Friday comment: Can you dig it? Can you?

The Friday Comment is a section on BGL which gives people the space to talk about stuff happening to them in Leeds, occasionally posted at 2pm on Fridays; if you would like to have your say then please get in touch by emailing us on

Can you dig it?
Jo Stephenson. (@UkuleleMiss)

Forget the X Factor and The Voice – there’s a thrilling new talent competition in town. Across the city, wannabe gardening stars are polishing their onions and primping their lettuces in preparation for the Leeds Allotments Competition 2012 (pdf).

There are prizes for the best plots and allotment sites and even “best newcomer”. It’s all very exciting but as an avid allotmenteer myself, I know how competitive these things get. In fact the strange world of competitive veg growing is just one of the topics covered in my gardening comedy
show Can You Dig It?, which is coming to Leeds the week before allotment judging commences.

Yes – gardening comedy. When I’m not chitting potatoes or pottering about in my shed dressed like a scarecrow, I live a glamorous showbiz life singing songs about potatoes and sheds. Me and fellow musical comedian Dan Woods are touring the country with Can You Dig It?, which is basically a collection of comedy songs about our experiences of trying – and mostly failing – to grow our own. Fresh from a fun show in Halifax last month, we’re back in Yorkshire on Wednesday, July 11 at the Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds at 7.30pm.

Highlights include a rap battle between a gardener and a slug, our very own gardening-themed Eurovision number, and a love song to Ilkley’s Alan Titchmarsh. Folk who come to the show will also have the chance to take part in our interval seed-sowing competition – good preparation for the allotment contest.

We’re trying to find the town with the greenest fingers in the land (seeds and compost provided – just bring fingers). It could be you, Leeds. Dan and I are genuinely looking forward to being back in Yorkshire as the county has a special place in our hearts. It’s where Dan grew up. He has spent many a happy hour gathering bilberries on Ilkley Moor, apparently, and went on to develop his taste for the outdoor life by acting in open air Shakespeare at Kirkstall Abbey.

I lived in Sheffield for many years. Yeah, yeah – it’s not Leeds but does have some cracking allotments that stretch for miles – one of coolest views in Yorkshire, in my opinion. More importantly, West Yorkshire is the home of one of our favourite crops – rhubarb – and we’re hoping to cram in a visit to the glorious candlelit rhubarb sheds at E Oldroyd and Sons near Rothwell.

While in Leeds we’re lodging with friends who run another of the city’s hidden gems – the Dinner at the Manor secret supper club. They specialise in using local produce and are just about to announce their autumn dates although you’ll have to be quick as places get booked up months in advance. Check them out and come and see our show too. If you can’t make it then we have a CD featuring 16 songs about growing veg – the perfect gift for the gardener in your life – or perhaps a consolation prize for those who fail to impress the allotment judges.

You can listen to some of the songs, buy the CD and read about our adventures at

(Jo Stephenson has an allotment where she grows weeds and slugs. She is a prolific songwriter and can regularly be seen performing with her ukulele. She recently launched her first album, called Jo Stephenson. Her music has been heard on Radio 4 and she claims to be able to write a song about anything.)

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