Wednesday, 20 July 2011

My Rant About Competitions

Now call me naive but I didn't realise that most competition vegetables and flowers were grown in bought in compost.  That is, not the native soil.  I would not mind so much if it was self made compost but it does not need to be.  The vegetables are grown in poly tunnels (hoop houses) and in a special growing medium.  How do ordinary organic gardeners compete with that?

Now I am a novice to this competition lark.  I always grew for food not for competition.  However, I liked to think that I produced some good vegetables on the native soil.  I changed the soil by adding farmyard manure; tree leaves and lawn mowings into a really good friable soil but I did not replace the top soil or add large quantities of commercial general purpose compost.

The skill in producing good vegetables is in being able to work with nature to make the best conditions possible for the plants to grow.

Being naive again, I did not realise that the crops that are shown in exhibition are specially bred or use particularly vigorous varieties.  I just grow the ones I like the taste of.  I should have realised because I need specific varieties when growing exhibition sweet peas.  Not for exhibition though just for fun.

Producing show vegetables can be done by adding artificial fertiliser and by spraying pesticides and I am sure that if I did this I would get exhibition standard crops.  Yet it is much more fun and intellectually stimulating to try and find ways to avoid the more extreme versions of artificial chemical gardening.

Anyone can garden if they throw enough money at it.  I have spent £286.42 on everything I have bought this year.  The largest expense by far has been the raw charcoal for my Terra preta experiment.  I am expecting the inoculated charcoal fertiliser to be cumulative and maintain its potency for many years - thousands if the Terra preta research is to believed.  So I think that I can justify the expense.  The point is that gardening should not be expensive because it relies mainly on rain water; carbon dioxide in the air and nitrogen capturing Azotobacter and Rhizobium.  Not items that usually cost a great deal of money being a little bit ubiquitous in most parts of the world.

So should there be separate categories in competitions for growers who grow outside and are completely organic?  Would such growers be remotely interested in competitions?  I rather doubt it.  A bit like seeing how high you can pee up a wall.

The importance of competitions is that they enthuse the competitors and they encourage spectators to attempt to do as well or better their fellow growers.  It just helps to get people involved in growing their own food.

It is the growing your own food and the realisation that everyone is connected to the natural world that is more important.

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