Time to get your seed sown for the annual Three Horseshoes onion competition. Judged in early September, the contest involves no finesse or show preparation – the heaviest wins, however ugly. You can even leave the foliage on for those extra few ounces.
Most people sow seed in January, but you will need an exhibition strain. The Kelsae is the usual winner, but people have grown Robinsons Mammoth and Lancastrian. Kelsae seed is available from Gullivers in Faversham or from Paul at Meadow Grange, Blean. It is also sold through eBay. You will need a deep-dug bed full of horse manure and plenty of sun to have any chance of a winner.
Last year’s victor was Richard Curry from Boughton with a 3lb 15.5 oz Kelsae – the same weight as my 2008 winner. We need a concerted effort to make sure the fine turned wooden Barry Roberts Memorial trophy stays in the village this year. If you leave it too late to sow, don’t worry. I will have sturdy seedlings in March/April which I am prepared to sell in aid of the St Michael’s Restoration Fund at 50p a pop. You won’t get the biggest however – a few years ago I let Wendy from behind the bar have a few and she just bunged them in a sunny flower bed and beat me hollow. Anyway, get those beds dug and let’s thrash Dr Curry this autumn. I can’t wait to see the look of disappointment on his face. I am posting a picture of last year’s winners in the picture section. He is the smug bar steward on the left, but the picture gives some idea of the size required. The world record is just under 16lb (grown in Northumberland) so there is plenty of room for improvement.