The City Allotments Competition is a friendly competition staged by Manchester City Council Leisure Division, for plot-holders on both society-controlled sites and those sites controlled directly. Its main purpose is to encourage good gardening practice.
The Competition takes place during the summer with judges making an inspection of plots entered in early July each year. Society Secretaries submit a list of plots for entry in the competition at the required time, those which they consider to be worthy of a Certificate.
The benefit of the competition to plot-holders is that if you win a Certificate, you will know that you have created an allotment garden of exceptional quality, both pleasing to the eye, and very productive in the true horticultural sense. The Certificates, together with trophies for the very best plots, are presented by the Lord Mayor at a special Presentation Evening in November each year. Here are some hints to help you win a Certificate or Trophy:
- Cultivate all your plot thoroughly and regularly
- Take every opportunity to improve your soil’s fertility
- Plan your plot, and rotate crops to help keep them healthy
- Grow a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers for cutting and decoration
- Keep your plot as weed-free as possible
- Take action to prevent damage to your crops by pests, diseases and bad weather
- Harvest crops as soon as they are ready
- Keep fences, paths sheds, greenhouses, etc. in good repair
- Acquire good gardening tools and take care of them
- Take a pride in your plot – treat friends and neighbours when you have surplus produce
- Discuss your plans and share ideas with other plot-holders
- Make sure your plot is numbered clearly
Trophies will be awarded for those plots gaining the highest points in their own particular area of the city (see below), and Certificates for all plots awarded at least 50 points in total, in two categories:
Judges will assess the range, variety, health, and quality of the Vegetables, Fruit, Flowers and Herbs grown on the plot. Plots should usually be well-stocked with crops, any unplanted areas where crops have just been harvested, or about to be planted up, being clean and free from weeds.
All the staple vegetable crops should be in evidence, and all plants should be vigorous, sturdy and free from obvious signs of excessive damage by pests, disease or weather. A range of food crops with both vegetables and fruit should be in cultivation, and while fruit should not predominate, well maintained and integrated fruit crops of all types will be considered meritorious.
Flowers grown for cutting and decoration will be assessed on the same basis as for food crops ie with regard to their health, skill in cultivation and suitability for the site. The inclusion of culinary herbs in the cropping scheme will be considered meritorious. The cultivation of less common crops will also receive credit, while tender greenhouse crops (where they exist) will be regarded as extending the range of crops grown on the plot, and assessed similarly.
Soil should be in a well-cultivated condition and of good texture. Between crops there should be little or no evidence of weeds. Paths and leisure areas (if included) should be neatly edged, even and well maintained. Evidence of planting for a constant succession of crops will be given credit. Intelligent use of organic methods of pest control, such as the pinching out of broad bean tips to inhibit black-fly, or the use of barriers against carrot fly, will be given credit.
Supports for plants that require them should be properly positioned and sturdy enough to withstand bad weather. Points will be awarded for the skill and originality evident in the layout and planting, and ingenuity shown in overcoming local problems. The intelligent adaptation of the layout to suit the needs of the plotholder, the use of companion planting, and a pleasing overall visual effect will be considered meritorious.
Effective rotation of crops, no-dig or raised bed methods of cultivation, and good composting techniques will receive credit. Plotholders who have overcome difficulties such as oddly-shaped sites, difficult soil conditions, exposed aspects, or excessive shading and dehydration by an adjacent tree belt, will be given credit for raising an acceptable standard of crop.
The overall appearance of the plot should be neat and pleasing to the eye.
In assessing plots, judges will endeavour to award points positively, for all those meritorious aspects which they identify. However, points may be deducted if there is evidence of a serious deficiency, poor practice or neglect.
The City’s Allotment sites have been grouped together in four separate areas: the North area, the East area, the South area, and the Wythenshawe area. The plot which receives the highest number of points in each of these four areas will be awarded the major trophy for the area. These are as follows: THE H.D.M. PERPETUAL SILVER CHALLENGE CUP: awarded for the best plot in the North Area
THE COUNCILLOR RODGERS CUP – for city-wide competition:
This trophy is awarded to the plotholders of the best group of SIX adjacent plots, based on the total number of points awarded in the individual competition.
This trophy, awarded in memory of the late secretary of AMAS, goes to the plot-holder with what the judges regard as the “Most Attractive Plot” in both the North and East areas, having consulted the scores in the individual competition.
This trophy, as with the David Teale trophy, is awarded to the plot-holder with what the judges regard as the “Most Attractive Plot” in both the South and Wythenshawe Areas, having consulted the scores in the individual competition.
1. Sensory Impact : out of 50 points
Points are awarded particularly for visual highlights ie colours, shapes and textures, but also for scents, together with the overall balance and symmetry of the display.
In general, it may be that only a small part of an allotment garden is reserved for ornamental or amenity purposes. In judging flower borders, credit will be given to the best use of space, quality of plants, and attractiveness of the design. Attention will be paid to how well the border complements the rest of the plot. Flowers and foliage should be harmoniously coordinated to blend with each other and their setting, and be capable of an extended display from early Summer through into Autumn. Credit will be given to intelligent use of plant supports where required, containers, hanging baskets, water features etc, which enhance the overall effect.