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!