My Blog 23rd August
I’ve had a rather hectic time of late which is on par really with every other year as we are now in the middle of the showing season, hence no Blog of late. There is no doubt that the dreadful weather conditions we have experienced has had a dire effect on the quality of the vegetables as well as their quantity. I have been judging at Tatton Park, Tullamore in Ireland and at Haworth, the famous Bronte sisters village and all of them had lower entries than previous years.
Tullamore has many classes but there’s no doubt that the main competition and the most prestigious one is the All Ireland Quality Potato Class. The schedule asks for ‘six potatoes of any variety and the variety to be correctly named. each tuber to be free from skin blemishes, be true to type and weigh approximately 6ozs. ‘170g.’ Another section of the rules states ‘This being a quality championship, the adjudicators will favour floury, high dry matter varieties which are popular with the Irish consumer’ To enter you must first qualify at other shows prior to this championship. The prize money is certainly worth all the effort as it amounts to €600.00 with the winner taking home €250.00. The judging criteria is extensive with marks given for different merits in each dish from a total of a 100 points with one potato from each dish being cut in half to determine its High Dry Matter Content.
The winner from 20 entries was Raymond Higgins
from Athlone but who now works in Canada and came over specially for the show. The interesting thing is that modern technology played a big part in all of this. It was Raymond’s Mum and Dad who looked after them by taking the lap top computer to the garden and using Skype, Raymond was able to tell them how to treat his twenty bags of ‘Rooster’ he was able to see them clearly on his Lap Top in Canada.
At the Haworth Show last Sunday I awarded the Best Exhibit in the show to Brian King
from Ridddlesden nr Keighley who staged a really good, evenly matched dish of three Cumbrian Pot Leeks. The barrels were very parallel, clean and smooth with no signs of disease or pest damage on the flags. These were grown directly outdoors with no cover whatsoever in raised beds a foot or so above ground level. The bed was emptied out towards the back end of last year and old green waste from his garden, up to six inches in depth, was laid in the bottom. This in turn was covered over with well rotted manure before the soil was placed back on top. The leeks were planted out from 7 inch pots with the button at least 4 inches into the soil. This means that Brian never had to revert to collaring as most growers do when they plant their leeks on the surface.
I emptied my potato bags out yesterday hoping tom have a set or two for the Welsh Championships as well as possibly for the World Championships at Dundee which has been very kindly sponsored by JBA seed potatoes. It seems the entries are well down this year with the two top growers at the competition, Sherie Plumb and Alistair Gray both struggling with Sherie I understand unlikely to travel up there. I realised when I was half way through that I was never going to get the World Potato Championship requirements of 6 plates of 6 distinct kinds.
I appreciate that it’s the World Championships, but I really think it’s asking a lot of amateur growers to produce such a quantity. Why not reconsider and go for either 6 plates of four or four plates of six, what do you think? It’s better to have a table full of exhibits rather than 4 or 5 entries for such a prestigious competition.
I was very pleased indeed with one potato in particular that I harvested yesterday and I do feel that when it gets generally released, it will definitely make it on the show bench. The variety, that I grew on trial is called ‘Bute’ a white oval with shallow eye and an excellent cropper with super skin finish. Look out for this one when it’s released. I had an excellent pull with both my parsnips and long carrots for the Royal Welsh Show which means I still have plenty left to pull for Malvern.
I am therefore thinking of entering a set of both in the Welsh Championships on Saturday and Sunday September the 1st and 2nd
if they ‘Pull’ reasonably well. The carrots appear to be the best I have had for some years and they certainly appear to have a heavy top on them. The proof of course will depend whether or not they have gone down far enough to give me a decent length of body. The parsnip is the new variety to replace Polar, it certainly has some really heavy top on them and having gently cleared around the top of one parsnip they are big as well.