Gordon Pittaway knows his onions - and his radishes and beetroot, too.

The 92-year-old Wanaka man is preparing to harvest the cream of the crop from his vegetable garden for next week's Wanaka A&P Show.

Possibly the show's most senior exhibitor, his association with the event dates back to the 1940s when he entered a horse.

He was based at Glendhu then doing a mustering run and his horse was known as a good jumper.


However, when he lined up for the first jump on show day, the horse bolted and that was the end of that. The next day, he had another crack and the horse "flew over like an aeroplane" - but it was only a one-day show back then so no ribbons were in the offing.

These days, Mr Pittaway's show exploits are more sedate and he has enjoyed considerable success in the produce section.

He and his partner, Ann Trevathan, have a colourful garden where the vegetables were very much Mr Pittaway's domain.

Mrs Trevathan (80) produced pickles and jams from the fruits of his labours, some of which were entered in the show.

Mr Pittaway attributed his interest in growing vegetables to an influential primary school teacher he had in Arrowtown.

She was an ardent supporter of the children learning to grow vegetables and each was allocated their own patch.

This had been a good season for his vegetables - "they aren't bad", he said modestly - and he had about 14 entries.

He was very conscious it all came down to the judge's preference so he was covering his bases in the beetroot section.

Last year, he was disappointed not to win a prize for his beetroot - "I had beautiful beetroot" - so this year he was entering two different sizes hopefully to find favour.

Mr Pittaway spent hours in his garden, despite the disability of a "crook knee" but ski poles placed in strategic points around the section helped with his mobility.

He had scaled back the garden latterly, but still saw no point in "putting half a dozen seeds in", so much of the abundance of produce was given away.

He was looking forward to attending the A&P show, which is being held on Friday, March 8, and Saturday, March 9.

The growth of the show over the years had been "absolutely unbelievable" but the good part was that it remained a traditional A&P show at its heart, he said.