Leigh Produce Show 2010

There’s a grand tradition in British kitchen garden of competitive vegetable gardening. Show vegetables are usually picture perfect, all the same size and looking exactly like the image in the seed catalogue said they were supposed to. And then there are the mammoth vegetable competitions, where size is all that matters – whether it’s giant pumpkins or super-sized onions. It’s all very nerve-wracking and competitive, I should imagine. I am one of the least competitive people on the planet, so it’s not an idea that entices me.

Several of the seed companies run gardening competitions every year, and there at least you’re competing with unseen opponents, rather than having your successes and failures laid bare for everyone to see 😉 The competitions for 2016 are just starting to be promoted, and two have caught my eye so far.

Suttons competitive trombocino
Image credit: Suttons

Suttons have created a gardening competition around an unusual edible – the trombocino from their James Wong ‘Grow for Flavour’ range. The trombocino is a climbing squash that grows long, pale green fruits. It’s actually a variety of butternut squash, and the fruits are generally picked (when they’re not being entered in competitions!) whilst still young and tender – from July to September. James Wong picked it for his range because it tastes sweeter than most regular courgettes.

I have grown them (from seeds labelled ‘Tromba d’Albenga’) in the past, as trailing plants – but only to eat, so I didn’t aim for big fruits. Which is what Suttons are asking you to do – ‘squash the competition’ and grow the longest fruits you can! They’re offering 2 free super plug plants to anyone who wants to enter the competition. All you have to do is place an order with them (£5 is the minimum order value to qualify) and use the code SQUASH16 as you checkout, to claim your free plants. You’ll have to order by 11th March.

To be in with a chance of winning the Suttons cup, you’ll have to grow your plants and fill in the entry form by the end of September 2016.

Sea Springs tomato competition
Image credit: Sea Spring Seeds

Meanwhile, Sea Spring Seeds are staying a little more traditional with their competition to grow the heaviest tomato.

They’re allowing entries of any tomato variety, but recommend Ovi’s Romanian Giant (for which they are selling seeds – it’s anextra large, good flavoured beefsteak tomato from Romania). They will only consider fruit weighing over 1 kilo, but they can be at any stage of ripeness – its up to you when you pick it! You can enter as many times as you like, up to the deadline of 15th October 2016.

I’m sure the usual crop of competitions to grow the tallest sunflower, or the best example of a specific flower variety, will emerge in due course! We can add them in as we come across them – you can leave a link in the comments if you find one, and I can update this post as the year progresses.

Does gardening bring out your competitive edge? Do you yearn to produce the perfect vegetable specimen? Or, like me, are you just in for fun and flavour?