Starting from now, and through to the end of September, will see us right in the middle of the showing season. There will literally be hundreds of shows being held, from the smallest village show to the large Provincial and National events. My first competitive show will be the Welsh Championships of the National Vegetable Society which are being held this year on Saturday and Sunday the 1st and 2nd of September at the Michael Sobell Sports Centre Aberdare and very kindly sponsored by Cynon Taf Council.
This is an excellent show to flex your muscles a little as it really is of the highest calibre possible for vegetables. Perhaps you have already won everything in front of you locally, well now is probably the right time to have a real go against the big boys. It’s really the only way that you are going to find out how good your produce really is; even if you don’t manage to get a card of any kind, you will certainly be able to improve by seeing your produce Most of the top growers will be there and they are more than willing to share their knowledge with you to take you up the next rung of the ladder.
At the moment I am concentrating on my Cucumbers and you can never really tell with these if they are going to be any good until a few days prior to the show. Timing is so important with them, they can so easily be over matured as they can be too young. The variety that I am growing is Carmen and is the one that’s currently winning all of the major shows. It has good deep green colour well shaped with short handles and to top it all it has excellent flavour as well.
I grow eight plants in my 12×8 greenhouse, two at each corner on a bench and grown in Humax Multipurpose number 2 compost. They are now just turning at the top of the glass and will run along canes the length of the house. When you turn the plant to run along the cane you have to be very careful as the stalks are quite brittle. Leave the leader grow well above the horizontal cane before gently, and on a wide curve, gently bend it over and tie it to the cane. Make sure that you also remove all the tendrils as they develop on the plant, they are not needed and will only rob the plant of valuable nutrients.
They have been fed a couple of times with Chempak No2 and Nutrimate liquid to maintain a high level of nutrients in each bag. Once the cucumber fruits start developing they don’t take very long to get to 15 inches in length which is around the optimum size for this variety. However don’t push the plant too far trying to get to this size, you are better harvesting them an inch smaller, in good condition, than leaving them on the plant for too long.
Keeping the fruit growing straight can be achieved by gently bending the fruits as they are growing.Start doing this when they are about 6 inches in length and then do it on a regular basis so that each fruit will be as straight as the barrel of a gun. If you try to straighten then too soon, when they are young, they will inevitably snap off. The best time to straighten them is just before watering and when the sun has been on them and they are limp. If you continue to look after them, who knows, you might be able to beat even Charles Maisey and Trevor Last, both have won with cucumbers more often than I care to remember.