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The big allotment challenge part 3

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Big allotment challengeThe third round of The Big Allotment Challenge hosted by Fern Britton continues the search for Britain’s best growers. Seven pairs remain and it is time to pull up the carrots, pick the gladioli and get in a pickle over their chutneys.

Jim wants to see three uniform carrots and a flawless gladioli specimen presented on the show bench. Jonathan ups the ante with his surprise floral arrangement and tasks the allotmenteers to design and make a table arrangement using flowers from their patch. Queen of preserves Thane Prince is on the search for perfection as the teams battle it out to deliver an award winning chutney and cordial to the show bench.

Who will be sent home and who will continue to dig their way to victory and be named the winners of The Big Allotment Challenge?

Just a thought: what happens to the allotments of those who get sent home?
I did quite enjoy this week’s program. I can’t watch it when it’s on so I watch it on iplayer. I’m actually out at the local community garden when it’s on!

It was fun, we saw bits more of plots and I felt there was more info on growing carrots – some handy little hints to make your carrots better! Whilst slight bends in carrots are fine, forked ones are a pain to wash so it does make sense to grow carrots in sandy soil.
I’ve never made a cordial so I might try that – I have plenty of rhubarb available at the moment so will be giving that a go. Whilst no recipes were given I’m sure there are plenty on the internet.
The flower arrangement was interesting – again I’m not that bothered about growing flowers but I’d quite like to have a go and flower arranging after watching the contestants have a go.
All in all plenty of good entertainment!

The 3 perfect carrots: uniform size and quality: Single root, free from pest and disease.
Forked carrots are a sign of poor soil preparation.
They start by looking at varieties and how to grow them. One tried a cloche to warm the soil before sowing the carrot seed.
Some used tubes of sandy soil to encourage no forking. Gary and Pete use dark sand in a dustbin. Another in pots.
Carrots need thinning to make more room for those remaining. Avoid bruising leaves as carrot fly smell it and will come looking for carrots to lay their eggs in. Companion planting might help against this.
Kate and Eleanor have chosen a shorter dumpier carrot.
Cover the tops of the carrots so they don’t turn green.

The judge won’t be tasting the carrots! Just going off appearances

Jo and Avril – Early Nantes
Kate and Eleanor – Chantenay <<< best in show!
Rupert and Dimi – Tendersnax
Gary and Pete – Amsterdam forcing 3
Alex and Ed – New Red intermediate
Shirley and Victoria – Nantes 2
Sally and Michelle – Trevor

Gladiolus spike and perfect table arrangement. Focal area and symetrical, for rectangular table for 6 people.

Spike needs to be very erect, 1/3 in flower, coming in to flower and final third to flower after (green bud). They are a traditional flower for a 40th wedding anniversary.

Jo and Avril – White friendship << Best table arrangement
Kate and Eleanor – Purple flora << best in show gladioli
Rupert and Dimi – Green star
Gary and Pete – Plum tart
Alex and Ed – White prosperity
Shirley and Victoria – White prosperity
Sally and Michelle – Tutti frutti mix

How to make a table decoration: Soaked block of flora foam in a tray, take corners off for more surface area to put flowers in. Long foliage for outline, add flowers. Cut down long flowers into smaller units. Repeat key flowers, make central focus.

Chutney and a bottle of cordial.

Jo and Avril – curried carrot chutney and redcurrant and blackcurrant cordial <<< best in show
Kate and Eleanor – aubergine chutney and strawberry and rhubarb cordial
Rupert and Dimi – aubergine chutney, beetroot and rosemary cordial.
Gary and Pete – beetroot and rhubarb chutney and rhubarb and redcurrant cordial
Alex and Ed – red tomato chutney and blackcurrant cordial
Shirley and Victoria – Tomato harvest chutney and rhubarb cordial with star anise, strawberry and ginger,
Sally and Michelle – yellow courgette chutney and ginger and rhubarb cordial with electric daisy

Thane Prince wants them to choose wide selection of produce for this challenge. Chutney includes spice, vegetables and sometimes fruit. Something attractive, even chunks, not too sweet, or sharp, balance and representative of the ingredients its made from.
Sugar and vinegar, sugar must all dissolve. Slow simmer for flavour and thickening.
Cordial fruit, sugar and water. To make a thick syrup which can be diluted.

So who is leaving?
Sally and Michelle!

Next time aubergines, sunflowers and pickles.

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Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

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The Big Allotment Challenge – Episode 2

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

The big allotmwent challengeThe Big Allotment Challenge – Episode 2
Down to 8 pairs after Shawn and Liz went home last week.

Watch The Big Allotment Challenge – Episode 2 again on iplayer

This week it’s runner beans, roses and relish.

Jim Buttress is the growing expert. They need to grow 6 matching runner beans.
Need to be a good colour, snap easily, flat with no visible signs of seeds, blemish free, straight!
Runner beans need a good rich soil, planting out at the right time. I start mine in pots the size of pot noodle pots. You have to know when the last frost is due – and plant them out after that.
An insurance policy can be to put a seed in when you plant your beans out!
Varieties of bean grown: St George, Scarlett emperor, lady Di, White Apollo, White Lady, Czar.
Shirley and Victoria won this challenge.

There was mention of the blackfly on the beans as they were growing.

Flowers – growing the perfect and doing something with them.
Present one perfect summer rose; use roses to create a summer wreath. Needs to be circular, hole in middle and must be able to hang it up.
They started with containerised roses which can be planted out at any point of the year. The roses also got pests – greenfly and thrips.
The expert made it look easy to make a wreath with circles of oasis.
Jo and Avril won the single rose best in show, and Kate and Eleanor won the wreath best in show.

They then have 1 hour 45 minues to make a sauce and a relish. One pair made a really hot sauce.
Rupert and Dimi won this.

The summing up! I think this would be loads better if they showed four pictures – one of the couple and then a shot from each of the challenges so you can remember how wonky their beans were, or how good their relish looked.

Ed and Hashani were sent home.

Next week: Michelle is back after her allergic reaction, and the teams will be judged on their carrots, gladioli, and chutney!

I think I enjoyed this week more. The format is consistent with last week – and it is in effect a game show about growing things rather than allotments. I think it’s quite interesting to see the people talking about growing their beans but it is such a tiny part of the show really. Giving the names of the bean varieties and rose types was good from an information perspective. I am suprised this isn’t written up in detail on the program info though.
Will there be a book about the series? I suspect there might be, and this might be where they niclude more hints on growing, making and cooking your own!
I appreciate it is very little about real allotment challenges, but the commercial nature of TV means there would be a much more limited audience for a show about people taking on derelict plots. This format ties in with the sewing and baking programs which have been so successful for the BBC previously.

There is a gap for more realistic allotment shows, and it’s filled hugely by what’s on youtube.

I too leaned in to hear more about the secrets of runner beans. There were a few snippets – like don’t put them out too early, and they need a rich soil, but nothing new.

I like the fact they name the varieties and meant to whizz back through and see which beans were the winning variety, but I couldn’t be bothered by then.

Flowers don’t do it for me, but I did enjoy the demo of making a wreath and watching the others make them. The filming shows some really bare wreaths which made me laugh imagining them being the finished product.

What’s a relish? I saw chopped up raw veg and what looked like chutneys to me.

Again I want a recipe from them – the school teachers radish recipe at least!