Tips from Alex – August 2017

I seem to be starting each month’s contribution with a comment about the amount of rainfall we have been experiencing and this month is no different. July has seen large amounts of rainfall delivered in heavy doses combined with a drop in average temperatures. Apparently, this is due to The Jetstream being further south than one would ordinarily expect at this time of year. Let’s hope it decides to head north before too long. This change in rainfall and temperature has had a beneficial effect on the garden with all crops, vegetables and flowers growing really well.

​As I write, there are only four weeks to the annual flower show. The prime purpose of the show is to encourage participation in the horticultural classes thus ensuring the success of the event. You’d be surprised at the number of visitors who look forward to seeing the exhibition of produce, many comparing what is on show with their own efforts at home and picking up ideas as to what could be grown in their garden. The drive behind the publication of these monthly tips is the wish to get more participation and if you have been following some of them you will now need to know what you should be doing in the run up to the show.

​As far as vegetables are concerned:

​If you have not yet bent over the growing tops of your onions, now is the time. After about ten to fourteen days, lift the onions out of the soil and leave to dry off before gathering for storage/exhibition. Shallots should be lifted now if not already done so and left to dry off in a warm weather proof location. Continue picking other produce to ensure they do not run to seed which will encourage the plant to stop further production and may leave you without anything to show on the due day.

​For flowers:

​It is much the same regime. Continue to dead head regularly and if you are thinking of showing any, disbud multiple budded stems leaving only one to grow on. This should ensure a much better specimen for exhibition.

​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.


  • 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 arrange 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  – August 2017

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