I sense that people like Peter enjoy everything about fires. But, he says, the soil enjoys it too.
'The bonfire ash is extremely good as a soil structurant,' says Peter, who uses words like 'structurant' quite freely. 'The soil here is very clayey and the calcined clay particles in the ash heap help to separate the clay platelet structure, making the topsoil more workable and friable.' Also, the potash created from burning the plants is in itself is a good fertiliser. 'Remember though,' he adds. 'Always store bonfire ash under a plastic sheet as the potash is soluble and will easily wash out with rainfall.'
Many allotments have their own Bonfire Code, naturally, which will include some of the following points:
• Check that you are allowed to have them; it helps if your allotment is on the edge of or just outside a village/town/city.
• Do not light a bonfire when the wind is blowing towards the inhabitants of said v/t/c. Monday is absolutely out, as some people still do their washing on Mondays, here in the middle of England.
• Ditto allotment neighbours: they don't wish to inhale your smoke.
• Look after your fire and prevent it from getting out of control and burning down hedgerows, etc.
• Do not burn plastic, which smells extra bad, or other more ambitious objects like bedsteads which should go to the local dump.