There aren't that many celebrity allotment-holders around - probably because once you are rich and famous you are not going to spend your time getting dirt under your fingernails just to make sure you can bring a few cabbages to the table - so it is always nice to discover a new one. Here's the latest addition to the roll: John Humphrys. He was interviewing a couple of allotmenteers on the Today programme this morning, and mentioned in passing that he got his first allotment at the age of 14. 14? Did the young Humphrys have to support his family even before he left school? Things must have been tough in Cardiff back in those days: did he fit his veg-digging activities in between shifts down the pit? I think we should be told.
He was interviewing Andy and Dave Hamilton about their book, The Self-Sufficient-ish Bible: An Eco-Living Guide for the 21st Century, and got on to the subject of whether allotments are populated by old men in flat caps, or young and trendy types who knit their own tofu. I don't know about the Hamilton twins' allotments in Bristol, but I can report that where I am in East Acton, the flat cap is alive and well. My allotment neighbours Michael and John are never to be seen without their caps, and I would go so far as to say that I would not recognise them if I came across them bare-headed. I don't wear a flat cap myself, but then again I am a little way off retirement age. I will probably buy myself one for my 60th birthday, if they still make them then.
Intrigued by the Hamiltons' book, I Googled the twins and found an interview with them in the Times from a few days ago. It mentioned Andy's tip for preventing slugs from eating your lettuces. "Chuck a load of slugs in a food mixer, blend them and then put the goo around your plants," he said. "They won't come near it."
I must admit I had never heard of this method, for perhaps obvious reasons. If anyone feels like trying it on, I would be most interested in hearing about the results.