Beans, herbs, a dubious marrow and shallot wars


Otherwise known as ‘it’s village show time, folks!’…


When I was a child, our village show was great fun and enormous (I may have mentioned the time I won a piglet by guessing its weight, then my father not allowing me to take it home – some things can scar you for life). I blithely entered classes like the moss garden and the painting by someone under 10 without a care in the world. Oh, I vaguely remember muttering among the adults, and in one case a fight breaking out, but I think they may have drink taken.

Or maybe not… maybe they showed some perfect long shallots and had them spurned for some imperfect round ones.

shallot evidence

Not that I’m taking anything that happened on Wednesday remotely personally, you understand. But let me just say that the two best vegetable gardeners in the whole area thought my shallots would win, and were quite shocked on discovering they had not. I did assure them in advance that they wouldn’t even be placed, because I’ve been here before but flatly refuse to give up. Personally, I’m ascribing it to anti-French bias. Aux barricades!

Shallots aside, it was a lovely show with some great produce even given that it has not been the easiest year for veg growing. Or growing fruit either, come to that, or shrubs, or flowers, especially dahlias (been a smasher for earwigs, though). Amazingly I won a second with the Unwanted Masquerading-as-a-Courgette-when-Young Yellow Marrow,

marrow and the rest

which is just visible in the middle there, diagonally down from the person explaining that he’d grown one but his was THIS big (though he could have been talking about the heaviest potato – it was a marrow-sized misshapen horror). OK, there were only three marrows in the class, but hey (last year there was a single entry in one class and it only got a second – not good enough for a first, apparently). Now, though, I have a problem – what do I do with the marrow? Apart from throw it away, that is? I’ve found a potential stuffing recipe involving cous-cous and chorizo, but this still sounds suspiciously like an ‘eat the stuffing and chuck the marrow in the bin’ experience.

I also managed to win a second with my ‘six named herbs in a jam jar’ (grown-up ousin of the moss garden of my childhood),


seen here during set up. And – astonishingly, given that they were a) purple and b) foreign, Italian things – also got a second for my Cosse Violette beans.

I did OK in produce (chutney, marmalade and blackberry whisky all placed), but the win which warmed my cockles most wasn’t my first-and-third double in the potted geraniums. It was my second in the french marigolds:


I’ve been so snobby about these in the past, and I know I’ve sung their praises on here before following my conversion, but they have been fab – and they are still going strong. I could have entered three bright yellow ones, three brick red ones, three deep red and bordered in yellow – the packs were called ‘Durango Mixed’, by the way, and I strongly recommend them. In the end I went for the marmalade orange, probably because it was drizzling when I picked them and they lit the place up. They still are – little smashers. They do stink, mind you…


19 Comments Add yours

  1. Pauline says:

    Congratulations, you have done well! I was surprised to see rhubarb though as I thought you had to stop picking it at least a month ago?
    We too had some courgettes that hid behind some leaves, how do they always manage that?!

    1. kate says:

      Good point – but I’m so inundated with rhubarb that I don’t care if picking for the show has negative effects or not. It’s a common class in shows happening now round here, so maybe it’s OK? Or maybe everyone feels like me (and quite a few marrows seemed to end up on the sale stall, as well … and be left there).

      My courgette – bot singular – has succumbed to mildew. Sniff.

    2. Funny you mentioned that Pauline, I think rhubarb may be “dropped” from next years show, due to someone cooking and eating their exhibit and being rather ill afterwards!

      1. kate says:

        I’d not come across the ‘don’t eat rhubarb in late summer’ thing before – well, I had, but only with the explanation that the plants needed a rest. Mind you, my plants do not look remotely appetising, so I’m not likely to be tempted.

  2. Cathy says:

    Whoohoo – well done Kate (and I am sure your shallots were adorable). I did wonder whether to join in with the next-village-but-one and enter their produce show in Sept – still may do…. Could I take all that excitement, I wonder…..

    1. kate says:

      Hee hee, go for it. You just have to remember not to get sucked in. Yeah, right…

  3. Anna says:

    Looks as if it were a good do Kate and congratulations on your various successes. Enjoyed a large scale version of the village show at the Southport Flower Show recently – a sight most pleasing to the eye.

    1. kate says:

      Now that would be truly scary!
      (Every time we get into a kerfuffle here I have to keep saying ‘it’s not Chelsea, it’s not Chelsea…’)

  4. Enough with the shallots! 🙂 You will have to enter them in the Harlech show next year, where I am sure they will do very well indeed. Love your herbs in a jam jar, for some reason I didn’t see them and Very well done with your beans

    1. kate says:

      Never enough with the shallots! To the barricades!!!!

  5. hillwards says:

    Good work! I’m really pleased with our shallots this year but didn’t enter any in the show – the only ‘veg’ we entered were six sungold tomatoes, which came 2nd. Not too shabby. Nobody is sure how our elderflower ‘llanpagne’ didn’t even place though, as it quickly disappeared in a clamour of praise from our friends once the judging was over. I’m looking forward to some proper taste tests once I’m in a position to!! 😉

    1. kate says:

      I think getting a second with your toms is a real triumph – don’t know what it’s like with you, but it’s always a hotly contested class here (I did enter some last year, but … no). Love the ‘llanpagne’ – you’ll be able to test it soon!

  6. I am totally with you on the marigolds. I can’t think why I used to be so sniffy about them. Wonderful shot of orange gorgeousness.

    1. kate says:

      Exactly. I’m planning LOTS for next year, I do hope I’m not overdoing it…

  7. Hurrah for fancy purple beans, sorry you woz robbed viz the shallots, prejudice is a terrible thing. Loving the marigolds, and apparently you can hang a marrow up in a tight leg and allow it to ferment and create a tasty and very strong alcoholic drink…

    1. kate says:

      I think the marrow-alcohol thing might make me rather antisocial – after all, it’s essentially rotting – but thanks a bunch for the suggestion, 😉

      (Can I just stick to gin?)

      1. Funny, that was pretty much my reaction!

  8. Richard Spencer says:

    Marrow & ginger jam is really the only thing to make with a marrow!

    1. kate says:

      It is, isn’t it? That and weaponry…

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