Potting Sheds

Growing up as a child in the post war years I have fond memories  of our allotment garden and the homebuilt potting shed.  Summer evenings and weekends would find the whole family there constructing this edifice with whatever we could source for free.

We had waited our turn on the allotment list and while waiting we salvaged any material considered useful , pieces of used timber  that the adults took the nails out of and straightened, roofing felt, pieces of glass and even old pieces of lino for the floor.

Once erected and shelves installed  it  become a model of tidiness with each garden implement having its own place fastened on the wall , a tin box for the seed packets, empty, clean soup tins for nails, screws etc and my favourite object , the sieve.,and so it became my job to sieve the soil for the seed boxes. 

Over time it acquired its own distinct aroma - a mixture of damp soil and tobacco smoke and when the wind was in the right direction, the pungent aroma of horse manure which we gathered  when the brewery dray  delivered beer to the local pub! A stream ran past the bottom of our allotment and we had fishing rights on our small stretch and there it was that we learned to catch our own supper  which was duly taken home, cleaned and cooked and eaten with our own vegetables and  potatoes.

Potting sheds became havens for many men who worked long hours in factories and provided a place of quiet away from the home and a chance to socialise with other men and usually enjoy a pipe of tobacco and a joke and not a little competition to see who could produce the largest vegetables and geatest yield.

Most of the old potting sheds have long disappeared and have been replaced with the new garden sheds which somehow lack the charm and character  of the home made sheds. But who knows perhaps now with the upsurge of interest in 'growing your own'  and waiting lists for allotments the old type homebuilt potting shed will be seen once again.

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