A lot to lose

GKplot© Stephen Lines

In the third of a series of articles by plot holders at the Redbridge Lane West allotments – which are under threat from the adjacent gas works – Geoff King explains why his fruit and veg is unsurpassed

I never knew or met Sandy Sanderson or his wife Gemma. If I had, I’m sure we would have shared our knowledge of gardening for many hours. Sandy was the predecessor of my allotment in Redbridge Lane West. There is no mistaking his skill and the amount of sheer hard work he put in. It is etched (literally) in every corner of my plot. Numerous carvings appear everywhere. He built seats, raised beds and fruit cages, all laid out against neat paths.

Around five years ago I was similarly employed in my large North Lincs garden. A garden I tended for 26 years, which encompassed a veg plot, orchard and herbaceous borders. Little did I think I would be ‘up-sticking’ to Wanstead within months of revamping my own vegetable patch, but that’s another story, and I now find myself on Sandy and Gemma’s former – and much-loved – plot.

Pruning the apple, pear and plum trees and feeding the soil were first on my list of tasks. I also planted new raspberry canes, strawberry beds and a rhubarb patch. All of these require a two-year bedding-in period before maturing or picking. So, patience is required.

The sheer pleasure of working on this plot and watching things grow has been immeasurable. I had help, of course: Sandy had left his ‘man cave’ little shed packed with tools, books and every conceivable item you could ever want. In the early days of the pandemic, I found myself drawn to the plot almost daily. What a mental life-saver. Then came the news of the Cadent gas company proposed takeover. Am I to be uprooted again?

If this is the case, do I have the sheer will to start over again? Bearing in mind, if one is offered a new council plot, it is most likely to be untouched by spade or fork for a considerable time. I don’t know the answer yet, but what I do know is that my investment on the plot has been substantial, not just my time, but financially.

I am often asked if the investment in an allotment is worth the expense. The answer is yes and no. My personal opinion is: no, you can eat cheaper from your supermarket shop. But yes, the fruit and veg from my plot is unsurpassed. Until you have tasted your own potatoes, which were in the ground an hour before, or eaten strawberries that have never seen a plastic carton, then you have missed a rare treat.

So, if you’re thinking of starting an allotment yourself, seek me out at Redbridge Lane West and I will show you around.

For more information and to view the petition to save the Redbridge Lane West allotments, visit wnstd.com/rlw