BRITAIN’S ALLOTMENT shortage could be solved by carving them up into a greater number of smaller plots, says Charlie Dimmock.

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Former Ground Force presenter Charlie, who has filmed a TV series on allotments, believes dividing plots into quarters would not only create more allotments, but also encourage more people to take up allotment gardening.

“A lot of plots are way too big for the average couple and if you halved them and halved them again, that would be more practical for many people,” she said.

Charlie added: “I’m not suggesting throwing people off existing plots, but if a plot comes up, split it into a combination of allotment sizes to suit those who are going to be there either every day, three times a week, or one day over the weekend.”

Allotment-holders used to grow potatoes on half the plot to keep going all winter but nowadays people tend to buy their basics and grow more exotic things – which means a lot of the plot lays fallow.

“You used to fill up your freezer with runner beans. I’d string them as a kid for hours but how many people do that nowadays?

“Now people want fresh and exotic, but if you grow three plants of fresh chillies you have too many.

“People with big plots are ending up covering half in matting to suppress weeds.”

She believes gardeners should be encouraged to go back to growing greater quantities of traditional staples like beans, potatoes, leeks and cabbages.

“Home-grown tomatoes taste way, way better than they do when you buy them – so use the allotment to top up your basics.”

  • Charlie  revealed she had turned down the chance to appear on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! – but would love to appear on Strictly Come Dancing.