Should Greenhouses be Banned on Allotments?

Should we ban the use of glass on allotments in case somebody cuts themselves? Is it just a sensible precaution or health and safety, nanny-state culture gone mad?

Greenhouses on Allotments

Greenhouses on Allotments

Strangely that question has come up twice recently. One email complaining about a proposal to ban greenhouses and coldframes on her allotments was followed by another from a chair of an allotment committee who believed they should ban the use of horticultural glass on their allotments. His fear was that someone would build a greenhouse on the plot and then leave it behind on the site so the new plotholder would injure themselves on broken glass.

Now I admit my first reaction was exasperation. Banning horticultural glass from allotments is health and safety gone mad! Or health and safety being used to justify a poorly thought out decision made by a power crazed bureaucrat who should get a proper job and stop bothering the rest of us.

I didn’t say that in my reply, I try to be friendly and polite. But that was how I felt and still feel if the truth be known. But, my gut feelings aside, I thought it was worth trying to apply some thought to the matter and actually quantify the risks. Lets examine some cases.

Case 1 – Plotholder leaves a mess behind.

First of all, what if someone takes on an allotment, builds a greenhouse and it gets damaged or destroyed in a storm leaving broken glass around? They then depart leaving a mess for the new plotholder who follows on.

We’ve most of us seen people take on a plot and then leave it in a mess when they depart. The chap who thought growing in tyres was a good idea and left them behind when he left. Or a plot left with a makeshift shed half collapsed. Or they lost control of the plot and when they finally gave up it was covered in weeds spreading their seeds over the whole site.

Those are just facts of life. I’m not saying it’s right but it happens and whoever takes on a new plot accepts they’re going to have to put some effort into getting it back in order. Broken glass is dangerous – actually all glass is dangerous to some extent – and should be treated with respect.

It’s common sense to wear decent gloves and exercise caution when handling glass. It does present a risk but it is a risk that can be controlled and protected against without special training. How far should we go to protect people from their own stupidity? If you want to start messing with broken glass without gloves then you are going to get a cut.

Case 2 – Danger to other people

The next risk to consider is third parties, other people on the site. Well, it’s pretty obvious that glass on my plot will not harm anyone on another plot or connecting paths etc. If someone comes onto my plot and falls onto a coldframe then tough, they shouldn’t have been on my plot in the first case.

Blaming the plotholder is like blaming the victim. They’ve had someone trespass on the plot, cause them loss and damage and it’s not their fault.

Case 3 – Children

There is another case to consider – children. I’m all in favour of family use of allotments and that includes the little ones. But an allotment site is not a playground. If the children are allowed to run wild then it’s the parents who are to blame.

There are many dangers in the world and it is the parent’s job to protect children from them. You hold their hand when walking by a busy road and wouldn’t dream of letting them play dodge the traffic. So respect the other plotholders and protect your children from the risks on their plots.

Just to be clear, I would always use tempered ‘safety’ glass in my greenhouses at home to protect my grandson. If he runs into the glass it reduces his risk of injury. But that is me protecting a child I have responsibility for. If we visit your garden, then he’s not allowed to run around near your greenhouse – or trample your prize veg!

Case 4 – Injury to the plotholder

As for the risk to plotholder from their own greenhouse or coldframe, well that is up to them. If we are to protect people from themselves then there’s an awful long list of things we’d have to ban in the garden.

Quantifying the Risk of Injury from Glass on Allotments

People are very bad at judging risk. For example, we worry about flying when the real risk is in driving to the airport. So it makes sense to look at the statistics.

RoSPA say that about 300,000 people are hurt in their gardens each year seriously enough to go to hospital – 110,000 of them are children. Around 87,000 are injured actively gardening or carrying out DIY jobs in the garden. That’s 1 person in 200 roughly which seems quite high but those are the figures.

Top gardening injuries

RoSPA also have a list of the top gardening injuries:

1. Lawn mowers (6,500 accidents in the UK each year)
2. Flower pots (5,300)
3. Secateurs and pruners (4,400)
4. Spades (3,600)
5. Electric hedge trimmers (3,100)
6. Plant tubs and troughs (2,800)
7. Shears (2,100)
8. Garden forks (2,000)
9. Hoses and sprinklers (1,900)
10. Garden canes and sticks (1,800).

Since accidents involving greenhouse glass don’t appear in the list I contacted RoSPA and asked what information they could give me. Now the government has stopped funding the collection of some detailed accident statistics but they do have estimates of injuries due to greenhouse glass for 2000, 2001 and 2002 which average out to 1,937 accidents a year.

So it’s fair to say that the actual risk of injury from greenhouse glass is slightly below that of a garden fork. Yes, glass presents a risk and banning it from allotments will reduce accidents. But if we’re going to be really safe on our plots, we need to ban spades, forks, shears and secateurs. And pots. And hosepipes. And canes.

