Friday, January 20, 2012

The One Tree Hill Allotment Society's blog

Our hardworking and responsible allotment society now has its very own blog. It's at

So far it includes a picture of the allotment site taken with the iPhone's "Hipstamatic" app, a popular item of software which makes your life look trendier than it actually is. The blog also features details of the exciting London Potato Fair 2012, which will take place on 22 January at Sydenham School.

Monday, May 23, 2011

First new Potatoes

This post was first published on Can You Dig It?

According to a gardening book I once read, there's a friendly competition on allotment sites to see who can get the first new potatoes of the year.

Perhaps such a competition is running on our allotment site. I should find out how to enter. What do I win?

The black stuff on the potatoes is pepper. Not mud. I know it looks like mud.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Shock breaking news! The Prime Minister says something sensible

This post was first published on
Concerned readers of this blog will have read the reports that the government was planning to scrap local authorities' obligation to provide allotments. This would presumably have meant the land would be sold off to Tesco, so we'd all be forced to buy our vegetables at Tesco.

What with the excitement of the recent referendum and local elections, I missed the latest news on the matter. Many allotment-holders have been quite upset by the proposal, and have expressed their outrage by signing petitions. No doubt the more radical types have been sharpening their carrots and spraying “anarchist” symbols on their sheds. This led the Prime Minister to make a sensible remark in the House of Commons.
He said allotments are “extremely important” and the movement has his “full support”. This is fantastic, fantastic news, particularly at a time when almost nothing else seems to have the Prime Minister's full support. The Independent on Sunday is taking all the credit.

I feel like we should have a celebration. Perhaps I'll drop in on my friend Jo's allotment with some Prosecco, and tell her the happy tidings.

You can watch the footage of the Prime Minister saying something sensible here. The sensible part is between 23:52 and 24:48.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Our plot is to be sold to a housing developer!

According to The Independent, the government has a silly and unworkable plan to allow councils to sell off allotments.

The fightback starts here.

In my armoury I already have a sharp hoe, a slightly bent fork, and some remarkably smelly fertiliser made of rotting couch grass roots which can be deployed as a non-lethal chemical weapon. When you think about it, the government doesn't stand a chance.

Notice the headline picture in The Independent features one of our fellow plotholders, thus cementing One Tree Hill Allotments' position as the most famous allotments in the world.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cut off!

Our water supply is not working. This is bad news, because it is already very hot and dry, and it is impossible to grow vegetables in south London without water. South London, as we all know, has less annual rainfall than Jerusalem.

What is particularly annoying is that the plots at the bottom of the hill still have a supply. Why do they get water? They don't need water. They have no trees to steal all their water, and they have moisture-retentive soil because of all the manure they have been hoarding.

According to a plotholder in the know, the water supply is controlled by one man, who is unreliable and prone to playing "games" because of allotment "politics", whatever that may involve. I am not clear what motivation someone might have for wanting an adversary to haul watering cans up a hill.

Monday, April 04, 2011

I am a human tractor

Our allotment is now all dug and partly planted. The committee will be delighted. My friend Jo, however, will be cross with me, as I am supposed to be writing songs about growing vegetables, instead of actually growing them.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Have you ever read a book about vegetable cultivation? The chaps who write them always like to advise their readers to improve the soil with “well-rotted manure”.

This worries me.

I can only assume that they copied the sentence from a Victorian or Edwardian gardening manual, whose cities were swarming with horses, helpfully leaving tonnes of the stuff steaming by the roadside.

In south London, there are no horses to be found, and it is entirely impossible to get hold of any manure at all, well-rotted or otherwise.

Our allotment site used to have regular deliveries of manure from a distant stable. I thought these had stopped.

But now I have discovered the horrible truth. Take a look at this picture, secretly taken on a low-quality camera from far away.

In this scene, a tipper truck has just dropped off some manure, and you can see some plotholders, swarming around it like hungry pigeons. Within five minutes all the decent manure had gone.

This is not fair, because the people in the picture all have plots at the bottom of the hill close to the manure delivery. Also, they are retired, so can spend all day waiting their sheds, ready to pounce.

I am at a loss. What should I do?

Saturday, March 05, 2011


Today I spent a couple of hours getting rid of our green manure and organic mulch, which the other plotholders have mockingly been referring to as “weeds and leaves”.

I then went home and hoovered our flat, a similar sized area, which took less than five minutes.

It occurred to me that what the world really needs is the allotment equivalent of a vacuum cleaner. Not a leafvac, but something that would pull up the top layer of vegetation and slugs, and collect it in a convenient compostable bag.

I suppose it would resemble a massive strimmer that collects its own strimmings.

Has anyone invented this? If not, I am going on Dragons' Den.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


It was sunny this morning for the first time since July, so I went to the allotment to remove some of the weeds and leaves.

After about ten minutes, a member of the Committee, who I shall call Antonius, marched past. Antonius is a responsible and hard-working member of the Committee, but has a rather illiberal attitude to untidy plots.

He looked surprised to see me.

“Getting rid of the grass, are yer?” he demanded.

I thought about this for a moment.

“Yes, I suppose so.”

“You was gonna get a Notice,” he said, and walked off.

I was going to explain that I was not pulling up couch grass, but harvesting green manure, and the unraked leaves were a new-fangled organic weed-suppressant mulch. But he had gone away, to improve the pathways.

We are, in case you're concerned, unlikely to get a Notice. Before you get a Notice you need to have received a Letter, and we have not received a Letter.

It has started raining again.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Exciting news at Dan and Amy's allotment. We have sown our first seeds. I bought some compost from the Robert Dyas next to the Duke of York's Theatre, which is the UK's most expensive place to buy compost. The airing cupboard is now cooking with a mixture of tomatoes, chillies and aubergines.

In other developments, the BBC weatherman thinks it's nearly spring. "It hasn't been this temperature since late November!" he forecasted breathlessly.