For years allotments were out of favour. No-one wanted them, and patches of mud with a shed at one end and weeds everywhere else went to waste. Then suddenly gardening became the new rock and roll, and everyone who didn't want to dig up their lawn wanted their own council-run patch of mud. The waiting lists grew faster than the cabbages. Now, after more than three years on a waiting list, Neil Shaw has been given his own patch of green and pleasant land.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Film with a good plot

There are two words virtually guaranteed to make a film/TV show unwatchable - Omid Djalili.

Fortunately, One-joke Djalili does get deported half-way through British comedy film Grow Your Own. Unfortunately it's just his character that gets deported leaving Omid free to make more 'aint racism funny' price comparison website adverts.

Grow Your Own (originally called The Allotment) is a 2007 film which I only got round to watching last night, and only picked up in the library because it was set in an allotment.

But I would highly recommend it. Very British in its subtle humour, moments of melancholy and hidden depths but deeply enjoyable.

Anyone who has had an allotment, been to an allotment meeting or 'enjoyed' the daily politics of allotment life will find a lot familiar here.

Of course it isn't really about allotments, but the communal garden setting is a perfect symbol for what the film is really about, and the setting is not wasted.

If too much sun or too much rain is keeping you away from the plot - track down this film and sit back for 90 minutes of entertainment.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


Press release just issued by the Royal Horticultural Society, to which my general reponse is AGGGHHHHH!!!!!

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is sending out a slug and snail alert. Because of the recent and prolonged dry period both slugs and snails will have been dormant. However, with the forecast of heavy rain, the charity expects them to start moving about again and to be quite hungry. Hosta plants will be particularly vulnerable.

The RHS suggests a number of ways to protect plants. For those who prefer more natural ways of control, the charity suggests that it will be necessary to water in a new batch of nematodes (Nemaslug) as any distributed previously will have died in the dry soil. The nematodes used against slugs are microscopic worm-like creatures that enter the bodies of slugs and infect them with a fatal bacterial disease. Barriers, such as copper tapes round pots or mineral granules and egg shells sprinkled around plants are also useful to discourage slugs and snails getting to the plants.

Alternatively, proprietary slug pellets containing ferric phosphate or metaldehyde can be used if the infestation is particularly bad.

For further information the RHS has a web page with more handy tips. It can be found by searching for ‘Slugs’ on the RHS site  RHS members can also contact the RHS Advisory Service at


One thing we have found effective is soot and ash from the fire - useful if you have an open fire or a brother in law who is a chimney sweep. A little sprinkle around the beds seems to deter the pests. May have to get up to the plot when the rain eases off to refresh the barrier.