That would be health and safety gone mad. I doubt you could actually grow anything. Having taken what I hope is a fairly objective look at the risks, I’m still of the opinion that banning the use of horticultural glass on allotments is not justifiable on health and safety grounds.

I’d love to hear what you think about this – just pop a comment down below and say.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
59 comments on “Should Greenhouses be Banned on Allotments?
  1. Nick Gunton says:

    I have just recently took on a plot with a rundown shed witch was full of personal information, gardening equipment ,books and glass. Also we had a greenhouse also full of broken glass in and around it and a lot of rubbish inside.
    I know what I was taking on, and so it was a slow process of clearing (3 full trailer to the tip) but in the end we have a good greenhouse and dry shed. It using common sense around these buildings because anyone of use can easily injure ourselves just working on the allotment anyway.

  2. Gillie Wilkinson says:

    Our plots are owned by the council. Several years ago they banned new glass unless it had sticky back plastic applied to each sheet of glass. Existing glass houses could be kept but sticky back plastic applied. Polycarbonate houses and polytunnel are allowed. In my view carpets should be banned. I’ve dug out loads from my new plot and lots of plastic. Wool carpets are ok if you must. I’ve now gone down the no dig route and covered with tarps over winter but they are being lifted and stored.

  3. Gillian Guest says:

    We have a greenhouse on our plot. We lost a couple of pains of glass in the high winds. We have waited for the better weather before replacing them. We are now contemplating using solid polycarbonate but unsure if this would be as effective as glass. Any comments would be appreciated.

  4. John Kaye says:

    Hi John
    I fully agree with all your comments. It’s all to do with common sense in my opinion.
    The introduction of any glass onto my allotment has been prohibited since 2014 without any form of evidence to support the committee’s decision to ban it. It’s an old side and virtually all plots, except mine, have a glass greenhouse. I can’t even build a small cold frame with a couple of window frames I had donated to me last year.

    • John Harrison says:

      I thought the RoSPA statistics were useful to put things in perspective. It’s people trying to do the right thing without the wherewithall to properly assess. OMG – what if they start banning spades now??? 🙂

  5. Sean James Cameron says:

    We aren’t allowed glass on our allotment site because someone had an accident a few years ago. My view is, if you aren’t on my plot then you aren’t going to be effected.

    • John Harrison says:

      So from one incident they make a policy. Not very clever, in my book.

    • Pauline Valentine says:

      Sounds like complete nonsense to me! If you’re lucky enough to have an existing greenhouse on a new plot you have been allocated, and have had to wait a number of years to get it, replacing some broken glass panes is a minor detail.
      Polycarbonate is only preferable if you are vulnerable to vandalism, horticultural glass is much better.
      I’m more concerned about getting to my allotment at the moment whilst self isolating then worrying about broken glass…..

  6. Rowland Wells says:

    there is a total ban of greenhouses on our allotments this also applies to having a garden shed although we have moved forward a little because our landlord the parish council has turned a blind eye to us having a small poly tunnel on the plot

    and I fully agree with John’s comments although it is a pain when folks leave glass carpets and other rubbish for the next plot holder to clear up there mess I suppose that goes with the territory or in this case the plot

    • JanetTT says:

      Whoever administers the plots should perhaps ask for a Deposit upfront (to be agreed by plotholder) put into a separate bank account and held until a plotholder gives up their plot – for whatever reason – and returned to them once they have tidied up their plot when they leave. If they omit this good practise (of leaving things as they would want to find them) and leave it for the next plotholder to clean up, then the new ‘holder should get something towards their costs of doing so. Just a thought which may encourage responsibility by some errant “plotters”!

      • steve evans says:

        Sometimes it not just rubbish that is left behind sometimes it is the bizarre practices

        We had a new person take over a plot on our site. Within a few weeks she has virtually ruined it with their view on ecological / environmental gardening.

        Within a few weeks the entire plot (all 120 ft) has been covered with wood chippings from shredded trees. Nothing much is in the ground, it is all in tubs. What they have planted in the ground is a lot of Willow saplings – to grow plant stick from ..

        We found out that they had been removed from 2 previous allotment sites for various reasons. So when they inevitably get moved on from this one, removing the willow and sorting the soil ph is going to be fun for the next incumbent

        • John Harrison says:

          Couple of years and those willows are going to be difficult to get back out. The wood chips will rot down eventually but they’ll suck up nitrogen.

