I first visited an allotment in 1979 – I was 8. I remember being struck by the neat rows of green shapes lining the plots like fat, leafy soldiers on parade. There were also irregular rows of knurled old men bent over, lovingly tending their brassicine armies. Many of these gentlemen were not only producing crops for their own table, but also for friends and relatives. The thing that stayed with me for many years however, were the wonderful Heath Robinson contraptions that had been constructed by these allotment generals; yogurt pot seed scatterers, mechanical wind powered bird scarers, tractor tyres used to raise carrots out of the range of the hated eponymous fly, refuse sacks used as potato planters, plumbing pipes to frame fruit cages, old beer glasses used as mini individual cloches and even a bicycle driven irrigation system!