Page 60 - Simply Vegetables Winter 2020/21
P. 60

                                Could covid
ruin my
Back in 2014 whilst talking to Bob Oliver I happened to mention that my dream was to win the National Championships with parsnips and long carrots but I did not really have the facility to do this. His reply was that he could build me a structure
for this purpose and, after measuring up, he did just that. A few days later, early in the morning, I had a phone call from Bob, saying he had been to Worcester and got me 14 new drums for parsnips and carrots and he was on his way to my house with them.
Once in place, I filled the drums with new sand which promptly won me first prizes the following year at the Welsh Championships in the Botanical Gardens, Carmarthen, for both parsnips and carrots. People asked
me in Wales if I had any more left and
when I said I had, they said I should take them to the National Championships in Scotland so I decided to try my luck and
to my amazement came second with long carrots and fifth for parsnips. Because
of the 415 miles distance from home to Camperdown, Dundee, I had to pull them on the Wednesday afternoon, so that I could make the journey on the Thursday for judging on the Friday, hence, as advised by experienced growers there was an apparent loss of condition. However, I was very happy and felt that having my new structure built, helped to bring me very pleasing results. I appreciated the advice given to me by fellow growers so thank you all.
The best parsnips I had ever seen at the time, were those exhibited by John Branham on his collection at the National
Championships in Dundee in 2000. It was John and Andrew Jones with their parsnips that gave me the drive to want to try and come up to their standard, something I am still trying to achieve. Hopefully one day...
After Scotland, in 2016 I was very disappointed that I could not show anything on the big stage as carrot fly somehow got into the structure. As advised by parsnip growers in Malvern, I got rid of all my sand as the carrot fly would have left its eggs behind and would have hatched out the following year, so 2017 was out. In 2018 I had a cardiac arrest which resulted in me having a pacemaker fitted
and being out of action for a
while. Not a nice experience
which has left me on occasions
feeling weak, very tired and
low, just ask John Branham
and Ray Bassett, they will
agree. I was seriously thinking
of packing it all in but talking
to other exhibitors in the show
world, they have encouraged
me along the way to try and
build up the enthusiasm I had
In 2019 I decided to take my time and wait to get new sand in readiness to try for the Nationals in Dundee again then, of course, Covid-19 set in and everything came to a standstill. No more shows for the foreseeable future.
One day I was standing in the garden looking at my empty structure, thinking ‘what a waste’ with no shows to go to; time to do something different but useful. I grow a lot of bedding plants and was struggling for space in my greenhouse. I suddenly had the idea to cover the tops of the drums in the structure with link-a-bord which I had been given
by a lady who had recently given up her allotment, to try and grow things as a trial. This made wonderful shelving and housed a
lot of my bedding plants, however, there was a late frost forecast in May so panic stations – bedders had to be moved some on the floor in the greenhouse, others in the house (sorry June!!) and anywhere the frost could not get at them.
I also made a little raised bed and grew strawberry plants and cherry tomatoes. Strawberry plants were in full flower, the late frost came and they were lost but everything else has flourished well and been a success.
Then the winter bedding arrived as
plug plants – bellis daisies, wallflowers, polyanthus, primroses, pansies – these also
grew very well in the structure and, at the time of writing,
are looking well planted out. Because my efforts have been successful, I decided to put in polycarbonate on the sides of the structure, ready for next spring’s growing, and I will
put in greenhouse bubble to help to protect against winter frosts. The polycarbonate is removable so the structure can now be used for dual purpose – exhibition vegetables and flowers.
   60 Simply Vegetables
Let’s now wait and see what happens in the future with shows and sincerely hope this awful virus goes away soon or could Covid-19 end my dream?
Bob and his wife, Val, sometimes come over and we have a Chinese take-away. He seemed to be quite surprised at what I had done and here he is looking quite at home amongst the pansies!
am very grateful to Bob and
 Seriously, I
other parsnip and carrot growers for all the help and advice they have given me over the years. Let’s now wait and see what happens in the future with shows and sincerely hope this awful virus goes away soon or could Covid-19 end my dream?
I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year. We must all keep safe.
Mike Davies, FNVS

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