Temptation comes in many guises

I HAVE developed a worrying case of allotment envy.

I’m sure it’s only a passing phase which really comes down to nothing more than the grass always being greener on the other side but it has forced me to re-examine all I thought I held dear.

Last week I was extolling the virtues of chemical-free gardening, glorying in trying to find organic ways to outwit insect pests and diseases and resigning myself to the extra workload this often brings with the puritanical zeal of a true believer.

Since then I’ve had a wobble, a very slight one but a wobble nevertheless.

Everyone has different ways of doing things in every facet of life and no where is this more true than on any collection of allotments.

It starts with the favoured layout – individual beds or traditional rows; grass paths or bare earth – maybe even no paths; fallow areas or everything under cultivation; war on weeds or live and let live; chemicals or chemical free.

With so many choices to make it’s a wonder anyone gets anything done but somehow we all manage it, each of our plots saying something about the personality involved and their way of approaching things.

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An allotment psychologist would no doubt have the soilmate and I down as control freaks. Our little patch of ground looks well organised and tidy. There are individual beds enclosed by a fine crop of old carpets for paths and not too many weeds in sight (as long as you don’t take more than a cursory peep under the horticultural fleece).

This same psychologist might also wonder if we were ever so slightly obsessive. After all, we spend a huge amount of time weeding. In fact, we spend more time weeding than anything else. Oh, and angst-ridden. Why else would we worry so about everything having to be organic?

But inside every angst-ridden obsessive control freak there is a laid back, anything goes alter ego struggling to make their voice heard. Mine almost managed it last weekend.

There I was, engaged in the never-ending task of weeding when a few plots away I heard the sound of a petrol engine. Taking a few seconds to straighten my aching back and look around to find out where it was coming from, I could see one of my fellow allotment holders positively zipping up and down the rows of his plot, guiding a hungry rotavator through the soil.

He had previously zapped the weeds with a chemical killer and was now merely ploughing everything back into the soil before planting his crop for the coming season. It seemed so perfectly liberated (not to mention easy) that I was momentarily beguiled.

I say momentarily because that’s how long it took the control freak within to take control of the situation and reassert its dominance over such dangerous ideas.

“You can forget about that,” it seemed to say, “ We are having none of it.”

That may be so, but it sure is nice to dream.....