Cultivate friends as well as crops

Everyone’s welcome to pop up and see the work of the Kyles Allotment Group (KAG), whose members are always busy planting, sowing, watering, weeding and harvesting their raised beds in the polytunnel and outdoors. Saturday morning is the best time to catch people up there - you might even get a cup of tea in the cabin! If you’re inspired by what you see and want to enquire about membership, please get in touch with John Moran on 01700 811524,

In summer the polytunnel really proves its worth. Tomatoes, lettuce, rocket, courgettes, carrots, beetroot, spinach, and French/ runner beans all grow well. Vegetables that even the most green-fingered gardener would struggle to cultivate on the windy west coast make an appearance, including chillies, basil, peppers and an aubergine or two. In autumn pumpkins and squash grow in abundance, while in winter certain vegetable such as lamb’s lettuce thrive.

The outdoor raised beds can be incredibly productive too, with crops such as cabbage, broccoli and sprouts all thriving. KAG also manages a number of communal plots, growing onions, potatoes and other vegetables that members share. KAG members have also planted fruit trees, rhubarb and raspberry and blackcurrant bushes

KAG runs regular Producers’ Markets in Kames Hall, where, along with lots of other local producers, KAG sell their surplus veg. There is normally a spring market, a couple of summer markets, an autumn market and a fabulously festive Christmas market.

Here’s what some members have to say:

John Moran, KAG Chairman, said: ‘Growing in the polytunnel shortens the winter. It means that bad summers are pretty much history. Last summer was fairly cold, wet and windy, yet all our members harvested a healthy crop of fruit and veg from the tunnel. It’s also a great way to meet like-minded people – you can cultivate friends as well as crops!’

Eve MacFarlane said. ‘I’ve been amazed at what I’ve been able to grow – especially planting so late in the season. I’ve had loads of lovely fresh vegetables. There’s lots of gardening knowledge in the group and the advice, help and tips have proved invaluable.’

Membership of KAG costs £65 a year and includes two raised beds – one indoors and one outdoors – and a share of all communally grown produce. Twenty-five households currently make up the membership, taking in a wide range of ages and gardening abilities. The group meets regularly.

What could be better than fresh air, exercise, the satisfaction of harvesting your own food, and all with the most glorious views, come rain or shine?