          • Mike HOWTON says:

            Hello John, I understand the frustration of busybody Nanny state ,overpaid idiots , teaching the older generation to suck eggs , its all about responsibility,
            we can all sign up to a H/S risk assessment , and carry on , everyone is covered legally , all the risks are assessed , these documents can be updated ,and signed off

            if the petty people want to stop every day activity they must understand risk reality, and what is Practicable , This is a lawfull Terminology, covering a wide range of risks, the answere from uneducated people is to Ban whatever is causing the problem without having th ability to controle or resolve a situation

  7. Anna Scamans says:

    Oh, I struggle with this one. About a quarter of my plot may never be cultivated because it’s thick with broken glass from previous plot holders. It’s old, thin glass, and goes down several inches through the soil, with moss and weeds growing through it. The ground crunches under foot. Long term I hope to cover it and dig and sieve.

    The rest of the plot yields about a bucket full of broken glass and nails, bolts, screws, wire, and memorably a crushed milk churn and two mine cart axles per square metre dug, when first dug. After five years, I’m still pulling out broken glass and iron mongery each dig.

    I have two children, who through no fault of their own have experienced trauma and therefore have some behavioural issues. They’re not allowed to run amok, and we leave the plot if they can’t manage their behaviour. They’re trained, and for the most part remember, to recognise glass and immediately stop what they’re doing and call me over. They wear gloves and we take care.

    But I hate that in order to expose them to growing, to give them the opportunity to get involved in raising their own veg, I’m also exposing them to quite a high level of risk of injury. I can manage the risk of tool injury etc, but not knowing if they’re going to encounter glass the next time they trip is harder to control. So far the benefits outweigh the risk, but I could do without the worry.

    On our site they have now banned new glassed structures. I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do, but I do know it’s not always as simple as being careful when you’re clearing away the old plotholder’s greenhouse.

    • JanTT says:

      I do not know who owns your plot but if it is the Council, then they should have made sure that the land was suitable for ordinary folk to do their gardening. It sounds as though the owners should have shovelled a load of that glass off before allowing anyone onto the land in the first place. After that they should have sieved over the whole area with a fine tooth comb to get rid of most of the glass splinters. You have done well with your children, making them fully aware of what to do when finding glass. Good luck with your plot. Sounds as though the kids are getting off to a good start. Maybe as they get older they could grow their veggies in pots with appropriate soil that is not dangerous?

      • Valerie M Burnett says:

        Oh if only Councils or ex-plotholders would tidy up! I also took over a very weedy plot and found lots of broken glass, which had been buried, so I didn’t know it was there until I got round to clearing that part of the plot. Luckily I was wearing gloves. I also found a car bonnet under the soil in that part of the plot. In the end the council arranged to have someone come to take away that rubbish – their first reaction had been to charge me, but they realised in the end they were being unfair.

        • Des says:

          WOW cool council.

          Mine have the usual contract for allotment holders, and say you are responsible for any rubbish on the plot. They barely manage the plots, and as some above have said – many plots are left unworked for years, when the council eventually move them on, the new plot holder is expected to pay to remove the rubbish left – and so fa that has been two or three skips full minimum from the plots they have offered me. there has been some evidence that other plot holders use unworked plots as a free rubbish tip too, with glass, metal, plastic, wire, old weed killer and other garden chemical bottles, rampant brambles, nettles, and for some odd reason masses of raspberries across several plots and through some of the paths making them unusable. If a council lets a house they make sure it is in good condition before they do, they clear it, clean it, repair it, decorate it and then let it. Councils should do the same for allotments – while they abdicate responsibility and try to drop the burden on new plot owners they will continue to fail to manage plots. One plot they offered me had clearly been unworked for several years and they said it had not been worked for ” a few months”. Trust me it was years the SAS would have found it hard getting across this allotment, and plot holders each side told me they had been complaining for “a couple of years” before the council eventually did something. If council were obliged (which they should be) to make sure the plot is in reasonable condition before they let it out, they would be motivated to more closely and effectively manage the allotments to the benefit of everyone involved. I agree there should be a deposit scheme too, pay a deposit to pay towards clearing the plot it you leave a mess, but refundable if you leave it clean (just like a house deposit scheme), motivating you to keep it clear, and motivating you to give it up if you cant keep on top of it. Arrogant uncaring council staff “play” at managing sites in this area but they are a major part of the problem for unworked, rubbish strewn, scrapyard allotments. If they were more closely managed and controlled councils could offer guidance early on if there were problems, and step in and stop an issue becoming some innocent new allotment holders major expensive hazardous waste clear up exercise, or recovering a plot that has been left unusable due to the actions or inactions of an absent or inactive plot holder.

