Getting Started with an Allotment
As #NationalAllotmentWeek starts our Marketing and Communications Assistant Steven details how you can get started with an allotment in this latest blog.
Starting your own allotment can be daunting and you might think that you wouldn’t have the first clue where to begin. In this blog, I will give you some tips on how you might get started to try and make your first journey into getting an allotment a little easier.
Finding a Space
Trying to find a space for your allotment can be frustrating. Usually, you would need to join a waiting list and could be a while before you are able to get one. You can find alternate space, however.
My Dad got lucky when he was looking for space, the local farmer had a space close to his mother’s house and allowed him to use the space for his allotment. If you know someone in your local area that might be able to help in this way, then it might be worth asking.
If that doesn’t work out for you then you can find a space in your garden if it is big enough.
When you are looking for space always try to look for something that fits your needs. If you starting out for the first time it might be a good idea to start off small and then working your way up to a bigger plot.
This doesn’t sound like the most exciting of jobs and you would probably be right in that assumption but it is a necessary task. You will need to set some time aside to maintain the weeding in your allotment throughout the year but if you get a piece of land that needs it before you plant anything then you will make life a lot easier for yourself in the long run if you make a big effort to get it done early.
If you have an area where there is always weeds growing, then a good idea would be to plant your potatoes or courgettes as they smother weeds.
Try to keep your peas, carrots and onions away from weeds as they cast little shade and weeds can smother them.
If you are just getting your allotment ready now, then it is probably worth waiting until next Spring to start planting. In the meantime, you can look after your soil so it is in the best condition it can be come next year.
Over the autumn and winter months turn over the soil and put horse manure (if you can get it) over the soil so that it is ready for planting in the Spring. A couple of images below illustrate this. The best time to do this is when it is dry. If you try when the soil is wet, it could destroy the soil structure.
Another tip to keep your soil in good condition is not to step all over it. If you can, it is good to create some sort of a path so you can access all the areas you need to.
You can find out more about getting to know your soil in this blog.
This is a good time to start collecting for your compost heap. In the Autumn your garden might be full of leaves that have fallen off the nearby trees, so it is a good idea to rake the leaves up from your lawn and other areas and then compost them. If you feel you don’t have enough leaves for compost, then try asking your neighbours to see if you can use their leaves. Also, make sure you have a cover to put over your compost heap.
Storage and Equipment
Make sure you have the correct equipment for whatever job you are planning on doing in your allotment. If you are inheriting equipment, make sure to look over it and decide whether it needs any running repairs.
Also, try to have somewhere dry like a small shed to store your equipment when they are not getting used.
A good idea over the winter months is to start gathering a water supply for when the spring and summer arrive. We do live in Scotland so the chances of rainfall at this time of the year will be high and leaving buckets out to collect the rainfall could prove valuable over the summer where there may be a little less rainfall.
Choose what to grow
You can grow what you want but try to keep it simple if you are trying this for the first time. Over the years my Dad grew –
- Potatoes (Roosters, Charlottes, Maris Piper)
- Brussels Sprouts
Try to keep your Potatoes away from your vegetables and if you have two places to grow like in the photo below then each year rotate where you grow each item.
Use this time to figure out what is best for you and start planning for next year and by the time Spring comes around you will be fully prepared to get stuck in.|