Exhibition show vegetable growing bit.
This years attempt at hopefully growing some exhibition quality veg for showing.
This coming year as well as growing my usual Show onions and now Long and Stump show carrots,I've decided to have a go at trying some more veg specifically for showing.
At the moment I'm going to concentrate on some show shallots, potatoes and maybe some of the show peas if I can manage to get hold of the seed.
Well,It all starts today folks.
I decided to plant the shallots into pots today as this is generally regarded as the ideal time.
These were some kindly supplied to me by "Smithyveg" and are probably originally from the Hative de Niort variety.
Anyway the first thing to do was to trim the tops a bit so the emerging shoots aren't constricted.
Then I simply planted each one in a pre watered 5" pot of compost.
These will be put into my polytunnel once the snow's gone and really just left to their own accord for a while.
Hopefully quite soon they should send out some roots and start to sprout.
Well,It was about time the shallots were put into the polytunnel since they've been in my porch since planting due to me being unable to get to the plot due to the snow.
As you can see they're all sprouting now
The night time temps aren't as harsh as they have been of late (-17 c the other night !!) so the shock shouldn't be too great for them being shoved into the tunnel..
My seed potatoes arrived today so I needed to "Chit" them.
Chitting is really just a way of preserving them until planting time because if you were to just leave them in the bag in the dark then all you'd get is long spindly shoots appearing which are of no use.
This way by standing the spuds eyed end upwards in either a seed tray or egg box and then placing them in a cool,frost free,bright place you end up with small dark green shoots which help the plant to grow away faster when it comes to planting.
The varieties I'm trying are Winston,a white potato and Kestrel a purple eyed variety.
Well,just a quick update.
The shallots are all doing well and sprouting nicely with a good set of roots on 'em and the potatoes are chitting away well too.
Only a few weeks before they get planted.
Well,I decided it was time to plant out the Shallots.
There was plenty of top growth and the roots were right to the bottom of the pots.
So I just added about 4oz blood fish & bone to the soil and bunged 'em in.
That's it,job done.
Well,I decided it was time to plant up some of the potatoes in bags this evening.
This method is roughly based on the technique of my veg growing guru Smithyveg.
With the potatoes well chitted the 1st thing to do was to take out a trench about 5-6" deep and add some blood fish and bone into the bottom (Ideally you'd add some well rotted manure too).Hopefully the roots should grow through the holes in the bottom and get some more nourishment from the soil whilst the spuds develop in the compost.
With the riddled compost I filled the 17 litre poltpot bags half full and then added about 2oz of Vitax fertilizer and then mixed this in well.
Then I filled the bag to the top with more compost and planted 1 potato about 2/3 of the way down the bag.
And finally once the trench was full of bags just pulled some soil around them to keep them secure.
So that's the Winston potatoes done,I'm only doing 9 bags of each variety this year due to lack of room.
Next to do the Kestrel when I can get hold of some more compost.
Well,I got all the potatoes planted in the bags so we'll have to see how they fare.
And the Shallots are doing well apart from the odd one which have decided to go rotten ??
But on the plus side of the remaining healthy plants the majority have split into 4 which is good as there won't need to be any separaring needs doing.
Well,the shallots are all splitting well but I am a bit concerned about a bit of yellowing on the leaf tips,probably just down to the odd frost and then the roasting weather.
All the potatoes are through in the bags too.
Well, after the rain and sun we've had over the last week things are really starting to move.
The potatoes have gone mental and the shallots seem to be doing pretty well and are about an inch in diameter at the moment.
Well the spuds seem to have recovered from the wind battering them and have grown like crazy.
Plenty of tops but will there be 'owt underneath ?
And the shallots are starting to swell,I must measure them to see how big they are as I only need them to be over 1.5" for my classes.
The shallots seem to have stopped throwing any new leaves up from the centre so as I have learned this year this is as far as they will get.
Leave them any longer and they will probably divide into 2 and be mis-shapen.
Anyway they aren't quite as big as I would have liked,mostly around the 40-45mm diameter,but hopefully as the majority of my shows have an over 1.5" class these should be fine.
They're all pretty equal in size and shape and given that we haven't had any rain up here for 3 months I can't really complain for a 1st attempt.
I have 72 to go at so hopefully I should get a couple of decent sets of 12 out of them.
The shallots have been trimmed a bit and are now going a really nice colour.
I'm not 100% happy though as they do have very thick necks which won't look the best when tied and they aren't perfectly round.
To be honest I think I left them to grow about 2 weeks too long as some are over 2" in diameter.
Anyway as a 1st attempt it's OK I suppose.
