and Answer session.
15.45 – 16.00 Coffee / Tea Break
16.00 – 17.15 ‘How to grow a Giant Marrow and other Vegetables’ by Kevin Fortey from Cwmbran, Torfaen. Kevin has grown the second largest marrow in the World weighing in at an incredible 12 stone. He was also the National winner in the grand final of the Great British Village Show held at ‘Highgrove’ with a marrow weighing 110lbs. Kevin as a young lad followed his dad all round the giant vegetable shows starting off at the Mill Tavern in Cwmbran. He was soon hooked on growing vegetables and his Dad gave him the means to carry on by giving him his own plot.
Kevin will give his talk through the medium of Power Point cover the whole spectrum of growing from seed germination (which can often be tricky with these giant specimens) how to pollinate them as well as lots of other useful tips. Guidance on how to grow other vegetables will also be given
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 Time to indulge yourself in a four course evening meal. (you can order your wine at the table from the Victoria’s reasonably priced selection)
19.30 – 20.45 ‘Growing Long Beetroot for the Show bench’ by Jim Thompson from Undy, Caldicott Gwent. Jim Thompson is certainly one of the top exhibitor of vegetables at National Level. Jim has always grown a very wide range of vegetables both on his allotment as well as on his fairly recent new garden at Caldecott. Jim has converted this garden to his own specialist needs where he grows a range of vegetables. One vegetable that he has excelled at over the past few years has been the longest beetroot, not the easiest of vegetables to grow and quite rightly up graded to 20 points a few years ago by the RHS.
Jim has won the National Championships 3 times and the Welsh Championships on many other occasions. Jim will discuss how he has managed to cross the old Long Black Beet with Cheltenham Green Top, a cross that has proven to be very successful. His talk, through the medium of Power Point, will cover sowing times as well as his own special mix. To complete the talk Jim will give a resume of the Parsnip trial he has been conducting for me this year where 17 new varieties were grown. It should make interesting viewing.
20.45 – 21.00 Question and Answer session.
21.00 - For the next hour or so as you will be entertained by the singer Chris Mitchell from Holyhead.
Sunday 11th November
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 ‘Growing Long Carrots for Exhibition’ by Ian Stocks from Dunipace in Scotland. Ian is a retired Fire Service Officer (2010) who had 34 years service, culminating in being awarded the Queens Fire Service Medal in the 2009 New Years Honours List. Ian has been growing for exhibition for over 25 years and is currently the Treasurer of the Scottish Branch of the NVS and a member of the National Executive Committee.
Over the last 5 years he has concentrated on carrots, both long and stump winning the long carrots at the Scottish Branch for 4 consecutive years 2008 -2011. Ian also was 2nd in the National Championships in 2010 in the stumps class and won the same class at Llangollen in 2011. Ian will talk us through how he grows his long carrots from the preparation required and seed sowing, through to the mix he uses and finally to staging them on the bench.
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 .
*Please note that the time limit allowed for each speaker will have to be adhered to but may have to vary to suit circumstances outside of my control*
2013 Seminar will be from the 8th to the 10th November.
For further information please ring on 01248 714 851 or email
Leeks, Carrots and Runner Beans.
There’s about two and a half weeks to go before my last harvest for Malvern Show as we shall be travelling down on the Wednesday to stage our display on Thursday and Friday. There will be six of us working on the stand this time and I’ve just had a look through my leeks for the central position on the stand. I have been bothered badly this year with both Red Spider Mite and Thrips, and before I knew it the damage had been caused.
A number of exhibitors now use Admire to control The thrips on Leeks, you use it as drench with enough to cover the surface of a 2 pence piece in 2 gallons being the correct amount. However it didn’t seem to work with me as I was probably too late with the application and I could clearly see the Thrips crawling around on the leaves.
The next thing was an application of Dynamec and this seems to have done the trick as there are no more pests visible on the leaves. Dynamec is good also on Red Spider Mite. Next year I shall use Admire early on when still in the pots in the greenhouse and then further control after planting out using Dynamec.
Another problem that I have had with my Pendle leeks is secondary growth appearing between two sets of foliage or flags. This is the first time for me to get this phenomenon and I’m convinced it’s to do with the plants metabolism when the plants are close to bolting. From 34 leeks planted I now only have ten left which haven’t bolted and enough to cover my last display at Malvern.
Those that haven’t bolted are also now throwing up these side shoots and they must obviously come from the root plate. It won’t affect me with the display but for anyone showing on the bench it could be a serious matter.
The reason for this is because as the growth increases in strength it will change or alter the shape of the barrel of the leek as it pushes outwards in between the flags.
I was late sowing my final bed of Sweet candle Carrots at home, in fact it was bored and filled by my grandson Owain and I simply the sowed the seed, (he does come in handy at times!!) This was around the middle of May and I thought then they might come in useful for the kitchen later on or I could possibly manage a few for my stand.
As the picture shows they are much better than I thought they would be with no trace at all of any fly with beautiful fresh green foliage on them. Whether the bottoms will be rounded is something else but that criteria certainly won’t bother me when I’m eating them!
In one of the beds next to the leeks I have a row of Jescot-Long-Un (Cat N0 3200) Runner bean growing away ( even though they were also severly hit with pest damage) and the longest at the moment is 28 inches long. This is showing no sign of beaning and it will certainly grow longer than that.
