You may know Rob Smith as the winner of the recent BBC2’s Allotment Challenge. Rob has been cabin crew for a well known airline since 1998 and a gardener for much longer! He has built up quite a following on Instagram where he regularly shares growing tips, he is also a columnist for weekly gardening magazine Garden News and monthly magazine Kitchen Garden. We chatted to Rob to find out more about his passions and inspirations.
When did you start gardening?
When I was old enough to walk into the garden as a toddler and I’ve never really looked back!
How do you learn about gardening? Was gardening a thing in your household when you were growing up?
I’ve picked everything I know up in books and from family as I’ve grown up. My grandad had a huge vegetable patch which I’ve been involved with since I was a toddler, helping plant, sow and harvest all the way through my childhood. At home I would grow veg down the side of my parents house, proudly bringing a bunch of radish in to go with dinner.
Who else gets involved with your plot? Is it a family affair?
My dogs Winston and Nipper are all ways “helping” in the garden, so does my mum at the weekend and my friend Darren is always popping round to lend a hand too
Where do you get inspiration and gardening advice from?
I use a mix of advice from gardening friends, magazines, books and social media. However, my favourite has to be old vintage gardening books, they give lots of good advice that’s still true today!
What are you planning to grow this season?
As much as I can fit in the garden! Veg, fruit, flowers and even the odd spice
How does gardening have an affect on your lifestyle?
Gardening is my lifestyle, it’s my passion, my job and it’s part of who I am
What do you find most challenging in your garden?
Keeping pests away, the pigeons are a nightmare here and I have to net most things to stop them ravaging the plot!
What has been your greatest success?
I think simply creating a growing space that you love to spend time in, working, relaxing and entertaining has to be the greatest success. A garden should feel like a friend you want to visit, even if it’s sometimes hard work it should be fun!
Any big growing challenges you plan to take on in the future?
I’m trying to produce a pawpaw fruit outside in Sheffield, and at the minute I’ve managed to get my plant to flower, so wish me luck….
Three top tips you would give someone starting out?
Break your space up into smaller sections and concentrate on them one by one, don’t think you have to do everything all at once as you’ll get overwhelmed and disheartened. Also, grow what you like to eat, that’s the aim of the game.
Three people you’d recommend following on Instagram?
@darrenlakin2 for garden styling and inspiration