Alex’ August Ramblings

Well, what a difference 12 months makes. Looking back at last August’s ramblings, I was bemoaning the amount of rainfall combined with a drop in temperatures and the impact that was having on the growth of plants in the garden. This year we have had the opposite, little or no rain combined with exceptionally high temperatures. This has persisted for about six weeks and only last weekend did we get any relief in the form of a decent amount of rainfall. Although nowhere near enough to make up for that which we have lacked, it did serve to refill my water butts. Rainwater is much more beneficial to plants than tap water which has been treated with all sorts of chemicals. We are now told that temperatures are set to rise again with little or no rainfall in the foreseeable future!

The high temperatures have made me much more lethargic as far as gardening goes. My activities have been confined to watering (vegetables only) and picking crops. Tomatoes and cucumbers are in full production in the greenhouse. Peppers and chillies are making good progress too. I am harvesting French and runner beans although the runners are less than prolific, a widespread occurrence due to the weather apparently. Carrots, mangetout, cabbage, courgettes are producing quite prolifically. No doubt due to the weather, my sweet corn is also reaching maturity which is three to four weeks earlier than normal.

In the flower garden activity has been restricted to hoeing and dead heading.

As I am sure you are aware the annual flower show is less than a month hence. Your thoughts will no doubt be concentrating on what you want to enter. I thought it may be useful if I repeated what I said in this regard from last year’s ramblings:

A few days before the show, armed with a copy of the schedule and a pencil, take a walk around your garden and tick off those classes in which you wish to enter. Don’t be put off if some of your produce is what you consider not to be up to standard. Growing conditions will have largely been the same for everyone entering and even a less than perfect exhibit can still win an award.

Complete the entry form included with the schedule and ensure you submit this before the cut off time as shown in the schedule. You will be issued with an entry ticket for each exhibit.

On the morning of the show you will need to start early with the aim of getting your exhibits tabled in the marquee before the cut off time of 10am when judging will commence.

Dig and collect your exhibits. Ensure they are clean with no trace of soil. Use some damp cotton wool or a very soft toothbrush to clean them, being careful not to damage any specimens. Onions and shallots should have their foliage removed prior to exhibition to about two or three inches (5 to 8 cms) for onions and one inch (3 cms) for shallots, bent over and tied neatly with a piece of raffia. To save time on the day, it is best to do this a few days beforehand.

A few tips on exhibiting:

Generally, it’s all about catching the judge’s eye:

  • Exhibits should be as uniform as possible.
  • Try to ensure they are undamaged.
  • The number of examples should be as per the schedule. If three carrots are asked for, three are required. Don’t try to pull the wool over the judge’s eyes. It will not work.
  • If the schedule asks for exhibits on a plate or in a vase, do as asked. It will make a difference.
  • Table your exhibits in the allocated space so that it is prominently displayed.

Specifically

  • Best collection of five varieties of vegetables. Exhibit in a pleasing container in accordance with the dimensions asked for.
  • Best collection of herbs, will probably best exhibited in a container capable of holding water, vase, glass etc.
  • For carrots and beetroot, leave about two inches (5cms) of foliage.
  • Onions are best shown standing vertically, To do this, cut some half inch (1 cm) deep, rings from a cardboard kitchen roll or similar, and use these to stand the onions on.
  • Shallots are traditionally shown on a plate of fine sand which will hold them in place as arranged and make them attractive to the eye.
  • Runner and French beans are traditionally shown on a piece of card covered in black cloth.
  • Sweet corn should have the foliage peeled back to display the cobs.
  • Tomatoes must have the calyx attached to each fruit.
  • Cucumbers should be of as equal size as possible
  • Leeks should have their flags (greenery) gathered together and held with an elastic band or similar.
  • Marrows, courgettes and chillies should have a quantity of stalk intact.
  • Garlic should be trimmed

As for fruit:

  • Do not polish your fruit, particularly plums which must be shown with their “bloom.”
  • Exhibit them with stalks.

I think that’s enough to be going on with. Don’t forget, it’s a local show designed primarily for members and non members from the vicinity of Wellow. Above all, it is meant to be enjoyed by all who take part. Don’t feel that your produce is not up to standard. You may well be surprised by what wins an award. It’s about participating and maintaining a tradition that is now 68 years old. Please enter as much as you can and help us all to have a terrific and enjoyable show.

Good luck to everyone.

Alex

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