Vegetable gardeners lament bare Wisley trial fields

RHS vegetable trials subcommittee chairman Colin Randel has said vegetable gardeners are being let down by Wisley trials fields covered in Mypex rather than plants.

Randel, who hit out at staff and trial cuts earlier this year (HW, 29 January), said he was still disappointed by the Portsmouth trials field at RHS Wisley in Surrey.

He added: "The rhododendron committee only meets once a year but vegetables are grown all year round. Gardeners and visitors expect to see plenty of veg but we've had a 40 per cent cut in the trials programme.

"The field is looking pretty bare at the moment - there's not much to look at except sheets of Mypex. I suggested to the trials office that even putting it down to green manure - with signs saying what it was - would look better.

"I understood from the hierarchy of the RHS directorship that they were dedicated to a trials programme and veg should be more important. But with grow your own and cooking in fashion, veg should be top of the tree."

An RHS representative said the Mypex was there for crop rotation but "can be disappointing to the eye". She added: "Trials are very expensive and we are doing a lot of veg demonstrations on the model veg garden with pots and planters that are more relevant for gardeners." The RHS is holding an international ornamental trials conference at Wisley on 5-7 July 2011.

- Randel, who is also Thompson & Morgan vegetable product manager, said watermelons may be grown in British gardens in a few years after trials at Wisley. He launched Melon Orange Sherbert F1 hybrid. "We're looking at doing outdoor watermelons grown in the UK at Wisley Portsmouth field," he added.

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