This was the main show I was concentrating on this year and is an “intermediate” level show between village show level and the southern branch championships at the New Forest Show for example.
Last year I entered four classes and picked up a second for pickling shallots, third for exhibition shallots and a third for long carrots.
This year I had more entries – 8 in total – and they were a better standard. I entered the mini-collection (3 veg, 2 of a kind) with long and stump carrots with potatoes. Then in the individual classes I entered long carrots, stump carrots, white potato (variety Winston), coloured potatoes (Amour), exhibition shallots, pickling shallots and beetroot.
Darren helped me yesterday with cleaning the veg and walking me through the preparation stages and he came up with me to stage the exhibits. The NVS had one end of a large marquee that also housed the local Corsley village show including an “open” vegetable exhibition which had some good entries in. On the NVS side the standards were higher as you’d expect although it is much smaller than a branch championship show. Still there are always a handful of people you’re up against who are experienced at higher levels of the competition so it’s a good place to learn.
We’d spent a few hours the previous afternoon preparing the veg. Darren brought his plasterer’s bath with him so we had somewhere to clean the long carrots and we had a selection of sponges and clothes to hand. Once a few carrots were pulled we looked for a set of 3 for the individual class and a pair for the mini-collection. We pulled 9 in the end and got the 5 I was looking for. After hosing off the carrot to remove any soil and using the hose to get any dirt from between the leaves they are then cleaned with a wet sponge moving around the carrot. As I was shown by Darren don’t clean lengthways, always move around the carrot so as not to scratch it, only move the sponge lengthways when at the tail end so you don’t break the tail of the root off. It takes concentration, there was a couple of times I was tempted to clean the wrong way as this is more natural but this will only scratch the carrot eventually and you will then lose points for condition. Once the body of the carrot is clean it’s time to concentrate on the top. We’d already cut off the excess foliage leaving about 5 inches which will be trimmed to show length when staging. You then have to get any dirt out of the top of the carrot using a wet cocktail stick. A fiddly job which takes time but is worth it. Remove any split-end stalks also.
Hopefully you will end up with something like this:
Potatoes are the hardest to clean. If they’ve been cut and drying out for two weeks or more hopefully the skins have hardened enough so you can give them a full work out. Using a very wet sponge move backwards and forwards over the skin without applying too much pressure and “skinning” the potato. Eventually they will buff up to a lovely white smooth finish. Then dry them thoroughly and wrap in dry kitchen towel and keep in the dark until staging. Ideally potatoes should be cleaned as late as possible before showing as they will start to deteriorate if cleaned too far ahead. It’s difficult to perfect and would be best to practice on some of the ones you’re not intending to show first. I took a couple of small patches of skin off whilst cleaning the Winston. When you’ve finished make sure they are bone dry – would be worth checking an hour or so afterwards and wrapping them up again in fresh towel as those on the ones I staged had gone damp overnight and the potatoes themselves had lost some of their whiteness. Lesson learned for next year.
So what about the results……….well I was very pleased to pick up 7 cards from my 8 entries including my very first NVS RED CARD for long carrots which I was chuffed to bits with. This was followed up by a second and 5 third place cards.
I had been thinking of possibly getting best in section but Harry Godden won with a cracking set of leeks.
The mini-collection (3 veg, 2 of each kind) gave me a third place card, with 41 out of 60 points losing out to second place by a couple of points – I only had 2 kinds of 20 point veg to enter, the 3rd veg being stump carrots which automatically means you’re 2 points down before you start so I will consider growing a few parsnips next year.
The best mini-collection was a nice group of leeks, onions and celery which won with 46 points.
The best collection (4 kinds of veg) was won by Terry Ruddick; I particularly liked the stump carrots.
My stumps picked up a respectable third place.
Onto potatoes and I picked up a second for my coloured variety Amour and a third for the white Winston variety.
I think the Amour may have won if they hadn’t been damp overnight and lost some of their whiteness as they were a nice set of potatoes.
My beetroot looked good although a lack of defined tap root may have been the difference.
And finally a set of 9 pickling shallots picked up another third place.
As you can see the show had a good standard of entries. It was great to meet some good growers such as Harry Godden, Terry Ruddick, Peter Devonald, Ian Chant and Ray Scrivens who picked up many cards between them.
Most of all for me it was about getting one of these, a prized red card. Job done!