How to Show an Onion
PREPARING ONIONS FOR EXHIBITION
(Information from the National Vegetable Society's Exhibitors' Guide)
The first thoughts on lifting usually start in July. As the bulbs are swelling the older dead skins will have been removed but the last split skin, a guard flat with a green leaf, should be left on prior to lifting, this ensures a spotless bulb when ripening. A minimum period of 4 - 5 weeks is needed for bulbs to ecome fully ripe, bulbs lifted after mid August will struggle to ripen properly. In July the girths of the largest bulbs are measured, the size to aim for is the majority of the largest bulbs; these will be the first to be lifted, others are then lifted as and when they catch up in size.
Method of harvest
When lifting, the leaves should be cut off to leave a long stem, and then carefully left with a fork. The bulbs are washed clean, still with the guard flag present and the roots trimmed close to the bulb. They are then taken to the storage area.
The best place for storing is a dark shed or garage, on shelves lined with soft foam or wool shoddy. Before storage the tops are cut to 3 to 4 inches, the guard flag removed and the bulbs are dusted with talc, applied to the bottom half of the onion. During storage the different shapes can be matched up to form sets.
Two days before the show, the appropriate set is washed to remove all the talc, and the root area is cleaned to remove any remaining soil. Before the tops are tied with raffia, each bulb is soaked for approximately 5 minutes in very warm water around the neck and shoulders, any excess water is dried off with a towel, this will ensure a soft skin for tying. Tie all the bulbs to the level and trim the tops above the tie, the bulbs are then returned to the shelves where the skins will dry out and tigh onto the bulb after 24 hours.
Cover any staging with black cloth but never use hard rings as this will mark the onions.
ONIONS (250 gms)
When the onions have reached 9 inches in circumference place a marker in the pot then measure daily, amending your marker until the bulb reaches ten and seven eighths inches for Buffalo and ten and three eighths for Toughball. Remove any broken skin and re-measure. The bulbs should remain in the pot until they reach the sizes as above.
Method of harvest
Trim the foliage of the selected bulbs leaving it about two and a half inches high, remove from the pot and trim the roots.
Wash the selected bulbs using a soft cloth or sponge and water, then dry with a soft material.
Dust each bulb with talc and place in a box of clean dry sawdust and cover with newspaper. They should have some ventilation during the day to allow air circulation. Do not heat the room. Should any bulb show signs of wet skins remove the top skin after 3 to 4 weeks and re-powder the onion and place back in the box.
The day before the show tie the necks of the onions, but do not forget to wet the necks with a damp cloth before this to stop the skin splitting.
For more information on growing Onions and other vegetables, please refer to Medwyn Williams' website www.medwynsofanglesey.co.uk. There is also a wealth of information on the National Vegetable Society website www.nvsuk.org.uk .