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In the past few years I’ve grown a few bits and pieces for the local horticultural show. It’s a lovely event, full of friendly rivalry, good cakes and strong tea. I look forward to it. This year, however, the date clashed with another important event so I couldn’t make it. I had still grown my usual bits and pieces for the show but, for a change, they could all be used in the kitchen and house. Well, almost all...

leek-seedlingsOur local horticultural society holds another tiny show just for leeks and onions. The idea is that back in April people buy a few seedlings of the same variety (all raised by one of the dedicated committee members) and then, throughout the year, we all grow the same type and variety of plants to show in October. It’s a policy F1 racing should adopt: exactly the same car, same tyres, same everything - just a different driver. This little show is a great way to end the showing season and kickstart the monthly lecture programme. And I was in the game!

onionsSince April, I have been cultivating the five onions and five leeks I bought last April for this show. I have to admit to never really getting to grips with the nuances of leeks, but this year I reckon that I’d cracked the code. They looked good. As did the onions when I lifted them back in July to ripen. The onions were housed in a wooden tray resplendent in my shed. No one goes in the shed. It’s not that I don’t want people to go in, I just don’t think that the rest of the family has any desire to. I do however have a ‘Dad’s Shed; keep out’ sign on the door though. Just in case anyone begins to wonder what’s going on in there. Less than inviting. So, onions safely ripening.


Leeks, on the other hand, take longer to grow. I calculated that a day or two before the show I would lift the crop (all five plants were looking good), tidy them up and keep refrigerated for the big evening. The day before the show, a relaxing Sunday, I did just that. Unfortunately, three of the leeks had been nibbled by slugs so were quickly snaffled by my neighbour. Two left. Two beauties. Two long, straight shafts of pure white leekiness. I was pleased. Washed, dried and wrapped in tea towels they were ceremoniously carried down the garden, into the house and carefully placed in the fridge. The idea was the cold temperatures will keep them crisp and firm. I then went about my other Sunday gardening duties - raking leaves, sowing sweet peas, pruning a few branches. That sort of thing.


Sunday went. Monday arrived. I went about my Monday tasks (that particular Monday was heavy duty garden clearance to fill the skip that was now, apparently, ‘getting on everyone’s nerves’ as it was blocking the cars and generally ‘not looking nice’. Some people have no taste). It was getting towards 5ish when I felt it was time for tea. The right honourable Mrs McCann had the day off from work and had prepared a healthy and nutritious soup and homemade bread. I think you know where this is going.

soupI didn’t give it a thought as I, or I should say ‘we all’, tucked into the soup and warm bread straight from the oven.

Why would I even question the ingredients of the soup? Everyone knew about the leeks. Everyone knew that I had been growing them for just over half a year. Everyone knew I had missed the big show and wanted to support this smaller version. Everyone knew that if two leeks are wrapped in a damp tea towel in the fridge they shouldn’t be touched. Everyone knew that. Didn’t they? Apparently not.

The show went well for the others. I was called out with much amusement for eating my own exhibits and the chap who won the trophy deserved it. Obviously. Without my leeks in contention. I’m not bitter. Neither were the leeks. Ah well, there’s always next year.

PS: Just desserts?

I developed heartburn later that evening.

No one else did.