I

SWEETCORN

Condition 6 points

Size & set of grain (kernels) 5 points

Colour 2 points

Uniformity 5 Points

J Total 18 Points can look inside before cutting and select the fullest cobs to exhibit.

Harvesting

If time allows I like to pick my sweetcorn to be exhibited on the morning of the show, so they are as fresh as possible. If I am short of

ABOVE Poor pollination, as shown by the cob at the bottom of the picture, gives rise to poorly set cobs and these will not win you any prizes

time or I have a long distance to travel I pick the cobs the night before and wrap them in a damp towel to keep them fresh.

When picking your cobs use a sharp knife or pair of secateurs rather than tear the cob away from the stem, as this will give your cobs a neater appearance. Remember when picking to make sure the cobs resemble that cob you tested earlier, and gently feel up towards the tip of the cob to see if you can feel those kernels. Once harvested wrap up the cobs in some soft towel, so they don't bruise or get damaged while in transit to the show.

At the show

When you arrive at the show find the class for sweetcorn and carefully unwrap your exhibit. If the class asks for the cobs to be prepared then you can peel back and carefully trim a window in the front of each cob so that there is a section of the kernels showing.

If the class asks for 'as picked' then you have to show the cobs unopened, just as you picked them.

Whatever classes you are entering make sure you place the cobs with the bottom cut end facing the judge. Most shows ask for three cobs and these should be placed side by side, either straight onto the show bench, on a piece of black cloth or on a clean white plate.

Place your exhibitors' card underneath, have one last look (trying to exert that x-ray vision) and walk away with your fingers crossed hoping that the cob the judge opens is full.

Kitchen Garden O

ffer

Save £2 on top-rated sweetcorn

Kitchen Garden magazine has joined forces with Thompson & Morgan to offer you a great deal on three of Andrew's top-rated, AGM award-winning exhibition sweetcorn varieties.

They are great performers on the show bench as well as suitable for growing purely for the kitchen, since all produce large cobs filled with succulent, sweet kernels and are very reliable croppers, which can be frozen for winter use.

  • Lark' (RHS Award of Garden Merit). This new supersweet variety is said to have an improved-seedling emergence when compared to other supersweet types. The soft kernels have a less-chewy texture than most. Does not have to be isolated from other varieties to prevent cross-pollination and subsequent loss of flavour. Normal price £l.69.
  • Ovation' (AGM) is a vigorous mid-season supersweet variety growing to l.8m (6ft) and producing beautifully rounded cobs, up to 23cm (9in) long. Produces two to three kernel-packed cobs per plant. Normal price £l.69.
  • Extra Tender & Sweet' ('Swift')
  • AGM). A tendersweet variety which is said to have better seed germination than most and to produce cobs that are not only sweet, but soft and easy to eat. As with 'Lark' this one does not need to be isolated from other sweetcorn. Normal price £l.89.

Our offer

Our offer includes one packet each of the three varieties, which would usually cost £5.27 (plus p&p), but can be yours for the special price of just £3.99 (inc p&p).

To place an order please send a cheque made payable to: Thompson & Morgan (UK) Ltd, along with your name and address to Kitchen Garden Sweetcorn Offer, Dept GRR9I72, Thompson & Morgan, PO Box I62, Ipswich IP8 3BX. To place a credit/debit card order please call 01473 695225 quoting code GRR9172.

Offer is subject to availability and closes on 28 April 2006.

In the unlikely event that a variety becomes unavailable T&M will select suitable substitutes.

What is the judge looking for?

The judge will be looking first for fresh green husks that are straight and of a uniform length and a cylindrical shape. Then he will open one husk to inspect the cob inside. He wants to see a straight cob with undamaged kernels full to the tip, with the kernels running in neat straight lines. Once opened he will push his thumbnail into one of the kernels to see if milky juice comes out, as this is an easy way to check how fresh and tender your exhibits are.

If you get all this right, the judge is sure to award you that well-earned prize card. He will be amazed how you managed it, and will be heard muttering to himself, "that exhibitor must be related to Superman!"

ANDREW'S CHOICE OF VARIETIES

'Lark' FI T&M, Sh, MS, ET 'Swift' FI ('Extra Tender & Sweet') T&M, DTB, S, F, O, MS 'Ovation' FI T&M, DTB 'Conquest' FI T&M

See page 90 for full details of seed suppliers

Next month: Preparing and showing lettuce and spring onions

Kitchen

GARDEN

giveaway!

Great giveaways every month

BOKASHI BUCKET

Bokashi is the Japanese name for 'good fermented organic material' and, with a new Bokashi bucket from The Recycle Works, you can conveniently compost your kitchen scraps indoors with no bad smells. Bran containing effective micro-organisms - or EM's - is simply sprinkled over each addition to your bucket.

The fermented, sweet-smelling contents can be added to a compost bin, or dug straight into the soil where it boosts beneficial microbial activity and encourages strong plant growth. The bucket also has a tap to drain off the nutrient-rich 'liquor' which, when diluted, makes excellent liquid plant feed. Tel 01254 820088 www.recyleworks.co.uk

We have 6 Bokashi buckets and bran, worth £49.99 each, to give away.

BIG TWIN BIN

The twin-chamber design of the new Mantis Compost-twin is what gardening dreams are made of; while one full chamber heats up and breaks down into rich compost in only weeks, the other is filled with raw materials.

The rust-resistant metal drum, which holds a massive 0.7 cubic metres (25 cubic feet), sits 81cm (32in) above the ground on a steel frame, making both loading, and emptying into a wheelbarrow, simple and easy.

A handle and gear system makes light work of 'turning', pests can't enter the chambers, vents allow in essential oxygen, and there are no bad odours. Tel 08454 585868 www.mantis-uk.co.uk

We have one Mantis Compost-twin, worth £498, to give away. S

SEE OFF SLUGS

The safest way to see off most damaging small to medium-sized slugs is to use a naturally occurring means of control. Slugsure, from natural biological pest control experts Defenders, is simply watered onto the soil around crops. Millions of microscopic nematodes then seek out slugs, including any hiding in the soil, invade their bodies and kill them. Dead slugs release more nematodes.

Slug damage is severe during wet spells, which is an ideal time to apply Slugsure, which gives six week's control. Completely safe to use on food crops, including spuds, and harmless to children, pets and wildlife. Tel 01233 813121 www.defenders.co.uk

We have 20 packs of Slugsure, worth £14.40 each, to give away

■ The closing date for giveaways is Friday 7 April 2006. Send your name, address and email on a postcard/back of a sealed envelope with the name of the giveaway you are entering to: Kitchen Garden, Mortons

Media Group, Morton Way, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6JR.

Winners will be the first names drawn. If you do not wish to receive information from companies Kitchen Garden believe may be of interest to you, please mark X after your name.

Rules: There is no cash alternative to prizes.

The editor's decision is final. Winners will be notified by post.

Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn't know what to do? Here are the best tips on how to become a true and envied organic gardner.

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