HOW TO SHOW VEGETABLES
The most important thing about growing vegetables is that they taste good! However, when showing, the judge looks for clean, unblemished, uniform specimens which conform to the class in the schedule and variety presented. For example if a class specifies 6 pods of peas with a ½ inch of stem then they are looking for all 6 pods of the same variety, identical size and shape, and each one with the stem still attached.
Careful planning will be required with certain vegetables as there will be some preparation to do in advance of the show, especially onions and shallots. Growing conditions vary every year but check seed packets to make sure the variety will be ready for the show date.
All specimens should be as fresh as possible.
POTATOES All potatoes should be gently cleaned of all soil or dirt without breaking the skin. They should be as near as possible identical size and shape with no blemishes, or green colour on the skin.
WHITE potatoes should have all white skins with no trace of pink or red
COLOURED potatoes can be completely coloured eg. Desiree, or have areas of pink or mauve eg. Kestrel. SALAD potatoes should be of a salad variety eg. International Kidney, but can be white or coloured.
CARROTS, BEETROOT, PARSNIPS Choose evenly-shaped same-sized roots with no blemishes or worm holes. Leave as much of the long tap root as possible but the little 'hairy' roots can be removed. Leave about 1 ½ to 2 inches of stalk on unless otherwise specified. Carefully wash off any soil; try not to scrub the skins (especially carrots) to avoid damage.
COURGETTES Pick young, tender specimens evenly-matched and undamaged skins. Leave 1” stem, and flowers if possible (not essential).
ONIONS Choose identical sized, evenly shaped onions. Do not leave till the last minute!! They need to dry off so should be lifted well in advance (at least 2 or 3 weeks) and laid in the sun if possible. The outer skin can be peeled off if really dirty or untidy BUT be careful not to take more than necessary. Points will be deducted if they are peeled down to their shiny underneath... Clean any dirt from the roots then they can be tidied by trimming a little off the ends.
Tying Cut off the green stems to within approx 1 ½” of the top of the onion. Have some raffia, thin string or cotton thread ready....fold over the cut stem and tie it together, wrapping the string around several times. Tie it off as neatly as possible.
Presentation Onions need to stand upright for judging so can be placed on a small plate of fine sand, or cut rings from toilet roll inners to stand them in.
SHALLOTS These should be treated the same way as onions but presented on a small plate of fine sand. Ensure they are evenly sized and shaped and that there are no little side bulbs underneath.
TOMATOES Choose firm, even-sized ripe fruit, leaving on a little stalk and the green 'star' attached to the fruit. Carefully wash and dry to remove watermarks. Display on a white plate.
CUCUMBERS Choose fresh, straight specimens, evenly sized in length and thickness. Leave on 1” of stem, and any flowers (rarely possible but a bonus).
BEANS Whether runner beans or French beans, they should be as fresh as possible as the judge will snap them in two to test them. A row of identical beans of good colour is the aim, with no blemishes or holes. Cut them when harvesting (don't pull them off) as there must be a little bit of the stalk attached. The bean seeds inside should not be visible. A tip for runner beans which are not quite straight is to wrap them in a damp tea towel or newspaper and leave them in the fridge overnight.
PEAS A row of even-sized pods still with the waxy 'bloom' on the skin, and a little stalk attached. Inside, the peas should fill the pod and be tender with no insect damage (the judge will open pods to check).
CHARD There should be enough stem (neatly cut) to show there is no insect damage, and the leaves should be as undamaged as possible and even in size.
RHUBARB The leaf should be trimmed to about 3” above the stem. Straight stems, pulled not cut, removing any bud scales. Wipe clean.
COLLECTION OF GARDEN PRODUCE Use the board provided by the Garden Club which is to the size specified. Quality is most important and the guidance used for each individual class (eg onions must be tied) should still apply. It is better to have fewer well-displayed items than trying to cram too many things in. It can be a selection of fruit and vegetables, all vegetables, or all fruit.
FRUIT Soft fruit generally has pips and includes raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants (leave bunches on a stem), grapes (bunch on stem).
Other fruits generally have stones such as plums, peaches, apricots, or are apples, pears etc. Display ripe, undamaged specimens of even shape and colour on a white plate.