Impressive effort in bloom contest by dedicated volunteers

Earthing up leeks to blanche the stems (S)
Earthing up leeks to blanche the stems (S)
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Martin Fish, Director of Harrogate Flower Shows, this week writes on the visit of Britain in Bloom judges.

Last week Britain in Bloom judges were in our area judging two of the Yorkshire finalists that were selected to go forward into the national Britain in Bloom competition.

Ripon was being judged in the large town category (although a city, judging is based on population) and Starbeck in the Urban Community category.

To be put forward to the national Britain in Bloom finals is a great honour and both of the finalists in our area have worked very hard to ensure their particular patch is as good as it can be.

Being part of the competition is not just about beautiful flower displays, it encompasses much more.

The judging criteria is very broad and includes environmental responsibilities such as wildlife and recycling, community participation such as volunteer groups and schools and it also looks at business and residential involvement within the area.

Of course horticultural achievement is also very important, but it is not just about summer colour during judging, it has to be all year round and include permanent and sustainable planting.

Both Ripon in Bloom and Starbeck in Bloom are run by a dedicated team of volunteers who work hard throughout the year to make sure the place they live is well maintained and attractive not just for residents, but also for visitors and tourists.

They work hard not only to do much of the manual work, but they also have to raise funds to pay for extra work and projects that are not part of the local authorities’ responsibility.

Although the local authorities do as much as they can to help and support Bloom groups, the extra work done by the Bloom groups is essential.

The judging for this year is now over but the anticipation will carry on for a while longer though until the results are released at the awards ceremony in October. And of course, the work for all Bloom groups continues all year round.

Jobs for the week

The grass is now growing strongly again after the recent rain, so regular trimming is needed to keep the lawn in good condition. If weeds are a problem in your lawn, there is still time to apply a selective lawn weed killer.

Runner beans are in full production now and need harvesting little and often to keep the plants flowering and producing even more beans.

Readers’ Questions

Tom from Harrogate has emailed me about growing leeks and wants to know how he can increase the length of white stem?

Exhibition growers grow their leeks in tubes to exclude the light which blanches the stems. This can be done with plastic drain pipes or you can wrap cardboard around the stems. However, if you are growing them for the kitchen going to such length is a bit over the top! To try and get as much white stem as possible, when planting in early summer plant at least 15cm (6in) deep which ensures the base of the stem will be blanched. I also draw a few inches of soil up around the base of the stems at this time of the year to extend the blanched area.

If you have a gardening question for Martin Fish please email him at and we’ll print a selection of questions and answers for readers to share. Or, write to Ackrill Media Group, 1 Cardale Park, Harrogate HG3 1RZ and we’ll pass on your question.