Update 14 March 2014

14 March 2015

Sad news that we’ve experienced another round of thefts from sheds.

Meanwhile, I’ve dug about one-third of the plot and started to warm up the earth in preparation for planting out onion sets. (And, garlic, once the bulbs arrive.)

I’ve got potatoes ready to go, but I’m a bit concerned that frost is still a risk so will wait another couple of weeks before plating.


Jim update

15 March 2009

Last Wednesday night, the parish council granted Jim retrospective permission for his plastic greenhouse.

Jim is obviously delighted and is celebrating in a perhaps triumphal manner. A Union Jack now flies over his allotment.

I make no comment apart from to say well done to the council and I hope everyone concerned can draw a line under this. There are more important issues in life.


26 May 2008


There is now an online petition in support of Jim (aka Bill). Please sign up so we can present it in support of Jim at the next parish council meeting.


[Edit – I have suspended the petition for the moment. 81 signatures: thanks for your support.]

Film crew

15 May 2008

Thanks to Suzanne for photos of the film crew visiting the allotments yesterday.


14 May 2008

Regular readers will know the saga of the polytunnels.

It ain’t over yet, but the parish council (or at least two members of an nine person council) decided tonight that notice should be served on Bill for refusing to remove an unauthorised structure.

What, I didn’t realise going into the meeting was that local TV news picked up the story this evening! What does it say about news in these parts?

Irrespective of my metropolitan views, Bill and others were featured on ITV Westcountry News. The item will probably disappear on Thursday unless someone can advise how to illegally copy post the video here as a public service.

Bill says he has no intention to give up his plot and he has the backing of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners.

The battle was lost; the war continues.

Update: direct link to the news piece.

Update the second: spelling and grammar fixed.

Polytunnel update

8 May 2008

Image - North Devon Gazette

BB allotments get their 15 minutes of fame.

‘KEEN gardener Jim Harvey is locked in a bitter dispute with his parish council over a polythene greenhouse he has built on his allotment.’

Read more…

The Poo Hits the Fan

5 April 2008


Bill’s polytunnel saga continues.

Backstory: Bill applied to the Parish Council, who run the allotments, to erect a small polytunnel (about 8 foot long by 6 foot wide by 6 foot high) last Spring.

The council refused his application. To the best of my knowledge, the councillors refused it on the grounds that they “didn’t like polytunnels”.

Fair enough. I don’t like polytunnels on allotments. To my mind, it is not in the spirit of allotmenteering and I’m sure parishoners would not like to see a allotment covered with plastic.

Bill is nothing if not determined. He wanted a polytunnel. He wanted to extend the growing season and feed his family. Bill objected and asked why he had been refused. It was around this point that things started to deteriorate. Strong words were exchanged at a council meeting. Letters were sent. Complaints made. Bill was thrown out of one acrimonious meeting by the pompous and overbearing chairman (some might, some do, call him a bully).

The latest news came in the form of a letter pinned to the Parish Council noticeboard next to the shop in the village centre. Someone, Bill almost certainly, placed it there with the intention, I guess, of embarrassing the council.

The letter is from the council clerk to the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG). It seems that there has been protracted correspondence, with the association supporting Bill’s polytunnel campaign. The clerk, I suspect egged on by the chairman or one or other member, sets out the council’s side of the story. This is all rather silly, but two points anger me.

First, the clerk says that the council had reasons for refusing the application viz. setting a precedent, noise from rustling plastic, visual intrusion. Well, that’s the first I have heard that line. As far as I know, no reasons have been minuted.

Second, the clerk’s letter appears to have enclosed a photo of Bill’s allotment showing the polytunnel. Fine. But, it now seems that the council is to take enforcement action. This leads to me suspect that a certain council member is behind the letter. That certain council member was warming up with his chainsaw yesterday.

The council is perfectly within its rights to take action against Bill. On the other hand, the way in which he has been treated is far from civilised.

At first, I thought he was a curmudgeonly old geezer. As I’ve got to know him and talk about gardening my view has changed. Bill is a strong character, one which the village would be poorer without. He has an independent streak. He likes being down the bottom of the allotments so that he doesn’t bother anyone. Like most of the other plot holders, he is more than happy to help out with practical advice. His chickens have cleared more land than the council could ever.


(That was Saturday. Sunday the letter had disappeared. I am not pointing fingers. Any one of several of the usual suspects could be to blame.)

Meanwhile, I aggravated my shoulder with some digging.


Where Bill’s chickens did their business, I started a new bed. The bed is still riddled with ground elder. I spent 5 minutes sifting through the till for roots for every one minute of digging. The spoil backfilled potato bed one.


Allotment number 7 saw a bit of mechanical tilling. As it is a relatively clear plot it probably works for him. But, with my weed cover, it’s manual digging and plenty of ibuprofen for me.


Not much more to report from the onions and garlic. Looking back down the plot, it still seems daunting. Can I get the digging done for growing season? With my shoulder?


Up at the potato bed, I dug in a couple of bags of manure. Sometime in the next 7 days I will pick up some more bags of poo.

At Wednesday night’s council meeting even more poo will be flying.