Degree of Difficulty in Growing a Perfect Dish
5th Jun 1997
Horticultural Show Handbook
All vegetables that are grown for showing have been awarded points, and the exhibition value of any kind of vegetable is governed by the degree of difficulty in growing a perfect dish. The RHS, who publish the Horticultural Show Handbook to guide us through every vegetable, have awarded maximum points to onions and leeks and much less for Fennel Florence and Radish, the latter considered much easier to grow and therefore easier to attain a perfect dish. At the end of the day we all strive hard to achieve perfection although I have yet to see a dish being awarded the maximum of twenty points by any judge.
Even though some of the "easier to grow" vegetables may well have low points, they should never be discounted, and a good dish should sometimes be considered as part of your vegetable display instead of a mediocre twenty pointed one. Take for instance French Beans, I have seen staged some wonderful dishes at the Welsh Championship of the Red speckled flat podded variety. I don't know the proper name for this one and would love to know what it"s proper name is; it's a low growing bush type and Charles Maissey grow it superbly well in pots.
The pods can grow easily to between 6 and 7 inches in length and are very uniform which would force the judge to award it high points from the maximum permitted of 15. Incidentally under the Meritorious heading for "Beans, Dwarf French /Stringless" I quote "Straight, fresh tender snap pods with stalks and of even length and good green colour with no outward sign of seed". I wonder what some judges would make of the fact that the above been has red splashes in it? and what about the variety "Golddukat" which is beautiful to eat, but is a lovely golden /yellow colour.
If you have no room for these in you plot, then by all means have a go at growing them in pots, I grew very successfully for Chelsea three French Bean plants ten inch pots using Levington Gro bag compost. Another vegetable that can be grown superbly in comparatively small pots is Fennel Florence, the varieties Sirio and Cantino are excellent for pot growing and I had some fantastic stems by planting one plant in some 6" pots. Fennel again is a fifteen pointed vegetable with a third of the points being awarded for condition and solidity which can easily be achieved when pot grown. A mid May sowing indoors will give you good specimens by mid August.
Peppers are increasingly popular in show schedules and they are better off being grown indoors in a 4 litre or 10" pot with one plant in each pot. An early sowing though is essential if you intend to stage them in August and even earlier if you like to stage them when they have changed colour to Red or Yellow. One of the main problem I had with these were Aphids and White Fly, both of which I managed to keep under control using Polysect insecticide.
Most shows have a dish of Radish in their schedules and even if they haven't, they usually have a class for "Any other vegetable not mentioned in the Schedule". Radish are easy to grow but not so easy perhaps to have them at their peak on the day of the show as they quickly mature and just as quickly go over the top. Radishes have a maximum points value of 10 so this is one I would really have to be desperate to use in a collection.
It is also a vegetable that goes limp and out of condition quickly so you need to harvest them at the last possible moment. Perfect for growing in containers and I grew a few hundred in 4 litre pots using Gro bag compost. Sow sparingly and thin out to about two inches each way. To be safe of getting radish at their peak have a few sowings five days apart, I sowed some in a cold greenhouse on April 1st and they were perfect for pulling on Saturday 17th May, 47 days after sowing them.