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Greg knows his onions!
MUCK and magic make Holmes Chapel winning onions – at least that’s the trick to one three-time champion’s prize-growing produce.
Greg Freer, from Stocks Lane Nurseries, was crowned Holmes Chapel and District Onion Show winner with an eye-watering effort of 4lbs 4.5oz.
Last year’s runner-up Greg topped John Goulding’s 3lbs 14oz and third-placed James Hamilton’s 3lbs 13.5oz, but was not about to let the other competitors know his onion secrets.
“It’s muck and magic – that’s what make big onions,” said the 45-year-old.
“It wasn’t a particularly great year because it was such a dry summer, but you can never tell how you’ve done until you get there.
“Even looking at them you can’t tell. I thought the third-placed one actually looked the biggest, but mine turned out to be the heaviest once they were balanced and weighed.”
The show originally took place at the Victoria Club when it began in 1984, but having dwindled out was restarted 13 years ago and held in 93-year-old Roy Bonnett’s garden.
However, David and Dorothy Monks stepped up to host the event – now named the Roy Bonnett Trophy – in September at their Middlewich Road residence, which featured in this year’s Cheshire open gardens.
“Roy used to put everything on for free and then he didn’t want you to go home,” said David, 74.
“We finished up a little earlier, but everyone still had a thoroughly good time.
“Roy was in it from the beginning and they used to have about 30 members in those days.
“We started it up again and now we’re hoping to get more people involved – we’d like some younger growers.
“If we get plenty we might have to return to the Victoria Club, I’m sure they would love to have us back.”
David’s effort of 3lbs placed him fifth this year, but not even he knows friend Greg’s well-kept trophy-winning techniques. “It was a good onion,” admitted David.
“But he will never tell us his secrets!
“I usually start around Christmas in the greenhouse, grow them on a heated bed until May, then keep feeding them and keep the pests off.
“But I’ll have to get better next year to win.
“The heaviest we ever had was over 5lbs – we hope somebody will beat it eventually!”
Greg, David and Roy are keen to welcome new competitors, and those interested should contact David on 01477 532935 or Greg on 07786 837560.
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