After all the hype, build-up and preparation, last weekend it was finally here… the Earl Shilton Town Show was upon us. Up bright and early on Saturday morning I shot off down the garden – still in my pyjamas – to harvest my award-winning veggies.
The runner beans were whipped off the plants, the spuds and onions came out of hiding from the shed, and I also picked my biggest marrow, a couple of courgettes, a couple of tomatoes and a mahoosive cucumber that I’ve grown.
I soon found that finding four identical beans was going to be pretty tricky. Laying them out in size order, I discovered that some were too curly, some were odd shapes, and some perfect, but a bit kinky. I straightened them out best I could, and selected the most likely candidates. I then weighed my spuds and picked the four that were most uniform.
I was also entering the 5 a day category – an arrangement of five different fruits and vegetables – so into a basket went my marrow, cucumber, yellow courgettes, onions and a couple of beef tomatoes – I was after a colour explosion.
Off I went to the hall to display my entries, and realising there were some pristine specimens already there, I discovered the competition would be stiff. Returning a couple of hours later after judging had taken place, I eagerly scanned the tables for the results. And do you know what? Instead of the fistful of winning tickets I’d envisaged, my entries had won nothing. Yes! NOTHING at all!
This vegetable show malarkey is obviously a tad more technical than I’d thought, but I had an interesting chat with a chap there who let me in on a few trade secrets. Runner beans and tomatoes should be picked on the day of the show: they can tell if they’re not. There were a good few bean entries, so I wasn’t too disappointed about that one. A closer look at my spuds revealed a miniscule grub hole in the back of one, which obviously hadn’t escaped the scrutiny of the eagle-eyed judge.
My 5 a day basket – which I thought was my trump card – didn’t win because the entries were judged on how balanced a diet they were (on reflection I had too many curcubits) – and get this – they also looked at the vitamin and mineral content in there!
Oh well. There’s always next year, and as they say, “it’s the taking part that counts”.
Although, I didn’t come away from the show entirely empty handed. After my article a couple of weeks ago, bemoaning my Cabbage White invasion, a very kind man gave me a present. A sachet of organic, natural caterpillar killer that you mix with water and spray on the plants. The caterpillars eat the leaves, and apparently die shortly after – not harming any beneficial insects in the process. As my greenhouse is currently being eaten alive, it was a gift very gratefully received.