I grow these at home as I don’t want them to cross pollinate with the my 800 plus Stenner bean plants growing in the fields for seed production which is about 4 miles away. What is more, this is a fantastic bean to eat provided you pick it when it’s still young, it’s very fleshy and tasty.
Considering the terrible weather we have had this Summer, the standard of the exhibits at the Welsh Championships held at Bryngarw Country Park Bridgend and sponsored by Barry King from Bridgend Festivals were tremendous. It was good to see that Sherie Plumb was back to her usually high standard winning the Runner beans with a classic set of velvet looking beans with her signature tight curve on the end of each one. She also won the cucumber class with Carmen, the white potatoes with Winston, her 250 gram onions, Toughball were outstanding and were reserve best exhibit in the show. Sherie, to top it all also won the National Potato Championship of Great Britain and the collection of three kinds of Vegetables, 18 points or less, with Carmen cucumbers, Stenner Runner Beans and Toughball onions.
As good as she is though she was beaten to third place in the class for five coloured potatoes by Owain Llewellyn Roberts from Cerrigydrudion with a lovely dish of Amour Owain grows all his show potatoes in Medwyns specially prepared potato mixture and they were all grown in 20 litre black polythene pots. Owain had 28 bags of Amour form which he easily over 50 potatoes that he could have shown. A shallow trench was opened in the garden and 4 ounces of Q4 and 4 ounces of Nutrimate were raked into the bottom before setting out the bags into the trench. While they were growing they were given a few feeds of Medwyns Liquid Gold (liquid Nutrimate) It took Owain a whole day and half to empty and grade all his potatoes for the various shows.
Ivor Mace, my fellow columnist and long time friend bred the Welsh blanch leek and it was great to see him winning the National Leek Championship of Great Britain. They were started off in October and eventually potted up before Christmas using the same mix as he has for his chrysanthemums and carnations – 60% Moss Peat, 20% Perlite and 20% Sterilised Loam. The plants ended up in 8 inch pots before being planted in the greenhouse border on the 1st May with no fertiliser at all as his soil had a high Conductivity reading.
Jim Thompson has been showing for more years than I care to remember and not only as he still got the same zest for the competitions, he is also constantly improving. His collection of 6 kinds, won for the second time in a row, was very well balanced consisting of new Red Intermediate long carrots, Cornell Cauliflowers, Evening Star celery, Polar Parsnip, Carmen Cucumbers and Show Perfection Peas.
Though Derek Aldred was beaten by Ivor Mace with the leeks, it was the other way in the Welsh Open Onion Championship with Derek coming first with a lovely shaped set of 5 reselected Kelsae. They were sown during the first week of December and eventually planted out in the polytunnel on the 20th April. Derek had notice that when he pulled three earlier on in July for the Southern Championships that they had developed Pink Root, a fungal disease. The rest of the onions were lifted three weeks before the show at around 21 inches in girth, I just wonder how much bigger they would have been had there been no Pink Root disease?
Don Owens for Wrexham is certainly getting good at staging the collection of onions winning it for the second time in a row with Kelsae, large and Pickling shallots were Hative de Niort and the under 250 gram onions were Toughball.
I have known John Glyn Jones from Caeathro near Caernarfon for many years and he has always grown excellent Celery. On this occasion John won from a well contested Celery class with a very clean unmarked pair of Morning star celery. The seed were sown and germinated in a Propagator around mid February, the seed being simply pressed into the compost and not covered at all. The plants were potted up, eventually into their final 6 inch pots from which they were planted into two slightly raised beds a metre wide. To cover all eventualities John had three sowings made. To prevent heart rot the plants were sprayed with Calcium Nitrate on a regular basis.
How lovely it was to see another lady win the Welsh show side with Blanch Leeks Pendle Improved, and on her very first attempt at the highest level. In fact she had only competed before at one local show, quite an achievement by Sue McCall from Capel Hendre Carmarthen. Sue joined the National Vegetable Society last September and freely states that the information she has gleaned from the NVS forum plus help from local growers Colin Lewis and Arwyn Edwards had helped her no end. Twelve rooted Pendle bulbils were potted up during mid November and placed under T5 artificial lights. They were grown on in a small polytunnel in raised beds with the soil having plenty of well rotted farm yard manure incorporated with the addition of Q4 prior to planting.
The Best Exhibit in the show went to David Thomas, a local grower who staged a lovely clean exhibit of 3 Pinnacle parsnips. The seed were sown early March in 2ft diameter culvert pipes 7ft long which were filled with builders sand and three bore holes made in each drum. His mix was 2 buckets of Levington M3 sieved, I bucket of builders sand also sieved and sieved top soil from his greenhouse. David doesn’t weigh his fertiliser so added to the mix was two handfuls of hydrated lime, one handful of Superphosphate of lime and a handful of Potash. The remarkable thing was that he pulled three to get three. They were grown in a homemade type greenhouse where he can remove the roof panels to allow him to get his boring bar to pass through.
Whilst at the show another local grower Robert Evans from Treharris came in with a long carrot that he had grown from my re selected New Red intermediate. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it, it was certainly the largest, heaviest long carrot I had ever seen and will now be planted up amongst my others to add further vigour to the strain. It measured 14 inches around the top and was over 4feet in length with a lovely smooth skin. Enough carrot to make sufficient soup to feed an Army!