4-H Horticulture Judging Tips and Fair Preparation

*Below are some common questions the judge may ask about you horticulture exhibit*

Questions for any level Horticulture member

  • When choosing what vegetables to exhibit, why did you chose these?
  • Do you have any tips or ideas to help me grow vegetables as good as yours?
  • How can you tell when to harvest this vegetable?
  • Did you grow your own plants, or did you buy the plants?
  • Did you plant a seed, a bulb, or a  plant?
  • What job do you dislike the most in the garden?
  • What was your favorite thing you did with your garden?
  • What do you do with left over produce?
  • Do you like eating this vegetable?
  •    -If not, then why did you grow it?
  •    -If you do, how do you like to eat it?
  • How did you prepare the soil for planting?
  • What problems did you have growing your vegetables?
  • How did you learn how to process your vegetables?
  • How many green beans did you have to pick to get 6 that look alike?
  • Is this hot pepper variety actually hot?

Take It Further

Questions for more advanced members

  • What variety of vegetable do you have?
  • Did you use any pesticides?
  • How will this garden help you 10 years from now?
  • How much money do you have in seeds?
  • Did you add fertilizer, if so what did you use?
  • Do you mulch? If yes, why add mulch around the plants?
  • Do you have any space-saving ideas to grow this vegetable?
  • How did you control any pests?
  • Is this vegetable an annual or perennial?
  • Why did you choose this variety over another?
  • (yellow onion over a purple onion)
  • Does this vegetable like a cool or warm growing conditions?

Iowa 4-H Vegetable Project

*Make time and take time to check and meet the specifications in the fair book for your county*

Photo downloaded under a creative commons license

Harvesting Tips                      

Use a sharp knife (do not pull from plant)Fair Preparation

Harvest vegetables as close as possible to exhibition date (there are exceptions ex. dry onions).

Use vegetables that are uniform in size, shape, color, maturity, and type.

Do not use vegetables that have blemishes or faults.

Handle produce gently as to not damage the vegetable.


Do not scrub your vegetables for exhibit.

Want to know what to do for a specific vegetable?

Click on the vegetable name above.


List both the Type and Cultivar on the label.

ISU Publications

Container Gardening

Growing Blueberries in Iowa

Harvesting and Preparing Vegetables for Exhibit

Harvesting and Storing Vegetables

Planting a Home Vegetable Garden

Small Plot Vegetable Garden

Where to Put Your Vegetable Garden

Composting Yard Waste

Garden Soil Management

Garden Tips: Guidelines to Seasonal Chores

Organic Mulches for Gardent plantings

Pruning Grapevines

Pruning Raspberries

Questions about Composting

Apply Pesticides Safely

Botanical Insecticides in the Home Garden

Choose Pesticides Wisely

Integrated Pest Management for Vegetable Gardens

Store Pesticides Safely

Understanding Pesticide Labeling

Helpful Hints

Glossary - definitions of words you don’t know

Something wrong with your plant or vegetable? Click here!