Happy National Allotments Week! Granted, it’s not something we usually celebrate. But growing your own food is having a real moment – it’s good for the planet, your bank balance and your health, plus it’s loads of fun and a great way to escape the pressure of everyday life. Here are our top tips for getting started with your very own allotment.
Get on the list
First things first – put your name down. In many areas, allotments have surged in popularity and there are long waiting lists. Put your name down on multiple lists if you can and be patient if you can’t get going straightaway. Waiting lists can often move quickly as people relocate or change their minds.
Do your research
If a full allotment plot seems a bit daunting, try starting with a half plot. You’ll also need to check if your plot has running water, and if there are any restrictions on what you can plant (fruit trees are not always welcome, for example).
Clear a space
Once you’ve secured your plot, it’s time to clear it – dig out trees and shrubs from the roots, pull up weeds, remove debris and give yourself the best blank canvas for your plants.
Work your plot
With a clear and tidy space, you can now start working your plot. Turn and break up the soil, add organic matter and do a pH test to see if you need to add any nutrients to help your plants grow. If you have the space, you can also install a shed and compost bins and set up an area to sit and marvel over your hard work. Little touches like this will make spending time at your allotment all the more enjoyable!
Pick your plants
You’ve secured the plot, cleared your space and set up the shed – all that’s left to do is get planting! Assess the conditions of your plot first – if you have a shady space, choose plants that thrive in cooler, darker conditions, like raspberries, rhubarb, beetroot and lettuce. Look up crop rotation plans and plot out where to place each plant for maximum return. Spend time at your plot getting to understand the space and how to make the most of it.
Enjoy the community
One of the best things about having an allotment is the sense of community that comes with it. Be an active participant at your plot and you’ll be rewarded with friendship as well as home-grown fruit and veg. Return regularly to tend to your crops, keep your space neat and tidy and share your harvest with your neighbours. It’s a fantastic way to meet new people!