Friday, March 6, 2015

Preparing for the Show

Our nearest town has had a show for the past 107 years. While the town has seen a pretty drastic decline in population - particularly of those who live and work on the land - the show is still a very important date in the calendar. The schoolchildren madly paint, the gardeners preen their flowers, the amateur photographers take their snaps and the farmers train their dogs. The mainstay of the show is the horse events which are part of a group of shows whose points are collected together. To be a real champion you need to attend all of them.
Last year I wandered the vegetable and fruit sections and was surprised at the paucity of entries and the limited quality of much of the produce. It was a poor season dominated by ferocious and extensive bushfires but despite that there was plenty in my garden and orchard that would complement the show.
So this year I picked up my show booklet and thumbed through to Sections K and L- 'Fruit' and
'Vegetables and Dairy Products'. 66 classes of entry.
In the fruit section I could offer four classes of apples - Gravenstein, Delicious and Granny Smith and a collection of all three. Though the Gravensteins have finished they keep well enough for some healthy looking specimens to be selected.
I found out after picking that stems have to be kept on. Some of mine have and some haven't but I'll remember next year. I also entered some aging plums and some underripe nectarines.
In the Vegetables and Dairy Section there is only one dairy class - 500g of homemade butter. I would love make some butter but the 1.5 litres of Hayley's milk a day is not really enough.
Eggs, Potatoes (white), Marrow, Pumpkins and Squash I could find. Though what is a winter squash?
I had several summer squash plants but I was not sure what a winter one was? I called the steward. He didn't seem too clear either. I googled it. That wasn't much clearer and seemed to define pumpkin and winter squash as the same thing. Not a butternut but a Jap or Queensland Blue. I entered a pumpkin in this section but I suspect it will be disqualified. More research before next year if I am to crack that one.
The tomato section should be a more successful one as the tomatoes grown at the bush block enjoy a much more Mediterranean climate that up here on the Monaro. I have some tommy Toes and some Grosse Lisse that look OK. There is a class for green tomatoes (more a colour found on the Monaro in March) so I put in some Costoluto Genovese. This tomato I recently discovered was the very first variety of tomato introduced into Europe from South America. All other modern tomatoes are derived from this variety. My collection of tomatoes contains my favourites - a yellow variety called Jeune Flamme, the Speckled Roman and Tommy Toes.
There are three classes of Roma tomatoes but for the first time in a decade I didn't plant any so that will have to wait for another year. I entered zucchinis, red and white onions, beetroots, carrots (short), Silver beet and Rhubarb. All my peas and beans have finished or were never planted.
My coveted goal is to win the C.R.Jamieson Memorial Prize for a General Collection of Vegetables.
I pondered for a while on which 6 varieties to choose - they had to be as distinct as possible. I settled on Capsicums and Eggplant as they don't grow too well in Delegate, Potatoes, Zucchini and Tomatoes as I have a lot to choose from and pumpkins as I have a good looking pair of buttercups.
The kids have grown enormous marrows and selected some unusual vegetables - a purple potato, a Jerusalem artichoke and an enormous Spanish Round Radish.

Some of the entries on their way to the Show Pavilion

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