Competitive Exhibits on the Show Bench
9th Sep 2004
Hawkenbury Allotment Holders Association
This weekend will undoubtedly be the pinnacle of the gardening year for me as regards competitive exhibits on the show bench. Tomorrow I shall be travelling down to Tunbridge Wells to compete in the National Vegetable Society Championships. I shall look forward immensely to meet up once again with my Southern friends and in particular Alan Maynard who has organised the Hawkenbury Allotment Holders Association, (known fondly as HAHA) show so magnificently for so many years, the hosts of the Championships and Sponsors of the National.
HAHA show is where the National Championships were held last time when it visited the Southern area and I can vouch what a great family day out it can be. I urge as many of you as possible to visit the show this Saturday and Sunday, it's a great day out. The reason I urge you is two fold, to see the best quality vegetables that you ever likely to see anywhere in the World whilst at the same time being able to support local charities within the Tunbridge Wells area. Unbelievably, through the endeavours of Alan, his and wife and family, as well as the never ending support of his committee, they were able to give 16,000 pounds last year alone to their Charity.
Since Alan has been at the helm, nearly 27 years ago, he conservatively estimates that Tunbridge Wells has benefited to the tune of well over half a million pounds. An astonishing achievement indeed and all this money brought about through everyone"s love of gardening. It is certainly high time that Alan was properly recognised for his marvellous achievement over so many years.
In my opinion it's been a marvellous growing season and up to now, the standard of exhibits that I have seen around have been certainly on par with any year in the past. However, nothing ever runs smoothly and my worse thing this year has been celery. I must have over done the beds slightly when I prepared them in the Spring and the plants took a long time to establish.
It could be worse though, Gerald Treweek is really having a nightmare season with his long carrots.
He sieved stacks of compost, bored and filled 130 holes only to find that most of them over the season have succumbed to the disease Alternaria. Sadly Gerald is now left with around 15 to pick from and when I last spoke to him about three weeks ago he was still unbelievably optimistic of having a good set this coming weekend to continue his win of last year. Not only does he require 5 for the National he is also optimistic of 3 for the special tap root class at Harrogate as well as another three for the great Autumn Show at the RHS halls London.
Gerald reckons that the fifteen he has left have the best tops he's had for a while and the shoulders are also the biggest he's had, time will tell and I wish him all the best. I am also quietly optimistic of pulling some good specimens, between my friend Jims garden and myself I have nearly a hundred to pull from so who knows. I'm going to stick my neck out that on past form some of the following will certainly be out to ruin Gerald's best laid plans - John Branham, Graham Watson, David Thornton, Jim Thompson and Andrew Jones to name a few will certainly make the long carrot class well worth seeing.
My new short carrot called Bethan is doing really well, it possess fine tops and looking around the tops they seem to be definitely on par with Gringo for size. The crunch will come when I pull them. This year I have sown nearly 400 stations of short carrots, predominantly after my success last year, they are Gringo. The problem I am going to have is which ones to pull and stage, I have to say that my own stump is looking very much the part and the sand has been cracking around the shoulders for a few weeks now. They have also had a second covering of fine peat over the bed as the shoulders were becoming exposed. All of the above is sending the right messages to me that there could be some good ones amongst them.
The reason I say this is because the cracking of the sand around the shoulder means that the carrot is now seriously putting some weight on and the fact that they are pushing their shoulders out of the compost is usually a sure sign they are now developing a distinct stump end. This is usually the last bit that develops and in so doing pushes the carrot out of the bore hole exposing the shoulders. Conversely, if your long carrots are pushing their shoulders out of the compost it's certainly not a good idea. As the probability is that they will either be badly bent, or forked in one way or another. Look forward to seeing you all this weekend.