A Ruby Saturday - Without Chard

In the Neeld Hall Chippenham, yesterday afternoon

You may remember I was debating whether to enter our Allotment and Garden show here. Since then Threadspider and I have been gently encouraging each other to enter, plus the pull of it being the 40th show (i.e. Ruby anniversary) this year was too hard to resist. I'd marked up lots of potential categories when the schedule first came out, but sat down last week to realistically see which ones I could enter. Most of the vegetable categories were non-starters - our wet summer's halted the progress of most of my crops plus a mystery pest* had decided to eat the tops of my sweetcorn and make serious inroads into my pears. Blight has destroyed most of my tomatoes, but the rest are nowhere near ripe yet. My harvested potatoes are crossed with the Pink Fir Apple variety and so are too knobbly to enter. The more uniform varieties are still in the ground - probably being eaten by hoards of voracious slugs as I write. I don't grow runner beans. That left me with just the courgette category. Yes! Three pretty uniform courgettes were in evidence on my plants. I got my ruler out to measure them - d*mn, just a few millimetres over the maximum length allowed. Should have picked them earlier.

Right, so what have we got in the fruit categories then? Hmm - Plate of any soft fruit (8) - I must enter my raspberries. At this point the sun came out, so I beetled up the plot to do some harvesting. Right in the middle of me picking my Scrumptious apples, Mr Allotment Warden (MAW) appeared. Are you entering them in the show then? The thought hadn't even crossed my mind - but what a good idea! We then discussed the difficulty of the season - MAW reckoned he didn't have much to enter. Later on, whilst picking raspberries, Mrs MAW stopped by. Are you entering them in the show then? I nodded. What about you? Oh MAW's found a few things this morning, thinks he's got a contender for the longest runner bean category. Thus I learnt some of the fundamental rules of allotment shows - keep what you're entering very close to your chest, particularly if you think you're in with a chance. And don't talk to your family about it either, especially if they come up to the allotment from time to time!

OK - what else? I've no time to enter the handicrafts or cookery sections. Now - photography... A quick trawl through my blog photos this year came up with some likely contenders for most of the categories. But because I've never entered before, I decided to stick to just 5 of them - Landscape, Flower Close-up, Pet(s), Sunrise and Country House or Garden. I've never even printed any of my digital photos before, so had to quickly learn how to. And get them within the maximum size allowed for the show. Luckily, there was plenty of ink in the printer cartridge.

So, my entry was completed at the last minute and personally posted through the letter box of the Show Secretary's house about 4 hours before last Thursday evening's deadline. Set up time was either 7-9pm on Friday evening (pouring with rain) or 8-10 am Saturday morning. I decided on the latter, so I would have all my entries with me in one go. This part was pretty much as described for the Whitehall Garden Centre show except the venue was now in the centre of Chippenham and it was muddy and raining when I picked my raspberries.

Prize giving was at 4pm. Nervously I went down to have a look. The competition had looked pretty stiff when I'd set my entries out. So I was surprised and delighted with my First Prize for my picture of Stourhead and Second Prize for my apples. Sadly, there was a little note at the side of my dish of raspberries - Lovely raspberries, but should have been displayed with their calyx (the piece of stem that holds the fruit onto the rest of the raspberry cane). This was a much nicer and constructive way of saying - Your raspberries have been disqualified because they're Not According to Schedule. Not having a RHS show handbook yet (still on order), I didn't know that's how you display them. Still, I'll know for next year.

The Hardenhuish site on the whole put up a good show - at least 7 of us entered (out of 29 plots) and all of us got something for our efforts. MAW did indeed have the longest runner bean amongst his entries in lots of categories and I'm particularly proud of Threadspider - 2 firsts for her Dahlias in full blooming regalia, plus a first for her marmalade. Spookily the yummy looking chocolate cake awarded 'Best in Show' had a quarter of it missing when it was returned to its maker, with some very satisfied looks amongst the judges!

* = confirmed today as being badgers. They've been eating my pears and everyone's sweetcorn. Threadspider's sweetcorn had gone when she went up the plot earlier on today. They're coming from the woods across the road apparently.


  1. (Sigh) I just left you a long comment - but I think it got eaten up.
    If it didn't - please delete this one.

    VP - Many congratulations on your apples, and your photograph - which was very lovely. A nice post about entering a garden show - you are braver than I am.

    Sorry to hear about your badger.

  2. Hi VP. It's been a bit of a difficult year hasn't it. I must admit, I'd be really pleased to have badgers.

    Nice title. Melanie or Stones?


  3. AG - no sign of your other comment. Lovely to hear from you. I've a long backlog of comments to leave over at yours, starting with your do you plan or plonk question.

    Simon - I'm both pleased and annoyed. I love badgers - I'll never forget my first thrill of watching them one evening and one coming within a foot of me. BUT I don't like them eating my pears, particularly when I've only got 20 of them this year :(

    And I'm alternating between Melanie and The Stones. Melanie's doing the chorus, Mick's doing the verse for some strange reason.

  4. Badger, really a badger. Isn't a badger like a really big racoon?

  5. Well done on first and second prizes!! My garden is a complete mess, with the rain and wind. Am glad someone else has made a go of it!!! Good for you!

  6. Congrats on your awards - if I ever get an allotment (long list) I'm not sure if I would have the courage to enter a show!

    Put a link to your quiz on my last post.

  7. Well done! It's good to see that you entered and got a couple of prizes.
    I expect that you'll be aiming to do a lot better next year! xx

  8. Well, that's applerific! The first photo reminded me of, I'm not sure why and please excuse me for saying so, the idyllic town in Vicar of Dibley. You just need Mrs Cropley to make something out of your apples, perhaps a nice apple and beet soup!
    ~ Monica

  9. Congratulations! You're very brave. Next year you'll wow them all with your rasps.

  10. Well done you ! No badgers at my lottie but a creature has made considerable inroads into one of my pumpkins - a squirrel I suspect :(

  11. Deb - sort of. There's an American Badger too - so it's closer to that.

    SOL - Thanks :) It was a close run thing though

    PG - It's take a while to gather up the courage. And many thanks for the link :)

    HM - I hope so :)

    Anna - I didn't believe it when MAW said it was a badger. I thought it might be a squirrel too. But the damage to lots of people's plots on Sunday confirmed it. TS and I suspect they may not have come over the road. Our site is bounded by an ancient ditch, a perfect spot for a sett.

  12. Gardenfaerie - sorry I didn't mean to leave you out. Especially as your reference to the Vicar of Dibley was so apt and made me laugh so much!


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