This September at long, long last the great and good of gardening will resume relations, restore rapport, and rejoin rivalries in London for the internationally renowned RHS Chelsea Flower Show. AutoPot will be in the thick of the action with a selection of competition entries from Medwyn – ‘The Medwynner’ – Williams, grown in our very own watering systems. Medal + Win = Medwyn, so, without wanting to tempt fate, all the omens point to yet more success for the devoutly Welsh grower. As the show nears, Medwyn has been weaving wonders in his Anglesey greenhouses in preparation. We took a look.
Last month we covered Medwyn’s burgeoning crops of AQUAbox-grown potatoes. Though the six varieties underway will undoubted dazzle at Chelsea, potatoes alone do not a cornucopia make. Vast vistas of vegetal variety are very much the standard means by which growers exhibit their horticultural mettle at a show of RHS calibre. Since way back in 2019 Medwyn has been mapping out his stand layout and the 40+ types of veg he’ll need to grow in order to fill it. Leeks, onions, celery, cucumbers, parsnips, lettuce, kale, and radishes of classical excellence will be joined by carrots, aubergines, beetroot, chard, French beans, turnips, and chillies of every conceivable hue. And that is to name but a few. The signs with these are unmistakably positive but the route thus far has been anything but a victory parade.
Delay, destruction, and heartbreaking missed opportunities have dogged the show preparations of growers everywhere, Medwyn included. Starting in mid/late-2020 they would all have been targeting the usual May slot for Chelsea in 2021. This date was latterly revised to late September. Once underway however veg simply cannot be made to hang on for the extra four months.
The upshot was tough calls on a huge number of plants – as Medwyn recounts. “All the vegetables that were growing away prior to the postponement had to be pulled up and destroyed as they were too young to eat.”
Some might have been just about tenable but without knowing for sure they too presented a dilemma. “I wish now I had kept more of the Peter Glazebrook onions going on. I initially had had 24 of them and I threw out all but 6 thinking they would be well over the top by September. Four of those onions are now around 25 inches in circumference and still growing!” By the end of July 2021 Medwyn was slowly stopping the supply of feed to the 1Pot XL Modules in which the onions had been planted. Left to dry out slowly in the pots, there is yet hope that four of them might be staged at Chelsea. Likewise retained were some incredible leeks.
At 17 inches around by early July 2021, Medwyn’s Cumbrian Sammy Cross (CSC) pot leeks will, by his own reckoning, “probably be over the top for Chelsea”. He does however have another seven of the same variety from a later sowing, now in 1Pot XL Modules; “these are now 10 inches in circumference and I’m hoping to display those as a triangular stand with the flags (leaves) hanging well down as they extend to over four feet in length.” They’ll look quite the part alongside Medwyn’s signature Tryfan blanch leeks – also in the 1Pot XL modules. These are now onto their longest, 18-inch collars, fashioned from builders damp proof coursing, which produce the distinctive white stems.
Elsewhere the Koupers are coming home. Using an easy2grow16 system Medwyn has managed an exceptional crop of cucumbers in a relatively short amount of time. The Kouper variety is, in Medwyn’s opinion, very much a competitor to the oft-preferred Carmen.
Medwyn has been fine-tuning EC in response to weather conditions by adjusting the nutrient content of his FlexiTanks. Greater transpiration in hot weather means the cucumbers need less food – likewise for Medwyn’s easy2grow produced tomatoes. Thanks to the AQUAvalve5 in each easy2grow module the actual uptake of water and nutrient solution is entirely in the hands of the individual plants themselves – the only way to truly meet plant requirements. There’s such an abundance on the plants, fruiting simultaneously, that Medwyn’s having little trouble matching up a selection for the stand in London – where we’re very much looking forward to seeing the Maestro in person.
Chelsea-bound this September? Right you are! Not booked yet? Get a move on! What better way to blow off the torpor of the past, show-less eighteen months than a pilgrimage to one of the greatest horticultural shows of all. Few superlatives remain untouched where describing RHS Chelsea is concerned, overused words fail to do it justice. The best way to understand just how good it is, is to go see it for yourself.