Jenny Mollison: Glasgow’s miles better for plots

Harry Scalley, who made a greenhouse in two weeks for just �20
Harry Scalley, who made a greenhouse in two weeks for just �20
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There’s nothing like a bit of healthy competition among allotment sites and plotholders to raise standards.

The Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society has some impressive trophies and the annual competition for them rotates around the big cities. This year it was Glasgow’s turn to compete. The presentations took place recently at Glasgow Allotments Forum’s event “Championing Glasgow’s Allotments” at the city’s Mask and Puppet Theatre.

Glasgow does its best to encourage new plotholders. A special award for new plotholders was sponsored by the Incorporation of Gardeners, whose motto is “Gardening the First of Arts”. It is one of the 14 Incorporated Crafts which have helped shape the fortunes of Glasgow over four centuries. Supporting student gardeners is at the forefront of their work today and this extends to allotment gardeners. Their award recognises effort and commitment and acknowledges the high standard of cultivation achieved by so many of Glasgow’s new plotholders.

The Deacon, Allan McLaren, resplendent in his gold chain of office, presented this year’s prize to Graham Haugh of Merrylee Allotments.

A Sustainable Site Trophy is awarded in recognition of sites where plotholders garden in a way that cares for the earth, supports one another, and reaches out to the local community. This year’s winners were the New Victoria Gardens, a site that traces its history back to 1870. That site’s Norman Smith won the city’s St Mungo Trophy for the plotholder with the best plot.

Allotment folk are renowned for being resourceful but Harry Scalley has developed this to a fine art. He was there with a photographic display of his homemade greenhouse, constructed in two weeks at a cost of £20 from reclaimed double-glazed windows and dismantled pallets. It looked every bit as good as one bought at a garden centre.

Harry told me that he liked growing tender vegetables such as aubergines and peppers which thrive on a bit of supplementary heat.

This was provided by a reclaimed war-time solid fuel stove given some additional insulation from redundant electric storage heater bricks. He made its construction sound so simple.

Apart from sitting in on the formal proceedings, I listened to the irrepressible BarrowBand with their entertaining songs about fruit and vegetables.

Catchy tunes about broccoli and carrots aim to influence people’s health in a positive way.

I tasted some allotment produce, bought a pot of a plotholder’s homemade beeswax and calendula lipbalm and mingled with the crowd in the autumn sunshine.