I MIGHT have had the inclination but I’ve never had the time to grow vegetables.

Keeping the lawn below ankle height and the roses pruned once a year have been enough of a challenge with the demands of my working week and the needs of a growing family.

My father and his father before him were keen gardeners and they liked nothing more than setting a row of carrots, digging up a bucketful of new potatoes or pinching out the sweetest tomato plants.

Although I’ve not yet found the time to follow in their footsteps (even if my over-shadowed garden would allow it), I do understand the passion that goes into growing your own vegetables and tending your own plot.

So, like many people I suspect, I was sickened to hear of the disgusting attacks on John Tatersall’s plot at Bowling Park Allotments.

Mr Tatersall’s chickens were burned alive in their coop in the first attack. He had reared them from chicks and he was just coming to terms with their cruel and wanton destruction when his plot was targeted again, this time burning his two sheds to the ground, destroying all his tools and wiping out his vegetable beds.

The following night, other sheds were hit and crops ripped up.

As if such attacks are not despicable enough in themselves, Mr Tatersall, 26, is disabled and suffers from depression.

It’s clear from his reaction that his allotment is a special and important place for him: “I’m disabled and I can only do bits and bats at a time before I sit down so it took me a long time to get the plot like it was. I had a shed for my tools and one where I’d go and sit. It was my little sanctuary, I liked the tranquillity and the peace, just listening to the birds - but now it’s like Beirut. I don’t know if I can carry it on.”

It will be sad, indeed, if he is forced to give it up altogether, particularly as research has shown that working on an allotment can be highly beneficial in improving both mental and physical health.

The research, published in the Journal of Health, prompted the experts behind it to call on councils to provide more allotment space, especially in inner cities and areas where houses had small or no gardens.

The results showed that just one session of allotment gardening a week could result in significant improvements in both self-esteem and mood. Working on an allotment reduced feelings of tension, depression, anger and confusion, the researchers found, and allotment dwellers had fewer weight problems. The study found some 47 per cent of gardeners were overweight or obese, compared with 68 per cent of non-gardeners.

The researchers said: “With an increasing number of people residing in urban areas, a decline in the number of homes with gardens, and the increased risk for mental ill health associated with urban living, these findings are particularly important and suggest that allotment gardening might play an important role in promoting mental well-being in people residing in urban areas.”

Bradford Council has done some good work in recent years to weed out (no pun intended) plot holders who are not using their allocation of space but lengthy waiting lists remain for allotment plots throughout the UK.

The problem is exacerbated by the reduction in the availability of green spaces in urban areas which is limiting the ability of people to have access to nature close to their homes.

With fewer and fewer affordable houses being built, more people are living in apartment blocks where gardens are a rarity.

Community allotment plots can provide a feasible solution to this problem as they can help more people to get exercise, promote social interaction, community inclusion and provide opportunities for healthy eating, all of which contribute to our general well-being.

None of which will make a jot of difference to the morons who trashed Mr Tatersall’s plot.

Let’s hope they’re caught, as I’d like to recommend this sentence to the magistrates: 500 hours of community work – on an allotment…