As you will know from reading my blog in my spare time I have a passion for all things horticultural, where I live in Denton with my partner John, my dog Boo, George and Mildred the Tortoises and ten chickens. I have always loved gardening since being a young lad, and started planting up anything I could lay my hands on. My favourite thing to do was to take the potatoes out of the fridge and plant these in my mums garden and watch them grow like crazy. Mum was always a bit curious as to where her spuds had gone, but she was always pleased with the end results.
Last year was the best year ever for me as I took part in a competition called the Big Allotment Challenge. This is now being aired on BBC2 on a Tuesday evening at 8pm. I was teamed up with a friend who I used to work with called Lizabeth Bohler and the concept of the programme was nine couples all pitched against each other to grow a selection of fruit, vegetables and flowers that would then be entered into a number of challenges.
The growing stage was my absolute joy, and we both spent 16 weeks travelling to Reading each weekend to grow our allotment in the beautiful grounds of Maple Durham Estate. It was a challenge being the only contestants from the North West of England and not having a day off for 5 months, but I would not have changed things for the world. We had our ups and downs in the growing stakes but I was proud of our achievements and our crops were second to none.
When it came to the challenges however my flower arranging capabilities were questionable and it was apparent I knew nothing about floral displays when I placed sweet peas against lilies and carrots (Don’t ask). We decided to take a risk in the preserve making round and prepare Tomato jam. When we practiced the recipe at home it was delicious and our friends and family raved about it, however when it came to the judging we burnt the jam and it would not come out of the jar #disaster.
All in all being on a TV show was a bizarre experience for me. When we were being filmed we always had to repeat any questions back to the camera before the answer was given so that viewers at home would know what we were talking about (This took a lot of getting used too). It is also not glamorous, particularly doing a competition about allotments. We worked extremely hard and long hours on the patch and this was punishing whilst working full time back in Manchester.
The presenter of the show is Fern Britton and I can say with absolute honesty that she is a lovely, genuine and caring person who also has a real flare and desire for gardening. For those of you that saw me and Liz leave on week one of the challenges would not have seen the off screen support from Fern.
Moving forward my desire to garden and grow my own has only got greater and I want to spread the word of gardening far and wide inspiring more people to take up the hobby. With the help of this blog people can track my own experiences or if you need some inspiration and help in your own garden. I would love to get involved in other methods of promoting gardening through newspaper, radio and TV and will be pursuing this interest with vigour from now on.
if you want to see how me and Lizzy B got on in week one take a look here: