The Essential Allotment Guide: How to Get the Best out of Your Plot

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Essential Allotment Guide: How To Get The Best Out Of Your Plot

Your contract will generally last until either you choose to terminate it or you stop maintaining your plot and allow it to become overgrown. Your landlord will normally give you a warning before cancelling your contract, which generally has a three-month notice period. If a group of six or more people on the electoral roll make an application requesting allotment land, your local authority has a legal duty to consider this.

However, even if the council recognises the demand, there is no timeframe within which they have to provide allotment land — and no guidelines on the size it should be. Allotment holders are required to sign a tenancy agreement with their landlord. These agreements will outline what is expected of you as a plot owner, which commonly includes keeping your allotment clean and maintaining it in a good state of cultivation, as well as keeping minor paths clear and children and pets under control. Some allotments will allow you to keep livestock and bees or even install a pond, while on others, you may require planning permission in order to erect a greenhouse or shed.

You are usually forbidden from using your plot as a business or sub-letting it, allowing your plot to deteriorate, or using sprinklers when you are not there. In return for sticking to these rules and paying your rent on time, as a plot owner you should expect to receive:.

Although there are no official guidelines dictating the size an allotment should be, the accepted size is approximately square metres. This is enough to grow food for a family of four. One of the main reasons people start an allotment is to save money on their grocery bills. Most landlords collect your rent in a lump sum at the start of each year. The rent generally includes the water bill, but you may have to pay an additional fee at the start in order to get a key for the front gate.

To save money, you can purchase second-hand items from websites like Freecycle and Gumtree , as well as local jumble sales. You might also get lucky and inherit tools from the former plot holders, but this is quite uncommon. Depending on how mature you buy them, fruit plants will be the biggest expense of setting up your allotment. These will include items such as:. Moreover, depending on how successful of a horticulturalist you are, you should easily make back the money you spend on your allotment on the savings you make on your weekly food shopping bill.

This section includes everything you need to know to turn your empty plot of land in to a flourishing allotment. If the plot you inherit is particularly overgrown, it may not be possible to clear it by hand.

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Take a look at our electric pro chainsaw if you need to remove bushes and trees from your plot before you can begin working on it, as this lightweight and cordless power tool can save you hours of hard labour. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to clearing your plot. First, you should cut every weed down to a stubble, and then dig them out individually. For this reason, you should resist the urge to save time by using a tiller to clear an allotment overgrown with weeds, as this will chop the roots of the weeds up and disperse them around your allotment.

You can browse our full range of composters here. Take a look at our full range of range of tillers here. The way the sun hits your plot, how strong the wind hits it, and what soil type you have will all affect the types of plants you can grow, so you should evaluate your allotment before you start drawing up plans. The easiest way to identify your soil type is to scoop up a bit of damp soil and roll it in your hands:. The first thing to consider in your allotment layout are the plants that will be a permanent feature.

Fruit trees will live for decades, asparagus beds can last up to 20 years, and fruit bushes are long-term fixtures that will require cages and netting. Another thing you should make a priority in your plans is the shed. Make sure to find room for it in a back corner of your plot, where the shadows it casts will have the least effect on your crops. You should also make room at the back of your plot for a compost bin, an essential bit of equipment which will allow you to turn kitchen and garden waste in to mineral-rich fertiliser for your soil.

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Not only will this save you money, but it also helps the environment. Our ComposTumbler and Compost-Twin are both perfect for an allotment, as their innovative design allows them to produce usable material for your soil in just 14 days. Neither model will take up much room on your plot, but they can both hold over litres of compost at a time. Fruit plants are also much longer lasting than vegetables, so you should consider their placement more carefully than you do the other things you plant.

When planning the layout of your vegetable plants, you should create at least three separate beds. This will allow you to perform crop rotation, which is essential for maintaining healthy plants. If you plant the same crops in the same bed each year, the soil will become drained of the nutrients that those particular plants use to grow. Furthermore, the bacteria and pests that thrive on that particular plant will learn to make a home beside it, giving you a pest problem. Each year, you should rotate the crops on to the next bed, which will give the soil three years to replenish.

You should also apply manure to all of the beds in your allotment every three years to give them a nutritional boost. The standard layout of an allotment is a central path stretching from the front to the rear of the plot, with smaller paths leading off and giving access to the beds, which line the sides of the plot.

Herbs are kept at the front, fruit and storage at the back, and the vegetable beds in-between. One of the biggest mistakes you can make, and a common one with overeager beginners, is to cram too many plants in to your allotment. Each plant needs room to develop to its full size, and overcrowding your beds will lead to disappointing results when you come to harvest your crops.

The packet your seeds come in will advise you on how far apart they need to be planted, so make sure you stick to those recommendations. Refraining from overcrowding your plants will also help avoid gluts of one particular vegetable. When planning the layout of your allotment, take in to consideration the needs of each vegetable, as well as what their size will be when fully grown.