Last weekend I emptied out the Winston spuds and today I did the Kestrel.
I cut down the tops a week before to help the skins set as advised then carefully retrieved the spuds.
I was pretty chuffed to get about 5 sets of 4 with a few spare out of just 9 bags.
Today I emptied out the Kestrel and had some good ones as well and even the odd huge one which aren't any good for showing.
And again I got about 5 sets of varying sizes.
These are now stored in dryish peat at home until the day before the show as advised,and then they need a clean before showing.
My 1st show is a week on Sunday so I had a sneeky look at the top of my long carrots.
They seem pretty big but what they'll be like underneath is anyones guess.
Some of the smaller shallots are a nice shape with pretty narrow necks ,to be honest I with I'd harvested them all at this size.
Show Day !!!
Today was the day of my local show and although not aparticularly big one It's not the worst,and for some reason this year had the highest amount of entries for over a decade.
I had a peek through the curtains at a distance when they were judging and saw that there were a couple of onions that dwarfed mine and thought ..that's it then,I've got no chance.
I needn't have worried as this was my best show result of all time.
1st with the under 1.5" shallots and a 2nd + 3rd for the large ones.A pleasing one as this was my 1st go at exhibition shallots,many thanks to SmithyVeg for supplying me with the original bulbs.
First in all the 3 potato classes which was a real buzz as this was my 1st attempt at these.
And again thanks to SmithyVeg for explaining how to grow them.
I'm a bloody fast learner....
I even met the guy from JBA Potatoes who actually recognised me from on here, holy cow,small world.
He explained how I could reduce the tiny little dots on the skins and then they'd be better,and how to grow better winstons.Thoroughly decent fella.He also said that my smaller kestrel were about the ideal size,around 200 grammes,so now I know.
Trouble is my head was in bits after finding out I'd won I've forgotten his name and the technical name he gave for them and how to grow better winstons but he said I should store them in dryer peat and not leave 'em out in the rain like I did.
And another veg/show growing blogger Paul turned up too so It was nice to meet him.(sorry I was a bit vague and sweary but I was in shell shock)
Needless to say I will be ordering my spuds from JBA Seed Potatoes next year just as I did this.
first + second in the 2 large onion class,you can see the larger onion to the left but the tops were just folded over and they weren't as uniform as mine were.
So as you can see size isn't everything,shape,uniformity and skin condition are just as important.
Won a local cup for best local exhibit for a tray of 3 veg.
1st for the 4 small onions and a cabbage.
And a 1st for my first ever good set of long carrots.
I couldn't resist a SmithyVeg carrot pose pic.
And the cherry on the top was best veg in show and the NVS Medal for my 3 stump Carrots.
Personally I thought the long ones were better but these were pretty uniform.
So all in all I won 11 firsts,3 seconds and 3 thirds.
Cup for most points in Onion and Shallot classes.
Cup for Best Local Veg.
Cup for best Local Exhibit.
And the main two,Cup for most points in Vegetable section.
NVS Medal for best Exhibit in Veg Section.
So I am naturally chuffed to bits as we had the most exhibits for a decade and It's the first time I've ever got most points in the Veg Show.
Well,I went along this afternoon to see how I did at the Westmorland Horticultural Show.
The veg section was absolutely rammed full.
Looked more like a County show.
Loads of entries for all the classes.
And some superb Best in show Leeks.
More spuds than I've ever seen.
So now onto me and my results............
I somehow won 2 firsts 2 seconds and a third plus a Cup for Best Plate of Potates in Show with the White Winstons which was,for me,astounding as a 1st time show spud grower this year.
1st for the 3 long carrots even though they were smaller,1st for the 3 stumps and 1st for the longest by about 2 inches.And I must apologise to fellow grower and blogger James for just pipping him in these 3 classes,you were robbed mate !.
Was narrowly pipped to 2nd in the 4 veg clas and the funniest one of the day was to be disqualified in the 1 big onion,1 under 250g and 1 shallot class for being overweight.
I had a laugh at that one,note to self : weigh onion before entering 256 grammes is too heavy ! dummy
Best in show went to these amazing Leeks,they were not only enormous being about a good 5" across,but perfect to boot.Oh and they weren't mine.
I did manage to defend my Onion Champs but unfortunately unopposed.You got to be in it to win it.
Best one was for my Premier Tray which I won and was full of all my best stuff.
But just 13 points for those onions ???
So I was well chuffed to get 7 firsts and a hand full of other cards from just 14 entries in a really good show.
So that's it show wise for me this year,I must do more next year.
That's it for this week folks.........
Thanks a lot for looking.
Last years links below