Last show of the season

My last show of the season this Sunday was the NVS Hampshire District Association Show which over the last couple of years has developed into a very good intermediate level show open to all NVS members. Having put most of my veg into the New Forest Show earlier in the year I only had a couple of entries to enter – parsnips and coloured potatoes – and I was really pleased with the results.

3 (600x800)

I managed to get a cracking set of parsnips (variety Panorama) which ended up winning first prize, overall best in show and best exhibit by a DA member. The potatoes came second in class as well.

DSCN4705 (600x800)

The trophy haul, more than I was expecting with two entries!

untitled - Copy (160x213)

A great end to the season!

Ride London-Surrey 100 mile charity bike ride

With the New Forest Show over I’ve now turned my attention to tomorrow’s 100 mile charity bike ride – the Prudential Ride London-Surrey. I was in London today to register and early tomorrow I’ll be there again to start from the Olympic Park, through London, around the Surrey hills and back again to finish on the mall.

I’m raising money for a fantastic charity that’s close to my heart based at Southampton General Hospital. The Friends of PICU care for critically ill children across the south of England and are made up entirely by volunteers to raise funds for additional equipment the intensive care unit needs. There are 9 of us completing the ride tomorrow, 9 of 25,000 cyclists who will raise over £10 million for charity with their combined efforts tomorrow.

You can sponsor me by clicking on this link thanks very much.

A few photos from the registration today and the charity cycle top I shall be wearing……….

20150801_103204 (2) (450x800)

20150801_104345 (2) (450x800)

20150801_104511 (2) (450x800)

cycletop1 (800x600)



And here’s my medal for finishing…..



After the show………

A photo of the long roots, trophies and rosettes from the New Forest Show that finished today.

Veg & trophies

I will put the carrots down to seed as I did last year. The parsnips are F1 seed so may not come true so I will just eat them instead!


As I mentioned in the previous post my mate Darren also did very well at the show. We decided to have a joint pic of our haul….a successful week all in all!

NVS Southern Branch Championship at the New Forest Show

Well with all the prep and staging complete today was the big day! And after the morning’s judging was complete I was very pleased to be among the cards. As I mentioned in previous posts at the New Forest Show there are two sides to the vegetable competition – the National Vegetable Society Southern Branch Championships (NVS rules) and the New Forest Open (RHS rules). I had entries in both sides and I was particularly hopeful with my long roots – both the carrots and parsnips.


On the NVS side first up was the parsnips and I was amazed to see I won a red card – first place – the first year that I had grown long parsnips in the sand box.

Next up was my favourite class – the long carrots.


And another red card! I was really chuffed to win 1st place for both the long root classes. This was the first time I’d entered the long roots in the New Forest Show – last year we were in France and with the carrots I entered in the NVS south west DA show maybe I’d have won the New Forest Show if I’d have been there. So I knew I could grow a decent specimen and this year they did the business.

Long carrot display

It was a well contested class too with nine entries.

I also took a third place for my beetroot.


On the Open side I was surprised to see I’d won first place for my potatoes – a set of the variety Kestrel. I thought they were a bit on the small size but the judge must have favoured their uniformity and condition over size.

Potatoes open side

I didn’t realise but there was also prize money attached which was a bonus and at the presentation dinner in the evening I picked up a couple of trophies.

Holderness Fork for parsnips

The Holderness Fork for parsnips.

Bob & Ann Brown Trophy for Long Carrots

And the Bob & Ann Brown trophy for long carrots. It was carrot seed from Bob that got me started in the first place so I’ve come full circle now winning his trophy.

There were a few entries that didn’t get anywhere. On the NVS side white potatoes, coloured potatoes, french beans and peas and on the Open side stump carrots, beetroot and cherry tomatoes.

Finally it was good to see the Hampshire DA members well represented and in the cards particularly Darren who has given me a lot of guidance and helped me prep my entries. You can read Darren’s post on the show which has loads of extra photos here. A great day!!

Show Rejects

Busy day today in the rain, I had to start early with my prep for the New Forest Show, there’s no way I would have fitted it all in tomorrow.

As always there’s a few reject. Here’s some of the roots that didn’t make the grade……


I have a good set of long carrots – there was 11 to choose from and I had a set for this show and I also “laid down” my second set to see if they will keep for the local NVS DA show in mid-September.

Cleaning the carrots is always a time consuming task. First a hose off to remove any soil and also use the hose from the top to get rid of any soil that may be between the leaf stalks. Then using a soft sponge clean around the carrot (not up and down) and remove any hairs. Then using a tooth pick carefully clean around the top and wipe clean. Then store in damp jay clothes and keep wet and out of the light.

