Guess who won the Novice Top Gardener Award at this year’s local Autumn Show?!
Yes….me! Boom! *Dancing like I just don’t care*
Sorry, I had to get that out of my system before I start writing properly……
I’m a huge advocate of the Autumn Shows across the country, whether it’s your small local village one or the giants such as the Malvern Show taking place next weekend. You don’t need to be expert in GYO or a straight carrot superstar to enter. You just need to have trug loads of enthusiasm and be up for a giggle. See it as a great opportunity to show off all the hard work you have put in over the growing year and be proud.
It’s not about the winning, it’s the taking part that counts…..oh how I wish I had that mental thinking! It lasts about 5 seconds once I step in to the hall with my produce. Game face immediately goes on and all I can think is big certificate and trophy dreams!
How can I have such big dreams yet the idea of growing things in tubes and other way too fancy techniques makes me run a mile and just isn’t for me?! I constantly ask myself this question. I love to see the real show superstars such as Medwyn Williams and Kevin Fortey with their incredible produce. But for me, I just want to grow delicious fruit and veg to eat, whether it is perfectly formed beans, a carrot with 3 cheeky wonky legs or a potato with scab and dimples galore.
This doesn’t stop me entering though; 2017 being my second year of learning to grow my own as well as showing. See, you don’t need years worth of experience in growing either to give the show tables a go. My first show which you can read about here, filled me with immense nerves and excitement, this year was no different.
I arrived full of angst to not only get every entry displayed and looking perfectly placed, but with the biggest body-shaking fear…get the giant pumpkin, seed from Matt Oliver’s 2016 UK Record Breaker in to the hall without dropping it!!
I already knew there was no chance I was carrying it on my own, I couldn’t even get my arms round it. The only option was to reverse my car as close as possible to the entrance and recruit a team of helpers…the stress, ahhh!!
We did it though and how relieved I am…6 months of growing, intense watching and nurturing, all coming down to one day! It was in and looking positively proud amongst the other current Heaviest Pumpkin entries. Just nobody come in with one on a fork lift now….please!
At 11am on the wire, all my entries were in position and ready for judging. Time to get out and have the anxious 3 hour wait! What are you supposed to do for 3 hours? Especially when you have left the nerve wrecking task of lifting and actually weighing the pumpkin in the hands of strangers!
The time dragged but it eventually came round and I was back in the hall straight away, hoping for success and a still intact winning pumpkin.
The results……3 First’s, 1 Second and 3 Third places….not too shabby indeed!
The first prize placings including my heaviest pumpkin, a ‘close-up’ photography entry and the big one…….the NOVICE TOP GARDENER!
I knew straight away this meant a trophy, presented later in the day by the Mayor, whoop whoop!
A good chit-chat, cup of tea and homemade cake later, it was time to receive the silverware and celebrate!
I can’t lie, straight to the pub I went with a huge skip in my step for a few too many but oh so delicious and thoroughly deserved gin and tonics.
If you are ever so slightly tempted to enter your local show next year…..DO IT!!
Here is a few tips:
– Take your time reading the schedule and guidelines, it’s how the entries have to be displayed that can trip newbies up.
– Leave harvesting fruit, veg and cut flowers until as close as possible to show day. Either the night before or for flowers in particular, do these in morning.
– Give yourself plenty of time on the morning of the show to display your produce. It takes longer than you think.
– If you put an entry out and think you have no chance against your competitors, just leave it! You might be surprised or if nothing else, the judges will leave you a note with tips for next time.
– After the judging, take the time to chat to your fellow GYO lovers, eat cake and drink tea. If they are as lovely as most gardeners I know, they will give you lots of tips for the following year.
– Most importantly…enjoy it!!