Allotment facts

* The average number of people on a waiting list for an allotment in the UK is 59. Half of local authorities in the country report lists of more than 200 names. About 4,300 people are waiting for an allotment in London alone.



* By tradition, the rent for British allotments is due on St Michaelmas Day, 29 September.



* Allotments in the UK date back to the 18th century. By 1873, there were 244,268 allotments in Britain; by 1918, 1.5 million. The number then declined, falling to 600,000 by the late 1960s. Today, there are an estimated 300,000 allotments, yielding about 215,000 tons of fresh produce every year.



* Famous fictional allotment holders include Arthur from EastEnders, who died among his spuds and caulis. The actor Charles Dance and, less surprisingly, Alan Titchmarsh are allotment gardeners.



* The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners is the UK's biggest allotment body. The latest issue of its quarterly magazine, Allotment and Leisure Gardener, includes news of the Third Dunblane Potato Day and an ad for "probably the greatest rotavators on earth" (the BCS and the Camon).



* In the UK, the size of allotment plots is measured in "rods". One rod equals 25.29 square metres.



* Allotments thrive on rules. For example, Greenwich council requires that pathways should be 47.27cm wide. Waltham Forest council bans bonfires on its allotments.



* The Luxembourg-based Office International du Coin de Terre et des Jardins Familiaux is Europe's largest body representing allotment gardeners (it claims to have three million members). Tickets for this year's International Allotment Gardeners' Congress in Krakow, Poland, are selling fast.

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