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2022 Annual Show Review

An informative post from Edmund Smith reflecting on last years annual show from his role as a judge and suggesting some new developments for this years show (provisionally arranged for Sunday 17th September 2023)

Highbury South Allotment Association Show, 2022

Expectations about the 2022 Show were mixed. The weather for the year, characterised by heat and drought, rivalled 1976, and followed a cold spring. In 1976, however, there was a touch of compensation for me because 46years ago, my garden was to the rear of the house which made watering, when legal, fairly easy. But, on the allotment this year, watering took over from weeding and other essential duties. Most plants survived although perennials were the hardest hit.

Some plants were highly productive, notably apples and pears, but this fecundity is a response to drought as trees seek to pass on their genes before they die. Onions and leeks were disappointing, and onion rot seems to be spreading across the allotment site. However, there was a very good range of jams and chutneys, perhaps reflecting an excellent year for soft fruits such as raspberries. A very interesting range of unusual vegetables were entered for the Show, possibly indicating that we are adapting to climate change by trying out Mediterranean and Oriental plants.

The new art and blog classes were successful and are likely to gain further popularity. We can try to increase the number of junior entries next year, drawing on our close relationship with West Jesmond School.

There was a good range of exhibits with only 1 class having zero entries (peas) and a further 9 having less than 3 exhibits. (One of these classes was turnips but we may see a massive jump in exhibits this year!!!! ). Pears made a comeback in style. Full details are set out in the 2022 Results document which is on this website.

Special thanks go to:

David and Joe for the excellent catering arrangements. There was also great support from Bob and his family.

Colin Dewdney for constructing the planters offered as Show competition prizes, and the mini-greenhouse which was raffled for use by a child.

Mary Robinson and Stephen Tyrer for organising the tombola which raised £228.

The members who did a spectacular clean-up operation later in the afternoon.

The pagoda assembly team.

Our cameraman Chris, who recorded a beautiful video, shown on this website.

As also mentioned in my report last year, the bible for judging shows is the Royal Horticultural Society’s 'The Horticultural Show Handbook'. Each class has a scoring system, generally of around 15/20 points which are awarded for condition, uniformity, size, shape and colour. Some classes have special additional characteristics (e.g. flowers should have 'freshness' and sweetcorn needs to show mature grains). The Handbook is not expensive (£9) and is a good gardening read!

A number of ideas came from the Show for consideration this year.

1.We need to continue with two tellers in the show tent to log the decisions of the judge and, tally the results. It would also facilitate the judging process to have an additional person armed with a laptop to record results on a spreadsheet.

2.The jam and chutney classes require a sizeable amount of judges’ time given the fact that they including tasting. We need to recruit a dedicated judge for this class.

3. There was some discussion about having a harvest basket (e.g. a collection of six items of three fruits and three vegetables) class. However, it would require a considerable amount of table space, already in short supply. It might be worth considering photographic entries for this class, as was done successfully during lockdown. We could subsequently display entries on our website.

4. We again ran out of space this year, and extra tables will be required.

Edmund Smith (February, 2023)

See the 2022 show video and results here

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