  8. Jonathan Taylor says:

    I fully agree with John’s comments.
    We live in a world now where people seem incapable of taking responsibility for themselves and those they are supposed to take responsibility for. We live in a blame culture where people will always blame someone else, anyone else as long as it is not themselves.
    This almost forces some organisations to play safe and thus generates a whole host of stupid rulings. It’s time that not so common, common sense took a hold.
    Can you imagine what our grandparents would think of this even being a topic of discussion?

  9. Muriel Bailiwick says:

    In our borough glass is banned on our allotments per our contracts. So I have a polycarb greenhouse and I hate it. The slightest wind and either the door is taken or a couple of panes are blown out. Another plotholder has her polycarb greenhouse battened down with builders mesh – not to protect the plants but to stop the panes being blown out! On my plot I was still digging out glass five years on from the previous site owner. There’s pros and cons for banning glass – at least the polycarb panes don’t break when the wind takes them!

  10. Janet Hayles says:

    Hello fellow gardeners, I took over a plot thirteen years ago. One end was where the previous owners greenhouse had been, the same deal as Anna’s, the greenhouse had been decimated & despite several water butt sized barrels of glass which we took to the tip, the remaining area was riddled with tiny shards, making that area unusable. The rest of the plot yields a crop of glass allsorts each year, which never seems to dwindle & is one of my husbands biggest grumbles. I’m 50/50 on this. On the one hand inheriting that mess was not good & last year when my plot neighbours greenhouse was smashed down so violently by winds that the resulting devastation was spread all over the bottom half of my plot, but on the other, I love my greenhouse, pottering around in it, growing things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to, caring for the grape vine which runs along the length of it & taking shelter in it when the heavens open. It’s a tricky one. :[

  11. Andrew Uren says:

    They should ban these people that make up the rules about greenhouses and all the other ideas about allotment I bet they done or never had one they sit on there arse thinking how can I WARRANT my job

  12. steve evans says:

    Like most things in this country we always look at things the wrong way round. There are two issues –

    1. The risk of personal injury. On our allotment we have so many dangers – rusty tin sheets used as plot dividers, metal stakes, bamboo sticks even residual asbestos which we get removed by the council. There are even highly toxic natural things like deadly nightshade. What about power or hand tools ?

    In terms of glass, the allotment I took over had a bank 2m high, 5m long and sloped down over to ground level over 6m. It had 75 years worth of broken glass, plastic, metal, pottery where successive owners had dumped their rubbish

    2. Allotments being abandoned in a state. When you rent anything (cars, houses) you are asked for a deposit should you not return the item in a fit state. It would be a simple process to add this as part of the allotment agreement. A £100 deposit would go a long way to paying a clearance firm to tidy up a plot for the incoming owner.

    As for poly-carbonate it can be just as sharp and glass when you work with it or pick it up. As two of my allotment neighbours have found they don’t last in high winds at all. There was also an issue with a errant full size poly tunnel that flattened 4 plots on its way down the hillside in the recent wind.

    • Janet TT says:

      Ooops! Just seen you comment and the bit about a Deposit of £100 to curb errant behaviour of leaving a plot unfit for human occupation and would just say I fully agree and have posted something similar.

  13. malcolm armstrong says:

    Hi John, I agree the health and safety has gone potty.
    When we took on our allotment four years ago, the weeds and grass was four feet high, when we cleared it we discovered that the previous plot holder must have worked as a window fitter, as buried in the ground was so much glass it was a joke.
    He had buried whole wooden window frames, doors and frames and burnt it leaving behind locks,hinges,screws and even shop window glass ten mm thick,all broken and smashed to bits, what a job. RTO your green house. I have been given the same eden greenhouse, but when I assembeled it I had an old pr cast concreate garage, and the upright posts laid flat and the side panels slid in place made a good base, then I filled it with fifty mm of cement and ballast 4 to 1 mix. it is as solid as a rock, and where we are situated we get extreme high winds as we are surrounded by a marsh, a stream, and Northolt Aerodrome, with the runways parallel to our allotment and we have three plots in one row about 750 square metres. so lots of work. best wishes


  14. Geoffrey Beales says:

    On London Road allotments Clacton green houses have spread like bellbine. In storm winds I have seen sheets of greenhouse glass dance through the air at head high it’s an accident waiting to happen. My view is that overseers should be responsible for locking the allotment gate and posting the appropriate notice if high winds are forecast.

  15. Keith Johnson says:

    No! it is so stupid to even think of it, what is the point of having an allotment if you cannot have a greenhouse or coldframe they are an absolute necessity. These so called accidents are caused by carelessness or stupidity if you are either you do not deserve an allotment and should not be allowed on one. These committees are just like politicians who have justify their existence by making up stupid rules

  16. Ashley Howchin says:

    Our contract states that any mess should be removed when the allotment is vacated or the council will clear and charge for the removal as yet I have never seen anyone clear a plot or the council come in and do so.
    There are a number with dilapidated greenhouses broken glass all over but have to say that the majority of people do now seem to be going for poly tunnels rather than a green house my self included.