The stump carrots were ok to enter in the Open side but nowhere near as good as Darren’s.

And with the parsnips I had the usual shower’s problem, with only a couple left I had three matching pairs – unfortunately I couldn’t get a third for my largest pair which are the best set I’ve ever grown but I did get a match for my medium pair so I stopped there leaving the smaller ones to grow on for the DA show. Cleaning parsnips is similar to carrots however they need to be bone dry after cleaning wrapped in kitchen towel and again kept in the dark.

I also cleaned up a couple of sets of beetroot wrapping in wet clothes.

Tomorrow – another full day with cleaning 14 potatoes, sorting out 12 french beans, and picking the peas and cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes are my only doubt just not sure I’ll get all 15 perfectly ripe that I need. We’ll see tomorrow evening.

Potato prep

I mentioned in my last post that the potato bags had been moved under cover 10 days ago to allow them to dry out and the skins to harden. With so much to do this weekend I wanted to get them emptied and sorted today to see whether I had any sets or not.

I’ve entered two classes in the NVS side of the New Forest Show – white and coloured potatoes, five of each – and I’ve also entered the open side which is four of any variety. There is also a South of England Potato Championship but I don’t grow enough potatoes or enough varieties to attempt this section.

spud set up

The first thing to do was to empty the bags one by one. At this stage I’m keeping any between approx 5 and 8 ounces separate burying them in peat to keep them in the dark and fresh. Any under or over this size go into the eating box to be transferred to hessian sacks and the seed potato / plant material goes into the green recycling bin. Finally the used compost is bagged up for next year.


Once all the bags are emptied the potatoes are lined up according to size and as I don’t grow many it’s relatively easy to put a set together. The group at the bottom is a possible open side of the show entry and the group above is the NVS entry. The Kestrel were a bit under sized in general whereas the Winston had been left too long – some of them were massive, with one weighing in at over a pound – good for jacket spuds but no good for show. That said I also managed to get a set for the NVS and a possible set for the open from the Winston as well.


Arranging the Winston.

spuds in peat

Then the sets are marked up in boxes of fresh peat until Monday when they will be cleaned and wrapped in dry kitchen towel ahead of staging on Monday evening.

Potatoes aren’t really my speciality and with 20 bags grown in total it’s not many to select from but you never know we’ll see what happens on the day.

One week to go

The New Forest Show is just a week away now and I have a few potential entries coming along nicely.

carrots July 2015 (3)

My favourite show veg are the long carrots and parsnips which look good at the moment. Of course you never know what the quality is like below the surface until they are pulled but judging by the top growth they should be good enough to enter.

beans July 2015 (2)

The dwarf French beans are going crazy at the moment with loads for the kitchen and the best ones starting to be cut and saved for the show. I have 25 plants in a 6′ square area and any excess beans will go in the freezer for the Autumn.

peas July 2015 (1)

This year is the first time I’ve grown peas for show and have a lovely crop at the moment. The bottom ones will start to go over now but I will have plenty to select from on the day.

There’s two sides to the vegetable competition at the New Forest Show – the “Open” side which anyone can enter and the National Vegetable Society member’s side which is the NVS Southern Branch Championship. Classes are slightly different on each side. For example the Open side does not have long root classes but does have cherry tomatoes which the NVS side does not.

I’m entering potatoes, stump carrots, beetroot and cherry tomatoes on the Open side and long carrots, parnsips, white potatoes, coloured potatoes, peas, french beans and beetroot on the NVS side.

So this weekend will be a busy one. The potato haulms were cut back a week ago and the bags moved under cover. I wanted to leave them as long as possible to allow them to grow but also needed to give them enough time to dry out and the skins to harden. This allows cleaning without the skins breaking the day before the show. If they are lifted and then cleaned straight away the skins will break. This is the one thing that can give the edge at Village Show level as most entries will not be cleaned to the same extent as the bigger shows.

On Saturday I’ll take a look and see what the potatoes are like, hopefully I will be able to group them into sets and have the three entries I need. On Sunday I will pull and clean the roots and beetroot – keeping them wrapped in wet cloth (or dry cloth for the parsnips) right up to putting them on the show bench. This leaves the potatoes to be cleaned on Monday morning and wrapped in dry cloth with the cherry tomotoes and peas to be picked last thing. Hopefully by then I will have enough French beans cut to choose a set from.

Then on Monday evening its off down to the show to stage which takes place between 6pm and 8am on Tuesday with people travelling a fair distance to enter. Then it’s judging time with the anticipation of a possible card come lunchtime on Tuesday. We’ll see……….there’s a lot of work to do before then!!