The Big Allotment Challenge – what do you think? Now the series has come to an end we’d like to know what our gardeners thought. We have been watching week in week out and have really enjoyed it, and we have to give a massive congratulations to Alex and Ed who were crowned the best growers!! Since the first episode we have read opinions across social media and some have loved the series and some not so much; so we would like to know why you liked or disliked the series.
The series began with 9 pairs of allotmenteers who were challenged to grow, make and eat produce they had grown in their allotment. The pairs were each given an allotment in early spring and a list of 33 fruits, veg and flowers to grow (if only all allotments came pre-prepared with a ready built greenhouse)! The 9 pairs nurtured their allotment over 15 weeks in both rain and shine to impress the three expert judges and gain best in show. Episode 1 introduced us to the 9 pairs and allowed us to find out about their relationships. There were teachers, family friends and a mother and daughter, who all share the love of gardening. The first episode also introduced us to the famous big allotment one liners where the allotmenteers had to make bouquets, or shall we say ‘bloquets’, flowers arranged by men. Eat is always the most enjoyable challenge and in episodes 2 and 3 the remaining teams made relishes and chutneys. In Episode 3 Michelle also grew a ‘witches nose’ carrot! We watched the highs and lows of owning an allotment including the dreaded pests and diseases!
What we feel is really endearing about the programme is that the 9 pairs grew to be great friends which is also a benefit of having an allotment. Of course they were in a competition so were unlikely to be sharing ideas or helping fellow gardeners crops but each week one pair left and as the weeks went on it got harder and harder to see people go. Some may say this was because they wanted to win and were disappointed to be going, but part of us understands that they had dedicated so much time to their allotment and enjoyed every moment that perhaps it wasn’t always about winning.
One question that we have been asking is why do people choose to have allotments? Simply for fun and a social life or for the fresh produce? There are over 350,000 allotments in Britain and the demand for allotments is increasing! For me, there is nothing juicier than sweet home grown tomatoes or a wonky and blemished carrot grown with the care of rugged gardening hands. Why do you think the demand for allotments is so high? We asked our very own allotmenteers here at Thompson & Morgan their thoughts;
“Although I have a reasonable sized garden, it’s full of trees and shrubs and therefore not very suitable for growing fruit and vegetables and with 2 young boys the football usually destroys most of my horticultural efforts. Having been frustrated with poor crops for some time, I put my name on the waiting list for an allotment. I was very lucky and was given a half sized plot within about 6 months. It’s been hard work as there was also a thick mat of weeds covering the rest of the plot, but on a sunny spring day, its great being up there with the Skylarks singing overhead and no distractions. The boys have enjoyed helping harvest tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, sweetcorn as well as the fruit. Having an allotment is great to get the family together and an activity that can be enjoyed outside. I still can’t persuade them to eat courgettes though! The mild spring this year has enabled me to spend a little more time clearing the weeds and the end is now in sight, so I am looking forward to the next few years as it shouldn’t be quite such hard digging and I’ll be able to grow a greater variety of crops”
We really would love to hear your thoughts on the series, we love getting to know our gardeners and it is a great topic to say the least! Did you like the series? What do you think they could have done better? Why do gardeners have allotments? Why are they enjoyable? Please post your comments below, the floor is open for discussion!
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.
Having taken on 1/2 an allotment plot 12 months ago I was really looking forward to seeing how the programme would develop.
To start with nobody takes on a weeded, prepared allotment plot ! Do they anywhere in the UK??
It wasn’t realistic at all. It starts with lots of weeding, even strimming as the growth is too tall! Followed by alot I mean ALOT of digging, adding manure or compost to improve the soil etc.
Then maybe planting seeds, usually followed by drought so you have to keep watering by hand, and certainly NO hosepipes, alot , ALOT of watering cans being carried maybe 20/30 yards, hard work BUT the reward is wonderful, purely because of all the work involved!.
I have managed to almost dig over my 1/2 plot in 12 months and planted fruit bushes, raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and lots of vegetables, which when harvested and eaten within an hour are wonderful.
I am looking forward to retirement so I don’t have to rush to water before or after work and can leisurely potter and stroll amongst my plants.
I enjoyed watching the first one but after that I did try but found it boring. More practical emphasis on how when and what went wrong and how to deal with that would have been much more useful. I am not interested in making floral wreaths( who is) or even the floral arrangements. Thane was just a waste of space and why not give the recipes for the best tasting if they must go down this road. Preserving recipes wud at least have been of some use. more practical stuff less of the airy fairy please then I might fight the NEED to switch it off.
Very disappointing, nowhere near enough actual gardening!
It follows the same line as all these types of shows, leaning far too much towards competition and dismissal.
If all the allotmentiers had stayed to the end, with focus on their planting ideas etc. it would have made a far more interesting program.
What a wasted opportunity!
I totally agree with Ellie B not enough emphasis was given to how the produce was grown from the beginning right through to harvesting. What thought processes did the teams go through to plan their layouts? How did they deal with pests? Just how much time did they get to spend there?
I have an allotment and would have found more background into the work put into looking after it interesting as I know they are time consuming.
For many people growing their own is about being able to eat produce not how straight or blemish free it is and too much was taken up by producing perfect veg and flowers.
Also the challenges gave the gardeners too short a time to make chutneys etc. If you are going to make preserves at home it is not rushed as it would be a waste of good ingredients.
If another series is planned then more is needed on the growing and less emphasis on it being perfect. Maybe a plain taste test is required.
I enjoyed the programme and found it encouraged me to try mixing things together to eat I had not thought about before, you are right about Thanes face though, I must admit some of the food ‘chutneys’ and jams had me wincing!! Like Ellie I would like to see a bit more on how to solve the problems they had!! it is nice to know not all growers are have perfect plants!!
I, too, would have liked to see more about the actual growing. To make space, the flower arranging could be dispensed with altogether (the winners couldn’t do this anyway) and the cooking part cut down.
Really enjoyed the program, loved the individual aspects of the show, it’s great to see what you can do with produce grown over and above the usual, I thought the judges and the presenter where spot on, I would like to see more hints and tips especially on the growing, ie disease and pest control, alternative growing methods, looking forward to the next series very much
I did enjoy watching it but I felt the emphasis should have been more on the actual growing than making of the various jams and chutneys and flower arrangements which you would never have at home! (well unless you are Elton John of course) and don’t get me started on looking at Thane’s sour face, she had me bursting out laughing with some of the faces she strained out – I wanted to watch an allotment programme not someone sucking teaspoons of jam. I thought some really good growers went out of the competition all too early. I did like the best in show awards they got but I felt there was too many of them and it seemed to sway the decisions of who stayed in week by week instead of looking at what they had done from the beginning as a whole. I would have liked to have seen more about their actual growing and the problems they encountered and how they got past them (the show seemed to only dwell on this for a few minutes at best). Lets hope the one they are filming for next year has a bit more of the gardeners personality coming through! – we only had little snippets of that i felt.
I agree completely with this. I also wasn’t keen on the flower arranging section – in the final challenge for a hanging decoration I thought the one the expert had done looked awful! And it seemed a bit silly to be judging pickles and chutneys before they had time to mature.