  17. Vivienne says:

    I concur with all your points John.
    Everything we do in life is a risk
    I have a health and safety background and naturally take steps to avoid unnecessary accidents both to myself and others but not to the extent that I fixate on things that may never happen
    I think there is also the fear of litigation which spurs a lot of these decisions being made without I agree proper risk assessment

  18. Jeremy Cuss says:

    My advice is not to put polycarbonate panels in greenhouses built for glass. I made that mistake. High winds caused the panels to flex and then some flew out. The frame then lost its structural integrity, twisted and collapsed. It was a complete write-off. When starting again I stuck with glass and have had no problems since.

  19. Dave Warwick says:

    Regards greenhouses being left on the allotment, we are council run and the rules state that if leaving or put of the site it is up to you to clear the site prior to leaving,leaving only any buildings/greenhouses trenches etc. That the person coming on May want. To me this is fine if you come onto a clean plot in the first place but these are newer rules and to be fair to all there should be some discretion. I agree it a glass house is in disrepair then it should be dropped and disposed of.

  20. Raymond Dove says:

    Maldon council in essex will not allow glass greenhouses on allotments due to health and safety.
    Harlow council in essex will allow glass greenhouses on allotments no local authority has the same procedure

  21. Terry jacobs says:

    Hi all,
    I too have a g.hse on my plot after gaining permission from the local council and i have to say that h & s have gone over the top with even thinking of banning g.hse’s! if we’re not careful we will be back to the days of old when windows were only for the few.
    In response to John’s situation rebuild the g.hse then put silicone sealant around any loose or ill fitting panes of glass, when i first built my g.hse i lost quite a few panes in rough weather and replaced them and sealed them, and they have held for at least 4yrs. I use a well known diy chain own label or the next cheapest avaiable. And i have been able to obtain some scaffolding windbreak netting for nothing as it had been used and was destined for the skip so keep your eyes and ears open folks you never know what might turn up.
    Happy allotmentering.

  22. Ann Cullen says:

    Oh dear, who on earth makes these silly suggestions? We’re all adults and are aware of the risks that we all face on a daily basis, but that’s life, we aren’t made to be wrapped up in cotton wool and if this were the case, I doubt anyone would leave the house, but hang on, there are risks indoors as well! Let’s have some figures on household accidents! This whole idea is stupidity and assumes we are so dumb that we are not aware of our surroundings, I had a polycarbonate greenhouse when my boys were young for obvious reasons, I’ve got one now, and it’s a damn nuisance as the top panes are cracked and broken, I certainly wouldn’t have one on our allotment.

  23. Beepee says:

    Two things:
    First; enforce responsibilities, including the deposit idea for allotments. Seems to me these days it is ALWAYS someone else’s fault.
    Second; Apoint John Harrison for H & S enforcer!

    • John Harrison says:

      I’m afraid my attitude is ‘do what you as long as it doesn’t hurt others’ Starting your bonfire with petrol? Fine as long as I’m not near you when it goes BANG!
      Second thoughts, maybe I’d be perfect for H & S Enforcer. 🙂

  24. Richard Hall says:

    Hi John
    As your research seems to indicate, the problem of broken glass on allotments is actually that of the potential worst case, rather than the likely actual case.
    I expect common sense and personal responsibility would surfice in most situations.
    It may sound harsh but possibly its a case of ‘if its banned its off my desk, and there just isn’t time or resources to sort it out properly’.
    Thanks for all the great articles.

  25. steve evans says:

    As most people do after taking over a plot, I went on the internet and researched allotment growing in more detail.

    One of the things I came across was allotment insurance – which puzzled me. I asked the person in the Council department about the need for insurance. His answer was there is only liability cover the plot tenant which doesn’t cover anything your partner, children or visitors do.

    He went on to say that if there was a substantial claim the councils would have to consider closing the allotment scheme even though they have statutory duty to provide them.

    What concerned me at the time was the answer came so quickly that it must be something they had already considered.

    So I can see why the “play it safe” attitude persists

  26. ann jackman says:

    I think it is man made materials that should be banned not glass…..getting rid of old polytunnel covers is a night mare, and plastic pollutes the world for ever and ever.
    I’m secretary to our committee… we have 50 plots… when plots come vacant we have a work party to make safe,and remove rubbish. As we have been doing this for 15 years we have plots to let that are level, weed free and have g houses and sheds in good repair. The members who do not move on compete to keep their’s as good as the vacant ones . When they see an elderly lady carting off bags of pop bottles, old compost bags etc or picking up broken glass… not that that happens often becasue we have a member whose responsibility it is to go round at least twice a year glueing cracks and replacing panes ….they are shamed into taking some home regulary to the land fill bin… or even to recycle. We use a lot of carpets, but they are turned at least once a year, or rolled up to let the land green over before being smothered again before weed seed is formed…. our 20 or so long term members all do their bit to monitor what newbys are doing … no one would get away with planting willow hedges . our plots are divided with grass paths that are mown by members on a rota…. no fences allowed..

