September 2013 – The results are in…
At the end of August the ‘Best Kept Allotment’ is announced. It’s judged at the beginning of June, July and August where you accumulate points and this year I came a very respectable 4th, which is quite good, as 2 out of the first three entrants are retired and have more time than me to tend their plots.
September is one of my favourite months, as the village where I live in Capel st Mary has its annual allotment show. This year the show was held on the weekend of the 7th & 8th September. On the Thursday and Friday leading up to the show I took these days off as holiday to allow me enough time to lift, pick and prepare my entries. Earlier in the week I had decided to enter 31 classes, all but 3 of these were for vegetables, the others were for flowers or pot plants.
The Thursday was a very hot day and not ideal conditions for lifting many vegetables, so I decided to cut my chrysanthemums and other flowers and put them in deep water in the garage ready to put in vases on Friday. I then spent time tying onions and shallots, sorting potatoes and picking runner beans. I did pull my beetroot and put them in salt water for a few hours, as this helps bring out the red colour inside when cut by the judge on Saturday.
Friday morning I set about lifting parsnips and leeks and preparing my other vegetables. This I completed by lunch time, which was lucky as it started to rain. The afternoon was used for final preparations, picking tomatoes and peppers from the greenhouse and displaying my flowers in vases and tying my begonias.
With all the produce ready I could relax until Saturday morning when the exhibits would be displayed. At 7.30 am I was at the hall unloading and displaying my produce on the benches for judging. All 31 entries went on the show bench and I was done by 9am, ready for the judging to start.
My day is not complete as I judge some of the classes at the show (not the ones I enter) for the residents, fruit and novelty classes. Then I drove to Lawford at 11am and judged the flower and vegetable classes at their show.
Both shows had some good entries and Capel st Mary had a record entry of 675 entries from 78 exhibitors, the hall was full and very colourful and competition was high.
Out of the 31 entries I put in I got 6 1st, 10 2nd and 11 3rd prizes. I came 3rd overall with the most points in the vegetable section behind Gavin Leeks and John Mower who both had some excellent exhibits, especially John’s Onions that won The Andrew Tokely Cup for best exhibit in vegetables.
My first prizes came from beetroot, (the salt water paid off), ridge cucumber, cherry tomatoes, courgettes, French beans and my begonias.
The cherry tomatoes (Suncherry Premium) were all of equal colour and size and did look the best in a heavily contested class of 13 entries.
My courgettes of the variety Venus still had the flowers intact, and I picked the last one that had reached the size of just under 15cm (6in) on the morning of the show to ensure I had a matching set. That early start is worthwhile when you see that red card sitting beside the exhibit.
The French beans were a new variety to me called Hawkesbury Wonder. These were straight and long and looked outstanding against the black cloth and again won a class containing a lot of other good entries. I am going to save some seed from this variety, as French beans do not cross pollinate and I will grow them again next year.
My vegetable collection and salad collections both came third, as did my large Bunton’s Showstopper onions and my leeks came second to John Mower’s very large specimens.
At the show there is a ‘Longest Runner Bean’ class with a 1st prize of £25, £10 for second and £5 for 3rd. I came 2nd with a bean of 64.2cm, only 5cm less than Gavin’s 69.2cm winning bean. Both were the variety Jessops Long, this is an unattractive bean, not good for eating as it is quite course but certainly grows into a long bean for this class.
In the flower classes I came 2nd with a vase of mixed garden flowers that had chrysanthemums, dahlia, carnation, zinnia, and verbena all from the allotment or garden at home. I also won 2nd with a vase of 3 stems of chrysanthemums.
The pot plant class for a plant grown from a seed, bulb, corm or cutting in the last 12 months I entered one of my Begonias from the greenhouse. This won 1st prize and best of all won me the Ransomes & Rapier cup for the best exhibit in the floral classes.
I had a wonderful weekend and now the show equipment has been packed away for another year. The allotment needs a good tidy and I can start to think about what I can grow better for next years show.
Plenty still to do, I have viola and polyanthus plugs to pot on that have just arrived. Some of the summer bedding is looking past its best and will soon need removing, and the last of the maincrop potatoes need lifting.