Big Allotment Challenge, Episode 3

Return to the plot

Episode three of the Big Allotment Challenge focused on growing carrots, arranging gladioli and making chutneys and cordials.

The seven remaining teams had spent seventeen weeks growing carrots in order to present three perfect examples to Jim Buttress for judging.

Several teams, including Alex and Ed, decided to grow their carrots in sand-filled plastic tubes in order to encourage long, straight growth.

Gary and Pete chose to grow theirs in a dustbin.

Everyone managed to avoid the dreaded carrot fly and when the time came for harvesting the fruits of their labours there were some surprising results.

Gary and Pete extracted some bizarrely shaped specimens from their dustbin – most of them had forked.

Jo and Avril grew Early Nantes – a popular variety amongst allotmenteers – and produced an excellent crop even though they weren’t uniform enough for Jim.

Rupert and Dimi achieved similarly pleasing results with their Tendersnax variety.

Alex and Ed managed to grow some very long carrots but unfortunately they had grown right to the bottom of the sand-filled plastic tubes, hit the harder earth and crumpled.

Sally and Michelle grew a variety called Trevor but the tops of their carrots turned green. This was because they failed to cover the top of each carrot as it broke the surface of the soil.

Kate and Eleanor chose to grow Chantenay carrots in pots and were the surprise winners of this task.

Gladioli beauty contest

This week’s floral challenge was to grow gladioli. One perfect specimen had to be presented to Jim Buttress for judging and a table decoration made with remaining flowers.

Avril and Jo started their gladioli in pots whereas Shirley and Victoria and Sally and Michelle chose to plant their’s directly into the allotment soil.

With three weeks until judging day Kate and Eleanor encouraged their gladioli with extra food to hurry them along.

A week later many team’s gladioli were already in bloom and the task was then to protect the flowers from damage until judging day.

With just a week to go Gary and Pete discovered some serious rust and thrips on their flowers and concluded that, ‘they’re all knackered’. They weren’t far off the mark in their analysis.

Alex and Ed didn’t fare much better with only three or four flowers left untouched by rust while Rupert and Dimi discovered an infestation of thrips on their blooms.

Come judging day Jim Buttress was looking for gladioli that were one-third in flower, one-third with buds in colour and one-third with green buds.

Considering the problems many contestants had experienced with rust and thrips this was going to be a tall order.

Jim didn’t pull any punches with his assessments of the gladioli presented to him. He told Alex and Ed that, ‘You ain’t gonna win this!’, when he saw their White Prosperity variety. Gary and Pete were told that their’s should be put in the bin.

Although none of the teams managed to impress Jim to a great extent, he chose Kate and Eleanor as the winners of this task.

The table decoration challenge did prove to be a real challenge to many of the contestants. Alex and Ed seemed slightly bewildered during the task and when they presented their finished work to Jonathan for judging he commented, ‘Wow, but not wow in a good way!’

Gary and Pete decided to ‘go flouncy’ with the design for their table decoration and although Jonathan commended their creativity he didn’t see it as fulfilling his brief.

Jo and Avril came out the winners in this task partly due to their good use of foliage, according to Jonathan.

Chutney and cordial challenge

Thane Prince set the chutney challenge, reminding us that the finished product should have even chunks of vegetable and be neither too sweet nor too sharp.

Gary and Pete’s beetroot and rhubarb chutney caught Thane out with its large slices of ginger whereas Rupert and Dimi’s aubergine chutney was judged as slightly dry and over salty.

Sally and Michelle’s rhubarb and ginger cordial received better reviews as did Shirley and Victoria’s.

However, Jo and Avril’s cordial was described as ‘outstanding’ and along with their well-made curried carrot chutney they were declared the winners of this task by Thane.

The end

When the judges sat down to discuss who should be invited to leave the competition they focused on three teams: Sally and Michelle, Alex and Ed and Gary and Pete.

In the event it was Sally and Michelle who had to walk out through the allotment gate, not to return next week.

A new beginning

In the next episode we’ll be treated to growing aubergines, arranging sunflowers and making pickles.

Be sure to tune in to see how the six remaining teams cope with the challenges facing them.