  27. Judith Emmerson says:

    We had a wooden greenhouse made for us by a fellow allotment holder which has been glazed totally with polycarbonate sheets which were already cut. He built it before he saw the size of the sheets but they fitted perfectly. Our tomatoes were wonderful, better than the glass greenhouse at home, so I would recommend polycarbonate every time.

  28. Paul says:

    I have read the comments with great interest. I was responsible for allotments in our Council. My view when we took this over from another Council department was to listen to plot holders and see what was happening. The rule came in because one site had a plot holder who had virtually covered it with second hand windowd and doors. It was okay perhaps until the plot holder died and the Council had to clear the plot. Nobody would have taken it on. Even after clearing the frames there was tremendous amount of broken glass on the surface or just below.
    The other reason was that as a plot holder myself I want clean soil and despite having cleared and dug glass out of my plot, I still find pieces every time generally when weeding.
    The ban on new glass has however resulted in innovation. Several plots including mine now have plastic bottles greenhouses. The advantage I have found is that when we have high winds the bottles have small gaps and as such reduce the effect of the wind on your solid glass greenhouses.
    To all those who feel it is draconian to have such a rule I wondered whilst reading the comments to have a specific area for greenhouses so broken glass is only in one area and broken panes are not left on the edges of plots or glass gets mixed up with the main growing areas.

    • steve evans says:

      Interesting psychological question – a bit like when people go to the beach because it is beautiful and a safe place for their children to play. Then when they go home, leave all sorts of debris; litter, tin cans, dirty nappies etc.

      It is the same with some allotment holders – and we aren’t talking about young kids here, more mature people whom should know better. When the glass breaks, just pick it up, put it in a bucket and dispose of it. The same with old compost bags, fertiliser bottles, slug pellet bottles.

      In my plot, I had to tackle a rubbish mount the size of two car parking spaces that had plastics and rubbish dating back 40 years and I stopped counting the discarded slug pellet bottles when I got into the late 30’s

  29. Michelle Weston says:

    Very interesting reading and comments. I agree with NOT banning any greenhouses on allotments, it’s just the most ridiculous idea!! Jeez, we’re adults!! And YES to the refundable deposit!!

    Re plots being left in a shambles- if councils would be quicker to allocate vacant plots to new people who have been on a waiting list, the over growing and mess often left behind will be potentially avoided. At our allotments there are several empty plots which we watch being slowly taken over by grass and weeds – yet people are always asking how long they still have to wait for a plot. One of my friends watched her neighbouring plot which was lovingly looked after for years, get completely overgrown over the span of a year!! It was just heartbreaking and an insult to the previous person who had put so much hard work into it. The government di all these campaigns to get Britain growing – well make all those empty plots available sooner!!!

  30. Chris Vose says:

    Well I must be really lucky as I have two Allotments,with three greenhouses and a polytunnel on .Ive had the Allotments since 2003 and never had any problems with them .Growing Grapes,Figs Raspberries Strawberries Fruit bushes .This year I am growing Okra Lemon Cucumbers and loads of Flowers fill up every space.I love it my second home..Our site has 250 plots and they are all full with a waiting list.Thanks Chris xx

  31. des says:

    Speaking as a recently qualified Health & Safety Professional (General, Construction, Fire and Environmental Management(forgive the boast it took a lot of work to get the certificates)

    H&S says if it is or could be dangerous don’t use it.

    The approach to dangerous substances etc is

    1) Don’t use it – then the danger is gone

    2) Substitute it with something that is not dangerous

    … so have a greenhouse just use sheets of plastic instead of glass – the plastic may cloud and go yellow after a few years but at least it is not dangerous

    …. but the Environmental Management training says is the use of plastic sheets harming the environment

    You cat win .. so go for the least dangerous and harmful option

    Keep washing those hands guys

  32. Patrick Stevens says:

    I’ll fess up here – I don’t have an allotment, but I have about a third of an acre of garden, and am very friendly with the allotment holders just up the road. I also have two large greenhouses. The first one was bought when my sons were small, and I willingly paid extra for some super toughened glass. This gave me peace of mind when footballs and small boys were loose. No piece of glass was ever fractured in 25 years.

    The second greenhouse installed last summer also utilised 4mm toughened glass. It’s taken some knocks but with no signs of damage.

