March Talk

On Wednesday a March 20th we had a talk by our long time member Mike Jarvis a winner of many prizes at our Annual Show, including the Banksian Medal and current holder of the Nat Maurice-Jones Bowl, Best in show 2018.

He introduced himself as no Alan Titchmarsh, or Monty Don, but there are similarities between Monty and himself, the braces and while Monty grows flowers in his Jewel garden, Mike grows Begonias in his back garden.

Mike exhibits at 3 local show within 9 days. The Wrexham Allotments Show, BRHS and also the Llay Gardening Club. Llay are a smaller society but last year Mikes’ carrots that won at our show on the Saturday only came third at the Llay show a couple of days later. Mike wants to pass on his knowledge to others to encourage them to show their vegetables at our 70th Anniversary Annual Show on Saturday August 24th.

He is member of Wrexham Allotments association and tries to encourage others to show what they have grown. Most will say they ‘Grow to Eat’ and not ‘Grow to Show’, but Mike just replies he also ‘Grows to Eat’, but takes the vegetables on a day out on the way to the kitchen!

 There are 3 main areas to consider

  1. Prepare – preparing the ground, either garden or allotment is key to a successful growing season. He used organic matter, either black manure from a local farm from chickens and cattle.  Mike will also mix fertilizer using blood fish and bone, and will also use pelleted chicken manure.

  2. Suitable Varieties - (please see the list prepared by Mike at the bottom). Choosing your varieties is key, people have their favourite and all listed are good growers as well as tasty to eat. These are recommended for a vegetable garden and are not Giant varieties. At a local regional show at Llangollen all exhibitors were showing the same variety of runner bean called Stenner.

French Beans - The Prince is good for eating as well as exhibiting. Hawkesbury Wonder has 9” pods. When choosing pods for a show, pick every day or two a week before a show. Wrap in a damp cloth and place in the fridge to keep the fresh. You will then have a few to choose from to match the same length.

Runner Bean – Stenner - Mike will plant his out the end of May using 8’ canes. Picks them and places in a decorators roller try, then wraps them with bamboo cane to straighten them.

Carrots – Sweet Candle – plants them in raised beds 6’ L x 3’W and 2’H with sharp sand. He will insert a drain pipe to make a hole, then fills with compost then sows the seeds.

Onions  sets – Lights will help them to grow, he will place on a shelf in the spare bedroom, then they will go in the greenhouse.  Best ripen indoors to give an even colour.

Potatoes –Mike used small black plastic bags, he has used the potato  bags without much success. If planting in the ground place in a shallow trench. Mike’s favourites are White – Winston (1st Early), Coloured -  Kestrel (2nd Early). He plants them early April. Either Early, 1st Early or main crop, they just take different time to mature.

Shallots – Shortest day planted, longest day harvested.

Put them in 4’ pots in the propagator, greenhouse or poly-tunnel.

Tomatoes – All good growers as listed but Shirley holds her own. These are planted and out on a book shelf in the spare room, with tinfoil at the back to reflect the light. This stops them leaning towards the light.

As the saying goes what is the difference between Knowledge and Wisdom –

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, and Wisdom is knowing not to add them to a fruit salad!

Small fruited Tomatoes - Sweet Million and Gardeners’ Delight as good, and Mike has had success with Montello which is an outdoor bush plant.

There are also flower classes we can enter from Fuchsia, Asters, Gladioli. Also ornamental shrubs from the garden will be a good one to start with, there should be a class for everyone.

To sum up Mike said there were 3 things to consider

  1. Prepare

  2. Choose a suitable Variety

  3. ENTER – it’s a fun day out

Please support your local show by entering this year.

Thank you to Mike - I hope he has encouraged us to exhibit.

Vegetable and suitable varieties:

  • Beetroot globe - Cardeal, Pablo, Red Ace, Subeto

  • Beans French -  Hawkersbury Wonder, The Prince

  • Beans (runner) - Benchmaster, Enorma  Reselected (aka Stenner)

  • Cabbage - Brigadier, Typhoon.

  • Carrots (stump) -Sweet Candle

  • Cauliflower- Fairway, Raleigh

  • Cucumber- Carmen, Kouper

  • Leeks - Pendle Improved, Prizetaker

  • Onions-250g or under- Fasto, Tasco, Toughball, Vento.

  • Onions -over 250g - Exhibition, Kelsae

  • Parsnips - Cornell, Panorama, Victor

  • Peas - Show Perfection

  • Potatoes - coloured- Bonnie, Kestrel, NVS Amour. White - Bute, Casablanca, Winston, NVS Sherine.

  • Shallots - Aristocrat, Hative du Niort, Ddraig Goch (Red Dragon), Meccano, Shirley, Zenith.

  • Tomatoes- small fruited Gardeners' Delight, Montello, Sweet Millions, Tastyno

Many of the varieties included in the list are quite readily available, but others might need to be obtained from more specialist seed suppliers, e.g.:

Shelley seeds- 5 Speedwell Close, Huntington, Chester, CH3 6DX tele 01244 317165 e-mail catalogue available and can be viewed on-line -

Medwyns’ of Anglesey - on-line shop -