Big Allotment Challenge 2015: Epi Four

This week, it was tomatoes, tears, tantrums and jams.

The two key area for me were the tomatoes and the jams, quintessentially two good parts of allotmenteering. To be honest, it was through watching the show last year that I started making preserves myself.

With the tomatoes, the contestants had to grow and show as usual. You’d think that growing tomatoes is fairly simple. Lots of people do it and not always because they have an allotment. I do hasten to add, that in this context, with a show, being on show is the key. I watched this segment, as though I was watching penalties. I was sat on the sofa, huffing and puffing, about how complex-and competitive-tomato growing could be. Huffing and puffing, as I grow them-you have seen the previous posts about them-but never get them going red. Yet the contestants did that, no problem. In their fairly swish, heated greenhouses. And they were nice specimens.
Specimens. They are not exhibits. They are tomatoes. You eat them. And that was my biggest problem with it. I do hasten to add, that there was a tomato jam later on that they had to make as part of the eat challenge.

These were very pretty, very red, bountiful crops. The most pampered tomato plants in the British Isles. There were techniques and there were tears as some of the crops didn’t quite get there. Another thing, that got on my wick, Some of the contestants had bought plants from a garden centred. You can get tomato seeds anywhere, and the plants just need a little bit of TLC to get them growing. I’m not completely against plugging in plants. I do that with cabbages, and in the past, I have cheated and bought plants when things were a bit late and my seeds had died a death. This did slightly irk me. I am not for cheating. I would rather sow seeds and follow my goods from cradle to ladle as it were.

The floo’ers. No comment. I didn’t pay any attention there. Sorry.

I was too busy waiting for jams. Last series, the jams made me realise just what else you could do with your crops. This week, interestingly, there was a savoury jam and a sweet jam. And there were dramas, with jam that was burned, jam that wasn’t going to set. I had genuine empathy for that, I really did. That does happen. I have experienced that, and wanted to cry with having burned the bottom of the jam pan. The jams didn’t look like jams to me, more purees. Perhaps I expect a bit more wobble. Next week, it’s pickles and chutney’s, so I will definitely be paying attention.

4 thoughts on “Big Allotment Challenge 2015: Epi Four”

  1. I can’t not watch this show, but it makes me so angry. That someone has to leave an allotment show because they didn’t arrange flowers perfectly or their jam wasn’t to the taste of the judge is just annoying. As for the comment we hear every week that “having unform produce means that the gardener has been consistent with their growing techniques” – poppycock. A single tomato plant will produce fruits of varying sizes, and a potato plant will never produce all of it’s output in a uniform size and shape.

  2. It is a shame. Thane Prince-she tweeted me last week, actually-made a point, that the show is based upon an village show. And that is where the perfect veg idea comes from. In that context, the look of the veg would be key, and on the show bench, perfect veg is what counts. Showing is showing! When it comes to the eat, then yes, I can see that taste is important. I agree whole heartedly otherwise, about wonky veg!

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