Thursday 9 November 2017

What to expect when you get an allotment

It's now been two years since we got our first allotment plot. In that time we've had some ups and downs but it's definitely been a positive addition to our lives. Taking on an allotment plot can be quite an undertaking and will take up a lot of your time. You may think it is all about sitting in your shed being warmed by mugs of tea and a wood burner but here are some things to think about.

There's never a good time to get your plot – We got our first one in November when it was cold, wet and muddy. Then we swapped in March and it was rush to get things ready to start planting. Whatever time of year you get offered your plot take it as there is always something that can be done and you don't know when you will be offered a plot again.

Don't get too obsessed about a planting style at first – You may have great plans to be totally organic or use biodynamic methods but often it's best to get to know your plot first. Have a look round other plots on your site to see what grows well. If you don't allow for your original plans to change then you could lose heart very quickly.
Be prepared to weed – If you are cultivating fertile ground then weeds will love it even more than the crops you are trying to grow. A lot of your time at the allotment will be taken up by removing weeds.
Grow what you like to eat – It may seem obvious but many people get overexcited and start planting exotic crops without knowing what they taste like. Plant plenty of fruit and vegetables that you eat all the time and then decide what other crops you know you are going to like to eat.

Advice can be good and bad – Your fellow allotmenteers will be full of friendly advice for you. Some will be great such as telling you what type of soil the plots have and things to avoid. We found out that the ground is prone to club root so we shouldn't compost certain vegetable roots. On the flip side some allotmenteers are very set in their ways and can't see why you would want to do something in a different way.

Take what you are offered – I've always believed if you don't take what is offered you may never be offered anything again. By saying 'yes' we have received broccoli, Brussel sprouts and the best tomato plants we've ever had. We've also been given a compost bin and best of all a shed!

You will become a scavenger – Pallets, crates, stones, bits of wood – whatever you can get your hands on you'll think you can find a use for it on your allotment.

Be prepared for gluts – You will be waiting for months for crops to grow and then suddenly you won't know what to do with all your produce. If you can't eat everything straight away try giving some away otherwise be prepared to start making jams and jellies, pickles and chutneys, cakes and freezer meals.
You will get broken into – Sadly there will always be some lowlifes who think they have a right to your property or think it is fun just to wreck things for no reason. Some people don't lock their sheds for this reason but whether you bolt or not don't leave valuables in your shed. When our allotment sheds were broken into last year it was actually small tools such screwdrivers and trowels that were taken. Our gleaming wheelbarrow was left in place!

People will steal your produce – It may be the same people who have been breaking into sheds. Rather shockingly it is usually fellow plot holders!

Your allotment association and/or council will have petty rules – Most people will be happy to keep themselves to themselves and not cause any trouble. However bizarre things will crop up which will leave you shaking your head in disbelief. Just before we left our first plot we received a letter from the council saying the council workers couldn't cut all the hedging which backed onto our plot. Basically it seemed they couldn't be bothered to do all of it! I'm not sure how they thought we would managed it from the other side!

Have you thought about getting an allotment? What would your advice be for a first time allotmenteer?

1 comment:

I appreciate your comments. If you have any tips, tricks or tweaks please pass them on!