Last year my Dad and I got an allotment. The plot hadn’t been touched for some years so we knew it was going to take a lot of work. We got it with the aim of having a go and seeing how we got on. With my Dad retiring a couple of years ago, he needed something to occupy his time and if I’m honest I just went along to cut down on my vegetable bill!
What I hadn’t envisaged were the number of benefits outside of the vegetables themselves (which are amazing) that would make it such a worthwhile activity to engage in. The benefits to your mind and body from spending time in nature and the (endless!) digging have been great, albeit occasionally painful.
Now in our second year, we’ve learnt several lessons and we’re still learning on a weekly basis. In this week’s blog I thought I would share some tips for new allotment owners, based on what we’ve learnt so far.
Plan and research
Find out about your soil and how you are going to manage it. You can get kits at the garden centre.
Then think about your layout. Are you going to have prepared raised beds with paths between, which make it easier to manage and look tidy or perhaps you want a traditional row by row layout?
Are you going for an organic garden, which is designed to attract and support a range of wildlife? If you have space, a pond can encourage useful wildlife such as frogs, which love nothing more than a juicy slug and can reduce the impact of them attacking your greens!
Refer to Monty Don for almost everything
Gardeners’ World is a vital tool for any gardener. Monty Don will let you know every week what needs to be planted or picked, as well as plenty of inspirational hints and tricks!
Get some good equipment
If like us, your allotment is overgrown, a good strimmer is a worthwhile investment. We had brambles-a-plenty so you might need something a bit more heavy-duty, but your local garden machinery dealer should be able to help.
Get some good netting
Whilst the birds are a lovely sight to see, especially Mr Robin that comes down to say hello every day, they eat everything! We’ve tried several things to keep them from pecking including tin foil but a good net is your best bet.
Get on Instagram
There is a huge community of people on Instagram that have allotments. Every day there are posts with great ideas to try and advice for when things aren’t growing well. It’s also a comfort to know that you aren’t the only one that has problems growing parsnips!
If at first you don’t succeed
Don’t be too upset if something doesn’t work – several things we’ve tried haven’t seen the light of day but then other things have gone absolutely crazy. Make sure you have a read of all the seed packets and check what you need to do with them. It can be quite tempting to have a gung-ho approach and sprinkle seeds everywhere but it’s worth checking where they are best to be planted, if they need to be grown inside first, how far apart they should be planted etc. Also keep it organised in rows so you know what’s where.
There is a reason why many allotment plots have waiting lists. Not only is it a growing trend amongst millennials but it is a timeless pastime that can be enjoyed by any generation. From the elderly to the young, there is nothing better than a trip to the allotment and I’m very happy I get to share one with my Dad.
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