9pm, a Friday. And the Big Allotment Challenge was back. With baited breath, Britain’s allotmenteering community flicked on BBC2 to see what changes had been made since last years first series.
So I commandeered the family tv, complete with Mama and her knitting needles. I would watch this, on the larger screen, rather than on a portable device on catch up.
Credits rolled, and I could feel myself slipping into observation mode, It’s hard not to be a teacher. There was even my notebook and a pen, I was going to make very close observations.
Plots have changed since the end of the last series, back down to blank canvasses. We saw the series 2 contestants plot and plan out what they wanted to do. One of the opening statements was that these were amateur gardeners. Significant, as a large proportion of other horticultural shows will involve professionals. Important, as amateurs can get things wrong and not necessarily get huffy about it.
Spuds. Spuds, were the first challenge. Can’t say these featured directly in the first series. But with the show being short, the focus was on new potatoes. These would also feature with the eat challenge later with Thane Prince. Okay, so they all grew spuds. What I took umbrage with, was Jim’s dismissive remarks about spuds being the basics of the allotment. why did I get cheesed off? I have issues with my spuds. I plant them, monitor them, and still end up with holey spuds, with the occasional green one. I am clearly failing, with the basics.
What was nice, was there was focus on growing. Advice, techniques and strategies on how to do it. What to expect, and how to do things. There was also experimentation, by Lena one of the contestants. There is nothing wrong with experiments, and if you don’t try, you don’t know. Something Matt was also interested in. Testing the acidity of his soil. I have yet to do that. I am happy knowing I have clay.
And we saw pests! yes, slugs, snails, things that eat your crop before you do. Growing, is not perfect. Things go wrong. Both potatoes, and the zinnia flowers were afflicted by pests. I could have done a small whoop whoop cheer, for the critters that finally got shown to the unsuspecting public. There were twenty minutes of new potatoes, as they went to the show bench. One of the contestants tickled her spuds, I have furtled, but never tickled.
I get that people do grow for show. But the fact that veg has to be perfect, that annoys me. You can see Jamie Oliver’s campaign for ugly veg hit the news here. Perfectly good veg, but not pretty. Is avoided by both supermarkets and consumers. There is nothing wrong with it!
Flower growing, I shall gloss over. I glazed over with that bit. I am not a bouquet or floral basket maker. Glazing and glossing over. I wanted to fast forward to the eat, but couldn’t zap the tv.
Eat. Mustard and another sauce. You can make your own mustard, who knew. Sauces, to accompany a roast dinner. A sacrosanct meal, I tell you.
I wanted to see the reactions of Thane Prince. I like Thane, no nonsense in her approach. There was definitely no nonsense. Holding no punches, Thane gave her verdicts on the sauces. The contestants did appear to have fun in the kitchen, but that didn’t improve the matter. Thane wasn’t overly impressed by some of the sauces. Neither was I, to be fair. Was holding out for jams, jellies, chutney’s and cordials. Think there is syrup next week, insert your own toupee joke there.
Overall, I am not sure what I think. I even had to sleep on it. I may have even dreamt about it. Whilst there are changes. More growing advice, individual contestants who actually get irked with one another. Of course I will watch the next episode. But this still requires improvement.