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Chelsea Winner Offers Expertise To Local Growers

2016 winner of a silver gilt medal at RHS Chelsea, Mike Smith, St. Asaph, is launching an opportunity for enthusiastic growers to access the very best of professional advice equipment and materials by joining a gardening club with a difference.
Mike (Tom Smith Plants) has established two large polytunnels in the grounds of Oriel House Hotel and through his link with Nottingham Trent University and a number of leading horticultural companies he intends to start a gardening club at which there will not only be monthly lectures on a wide range of growing methods but the ability to obtain professional quality equipment, composts and fertilizers. Advice will be on hand from experts such as the head of horticulture at Bathgate, Andrew Pierce, who supplies Mike with all his specialist growing mediums and biologists from Nottingham and Trent University who are working on research and development projects with Mike.
Topics such as hydroponics, aquaponics, aeroponics, lighting and specialist composts will be among the topics to intrigue growers, and members will be fascinated to hear the progress of the development of a new range of cherry tomatoes which will have their sugar levels assessed by the University laboratories in the development of a new and tastier product.
Members will also be able to purchase vegetables from a new seed range sponsored by the internationally acclaimed chef, Raymond Blanc, who has worked closely with Mike to produce a gourmet range of herbs and microvegetables designed essentially to give the very best of flavours.
The new Growers Club will be held on the first Wednesday of each month at the polytunnel growing centre at Oriel House Country Hotel, Upper Denbigh Road, and is open to all growers interesting in learning new techniques, finding the best methods to improve their growing and finding a facility to obtain the necessary quality equipment, growing mediums and expert advice.
“No one should feel daunted about joining us,” said Mike, “I just want anyone interesting in growing to be able to have the very best advice and help.”
Mike has been accepted for RHS Chelsea 2017 and already his garden, greenhouse, polytunnels and his home are bursting at the seams with plants. A specialist lighting tent with controlled temperature and humidity has taken over one of the bedrooms, seeds trays and plants adorn all available surfaces within the house and even at the back of the settee there are young plants gaining the advantage of the warmth and light to produce early results.
A Silver Gilt medal at his first Chelsea Show was a superb result but not one to stop Mike aiming even higher for the coming show season which will launch in early May with the Malvern Show, followed immediately by Chelsea and onwards to Chatsworth, a challenging and intense period of showing which would leave a lesser enthusiast exhausted .
We wish Mike every possible success.
Are you wondering “what is aquaponics?” The most simple definition is that it is the marriage of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. The third participants are the microbes (nitrifying bacteria) and composting red worms that thrive in the growing media. They do the job of converting the ammonia from the fish waste first into nitrites, then into nitrates and the solids into vermicompost that that are food for the plants.

Aeroponicsthe process of growingplantsanairmistwithout the use ofsoilanaggregate(known asgeoponics). The word "aeroponic" is derived from theGreekof- (air) and(labour). Aeroponic culture differs from both conventionalhydroponics,aquaponics, andin-vitro(plant tissue culture) growing. Unlike hydroponics, which uses a liquid nutrient solution as a growing medium and essential minerals to sustain plant growth; or aquaponics which uses water and fish waste, aeroponics is conducted without a growing medium. Because water is used in aeroponics to transmit nutrients, it is sometimes considered a type of hydroponics.