The National Vegetable Society Championships have always been the highlight of my exhibiting season but they have never to my knowledge been held as late as this year. This coming weekend the show will be held as part of the Malvern Autumn Show and it will be very interesting indeed to find out what sort of quality the vegetables are going to be in general.
For more years than I care to remember by now, the National Vegetable Society Championships have always been the highlight of my exhibiting season but they have never to my knowledge been held as late as this year. This coming weekend the show will be held as part of the Malvern Autumn Show and it will be very interesting indeed to find out what sort of quality the vegetables are going to be in general.
There’s no doubt that for those people living up in the Northern regions of the country, mid to late September is probably their prime showing time, whilst down in the mid to Southern regions mid to late August sees vegetables usually at their peak. It does therefore present quite a challenge, particularly with some vegetables, to have them on the bench at their optimum of condition.
Runner Beans and Peas
Runner beans, and peas will be very difficult to have ready and even though I sowed my Show perfection Pea during the last week of May, they were ready for showing during the Welsh Championships, a month earlier than the National. One other huge drawback with peas is the appearance of Powdery Mildew on the foliage and pods, usually on both sides of the leaves. This disease always seems to manifest itself from mid August onwards and worst in dry seasons as well as in sheltered gardens or for those of us that live in the mid to southern parts of the Country.
One problem I will have is the selection of the large onions, they grew really well this year but after the cold wet and dull weather that we had during June, the plants seemed to have run out of steam by the middle of July. Most were therefore harvested early and indeed a set were awarded the best exhibit in the whole horticultural section at the local County Show. However it”s a different story by now with most of them having wrinkled skin which is a sure sign that the onion is well and truly harvested and shrinking inside the dry outer skin.
Removing this outer layer a few weeks before hand would seem to be the answer as the onion would then have a further period to once again develop an uniformly brown colour. This though is rarely the case as I have tried it in the past with no success, the onion has really got only the one good skin and once that is removed it will always leave a tide mark around the lower regions of the onion. Below this tide mark it will rarely colour over and the best thing therefore is to try and select the best that I have with the least wrinkling on them.
Provided that canker has kept away, there should be some excellent dishes of parsnips there, after all it is a winter vegetable but the larger any vegetable gets the more difficult it is to match them as well as staging them in pristine condition. I fortunately have plenty to select from with Javelin having performed particularly well this year. I also have six drums with five of Gladiator in each one at my friend Jim’s garden which I have yet to pull from and these also look very promising.
The ones that I am really looking forward to harvesting though are the new Stump carrots that I have grown for the first time this year, it appeared to have all the right attributes when it was staged at Chelsea at the end of May being grown in my old long carrot drums at Bangor University. On my return from Chelsea, on the 30 May, the same drums were forked over and using a piece of plastic downspout pipe, four holes were cored out of each drum to form a bore hole 2 ft deep (60cm). The bore holes were filled up with exactly the same mixture as I used for the long carrots, there are 18 drums there which means that I have 72 to select from.
One big problem that I had was the development of powdery mildew on the foliage which is always worst when carrots are grown under cover, I did manage though to control it to an acceptable level by spraying with Dithane. The variety is Maestro, an early Maincrop Nantes type with a beautiful smooth skin, superb colour, very uniform and tolerant to violet root rot, crown rot and cavity spot. This variety should hopefully make it’s mark on the show benches in the future as did Corrie, my other introduction to the show scene a few years ago. Maestro, as well as other new vegetable introductions, are available in my new coloured specialist vegetable seed catalogue. Please send 3 first class stamps for a copy to Llanor, Old School Lane, Llanfairpwll, Anglesey. LL61 5RZ.