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Cultivation (growing techniques): Preparing for the show

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Started by: Mel Linney

This thread is, primarily, to help new exhibitors take that first step into the wonderful world of shows.

Go to latest contribution by David Hoare, 29 January 2010, 16:57. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Mel Linney 03 January 2010, 13:49top / bottom of page

I have started this thread with a view to helping and assisting new exhibitors to the show scene.I would welcome contributions from all quarters and, I am sure,we will all learn from the experiences of others.

My first entry will be preparing plants for the show, that will be in the next few days. In the meantime feel free to contribute.

Contribution from David Nicholson 04 January 2010, 20:02top / bottom of page

Lokking forward to this one Mel.

Contribution from Martin Rogerson 04 January 2010, 20:52top / bottom of page

Good idea Mel. I may well be tempted to throw in my tuppence worth

Contribution from Mel Linney 05 January 2010, 19:10top / bottom of page

Thanks David and Martin for your encouragement.

Contribution from Mel Linney 05 January 2010, 19:24top / bottom of page

I thought I would start with containers because in close competition a clean pan / pot along with appropriate top dressing (more about that later)can swing the judges decision in your favour.Plastic containers just need a good wipe with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or other marks. The main disadvantage of plastic is that over time it fades and becomes brittle so need replacing regularly. Clay pans on the other hand require a little more work and there are probably as many methods as there are exhibitors. Please let us hear about other methods.

First soak the pan overnight to soften any limescale and other dirt.

Then, with a liberal application of elbow grease, scrub the pan with a scourer.

This is what greeted me this morning when I went to take pictures for this topic. The current forecast for South Yorkshire is more snow on top of the 20cms we've had today. Anyway back to the task in hand.

Rinse the container in clean water.

Treat with a propriertary disinfectant recommended for plant pots (follow instructions on the container).

The pan is now ready for its new resident.

Once the pan is planted a weekly scrub with a scourer will keep looking good. Don't forget to turn your plant regularly.I turn mine 180 degrees each week even in winter.

Contribution from Martin Rogerson 06 January 2010, 17:22top / bottom of page

An extra lazy man's hint. If your clay pot has a build up of limescale/salts on it, submerging in rainwater for two or three days will remove it with minimal elbow grease.

Contribution from Mel Linney 11 January 2010, 19:39top / bottom of page

Hello Martin,I would use that method but since retiring I need the excercise!

Contribution from Mel Linney 11 January 2010, 19:54top / bottom of page
Top Dressing

In this issue we will discuss top dressing. But first if you are considering a visit to any of the group shows go to SHOWS in the menu on the left, then DATES AND VENUES and I am sure one or more will be in your area. You need to be a member to enter your plants in competition but if you go to HANDBOOK and then PROGRAMME AND PLANT SCHEDULES you will find a full list of classes for each show. Not a member? Not to worry come along anyway and marvel at the spectacle of well grown plants by the country's top exhibitors. Then when you have come back down to earth go to the plant sales and indulge your self.

Contribution from Mel Linney 11 January 2010, 20:06top / bottom of page

Top dressing is the material used around and under the plant in its pot. First determine where the plant would grow in its natural habitat and top dress accordingly. For instance those that would grow in a wooded area will look good with leaf litter around them (Beech and oak leaves look good),high alpines dressed with grit or pieces of slate would be quite acceptable. Before using the appropriate material make sure it is clean, wash grit and slate in clean water and use only leaf litter from last years fall.

Here are a couple of examples.

I've just found another where I have used moss from the garden

Contribution from Mel Linney 11 January 2010, 20:24top / bottom of page

After the plant is dressed it will need its name on display and what follows is my method. I always print the labels from my P.C. this gives a neater appearance and laminating will make it more durable. I make my own pins from 1sq mm copper wire about 200mm long ( illustrations to follow). The wire is from offcuts from electrical installations but any thin wire will do the job.

Contribution from Mel Linney 11 January 2010, 20:38top / bottom of page

To clean the pins I immerse them in non brewed condiment (so if you smell chip oyl vinegar it's a safe bet that it'll be one of my plants),but any acid based liquid would do the trick.

In the next instalment I will be looking at transporting my plants to the show. In the meantime if anyone would like to contribute to this thread please feel free, it's good to encourage new exhibitors.

Contribution from David Hoare 12 January 2010, 15:50top / bottom of page

Another little tip is to get a soft rag and dip into a small amount of Sunflower oil and wipe your pot with it, but you only need a very small amount.

For top dressing I use Flintag or Hen Grit. We have lots of Flints here in Kent and Bretts at Faversham grind these up and the course grade is ideal for top dressing.

Best Wishes David

Contribution from David Nicholson 12 January 2010, 19:54top / bottom of page

Thanks for taking the time to set this one off Mel.

Although I still have all my own teeth (just!) I keep a pack of Steredent tablets handy and soak my pots overnight in a bucket of water with three tablets added. Makes it easier to clear the grime away.

Contribution from Mel Linney 19 January 2010, 15:39top / bottom of page

Thanks David H and David N for your tips, I'm sure there are lots more out there.

Contribution from Mel Linney 19 January 2010, 15:51top / bottom of page
Transporting plants to the show.

I have been exhibiting at the group shows for six years now and I have tried several ways of transporting my plants. My latest method, which I have used for the last couple of seasons, seems to be best for me.If I may I would like to share this mode of transport with you.

First you need a competent guard to watch over your precious charges.

Contribution from Mel Linney 19 January 2010, 16:08top / bottom of page

Now the sentry is posted we can begin. Illustrations are to follow but first you need a cardboard fruit container. These can be obtained from any market, supermarket or greengrocer. The box is turned upside down and one, two or three holes are cut into the base depending on the pot sizes. Calculating the diameter of the pot halfway down and transferring the measurement as several cuts in a star configuration achieves this. Simply put the pots on the box before hand to see how many it will take and mark the centres so that you know where to make the cuts.

The advantages of this method are, free boxes(quite an attraction for a Yorkshireman), The boxes can be disposed of at the end of the season. I break them into small pieces and add them to the compost heap.

Here are the plants my wife Elaine and I took to Harrogate in 2009.

Rhododendron 'Wren'

Cassiope 'Badenoch'

Rhododendron 'Oban'

Cassiope 'Jim Lever'


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