I hope this will help you if you are new to Show bench or entering your plot into a Best Plot Competition
I have put a few tips to help you in trying to win a trophy.
Usually the first question I am asked is how does Plot judging work
First you must take a look at the judging sheet to see the vegetables, flowers and fruit you need to grow.
Next is to make a plan of your plot so that you can plant everything required in the space you have. On the day your plot is judged, the judge will be looking
The plot must be well stocked with crops free from damage or disease and the uncultivated ground should also be weed free.
The paths and areas around sheds etc. must be clean and if you have grass paths they need to be mown and edged. Crops should be planted for a constant succession of harvesting. Intelligent methods to control pests. Good supports for plants that require them. Most of all, the entire plot should be weed free and well cultivated.
All plants should be growing well, sturdy and free from pests and disease. A broad range of vegetables, fruit and flowers should be ready or almost ready to harvest. Beds should be well planned and a good cropping scheme will be taken into account.
The overall appearance of the plot, this is not just looking up the plot, this is looking all aspects of the plot.
The second question I am often asked, I would like to show my crops this year how do I start.
Firstly you decide which show you wish to enter and try to obtain a show schedule as early as possible one from the previous year will be fine as the do not change significantly.
You need read the schedule with care and pick which classes you would like to show, so that you can select the vegetables and flowers you would need to grow for the show.If it’s your first time showing just pick a few items to show. This will give you chance and you can learn and experience show your crops.
When you have picked the items you would like to grow to show, you will need to grow them the best you can. So a little care in preparing the growing bed will go a long way to giving crops that can win in their class.
We will take flower’s first and your schedule will have classes for Annual’s, Chrysanthemum, Dahlia, Sweet Pea, Gladioli and Rose ect.
For most of these you will need the aid of a specialist catalogue so you can pick which variety to grow for the show.
In the show schedule you will see many classes for Chrysanthemum, incurve, deflexed, and spray ect. Dahlia there will be classes from decorative, cactus, semi-cactus, ball and pom-pom ect. So you need to grow the variety for the class you wish to enter in the show.
Secondly we move to into vegetable “which am I going to show”. Again there are many catalogues and many varieties of each vegetable for you to pick from, Look at the show bench and check the varieties grown you can also ask other plot holders that show, varieties that produce the best results. To grow to show standards long root veg like parsnips and carrots you will need pipes and barrels to grow them in, but most veg will grow in a raised bed.
Make up an accessories box with a clean cloth, sharp knife, scissors, tape, raffia, ruler and string these will be needed when setting up you may need paper plates for veg & oasis for flower set up check the schedule to see if vases are supplied.
Getting ready for the show get your show schedule and read it you must do as it instructs. When you cut your flower’s cut on long stems and put in water always cut more than you need, as some flowers may get damaged on the way to the show.
When you pack your flowers try to get long flower boxes to put them in.
Vegetables always take care when you dig up or cut vegetables with care.
You will need to tie onion and shallots do this before going to the show this will give you more time. Always wash and clean all you vegetables again before going to the show again take more than you need.
Make sure you get to the venue early to give you time to set up your exhibits.
First with show schedule in hand take a look around where your entry or entries have to go if in doubt are the show secretary.
I would put out my flower first make sure the vase are clean and filled with clean water ready for your flowers with your schedule by you work setting up your flower, with flower always keep them on long stems and remove any buds, as a bud will count as a flower when judged when the schedule calls for a set number of flowers i.e. 3,5 or 9 blooms this is the number you put in your vase. If it is a vase of cut flowers it should look like a vase you have in your home do not just put the flowers in a vase you need to arrangement of flowers to win a card.
Next to vegetables same as above check schedule with care.when you put them into the bench make sure they clean and where it say’s cut to size this must be done. Potatoes are best on plates, onion rings and to show off your beans/peas put them on a black cloth.
My last tip is to make sure you always have your show schedule on you and make sure you read it and with your schedule in hand check all your exhibits make sure you have put your cards with your exhibits and your quantities are correct.
After Judging and you get the opportunity ask the show judge why he has marked your exhibits in the way he has you can learn a lot from that.
Mick Merrill, BDAC Life Vice-President & Chairman of Ward End Gardeners Association, Mick Merrill