14:17 Friday 06 December 2013

Fond farewell after fifty years 'down the garden'

Written byHELEN KREFT

A STRETTON man is bidding a fond farewell to his allotment patch after clocking up an impressive 50 years tending to his vegetables.

Geoffrey Dilks, of Fairham Road, is retiring from his long tenure with Eton Allotments to spend more ‘quality time’ with his wife, and keep his own garden in order.

The 76-year-old first moved onto the allotments, in Horninglow, to share a patch with his father.

He said: “I had just married in 1962 and my father already had a patch, so I took one half and we went from there. Then later on I moved to a full one.

“Back then there were hundreds of allotments, now there is about 28.

“I moved about 25 or 26 years ago from my first allotment to a different one as I had a weed called Mare’s Tail, which is like a conifer but its roots go deep and I just couldn’t get rid of it so when someone else died I was asked if I wanted to move onto their plot.”

A former wine merchant with Grants, Mr Dilks has seen a dramatic change over the years.

“Many of the people I knew in the committee have now all died, and we have had many new people. In fact, when I was leaving yesterday, two new people turned up for the first time.”

In his time, the avid gardener has grown ‘anything, you name it’ including potatoes, peas, broad beans, runner beans, carrots and tomatoes, and will now have to start getting used to shopping at the supermarket during the summer for the first time.

“I think I will start to miss the allotment in the spring when I usually plant the first seeds, but I am sad to leave.

“Sometimes I used to be digging up what felt like concrete because of the weather conditions and I used to think ‘is this really worth it?’”

He handed in his shed keys at the allotment association’s AGM this week and was given gardening vouchers as a thank you for his long service.

“My wife has said I can spend more quality time with her now.”

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