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The art of war (or entering vegetables at the allotment show)

By Ellie Edmonds, garden apprentice

As apprentices, Alfonso, Hattie and I are classed as keen amateurs and as such are eligible to enter our walled garden produce into the Fulham allotments vegetable show. Allotment competitions are hotly contested as we found out earlier this year when we were asked to judge best allotment plot. The criteria was strict and we were accompanied by various plot holders to ensure our judgement was not swayed (although produce was offered). This was a useful insight prior to the show.

After the height of the summer growing season we scrambled to assemble their best produce, fighting off hungry parakeets, rabbits, squirrels and barrow volunteers to save the best specimens. We entered a number of categories and Friday afternoon was spent scrubbing, polishing and trimming in the bothies.

Early on Saturday morning, Hattie filled her wheelbarrow and made the long trek to the allotments with our precious entries, where she was overwhelmed by the size and variety of the competition. We had seen some tricks while touring the allotments – carrots grown in drainpipes, irrigation systems, and in some cases a definitely non-organic approach had led to some enormous specimens.

Lots of white pieces of paper with First, second and third written on them, showing categories won by the apprentice gardeners

However once the judging had been completed Hattie returned to find a number of winning prize cards:

First!  Hattie       Beetroot      (beating the judges’ own entries)

First!  Alfonso     Apples         (winning overall best category)

First!  Ellie          Celeriac       (the only entry saved by the judges post competition)

And we also received various second and third places. Congratulations also goes to our garden volunteer Nada for winning a first prize for her beautiful flower arrangement. In addition, Fulham Palace took home the vineyard plate for the second year running for best fruit.

A special mention too for our prize winning Pink Fir Apple potatoes, which are the oddest potatoes this gardener has ever seen (and delicious too, boiled and served with butter).

I am currently pondering whether gardeners grow to look like their vegetables, or do vegetables grow to look like their gardeners…

A knobbly potato with lots of