Tips and advice
Here are some guidelines and tips for exhibitors showing Vegetables, Fruit and Flowers at the Dean and Shelton Country Show.
judges will be looking for and how to display exhibits to their best advantage. Please note that some classes have specific instructions. Judges will eliminate entries that do not meet the specifications in the schedule, no matter however good they are. Double-check all your entries against the schedule before you leave the Dalton Hall.
The produce show is intended to be a friendly show aimed for amateur growers and gardeners, so anyone who enjoys growing flowers, fruit and vegetables can enter successfully by following these simple guidelines.
The following is taken from the Royal Horticultural Society guidelines for shows.
Guideline 1 - Read the rules and class description carefully
Always read the Show rules and class title carefully. You must enter only home grown produce. Check the number specified in the Schedule for the class you wish to enter - if it says 8 pods runner beans you will be disqualified ('NAS' - not as schedule) if you have too few or too many. It is worth bringing along a few extra as spares just in case you find you need them when you are placing your exhibit.
Guideline 2 – Start small
Show a small set of flowers/fruit/vegetables really well to ensure you have a stress-free Show. If you are new to showing don't be tempted to enter too many classes. Preparing entries for showing takes a bit of time.
Guideline 3 - Choose easy-to-grow cultivars to begin with
When planning choose cultivars with care. Instead of using traditional varieties, you may have more success, at least at first, if you choose modern, disease-resistant varieties. These are often easier to raise and require a bit less attention.
Guideline 4 - Protect your crops from damage and disease
Look for perfect specimens, flowers/fruit/vegetables should be as near perfect as possible, even if it is not the largest specimen you have, this means no damage, no signs of disease and nice even growth.
Guideline 5 - Review your entries,
About 10 days before Show day review your flowers/fruit/vegetables and plan your entries.
Guideline 6 - Harvest, prepare and pack your entries with great care.
The day before the Show, carefully harvest your crops, the only exception to this is shallots and onions which may be harvested and set out to dry out a little, a few days earlier. Gently wash away all soil on entries which have been in contact with the ground. Try to avoid dropping or bruising any entry. Remove any pests you find.
With leafy vegetable entries, you must leave all leaves in place, do not be tempted to remove the outer ones. If there are multiple items in the class (e.g. 5 tomatoes), make sure that they are roughly the same size and match as much as possible - this applies to flowers, fruit and vegetables. You may find it easier to pack entries individually in newspaper or kitchen paper, place in a box and pack around them so they do not move and become damaged in transit.
For flower stems and herbs, do not forget to put them in water when you stage them. You may label the exhibit with its name; this is not compulsory, except for the collection of herbs class. Arrive in good time to set out your entries.
Guideline 7 - Chat to other exhibitors
It is a very good way to get ideas for next year, have fun and hence enjoy the show, who knows you might win a cup!
Tips on Showing Vegetables
A uniform shape and size is all important with all vegetables, so is presentation. Vegetables should be displayed as attractively as possible on plates or boards or directly on the table, water thoroughly before harvesting for the show. Root vegetables should be washed carefully with a soft cloth and plenty of water.
All beetroot should be firm, fresh, and clean with a single root (if possible). Cut the foliage to approximately three inches, tie the remaining foliage for neatness (but not essential). The judge will cut one beet from each exhibit to see if there are any prominent white rings. The optimum size is around the size of a tennis ball avoid specimens with poor skin colour at the base of the root or which don't have a single small tap root small side roots should be removed.
Long pointed: Should be fresh, firm and long with smooth roots, good colour all down the length of the root. Foliage trimmed to approximately 75mm in length.
Stump rooted: Fresh, of good colour and shape with a distinct stump showing, clear smooth skin and foliage trimmed to approximately 75mm in length.
Avoid pale coloured specimens or those that have turned green at the top.
Should be young, tender fruits of good shapely and uniform (straight if possible) and colour approximately four to six inches (100 - 150mm) in length no longer, and one and a half inches (35mm) in diameter. May be shown with or without their flower its up to you, display flat.
Choose medium sized examples for that specific variety, with shallow eyes and no blemishes. they should be cleaned carefully with a sponge and look fresh, all the potatoes in the exhibit should be of similar size, as a guide each potato should be a size to just cover the palm of your hand and weigh approximately 6/7 ounces or 170- 200 grams. Display on a plate and cover with a cloth to exclude light as long as possible.
Beans for They should all include the stalk, cut them from the vine with scissors or secateurs. Wrapping them in wet newspaper the night before the show helps to straighten them.showing should all be uniform, straight and of the same length and width (as near as possible). A couple of weeks or so before the Show look at your beans still growing and any bean less than four inches, which you think may be ready for the day of the Show, squeeze gently where the seed is so as to break the seed and it will not swell or bulge out and spoil your exhibit.
