It’s been a little while since our last meeting and the talk by Alan Mason, and we don’t plan to have another main meeting till after the Flower Show, so we thought we’d give you a quick update on a few things and a few hints and tips when it comes to entering competitions at the Show. If you haven’t got a schedule/entry form, do let me know and we’ll get you one.
There are three plant sales (combined with coffee and/or cakes!) happening locally over the next few weeks;
And now some random words of wisdom (I hope!)……………
Gooseberries – if you’re thinking about entering gooseberries (20 of one colour, basket supplied), do keep a careful eye out for pests; gooseberry sawfly can strip a bush in a day, and the only cure I know is to pick off every caterpillar by hand. In my experience, blackbirds quite like gooseberries, too, so you may need to net your bush to keep them at bay.
Potatoes – (5 white or coloured) if your tap water is hard, watering with it can encourage potato scab, so rainwater from the water butt will be a better bet.
Fuchsias – for the Kitchen Garden Group competition – if you’re pinching out the tips to encourage a bushier plant, take a careful look at where the leaves meet the stems. Usually the leaves are in pairs, but if you can find a stem with leaves in threes, that will give you a much bushier plant as it will encourage three lots of buds at a time instead of two.
Shortbread (not an Open Amateur class, so you’ll need to be an Estate tenant or employee/pensioner to enter) – is really simple to make and doesn’t depend on getting a good rise like a sponge cake, but do do some practice runs beforehand so you can test when it’s properly cooked but not overdone. It’s important not to work the dough too much – mix flour in gently and stop as soon as it’s all incorporated, then press it into shape rather than rolling it out.
Chutney (again, not an Open Amateur class) – needs at least a couple of months for the flavours to develop, so should really be made in the next few weeks. Apparently some recipes say they are for chutney but actually produce something more like a sweet pickle, which could then be disqualified. One rule of thumb is that if the cooking time is longer than 15 minutes, it’s probably a chutney, less than that it’s more likely a sweet pickle.
We hope your fuchsias are developing nicely, and your cake decoration plans are coming together – remember there’s a bottle of champagne in it for each winner!
If there’s anything you’re thinking about entering in a competition but hesitating about, do let us know; I’m sure between us all we can answer most questions. We have now set up a Facebook page for members only sharing ideas and keeping everybody informed . If you search Sandringham Kitchen Garden Group you can apply to join.
For those going to Wisley – see you June 17th at 7.30am West Newton Gates.