    OK 3mm horticultural glass is more efficient in terms of light transmission, but in environments where there is a significant risk of damage, I’d go for the 4mm toughened any day. For large scale commercial greenhouses, then obviously the 3mm horticultural glass is the preferred option.

    • Chris says:

      I’ve recently got a plot and there is also a glass ban. I was wondering since I play a lot of rec ice hockey and I know one of the facilities manages I can get my hand in Plexiglass quite Cheap and easily.

      This stuff can withstand vulcanised rubber pucks being fired at it at over 100mph.

      Perfect I though. However the site manager decides he doesn’t want me to use the stuff as it has the word ‘glass’ on it and glass is banned (it’s plastic ffs) and even when I have pointed this out he did a 5 second (well for him probably 5 hour) google of the glass at ice hockey rinks shattering (even though plexi doesn’t shatter and the images he found were when they used seamless tempered glass)

      I’m just going to use the stuff anyway and just say I’m using acrylic sheets (which is true) but my introduction to allotments seems to be a load of older jobsworths who are more interested in what their neighbours are doing than tending their own plots.

      Not only this but I’ve caught a few of them taking berries off the plot. (I understand the plot was over grown with berries as I had to clear the thing, but I left a small amount at the bottom as there are a lot more things I want to do) their excuse it well we we all did it when it was empty and it was fine then so why not now!

      I’m already dreading what they are going to say about my plans for the plot (I’m a data guy and I wanted a plot to try and use my skills to code up and build some automated gardening) have small greenhouse/tunnels which were climate controlled and programmed by me to water from the butts, keep humidity and temperature levels optimal etc, and at the same time code it all with python

      I think with the site manager and current allotment holders I’m probably going to give up my pretty much nicely cleared plot, and look at getting a plot at a new site even if it takes a few more years

  33. Patrick Stevens says:

    How do people cope with the watering requirements of greenhouse on allotments. I pose this question because with two greenhouses in my garden, the water needed is pretty considerable.

    It’s relatively easy for me because I’m newly retired and the furthest on is only 40 metres from the tap. How on earth do you cope if you are working fulltime and have to rely on weekends only?

    • Chris says:

      Depends on budget and effort.

      In my home one I Originally I used Olla pots as it meant I didn’t need to water that frequently, I have since moved to a solar powered system, does drip watering, and also misting on a timer. It’s solar powered to power a pump in the water butt. The water butt is filled from the gutters on the greenhouse

  34. Patrick Stevens says:

    Thanks for that Chris. Both my greenhouses have solid bases as otherwise crops would be competing with tree roots – mine is quite a mature garden.

    So, the Olla option is a no no, but if I wasn’t in the fortunate position of being able to bribe nearby people (take as much as you can pick, and let me know what you like to drink) I’d go down the solar powered water butt route.


  35. Keith says:

    It would seem reasonable for councils to insist on toughened glass in greenhouses it is law that business premises must have toughened glass in their windows to protect the public. Therefore as allotments are accessed by children on allotment sites it seems that councils don’t have an option to turn a blind to potentially dangerous situations.

  36. Sue Little says:

    I had a work colleague once who attacked me (verbally) for having bull bars on my truck (factory fitted as standard). Apparently they were dangerous and should be banned because I could kill someone.

    My instant response was it would be more beneficial to ban alcohol.

    Risk is risk – we live with it. Broken glass is a problem. I had a whole greenhouse lifted and dumped on a neighbouring plot by a rogue tornado. Yes I live in the UK. It was unexpected! It caused a mess but we cleaned up as best we could. Mine wasn’t the only greenhouse to have been completely destroyed.

    However, I am aware of how long it takes to break down polycarbonate and flying sheets of the stuff are best avoided.

    Best solution is to ask anyone going to the allotment to wear gloves. Put this into the rule book alongside the dogs and children need to be controlled and the Committee are covered. I do think that glass greenhouses should be sited at least 4ft from any pathway.

    On my allotment we banned keeping livestock, bonfires and carpet. Livestock as we didn’t want the responsibility if they were abandoned for any reason, bonfires as houses had been built around the allotments and there were complaints and carpet as non-wool carpets were being used and we were concerned about pollution.

    Most of the broken glass has been removed from my allotment but some shards remain. This is a good reason for wearing gardening gloves! It has not stopped production. The vegetables don’t mind.

    I would prefer a ban on plastics!

