A 93-year-old gardening veteran and a nine year old with just one season of veg growing under her belt took the top prizes at the North Gwent Cardiac Rehabilitation and Aftercare Charity’s Potato Growing Challenge weigh-in at Abergavenny Garden Centre on Saturday (June 25)
Bryan was unable to attend the weigh-in in person, but Isabella, who gardens with her grandparents Brian and Jan Williams on their family allotment in Llangattock, said the secret of her success was simple: “They need plenty of water.”
Garden Centre Manager Gavin Trinder agreed. “Isabella is spot-on: potatoes need a lot of water to form good tubers, and it’s been such a dry spring that keeping on top of the watering will have been crucial.”
The three-month Challenge, which started on March 27, was set up to raise funds for the charity, which runs community-based exercise classes for cardiac patients across Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent.
Sponsored by the Garden Centre, it drew 80 entries, with participants competing to grow the heaviest crop of spuds in a 10-litre pot from a single organic “Colleen” seed potato.
Isabella’s sister Olivia, aged eight, proved green fingers run in the family with a 44oz (1.25kg) haul – comfortably securing her second place in the children’s section, followed by Darcy Francis, aged five, with 243/4oz (702g).
Runners-up in the adult category were Tony and Ann Heming with 441/2oz (1.26kg), and Les Bailey came third with 39oz (1.1kg).
Prizes, provided by the Garden Centre, included a mini cactus display, a bug hotel and a seed and cutting tray, and were awarded by charity chairperson Jacky Miles, MBE.
“We’re really grateful to everyone who took part in the challenge,” said Jacky, “and of course to the Abergavenny Garden Centre for sponsoring the potato growing kits and the prizes.
‘‘I’d also like to say a big thank you to Andrea and Gareth Davies and Nigel Dancer, who helped out so efficiently with unearthing and weighing all the potatoes.
“We’re already planning to repeat this very successful event next Spring.
‘‘Together we’ve raised a fantastic £450, which will help the charity provide one-to-one rehab support at home for people who can’t get to community classes.”
And in a postscript to the event, Isabella and Olivia’s grandmother Jan Williams said the girls ate their prize-winning spuds for tea that evening.
“They really enjoyed the afternoon,” said Jan, “and they reckoned their home-grown potatoes were the best they’d ever had!”
• To find out more about the North Gwent Cardiac Rehabilitation and Aftercare Charity (Reg No.1056887), visit cardiac-rehab.org.uk.