Reaseheath College horticultural students were feeling chipper after taking part in a First Early Potato Show, held at the Nantwich college on Saturday.
Thirty Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Level 2 Diploma students demonstrated their skills at growing the world’s favourite root vegetable – and were rewarded with praise from one of the county’s top vegetable judges.
The students, who attend college one day a week, have been learning horticultural techniques such as how to successfully sow and plant vegetables and how to prepare them for exhibition. Course Manager Anne Harrison hopes that their new knowledge will encourage the students to support the fruit and vegetable shows run within their local communities.
Over 20 varieties of first early potatoes, grown on plots at the college, were on show. Best in Show went to Luise Crawford from Wincham near Northwich, who also won the Friday group section with her ‘Casablanca’ potatoes. Luise has launched a new career as a self employed gardener following redundancy.
Winner of the Monday group section was Susan De Kretser of Goostrey, Holmes Chapel, who is also following a new career as a horticulturist. Second and third places went to Racheal Nowakowski and Jane Loxley while Andrew Rose and Richard Massey were runners up in the Friday group.
The competition was judged by Derek Jones of Malpas, a well known vegetable exhibitor, judge, horticulturist and historian. He explained: “I was looking for four potatoes which were equally matched in shape, size and colour. They had to be of good quality, of uniform shape, well prepared and typical of the variety.
“The entries showed a great deal of care and attention to detail, particularly as the growing conditions have been so difficult this season.”
Reaseheath’s First Early Potato Show was held for the first time last year and was so successful that it is likely to be an annual event.
Around 100 part-time students gain RHS qualifications at Reaseheath each year. The students include professional horticulturists, career changers and leisure gardeners. Reaseheath is an RHS training and examination centre and offers theory and practical qualifications at Levels 2 and 3.
As well as learning traditional skills, all Reaseheath’s horticulture students will be introduced to the latest technology in food production when the college opens its cutting edge national centre for Food Futures and the Environment later this year.
For further details on horticulture courses see www.reaseheath.ac.uk/horticulture.