Lord of the Rings star Terry Frisch is encouraging gardeners to grow their own after Harrow Council announced a £100,000 investment in allotments.

Harrow Council has announced it is spending more than £100,000 on the most significant overhaul to its network of allotments in fifty years.

The borough has around 1300 individual plots, which cover an area equivalent to 76 football pitches. But as the recession deepens, the council wants to ensure as many people as possible can cut their food bills by growing their own fruit and vegetables in a campaign that harks back to the Second World War's "Dig for Victory".

Current West Harrow celebrity allotment holders include Terry Frisch, who starred as Bilbo Baggins in the West End production of Lord of the Rings, and has also starred in ITV's The Bill.

Terry said: "I have been an allotment holder for three years and I am now self sufficient in things like fruit, potatoes, cabbage and onions.

"It's hard work but it's fun work too. You get to be part of a different community and there is a real satisfaction at harvest time when you get to take home and eat all these fresh things you've cultivated yourself."

The six-figure investment will cover:

- Improved security around the 33 different allotment sites in Harrow, ranging from metal gates to "defensive" plants like brambles

- Improved drainage and water systems

- New and clear demarcation for all plots (the borough's current map of plots dates back to 1960)

- Pre-preparation of vacant plots - for example putting down proper soil - to ensure they are quickly productive
 
Around nine out of ten Harrow Council allotments are now occupied. Harrow Council signed up 200 new recruits last summer when it announced allotments were available from as little as £11 a year.
 
The council's head of environment services Councillor Susan Hall said: "This is all about making life better for Harrow residents. In recent years allotments might have had a slightly quirky image, but we are seeing huge interest in them right now as people see their value in reducing the weekly food bill.

"This investment brings our allotment system right up to date and means they are all in good shape - plus that they are safe and attractive places to spend time. If we aren't seeing green shoots in the economy, we hope to see them in our allotments soon!"
 
Allotment facts
 
Harrow's system of allotments dates back to the early 1930s. The network was expanded during the war as the Government cleaved off part of parks in Pinner Green, Roxeth and Kenton Recreation ground for allotment use as part of the Second World War "Dig for Victory" strategy.

More recently, West Harrow allotments achieved unlikely TV fame in the late 1970s as the backdrop to a sketch in the BBC's Two Ronnies comedy show.

West Harrow allotments were also featured in the 1990s BBC drama The Demon Headmaster.