After watching The Big Allotment Challenge last year I swore that I’ll never look at this programme , if it should start again. How wrong I was.

Perhaps it was just a coincidence that just before the screening of the new series I saw a new programme (for me, anyway) with Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty – what a difference.

Jamie and Jimmy talk sense and also act on it. Why should we aim to grow perfectly shaped veg with no blemishes when all the vegetables grown on the farms in Suffolk etc are equally tasty. Unfortunately the big supermarkets have a stranglehold on the farmers and demand just the veg that fits into the template of their making.

It was heartbreaking to see piles of perfectly good parsnips being condemned to either animal feed or just dumped!

Fortunately J and J had this great idea and approached one of the big supermarkets with an unusual offer of ‘ugly veg’ – and it worked!


There is nothing wrong with this kind of veg, it doesn’t even need peeling, all that is needed is a stiff brush and they are ready to be used. We hardly ever cook our root veg whole – they are sliced, chopped, grated or mashed so is doesn’t matter at all what they look like.

I’ve been growing the kind of veg that the farmers are growing – carrots, parsnips etc and also potatoes, the same ones as the contestants in the Allotment challenge and I think this programme does a huge dis-service to growing and eating veg.

We should encourage everybody to eat healthy food, we are told to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg every day – this kind of perfectionist approach doesn help at all.

The whole concept of this programme is somewhat misleading. I don’t know any allotment site where a new gardener could take on a plot as pristine as these contestants, with a heated greenhouse and convenient hose to water it all. This is a dream – my own plot was quite overgrown, especially in some parts. But clearing it all and then sowing and planting and harvesting – well, that’s what I call allotmenting!

I shall continue to watch the programme just to be able to shout at the TV screen and think that my way (and that of most of my fellow allotmenters everywhere) of producing veg is the right one.


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