Ted Viner’s Story as told by Richard Rainey

The produce emanating from the polytunnel has now become an established and profitable contribution to the Society.

It has shown that quality plants provided at the right time, at reasonable prices attract the attention of plotholders and green finger members. But this operation requires knowledge, planning and constant attention. In 2000 Ted, having found it difficult to meet the growing demand from his plot and green house asked permission from the committee to purchase a polytunnel and was granted £1,000 to set it up. Literature was read, quotes obtained and the site behind the trading centre selected. The ground was levelled, trenches dug and the polytunnel erected. It had two sections in total, was 25’ long, electric wiring was supplied with a thermostatically controlled heater.

Benches were made from dismantled pallet and fences and a gate erected. There was an established programme within two years for sowing, pricking out and potting on to make marketing easier.

Sally Knowler took over the flower section and Ted continued with the vegetables. Two thermostatically controlled propagators were installed. The vegetables were sown by seed and plug plants purchased from Pentland Plants were potted on. During the summer months’ plants required watering 3 times a day.

In 2005, the polytunnel was badly slashed. It was not only repaired but extended by a further 5-foot bay to enable supply to meet the increasing demand. This produced a profit of £2,850 in its best year.

After several years, Ted and Sally decided that it was time for others to take over - plenty of notice was given, comprehensive notes compiled and at the age of 81 Ted stood down. But the polytunnel continues.

This is all a far cry from the earlier days of Ted joining the AWSLG in 1956; he had to be proposed and seconded before he was given a plot and allowed to pay his rent over. Soot was supplied by the local chimney sweep and used for slug bait. Homemade weed killer was supplied, the purchaser having to sign the poison register in a local chemist, bran was added and the resultant mixture used on the plots. Seeds supplied by the trading centre were measured in various sizes from teaspoons and placed in a brown paper envelopes. Second hand bottles were used for liquid feeds. Horse manure could be ordered and was delivered by a father and son transport company. They would be guided to the appropriate plot and would shovel off the ordered amounts of manure. This came to an end when the firm realised that delivery to our plots was interfering with their normal business.

For many years, Ted used to drive his motor bike and side car to the allotment grounds. In later years, he drove his mobility scooter to and from home. On his first plot, he grew runner beans (in three separate sowings) peas, lettuce, courgettes and cucumbers, his favourite potatoes are Accent and Desiree. In his greenhouse, he grew surplus bedding plants and cucumbers. Ted’s aptitude for and love of gardening would seem to stem from his uncle who was a head gardener and his father, who first worked as a gardener on a farm and on an estate, and after retirement from 30 years as a policeman. The police at that time only carried a truncheon, note book and whistle.

In 2009, Ted for exceptional service to the allotment Society for over 20 years was awarded with a Lifetime Membership at the AGM.