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Exam commentary - from Level 2 Garden Planning
by Janet Prescott - Wednesday, 19 December 2018, 8:43 AM

From R 2113 February ‘18

Q3. Describe the production of a crop of onions under EACH of the following headings:

i)                 named cultivar;                        1 mark

ii)                planting of sets;                       5 marks

iii)              harvesting.                                4 marks

This question refers to the following part of the syllabus:

3.1 Describe the individual production of vegetable crops including runner beans, winter cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots, courgettes, onions, leeks, beetroot, potatoes and salad crops to include lettuce and radish. 

To include: the production of each crop from time of sowing/planting out to harvest, covering all the relevant activities listed in 3.2. Named cultivar/s of each vegetable listed.

There are several different crops in the syllabus which you need to know quite detailed information for, including cultivars, and methods of production. It is a good idea to learn at least two cultivars for each, and appropriate detail on production for the cultivars you have selected. Information such as spacing, time of sowing and harvest can vary quite a bit between different cultivars of the same vegetable.

The examiners’ comments suggest an answer for part i) of Onion ‘Red Baron’. Usually you should include the full botanical name, but for vegetables this is an acceptable alternative.

Part ii) requires quite a lot of detail as it is worth 5 marks. This is an example of a question where it is particularly important to read the question carefully. Onion sets are asked for and not onion seed. The information suggested in the examiners’ comments includes:

·        time of planting – i.e. early to mid spring

·        soil – weed free and cultivated to a fine tilth

·        spacing – rows 25-30cm apart and 7.5-15cm apart in the rows, depending on cultivar 

·        planting the sets with the tips at or just below soil level to prevent birds from pulling them out

·        watering and labelling

(Watering is not always necessary at this point unless it is a dry spring).

There are always variations on methods for growing vegetables. The examiners’ comments state to push the set into the soil. Another method is to make a seed drill first to plant them into at the correct depth and then draw the soil back over with a rake.

Part iii) also requires quite a bit of detail, being 4 marks. The information in the examiners’ comments includes:

·        harvest on a dry sunny day in late August/early September

·        harvest when the foliage has started to die down and the tops bend over

·        lift carefully with a fork

·        in dry weather leave on surface for at least a week

·        in damp weather dry on slatted trays in a greenhouse or shed

·        the skins should be paper dry

·        remove any diseased or damaged onions

  the roots and top growth can be removed when dry