Life meeting reality (or is it reality meeting life!)
What do you know about growing things? Do you want to know more? The BBC think you do as we are now into week 4 of the The Big Allotment Challenge And so another reality show has hit our screens and one which had the potential to be like watching paint dry but strangely isn’t! At least Lynne Truss of the Telegraph agrees with me if no-one else! Unlike the Great British Sewing Bee where contestants are given 5 hours to turn a piece of material into something lovely and wearable it has taken 15 weeks of digging and nurturing and pruning to have fresh produce that can be displayed or turned into family meals, jams and chutneys. A bit of Jam and Jerusalem meeting Gardeners World!
So what does all this do for us? We gave up telling children long ago that babies were found under gooseberry bushes. Now, from a very young age, they grow up knowing the basic facts of how their little brothers and sisters find their way into their lives. But what about onions and potatoes and tomatoes – they come from supermarkets don’t they?
Anything that encourages us to lift up a fork and trowel and grow something for tea (even if it is only some lettuce leaves!) is good. My dad liked a nice bit of grass that he kept cut and manicured to within an inch of its life so it was my uncle who supplied the wonder of planting a very small seed that grew into a very large cucumber. From about the age of 12 I picked raspberries and strawberries during the summer to earn some money (the advantage of living in a fruit growing region in Scotland) and come October it was the potato harvest. So no reality shows for me - I grew up knowing that food didn’t magically appear in polystyrene trays wrapped in plastic.
Mention the allotment to my grandchildren and they are interested – for about 5 minutes! But that is long enough to plant a few sunflower seeds or pick a few strawberries for tea. It doesn’t take a long time to create a few memories and introduce them to the wonders of gardening.
This picture is of my daughter aged 9 with a cucumber that she grew from seed – she is 34 now with a 9 year old of her own and an allotment! She had no interest at all during her teenage years but the seed had been planted at an early age – it just took a while to germinate!
Alan Titchmarsh recently took umbrage with Jeremy Clarkson for suggesting that ‘gardening was a pointless way of passing time until you die’. Well, not everyone is going to be turned on by growing a cabbage, but gardening is far from pointless (all the jars of jam and all those green beans in the freezer tell me that!). So I find myself agreeing with the gardening guru and his assertion that there is something for everyone in gardening, whether you are a fanatic (my hubby is almost in that category!) or a casual gardener who grows the odd patio plant.
However, I do feel strongly that we should all have the chance to have a go if we want to. So we need to know what it is all about so that we can pick up gardening or put it down as our lives and inclinations allow. Fruit, vegetables and flowers are a mainstay of our existence, give us lots of pleasure, nutrition and a sense of achievement when you say “I grew that!”.
So the odd reality programme – I’ll live with it and probably love it - in an odd sort of way!