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Fife Flower Show Part 5 - the Vegetable Section


I used to be Secretary of our local Flower Show. The Vegetable Section almost died out after we had a winter of terrible gales and we also had an invasion of rabbits to the village gardens. It had been a major part of the show because everybody grew veg. It was inevitable that they craved fresh food and started to tend their veggie patches again. At our first show people came with maybe 2 or 3 exhibits, then seeing what their neighbours were showing and convinced that they had better produce at home they soon came back with something else. It was a horrendous job for those of us booking in exhibits because we were working with printed entry forms – no computers at our show. The show grew each year until it got too big for those of us trying to do everything and we had to call a halt before we went mad. There is a tremendous amount of work involved in staging a show and you do need plenty of help. With our WRI closing down and the Womens Guild dwindling to single numbers and mostly very elderly we lost a lot of people who were behind the scenes keeping the show on the road. When the local school was closed we lost the support of the local and interested teaching staff. Helping out at a show is a good way to learn what you need to do to exhibit. Our policy was to encourage exhibitors to show what they had even if every exhibit was not going to win a cup. Fellow exhibitors are very supportive of first timers and I thought in this blog I could point out a few of the tips we were given by judges and experienced exhibitors.

Big is not always best as you can see here . The judge went for uniformity and wanted the veg to look like it says on the packet.

Uniform in size and shape and smooth skin with few blemishes. Neatly cut foliage which does not need to be tied up. Roots left on and not cut off. Beetroot bleeds. The items should be presented so that the judge can see what belongs together.

The exhibit on the right won first place.

In the next two photographs its easy to see why the judge gave a first as he/she did. Presentation is always important.

Matching pairs of veg and potatoes which are the same size and shape helped the exhibitor gain first place.

Although the cauliflower are not the same size the foliage round the head has been cut neatly.

The exhibit below looks less tidy than the one above.

No prize for this exhibitor in the same class (below). Its not obvious from the photo but the exhibits were very much smaller than those placed by the judge. There was often a suspicion that judges favoured some exhibitors. If you look at the card placed beside this exhibit you will see that there is room for the Class number, the exhibitors number, the award given by the judge and the judges initials. when the judge does the judging all he/she will see on that card is the Class number. This means the judging is done blind and the judge has no way of knowing who has entered which exhibit. The Judges ‘Steward’ who accompanies the judge during the judging will record the exhibitor number when the judge finishes that class. We used to ask judges to come for three years and then we got someone else in case they became too familiar with an exhibitors way of doing things. There is little chance that they will find the exhibits very memorable unless it is extremely good quality but just in case. Judges are thin on the ground so they tend to be very busy during the show season in the late summer early autumn.

Occasionally you might see NAS written on the card beside the exhibit. It means ‘Not as Schedule’ in this case the Class was for 2 different types of onion with 3 of each being needed. There is only one set of three here.

In the photo below the onions are sitting on curtain rings to stop them rolling away. The following photo will show different ideas from different exhibitors.

This next class sounds like the easiest class in the show but it can be hard to get one plant of parsley to look this good.

Potato classes are always well supported. Most people who grow veg will gro potatoes but from experience I know how hard it is to find the required number of potatoes which look identical. I know lots of our exhibitors had to dig up half their crop in the pursuit of excellence.

I hope I have whetted your appetite to take part in your local show. This show had several prestigous trophies on offer and drew exhibitors from all over the country but your local show will be much less demanding than something like this. Do get a schedule and have a go.

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These vegetables always fascinate me as mine are not often that straight and have knobbly bits, although I do get good looking results with Runner beans, that might be because I pick them very young?

29 Sep, 2012


Drc root veg tend to be knobbly if planted in stony ground. I suspect a lot of the long roots shown above have been grown in pipes filled with a sandy mix. I don't grow beans we prefer peas and they never get big because we eat them raw straight off the plant. I hope you will be exhibiting beans next year lol.

29 Sep, 2012


Pipes -thanks I wondered how it was done. I grow in clay which is quite hard to dig more than 1-2 spades down so mostly I grow potatoes salads and beans and sprouts, but not that many nowadays, just enough for us. Exhibiting does not appeal to me but I like to see them.

29 Sep, 2012


Great blog... lovely photos.. well done :o)))

29 Sep, 2012


The pipes have a section cut along the length of the piece of plastic pipe,which is then filled with the growing medium. The cut out is attached back on and then one end of the pipe is raised and the seeds planted. The strongest seedling will be kept and the others transplanted or discarded. Just before the show the cut out is removed and the soil is hosed out so that the vegetable root remains intact. Its an exhibitors way of growing to show. The ones he uses for the table will be in rows like ours.

29 Sep, 2012


all very nice but are they tasty,at risk of put down,why would parsnips be grown that long surely only a small portion of those could be eaten ohhhhh

29 Sep, 2012


Those vegetables are great. It must take a lot of care and attention to detail to produce them. The parsley plant is impressive - it looks very lush!

29 Sep, 2012


Very interesting Scotsgran. I do agree about presentation. It's easy to just plonk something down on the table, but much better to take a pride in it.

29 Sep, 2012


Snoopdog they are tasty. The veg are usually sold off at the end of the show and I have tasted some delicious larger than normal veggies. Because these are grown in good compost they are very clean and don't need to be peeled, unlike shop bought carrots etc which are often treated to keep them while they travel to the shops. You can use most of what you see in soup or to make a stock.
Mel do try growing one plant of parsley in a six inch pot. You will be surprised at how good it looks and taste. It is not too big to be overwintered on the kitchen windowsill to keep you in fresh parsley all through the year. The same size pot full of lots of plants will give spindly plants with much less flavour.

29 Sep, 2012


hi scotsgran those growers could teach me a thing or two they must surely take great pride in what they do i dont suppose there is a section for weeds at which i would win hands downhahaxxxsteve

30 Sep, 2012


I'd be competition for you then Snoopdog, especially this year. I've regularly been filling 6 large wheelie bins for the monthly recycling collection. I can just see
Class 100. 6 dandelion heads mounted on a board.
Class 101. 3 Pancakes with chopped nettle filling.

30 Sep, 2012


I shall try that, Scotsgran. I always have some parsley outside, but I'm not very good with it. Apparently it's a sign that I am not in charge!

30 Sep, 2012


This year the weeds are in charge and no arguing. A day of rain and the lawn is a patchwork of daisies and dandelions at the first glimpse of sun.

30 Sep, 2012


We've had a week of rain, and my lawn is well overgrown. I shall have to dash out between showers and cut it! It's about 3/4 grass and 1/4 weeds. It doesn't show too badly until it gets long!

1 Oct, 2012


Our lawn is so moss and weed ridden that I don't know that we are entitled to say it is a lawn. It looks green and thats the main thing and it looks pretty when the wild flowers bloom. We like it.

2 Oct, 2012


I couldn't agree more, Scotsgran. I have clover and speedwell as well as daisies and even some buttercups but it stays green. Now that the children have grown up and no-one plays on it any more, it looks fine - from a distance! The only thing I do try to get rid of when it gets too bad is the moss, because the birds dig it up and leave bare patches. But there's always some in one corner or another!

2 Oct, 2012

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