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Allotments are back in fashion. Barbara Panvel investigates why this year's must-have is a lottie.

Another way of ensuring that your fruit and vegetables are free from fungicide and pesticide sprays is to rent an allotment. On Sunday I visited an idyllic tree-ringed council-owned site in Scribers Lane, Hall Green, on which Hilary and John Powell cultivate two rented plots.

A shed near the entrance stores gardening products which members can buy at cost price every Sunday. Other growers are able to get these bargains by becoming associate members.

John Powell

John does the heavy work on the allotments and Hilary, who is in poor health, plants and picks the fruit and vegetables: asparagus, climbing French beans, carrots, tomatoes, mooli [a long white radish], Chinese radishes, runner beans, broad beans, beetroot, Chinese artichokes, fennel, parsnip, courgettes, sweetcorn, strawberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, thornless blackberries, plums, damsons, greengages and figs. Potatoes and onions had already been lifted and stored.


Pigeons would eat the salad crop, aubergines, peppers, cabbages and peas so these are grown under net cages.


Slug damage has been particularly severe this year and John and Hilary, like many otherwise organic growers, are using pellets. Next year they are going to see if copper tape - an approved organic remedy - is effective.

Apple Trees

An inviting picnic area at the top of one of the allotments has been cleared and grassed by John for any members who would like to relax there.

Picnic area

We walked round some of the other allotments and met other members. Phil - in addition to his splendid array of vegetables - has taken self-provisioning even further, with eggs, lamb and chicken raised on a small holding a few miles away.

There are a few empty plots for rent at Scribers Lane and the less experienced would find a friendly welcome from other members, who could give useful advice if needed.

'Box schemes' are another way of getting wholesome food and there are several farm clusters in the West Midlands offering them. Hopwood Farm's boxes can be accessed online and there are standard boxes or boxes filled to order. The smallest standard box has vegetables only, the next has vegetables and fruit and the one-stop service can include all other grocery and household cleaning goods.

Next week a closer look will be taken at the service offered by Flights Farm organic boxes.

See Barbara's earlier piece about home-grown food here

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