Here are some Tips and Guidance for exhibiting Vegetables in a Horticultural Show:
- Read the show’s rules and regulations carefully. Each show has its own set of rules, so it is important to read them carefully and make sure that you understand them. Some of the things you may need to consider include:
- The deadline for submitting entries
- The types of exhibits that are allowed
- The size and shape of the exhibits
- The cost of entering
- Arrive at the show early. The showground will be busy on the day of the show, so it is important to arrive early to allow plenty of time to set up your exhibits.
- Prepare your exhibits well in advance. This will give you plenty of time to make sure that your exhibits are of the highest quality. Some things to keep in mind when preparing your exhibits include:
- Choose healthy and well-grown plants and flowers.
- Harvest your vegetables and fruits at the peak of ripeness.
- Clean and polish your exhibits.
- Label your exhibits clearly.
- Transport your exhibits carefully. When transporting your exhibits, it is important to take care to avoid damaging them. Some tips for transporting exhibits include:
- Use sturdy containers.
- Pack your exhibits tightly.
- Arrive at the show early. This will give you plenty of time to set up your exhibits and answer any questions from the judges.
- Never be put off by what other exhibitors have entered – you never know just what is lurking in the unexposed parts of the fruit! That is why judges will always examine all exhibits most carefully! When you have finished staging check each of your entries very carefully to make sure that you have exhibited the right quantity and that you are happy with the arrangement. Do not fiddle with anything once you are satisfied. It is very easy to damage fruit by too much handling.
- Never be afraid to ask other exhibitors for help or advice – they are usually a very friendly bunch and will often be happy to help newcomers.
Preparing and displaying
- Choose the right vegetables. Not all vegetables are suitable for exhibiting. The RHS has a list of recommended vegetables for exhibiting – see below.
- Harvest the vegetables at the right time. Vegetables should be harvested at their peak ripeness. If you harvest them too early, they will not be fully developed. If you harvest them too late, they will start to deteriorate.
- Keep the vegetables cool. Vegetables will last longer if they are kept cool. If you are transporting the vegetables to the show, make sure they are kept in a cool, dark place.
- Prepare the vegetables for display. Once you have harvested the vegetables, you need to prepare them for display. This involves removing any blemishes or damage, and washing them thoroughly. You may also want to trim the vegetables to make them look neater.
- Arrange the vegetables in a container. When arranging the vegetables, it is important to create a balanced and attractive display. You may want to use different types of vegetables, or you may want to stick to one type of vegetable. Arrange the best prominently. When staging your exhibit, it is inevitable that you will find one specimen that is a little larger or smaller than the rest. Hide it as best you can and leave the judge to find it by not placing it in a prominent position e.g. on top!
- Label the vegetables. Each vegetable should be labeled with its name, variety, and the exhibitor’s name and contact information. This will help the judges identify your entries and contact you if you win a prize.
- Check the vegetables regularly. Once the vegetables are on display, check them regularly for signs of wilting or damage. If any vegetables start to wilt or become damaged, remove them from the display.
- Be prepared to answer questions from judges. The judges may ask you questions about your exhibits, so be prepared to answer them. They may also ask you to show them the roots of the vegetables or the soil in which they were grown.
Which varieties to grow (from the RHS)
A common question is “What varieties are best for showing?” In fact, any well-grown cultivar (the official description for what is commonly called a variety) can be exhibited, success being determined by the skill of cultivation.
However, some cultivars scrub up especially well for the exhibition bench. Seasoned exhibitors often have personal favourites with which they are often highly successful, and their advice is generally worth taking. Established and widely available cultivars include:
BROAD BEAN: Exhibition Longpod, Imperial Green Longpod
DWARF FRENCH BEAN: Masterpiece (flat pods), The Prince (flat pods) or any round-podded cultivar, although flat podded peas are preferred by exhibitors
RUNNER BEAN: Enorma, Liberty
BEETROOT (round): Boltardy, Red Ace F1, Pablo F1
BEETROOT (long): Mammoth Long, Cheltenham Greentop
CABBAGE: Any F1 hybrid cultivar according to season of maturity
CABBAGE (red): Any F1 hybrid cultivar according to season of maturity
CARROT (long): New Red Intermediate, St Valery
CARROT (stump): Berlicum and Nantes hybrids, Chantenay selections
CALBRESE: Marathon, any good F1 cultivar
CAULIFLOWER: Any F1 hybrid according to season of maturity. Must be white curded
CELERY: Evening star, Mammoth, Morning Star
COURGETTE: Any F1 hybrid cultivar
CUCUMBER: King George, any F1 hybrid cultivar
LEEK: Mammoth Blanch, Mammoth Pot
LETTUCE (Butterhead): Any well-grown cultivar
LETTUCE (Cos): Little gem, Lobjoits
LETTUCE (Crisphead): Lakeland, Saladin
MARROW: Any F1 hybrid cultivar
ONION (over 8oz/250g): Ailsa Craig, The Kelsae
ONION (8oz/250g and under): Midsummer maturing = Toughball – overwintered; late summer maturing = Centurion. New Fen Globe, Sturon, Turbo, from sets, any F1 hybrid cultivar from seed
PARSNIP: Gladiator F1, Albion F1, any well-grown F1 hybrid
PEA: Show Perfection, Alderman
PEPPER: Bell Boy, Redskin
POTATO (white): Winston, Nadine
POTATO (coloured): Maxine, Kestrel
PUMPKIN: Any well-grown cultivar
SHALLOT: Hative de Niort
SWEET PEPPER: Bell Boy, California Wonder
TOMATO: Any F1 hybrid
TURNIP: Any well-grown cultivar
These are available as seeds and in some cases plants, from a wide range of suppliers, including specialist exhibition growers.