Select pods of an even green colour discarding old yellowing pods. Display lengthwise across a plate, with all stalks at one end.
Select long pods that are nice and full, but not old. When cutting from the vine, try to keep the waxy bloom intact without any finger marks and leave approx. 1” (25mm) of stalk. Hold up to strong light by stalk to check for internal damage. Display Pea pods on a plate.
Avoid soft, stained specimens with thick, immature necks. Avoid over-skinning. Tops should be cut and then tied or whipped using raffia or similar material and the roots neatly trimmed back to the basal plate. Can be displayed on rings or on soft collars.
Bulbs should be thoroughly dried, be free from staining and loose skin prepare as onions. Display on dry sand or similar material to keep upright on a tray.
Small fruited: Should be fresh, ripe but firm, well coloured and blemish free with fresh calyx (or stalk) still attached. Each tomato should be no larger than 35mm in diameter.
Medium fruited: Should be of good shape, well rounded, clear skinned, ripe but firm. Size about 60mm in diameter (as near as possible but not essential in local shows) all fruits should match as near as possible.
lift with the roots intact in the evening or early morning. Then wash roots and wrap in moist tissue and plastic bag. Wash upside down, remove only markedly damaged outside leaves, and lay on the show bench with firm hearts facing the front.
Stalks should be fresh, straight and long. Foliage should be cut off leaving approx. 3”. Wipe clean and trim off any bud scales at the bottom.
Presentation is important and so is the choice of your vegetable as some will carry more points than others for example.
20 points – leeks, potatoes, pointed/long carrots, cauliflowers, large onions, peas and tomatoes. 18 points – long beetroot, aubergines, runner beans, stump rooted / ball carrots, house or frame cucumbers and exhibition shallots.
15 points – globe artichokes, dwarf/french/broad beans, round beetroot, cabbage, capsicums, ridge/outdoor cucumbers, lettuces, marrows/squashes and sweet corn.
12 points – mange tout peas, pickling onions, rhubarb, spinach, cherry tomatoes and garlic.
10 points – courgettes, chives, leaf lettuce, salad onions, cress and radishes.
5 points – herbs.
Tips on Showing Fruit
Pick as close to the show as possible and pick more than called for in the schedule, so that reserves are available when setting out. Select fruit that is fresh, free from blemish, uniform in size, shape and colour. Cut from the plant and handle by the stalks and as little as possible. All fruit should be fresh and clean, not polished, shown with stalks attached where specified.
Must be ripe, but not overripe and be left on the bunch. Choose the ones with the longest strings and largest fruit.
Leave the stalk on.
Should be clipped from the vine to leave the stalk on if wet weather, cut pieces of fruit-bearing canes and bring under cover and place ends in water until dry enough to cut. berries look best staged in a line with stalks all one way.
Tips on Showing Flowers
Where maximum sizes are specified, you are expected to use most of the space, not just in one corner. Where accessories are allowed, these should not dominate the exhibit, but merely enhance the natural materials. Give flowers a long drink before arranging them preferably overnight.
Pad the container with newspaper to take up space and help keep flowers upright.
Blooms should be fresh and clean (no earwigs), firm and not marked. Stems and foliage are taken into account by the Judge, especially if the competition is close.
Hybrid Tea blooms should be shown at the half to the three-quarter open stage without the middle of the flower wide open showing the stamens.
Cluster or floribunda stems should be shown fresh and the stamens, if visible, should not be black and stale. A week or so prior to the Show take out the centre bud or flower from the head of the cluster and more flowers will open fresh for the Show.
Where a recipe is provided, the recipe must be followed closely.
Those with an even texture and level top will be looked on most favourably. Display on paper doilies for best effect. Judges may feel an excessive coating of sugar is hiding something.
No cream, the jam should be raspberry and dusted with caster sugar, the sponge can be made the day before and filled on the day.
Judges like to be able to see the back of the work.
Photographs always look best when mounted on paper or card that is slightly larger than the print itself.
Some Winning Suggestions
Plant garlic close to roses and beans to deter aphids.
Plant Tagettes in the greenhouse to deter white fly.
Do not smoke in the greenhouse as smoking can cause botrytis in tomatoes.
Use a four-year rotation for your crops, starting with potatoes and ending with brassicas.
Pick lettuce before sun rise.
Crumble a moth ball into the soil to prevent carrot-root fly.
Beetroot - feed with salt water once a week for three weeks before the show to improve colour (one tablespoon to a gallon).
For further tips and advice on growing vegetables visit medwyns of Angelsey http://www.medwynsofanglesey.co.uk
Disclaimer: The above is intended as a guide only and shows vary, the Dean and Shelton Country Show Committee cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies or for any failures of produce when exhibitors follow the above information.