Tag Archives: Showing

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!!

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.

NVS Hampshire District Association Show

Today was our District Association show which, for the first time, we’ve moved from the Tuesday evening “mini-show” format to a full blown day show. We weren’t sure what response we would get but we weren’t disappointed with the turnout and the standard of entries was excellent, a really good competition.

A couple of people we’d met at the Corsley Show last month – Ray Scrivens and Harry Godden – came down for the day which for Ray was a 70 mile trip from Gloucestershire, great to see the word was out and they’d made the journey down.


These pictures will give you an idea of the entries. Everyone was tucking into food, teas and coffees during the staging and through the judging. This made it a great social occasion and a good opportunity to share ideas and pick up tips. Afterwards there was a chance to quiz the judges and get their view on what they look for on certain exhibits which I’m sure gave people some pointers for next year.


My favourite class is the long carrots which I won last month at the NVS South West District Association show. I managed to get a set of three from the final half a dozen or so I had left although they weren’t as good as Darren’s who was showing for the first time this year because his carrots were held back by conditions earlier on. I was pleased with a second place.

Long carrots

Pickling shallots

The pickling shallots were the same I entered last month and I picked up a third place.

Shallots and onions

There were some good quality entries in the shallot and onion classes.


The surprise was my cherry tomatoes – Sungold – the only non-red tomato in the class – which picked up a second. I’d only picked ten the evening before and entered the best six. There was not much to choose between them and the first place but, as I wasn’t expecting anything, I was pleased with the result.

Tomatoes (2)

The tomato entries.


The collection was hard fought with only half a point between Darren and Harry Godden. The class was for three twenty point veg – 1 of each. Darren and I both entered a long carrot, a parsnip and a potato. I was a few points off the pace with 45 out of 60 and out of the places. Darren won with 53.5 points and picked up the NVS Silver Medal for winning this class. He also picked up a first for his set of parsnips proving he is hard to beat when it comes to the long roots, a great show for him when you consider the upheaval of the last year getting set up in his new place.


The stump carrots was another good class.

Any other veg

Any other veg was won by Harry with his leeks – last month at Corsley he won best in show with leeks.


The bean classes.


The potato classes.

Best in Show potatoes

Best in show went to Heather with a great set of Kestrel.


There was also a flowers and pot plants section which included quite a few classes for my favourite flowers – Dahlias. I only wish I could grow them to this standard, they were superb and here’s a few pictures to show you what I mean. You will be pushed to find better as there were some top level Dahlia growers involved.


Dahlia 2

Dahlia 3

Dahlia 4

So the end of the season from a showing perspective. I picked up my first NVS red card last month and today I had three more places picking up some nice rosettes. Not bad considering I didn’t have a huge amount to choose from. Unfortunately the exhibition shallots, potatoes, stump carrots, beetroot and any other veg entries didn’t come anywhere but it helped make the show and it’s good to see many classes with 6 or more entries in.

I’m sure this show will go from strength to strength now and be one of the best in the area. It is open to all so if you fancy having a try come on down it would be great to see you next year.

NVS South West DA Show results

It was the NVS South West DA Show today which has been based at the 96th Annual Corsley show (near Warminster) for the last couple of years.

Corsley Show programme

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:

Damo Long Carrot Set 2014

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.

Damo long carrots

Long carrots

I had been thinking of possibly getting best in section but Harry Godden won with a cracking set of leeks.

Best in section - 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.

Best mini-collection

The best collection (4 kinds of veg) was won by Terry Ruddick; I particularly liked the stump carrots.

Best collection

My stumps picked up a respectable third place.

Stump carrots

Onto potatoes and I picked up a second for my coloured variety Amour and a third for the white Winston variety.

Coloured potatoes

White potatoes

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.

Pickling shallots

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!

First prize card

Corsley Show

Today was the Corsley Show, near Warminster, Wiltshire which played host to the NVS South West of England District Association show. This is open to any NVS member, particularly those in the south-west and there were two or three of the exhibitors who would be considered at a national standard.

I managed to stage 4 entries – mini-collection, 3 long carrots, 8 exhibition shallots and 9 pickling shallots. There is also an Open Show side which is basically a village show of veg, flowers and handicrafts but I didn’t enter anything. In addition to the Horticulture marquee there was a funfair, horse show, dog show, heavy horses, falconry etc., a really good day out for the family who had to endure an early start so I could get my veg staged before 9 a.m. As an exhibitor I had a complimentary ticket to the show also.

We finally got back into the marquee at 12.30 p.m. after the judging had finished and out of the 4 classes I picked up three cards, a second and two thirds. Considering I already knew I hadn’t won the mini-collection as one of my two large long carrots had split I’ll call it three cards out of three entered! I was particularly pleased with the two shallot classes which I’ve never entered before apart from the 5 shallot class in my local village show.

Shallots pickling

These were my pickling shallots. There were quite a few entries as you can see below.

Pickling class

And my exhbition shallots did quite well also. What they lacked in size they made up for in uniformity.

Shallots exhibition

Below are the first prize winner (bottom) and the second prize winner in the class.

Shallots winner and second

I was third in the long carrot class (my set is the second from bottom, with the second place just above mine and the first place is two from the top).

Carrot class

The best exhibit went to Mark Hall’s long carrots which were part of his large collection entry and were easily the best veg exhibit in the marquee.

Large collection

There were also some good entries in the onion and potato classes.


Onions small


I picked up £13 in prize money. All in all a very nice day out and I must say a big thank you to all the NVS SW DA organisers who made me feel so welcome and gave me some good tips and advice. I hope to come back with more entries next year!!


is never easy to take. But these guys weren’t good enough to make the cut for tomorrow’s show. The parsnips had diagonal splits down the root so I’ve obviously done something wrong there – won’t affect the roasting process though!


So the few entries I’ve got for the show are –
Mini-Collection, 3 different veg, 2 of each kind which will be long carrots, potatoes & shallots.
3 long carrots.
8 exhibition shallots.
9 pickling shallots.

That’s it, I have very low expectations – at the very least it’s a family day out and you never know I may get something.

Hope you’re all having a good Bank Holiday weekend!

NVS Hampshire D.A. Show

Following on from my last post when I showed you my latest carrot growing success I put the 3 long carrots on the showbench at our NVS Hampshire DA mini-show last night. It was really interesting to hear newly appointed NVS Chairman Barry Newman’s expert judging feedback and he gave my carrots some favourable comments and 2nd place to Mr Blick’s superb set that also took overall best in show. Considering it’s my first attempt and I only had 3 long carrots to choose from I’m pretty happy with that. Pictured below you can see how great Darren’s set is and they would have graced any showbench at any level. No wonder he’s smiling and a nice little trophy for the mantlepiece too! You can follow Darren’s progress over at Blicky’s Blog.

So that’s it for this season. Good luck to all those entering the Midland Championship at Malvern a week on Saturday. Next year it’ll be an all out assault on the NVS Southern Championship at the New Forest & Hampshire County Show for me. I’m going to busy over the winter planning for that!!