  37. Tony Feetenby says:

    I took on a plot three years ago that was so riddled with mares tail it took me hundreds of hours digging the worst of it out, drying it then burning it. There was a green house slap bang on the middle of the arable area that had most of the glass broken. I took it upon my self to disassemble the green house and move it out of the arable area and remove a couple of cubic metres of rubble, rubbish and broken glass at the same time. I rebuilt The green house in a different location and raised it on a couple of courses of concrete blocks with a foundation, all at my own expense. The whole plot had layer upon layer of plastic about four inches down, which took me weeks to remove. I riddled nearly every bit of soil on my 160 sq mtr arable area until I was happy enough to finally get some plants growing. For all my hard work, I got a rollicking for having bonfires and errecting a green house without permission??. It makes me wonder why I bothered. I have transformed the plot and am still in the process of doing so. I inherited a few chickens on the plot and have created a spacious run and am still in the process of making things better for them. But, there was lots of rubbish I uncovered or inherited and I ask, who is responsible in the first place for clearing the plot, surely the organisation who takes my payment.

  38. Jan Ogden says:

    The previous plot holder of our 90 foot by 30 foot council site had knocked down and buried, yes buried, several sheds and greenhouses! We are are in our 4 th year and still digging up nuts, bolts, screws, nails window frames etc and have removed buckets and buckets of glass. The amounts are getting less but we still keep tubs dotted around the plot that we can lob glass etc in. Despite this I think glass greenhouses should be allowed for as many stupid and irresponsible plot holders there are, there are many more of us who manage their plots and use of glass responsibly. Accidents do happen and allotments can be pretty hazardous places if not careful, but that could be said of most environments, homes , gardens roads etc. The key is to behave responsibly, act carefully and be mindful of potential dangers.

  39. Fiona says:

    Well I like to think that the allotment can be quite a free space.

    Keeping tools clean .and shed clean also poly.. cleaning may raise awareness to the dangers .I personally dont like chain saws .in D.i.y.hands..I think a tetanus injection is worth having when you get a plot if it’s a mess .mine was a mess when I got it .

  40. Kath says:

    I firmly believe that a person who suffers broken glass in a storm event, for example, is responsible for clearing it, if only to prevent them being cut at some point. But banning glasshouses? No, that is unnecessary. I prefer glass to polycarbonate that goes opaque over time or non UV stable plastic that becomes brittle. My glasshouse is quite old and stable, the weight of the glass helping to keep it thus. I’m replacing it with a bigger model soon and I’ve opted for glass as I know this is the best material for growing under on an allotment.

  41. Mr SJ Gunn says:

    I’m a little late to this topic I know , but having taken over a double plot after best part of 3 yrs on the list , I’ve now managed to get the site into a workable state as the previous occupant had had it since 1962 , which incidentally was the year I was born ‍♂️! The plot was so overgrown & neglected- it’s taken me almost a year to clear the site of all of the make do & mend materials that were used to create it . I’ve had to remove well over a tonne of corrugated sheeting / old steel tubes hammered into the ground / old galvanised tanks / cast iron bath & a whole array of metalwork .. old plastic – removal of an old shed made out of every material known to man – & shards of glass that could reglaze The old Chrystal palace .. So the answer to your Q is No .. you can’t ban glass from allotments .. if you are an idiot & don’t take care when you are taking on a plot previously occupied by somebody! Just be sensible- it’s hard work but the rules are quite simple !!

  42. Donovan Storey says:

    I am also in the process of, on my hands and knees, clearing a mound of dangerous and toxic materials on a site I took on. I call it negative gardening(!), but I am only now a week or so of effort to fully rehabilitate the site which will give me great satisfaction. However, I am also clearing plastic, shreds of matting plastic, glass and so on which I also see being put onto sites across my allotment yesterday and today and I wonder, what is being learnt? I wanted to ask here if there are allotments in the UK which are pioneering sustainability, and putting in places rules and positive practices to clean our allotments? In my allotment (which is managed by lovely people I should add) plastic rather than cardboard is used to warm soil, there are no recycling bins or separation of rubbish or anything you’d think would be in place to ensure a clean and sustainable site. There are only very basic environmental rules. So I wanted to ask here if there are developing guidelines to be aware of or engaged in, or allotments which are leading the way in the UK? Thanks! Donovan

    • John Harrison says:

      The thing is Donovan that allotments and allotment sites are individual. Some sites insist plotholders operate under organic guidelines, others leave it up to the individual. Most plotholders treat their plot as a permanent thing, like their personal garden. In fact, the more controls imposed on the plotholder, the less likely the disempowered plotholder is to treat the plot with respect.
      In all cases there are some people who just treat the plot as somewhere they can leave there rubbish. There’s always the odd bad apple in the barrel.
      You mention recycling bins etc. There’s a lot plotholders can do – sharing unwanted pots, plants etc. One man’s rubbish is another man’s useful find. But – it needs people to actually push the ideas and be involved in implementing them on the ground. Rather than negative rules, a positive example strikes me as more effective in the long term.

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