A keen gardener from Princes Risborough has pruned, picked and planted her way to the final of The Big Allotment Challenge.

Avid gardeners may have seen Risborough resident Jo Jo Yee on the gardening challenge series on Friday evenings, hosted by Fern Britton.

The Big Allotment Challenge tasks the green-fingered contestants to maintain their own allotment, growing vegetables, flowers and fruit to enter into three weekly challenges which test their abilities to grow, eat and make the best produce and flower arrangements.

Jo Jo has been a keen gardener since moving to Princes Risborough from Hong Kong in 2010 and writes a blog called Fusian Living, which started out as a means of contact with family back in Asia but has now grown into a place to share her favourite recipes and gardening tips.

“When I first came here, I started growing tomatoes in the garden. The idea of allotments hasn’t taken off in other countries like it has here, especially not in Asia so I learnt the basics from my husband in the beginning. He’s an all round good gardener but I think I have taken over the vegetable growing in our garden now.

Each gardener is judged throughout the six-episode series by a panel of experts in gardening, cooking and floral design; Jim Buttress, Thane Prince and Jonathan Moseley.

Jim has been particularly impressed with Jo Jo’s gardening, awarding her the prize of best in show for her potatoes in week one, and her peas in week three.

Jo Jo said: “Jim has done gardening for the Queen and the Queen Mother, he’s just amazing, so of course it’s daunting standing in front of them. You’re always thinking what’s he going to think about my peas?

“The cooking challenges were also really scary. Thane is definitely the judge I was most afraid of, I really didn’t want to disappoint any of them, but I also didn’t want to disappoint myself.”

Jo Jo admits the challenges were ‘gruelling’. She said: “There was definitely a lot of hard work involved. We had to spend a set number of hours tending to our allotments a week. We had to be there for a minimum of 15 hours and a maximum of 30 to make it fair for everyone.

“I work in Canary Wharf during the week so I could only go on the weekends. I’d have to race up to Reading at 8am in the morning to spend, sometimes 12 hours in a day, working on my allotment. It was intense and definitely not easy.”

After going head to head with eight other gardeners, Jo Jo has now made it down to the final three and admits that it was a shock to get this far in the competition.

The project manager said: “I put most of my effort into weeks one, two and three because I wasn’t expecting to get any further, so to get to the final is amazing and really exciting.

“My biggest aspiration was to make it to the middle of the series. I didn’t want to be the first to go. To make it this far was a shock more than anything.”

Despite being in direct competition with each other, Jo Jo says all the participants have become good friends.   

She said: “It was great fun spending time with the other gardeners, we got on really well and we still do now. Lena has been round to stay with me since the show and we all chat every other day on the phone. We’re definitely close and I know I've made lots of good friends on the show.”

See how Jo Jo gets on in the final of The Big Allotment Challenge, tonight at 9pm on BBC2.   

Visit Jo Jo’s blog at www.fusianliving.com