Saturday, 19 June 2021

Cherry tomatoes that pipped the rival

A GARDENER from Caversham says he achieved a personal feat at this year’s horticultural society autumn show.

A GARDENER from Caversham says he achieved a personal feat at this year’s horticultural society autumn show.

Malcolm South, from Hemdean Road, was among the big winners at the event held at Emmer Green Primary School.

He won six classes and one cup but says his biggest achievement was pipping rival James McCartney, from Tilehurst, with his truss of cherry tomatoes.

Mr South, a retired biomedical scientist, said: “The thing I am most proud of is beating Jim with the cherry tomatoes because I normally end up second to him.”

The 72-year-old spends up to two hours a day at his allotment in Victoria Road, behind Caversham Primary School.

He grows vegetables that he and his wife Joan eat at home which include potatoes, leeks and beetroot.

Mr South said: “I grow mostly stuff that I am going to eat. I grow crops that we consume ourselves and pick the best out and put them in the show.

“I grow very little to be used specifically for the show, although we don’t eat very many marrows so I give them away to neighbours. I do occasionally persuade my daughter to stop going to Waitrose and have some of my vegetables instead.”

Mr South concentrates on the vegetables and his wife likes to help out by looking after the flowers.

He says that there is no great secret to growing good vegetables.

Mr South said: “Quite often with the show it is just about presentation. I grow a lot of onions and we eat them well into the New Year and so it means I can pick out ones that are the right size and shape although with beetroot it is difficult to get three that are the same size and shape.

“Sometimes it is not difficult to come first because there aren’t any other entries such as in the marrows or squash which you can just put in the ground and forget about. They are ridiculously easy to grow.”

Giles Rae, eight, also from Caversham, won the Junior Cup for accumulating the most points in the children’s classes, winning first prize in three of them.

Gwyneth Rowlands, the show secretary, said that the number of flower entries were down but the number of children taking part had increased.

She said: “We didn’t have many flowers which was a bit of a shame but we had some really nice fruit and veg.

“We are pleased that it didn’t rain which meant that we had quite a few visitors which was nice.”

The prizes were handed out by Henry Grimsdale, the vice-president of the society, and visitors were provided with homemade cakes and refreshments.

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