This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
The exhibition of vegetables is usually an important feature at county, district and state fairs, and often at farmers' institutes, horticultural society meetings and conventions of vegetable-growers. Vegetables are also likely to occupy a prominent place in county or state exhibits at state, national or international shows or expositions. The exhibits may be competitive or non-competitive. In the former case they are usually made by the individual producers; in the latter case, they are more often made by a company, development bureau, or an institution, primarily for advertising or educational purposes. In either case, they have some educational value, even the individual exhibitor learning by comparison of his exhibit with others.
Competitive exhibits are of two kinds: (1) those in which the exhibit consists of a specified quantity of a given kind of vegetable, e.g., one dozen table carrots, and (2) those which consist of a collection or display of vegetables alone, or combined with other products of the soil. Vegetables in exhibits that are designed primarily for advertising or educational purposes usually form only a part of some general exhibit.
In making exhibits in competition with the products of other exhibitors, the successful competitors are usually those who give most careful attention to the selection, preparation and installation of their exhibits.
In making single exhibits, care should be taken to show the exact quantity or number of specimens mentioned in the entry fist. At county fairs, especially, exhibitors are prone to make their "pecks" or "half-pecks" exceedingly small if exhibition material is scarce or time limited. The present tendency is to specify in premium fists the number of specimens, whenever this is feasible, rather than a given bulk, and to disqualify exhibits which do not conform to the requirement in this respect.
In selecting specimens which are to form a single exhibit, very few inexperienced persons appreciate the importance of uniformity in size and type. Sometimes an exhibit will be very creditable with the exception of one or two specimens. These odd specimens may be very good as individuals, but differ much in size or type from the other specimens and detract seriously from the value of the exhibit.
Vegetables on exhibition should be clean. Root crops should usually be washed. Onions are best prepared by careful brushing. Cauliflower and cabbage should be carefully trimmed; tomatoes, eggplant and melons wiped with a moist cloth. Celery, lettuce and endive should be gathered with the roots on, carefully washed, and displayed with the roots immersed in water so that the plants will not wilt.
The arrangement of the specimens in a single exhibit is also important. When the judging is by comparison, only, those exhibits which attract the immediate attention of the judge will be likely to receive careful consideration if the number of entries is at all large. Under such conditions it often happens that the arrangement of the specimens is fully as effective in securing careful examination of the exhibit as is the perfection of the specimens themselves. In the case of many kinds of vegetables, if the number of specimens is not over one dozen, the exhibit can often be displayed very advantageously on plates or trays. If one peck or one-half bushel is prescribed, splint baskets are desirable receptacles. In any case, the appearance of the exhibition room will be greatly enhanced if the receptacles used for all the single exhibits are as uniform as the nature of the products will permit. With this end in view, it is desirable that the management furnish the receptacles.
In the exhibitions held by thoroughly established organizations which give special attention to vegetables, there is likely to be a recognized appropriate method of disposing the specimens of each kind of vegetable in or upon a given type of receptacle. At county fairs, each exhibitor usually exercises his own ingenuity both as to type of receptacle and method of arrangement; and the resuit is at least lacking in monotony. To show at its best, every exhibit should be characterized by neatness and simplicity in arrangement.
The principles involved in making a general display including a number of different kinds of vegetables are much the same as for making individual exhibits: the specimens must be selected with care, thoroughly cleaned, and attractively arranged. In addition, the character and arrangement of the exhibit as a whole must be given careful attention. Very often, general displays fail in effectiveness because the number of specimens of each kind is too limited or the different specimens of the same kind are too much scattered through the exhibit, instead of being massed so that they would make an impression upon the spectator. Exhibitors are likewise inclined to weaken the character of an exhibit by introducing a few specimens each of numerous species or varieties that are little known or of small commercial importance. These are often scattered promiscuously through the exhibit and detract the attention from the main features. The general effect of the exhibit as a whole is of prime importance.
Non-competitive exhibits of vegetables for advertising or educational purposes are usually confined to a comparatively few species or varieties in a given exhibit. In exhibits made for advertising some particular section or locality, the vegetables are likely to be merely a minor part of a general exhibit, and to consist of specimens likely to attract attention by reason of their unusual size rather than any other noteworthy feature.
Certain kinds of vegetables lend themselves readily to the making of purely educational exhibits to illustrate the influence of differences in soil treatment or cultural methods or the results of treatment for plant diseases. In such exhibits, it is unwise to attempt to illustrate the results of many different treatments in one exhibit. It is much better to concentrate the attention of the spectator upon one or two striking results than to try to demonstrate a number of minor variations. If the latter method is attempted, the effectiveness of the display will be destroyed; for the passing observer recognizes only striking contrasts. For example, if a number of different fertilizer treatments have been employed, and all give marked results as compared with the check (the unfertilized plat), it would be unwise in an educational exhibit to attempt to illustrate the proportionate yields from all the treatments. Only the yields of the check plat and one or two others should be given. The casual observer can see three things at a glance, but not a dozen.
In making an educational exhibit to represent differences in yields, the quantities shown should represent yields from definite areas of ground, such as one-hundredth or one-thousandth of an acre; and the specimens should be arranged in such a way that the differences will be most apparent.
In arranging an exhibit to illustrate the results of treatment for plant diseases, e.g., treatment of seed potatoes for the control of scab, it is better to sort the specimens from each plat into "diseased" and "sound," and to display them in two contiguous piles, than to mix the diseased and sound promiscuously in the same pile.
The educational value of all exhibits, whether competitive or non-competitive, is greatly enhanced if careful attention is given to the proper labeling of the various parts or features of each exhibit. Conspicuous legends of a concise nature are of some benefit to even the casual observer, and are greatly appreciated by the few who are specially interested in the particular exhibit or the matter it is designed to illustrate. John W. Lloyd.