Getting allotment-ready

As are most things, having a successful allotment is all in the planning along with a bit of luck with the weather!

Plot Layout & Location

The weather is a constant factor to consider as well as your location.  Advice for any given month may depend on where you’re based in the UK – North or South, coastal or inland. Note where and when the plot gets the sun and shade so that you can position your greenhouse, shed, structures, crops and such like accordingly.

The most traditional layout of crops is in rows, some prefer sectioned squares and others like to build raised beds, which helps reduce the weeds. Some crops for example sweetcorn grow better in squares as a clump rather than a line in a row.  When planning your layout do factor in pathways so that you can easily water your crops and tend to the beds.  Some like to turf the pathways or put down gravel to avoid getting muddy. You can also chuck down a few stepping stones or paving slabs.

Deciding what to grow

This may sound obvious but grow what you like to eat! You don’t want to be over-run with vegetables that you don’t even like or have no room to store. It’s nice to give away to friends and family but the aim of the game is to reap the rewards too. If you have too many varieties going on, it can be over-whelming and you need to strike the right balance with the whole growing your own thing being a learning curve.  The months can become a jumble of jobs to do and researching until you naturally know what to expect. Don’t forget and lose sight of your allotment being something to enjoy and a hobby albeit hard work at times! The key is to keep it manageable and work for you. Start with easy staples such as potatoes.  Root vegetables are another great one as you don’t have to harvest the whole crop at once but you can pull as you require them (within reason). You can expand your selection when you’re comfortable with what you’re doing and then maybe you will relish the challenge of growing more unusual and difficult to grow crops in time.

  • Tips - Slugs & Snails

    If you would rather steer away from pellets, broken egg shells are an effective way to rid your plot from these plant loving pests.

  • Tips - Watering Can

    Turn the rose of the watering can around so you can see the holes for watering a wider area for quickness.

  • Tips - Thirsty Plants

    Cut a plastic bottle in half and use the cap end as a funnel - Place in the soil to direct rain water straight to the roots.

  • Tips - Labelling

    Label or make a note of the variety and the date you've sown, you can soon forget what it is and when it will be ready!

  • Tips - Scarecrows

    Scarecrow alternatives - Remove the lid from a plastic drinks bottle and put on the end of a cane in the ground – the sun will reflect off the clear plastic and the rattling noise will scare the birds away. You can also hang bunting or flags as a deterrent. Another method is to tie old CD’s to string and hang them up!

Storage

So, you have your land and now you need tools to do the job but before you get all those valuable tools you need somewhere to put them to keep them secure and out of the elements.  Allotments often come with a shed already in place or you might be able to rent one if a shed becomes available on your allotment site.  Keep your shed padlocked or secured when not in use, keep the wood preserved and check for leaks and holes and unwanted guests! Shelving and storage compartments are great for smaller items and seed storage.  If your plot is away from home at an allotment your shed will become your little home away from home where you can keep everything you need including personal items for your comfort that you may find useful. There’s nothing more annoying than a planned day being interrupted! Here are some suggestions of our own:

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  • Bags, books, boots, boxes, battery operated gadgets & batteries
  • Chair, camping stove, coffee, cups, cushion
  • First aid box, flask
  • Gas canister for camping stove, gloves
  • Hand cream, hat
  • Insect repellent
  • Juice
  • Kneeling pad' kettle for portable stove
  • Matches, milk
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • Paper, pens, plastic empty bottles, pots,
  • Radio
  • Spare socks, sugar, sun cream, spoons
  • Tea bags, toilet roll, torch
  • Umbrella
  • Warm clothing, water proof clothing, wellies, water (bottle drinking)  
  • Tips - Slugs & Snails

    If you would rather steer away from pellets, broken egg shells are an effective way to rid your plot from these plant loving pests.

  • Tips - Watering Can

    Turn the rose of the watering can around so you can see the holes for watering a wider area for quickness.

  • Tips - Thirsty Plants

    Cut a plastic bottle in half and use the cap end as a funnel - Place in the soil to direct rain water straight to the roots.

  • Tips - Labelling

    Label or make a note of the variety and the date you've sown, you can soon forget what it is and when it will be ready!

  • Tips - Scarecrows

    Scarecrow alternatives - Remove the lid from a plastic drinks bottle and put on the end of a cane in the ground – the sun will reflect off the clear plastic and the rattling noise will scare the birds away. You can also hang bunting or flags as a deterrent. Another method is to tie old CD’s to string and hang them up!

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