Big, uninterrupted blocks of single crops encourage pests, so you should include room for some flowering plants in your designs, which will attract the insects who feed on those pests and therefore protect your crops. This is especially important when your plants are young and vulnerable. An easy way to ensure your plants receive suitable irrigation is to use the planter attachment alongside one of our tillers to quickly create trenches where you can lay irrigation hoses.

This will protect your fruit and vegetable plants from severe bouts of rainfall.

If the quality of the soil on your plot is very poor, then raised beds enable you to create high-quality areas of deep topsoil to grow your crops in. Furthermore, if your plot is susceptible to waterlogging, raised beds will counteract this by artificially raising the ground level. Raised beds also allow you to plant closer together, which leaves less room for weeds to grow and so makes the upkeep of your beds easier. However, constructing raised beds is labour intensive and relatively costly, and a lot of space is used up by the paths that surround them.

Moreover, not all plants thrive in raised beds — potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and sweetcorn all struggle when planted in a raised border. This allotment calendar will show you exactly what you need to do throughout the year on your plot. For more gardening tips, see our gardening calendar. Sow between March and June, in a greenhouse until April and outdoors afterwards. Feed with liquid fertiliser once a week. Plant into full sun when the rootball is well bound together, allowing 30cm between plants and 45cm between rows.

Fertilise the ground well before planting. Until May, cover the seedlings with fleece to prevent cabbage root fly. Water every 10—14 days during dry periods, and net the plants when heads start being produced to protect from birds. Harvest when the flower buds are well formed but before they begin to open. Cut the central spear first. This will be followed by a series of sideshoots, which can be picked regularly over four to six weeks. Sow directly in to the ground between March and April, 5cm deep and 20cm apart. They grow best in rows 20cm apart.

The beans will need a structure to climb up, so construct a fence beside each row out of several robust stakes and string. The pods are ready to pick when they are 7.


Sow maincrop carrots from April to early July, 1cm deep in rows 15—30cm apart. When they start growing, thin them to around 5cm apart for the best results. Short-rooted varieties, which you can grow in pots, are also an option. When weeding, be careful not to damage the foliage, as the smell will attract carrot fly. Courgettes should be sown in late May or early June.

Sow one seed about an inch deep in to each planting pocket and cover with a cloche or jar. Leave them covered until the plant has outgrown its container.

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Courgettes can also be grown in growing bags or containers. Plant two per growbag, and one per 45cm-wide pot. The most important part of growing courgettes is keeping the soil constantly moist. Do this by watering the soil around the plants, not the plants themselves. Once the fruit begins to appear, you should feed with a high potash liquid fertiliser every 10—14 days. Harvest courgettes when they are approximately 10cm long.

Picking the them regularly will promote a long cropping period. Plant onion sets from mid March to mid April on a sunny, sheltered site with deep soil. Onions are best suited to growing in the open ground, so avoid planting them in raised beds, pots, or growbags. Plant onion sets 10cm apart in rows 30cm apart by pushing them into soft, well-worked soil until only the tip is showing, and then firming the soil around them.

Water them occasionally in dry weather, and mulch the ground around them to help them retain water. Give them a light feed of sulphate of potash in June to help ripen the bulbs ready for storage. Remove any flower spikes as soon as you see them, and when the bulbs ripen, remove the mulch and some surface soil to expose them to the sun. Another pitfall to be aware of is the incorrect sowing of seeds.

A common mistake with inexperience gardeners is to sow seeds too deeply — effectively burying them rather than sowing them and hence they fail to germinate, much to the dismay of the gardener. Again, follow the advice on the seed packets. As a golden rule, the smaller the seed the closer to the surface it needs to be. Keeping an allotment can be the most rewarding experience. Ideal Home - Allotment ideas for beginners.

River Cottage - How to start an allotment. Allotment - getting started. Beginners guide to an allotment. Allotments for beginners - a starters guide. The Witney Gardeners blog. Allotment - a beginners guide. A beginners guide to growing your own. A course for the beginners from the Horticultural Correspondence College. In recent years allotments have grown in popularity with demand far outstripping supply.

John Harrison shows how to improve your chances of getting an allotment and move up the John Harrison shows how to improve your chances of getting an allotment and move up the waiting list. In this all-encompassing guide, he also advises on clearing an allotment, planning what to grow and how, building compost bins, using raised beds - plus detailed instructions on growing the best vegetables and fruit. John Harrison has been growing vegetables on his own allotment for many years. He uses many organic methods, working with nature rather than against it.

He is passionate about the quality of our food and the ecology that supports us all on this planet. A wonderful collection of simple wholesome recipes from the bestselling author of Vegetable Growing Month by Month and his wife. The complete introduction to acquiring an allotment and getting the most from it, by the bestselling author of Vegetable Growing Month-by-Month. With an introduction to the world of bells and bell-ringing, this book explains how bells are made and how a ringing installation works. It explains the nature of change ringing, which has mathematical as well as musical aspects.

It provides insights into the ringing community, and more. The bestelling author of Vegetable Growing Month-by-Month shows you how to get the most out of your vegetable plot in limited space.