|Prize winning giant pumpkins - the red rosette denotes First Prize.|
Despite being an avid grower of veg, I have to admit I've never been to a proper horticultural show before. I can only describe the sight of those first giant pumpkins as I entered as A Thrilling Moment. They were undoubtedly the show stoppers although a wide-eyed wander round had me amazed at leeks the size of my arm, onions as big as cauliflowers, cabbages like footballs and yard long carrots. You're going to need a very big bunny to eat those. I imagine judging must be done to very strict criteria and with a very keen eye as I could only see perfection on a grand scale all around. Entrants have to submit a minimum number of each vegetable so I guess the expertise is in raising several prize specimens.
Giant show vegetables is not a level of horticulture that I'd aspire to, I'm quite content if I get a reasonable haul of edibles each season, but I did give the apple table a more than cursory glance. I'm not one to boast (ahem), but some of my Braeburn apples this year have been huge, beautiful and very crisp and juicy! More by nature than nurture, admittedly, but who knows, in future years perhaps? To be validated by RHS commendation must be quite something!
I assume that giant vegetables are fairly inedible (please tell me if you know otherwise) but this kind of showmanship is something that the RHS does very well. In the veg growing world, this is the equivalent of London Fashion Week and is to the allotment grower what Vivienne Westwood is to Primark - inspiring to look at but not necessarily what we'd want for every day!
Nevertheless, it was a totally brilliant day out - something I'd recommend every veg grower to attend at least once - and it certainly impressed the toddler that I took with me ... although I suspect she was waiting for the pumpkins to turn into Cinderella's coach.
There was a handful of traders at the show doing brisk business and I met the lovely Joy at Sea Spring Seeds who gave me some invaluable advice about growing chillis. More on that in another post.