Garden And Gardener

Everything for the Gardener and their Garden

New Allotment – where to start

by Diane - May 4th, 2012.
Filed under: allotment.

When you get your allotment you will be so excited! You’ll also have a huge jolt of fear about what you’ve taken on.
Hopefully you’re taking on a perfectly maintained plot, with a history showing you what’s planted where, what crop rotation has been going on, when the soil was last limed, and what varieties the fruit trees and bushes are.

Of course reality is never like that. You’ll have a plot that’s waist height in weeds, with everything so overgrown you can’t tell what’s what. You’ll have such a variety of weeds that your heart starts to pound with fear at the horror stories you’ve heard about the invasive weeds now lurking on your little bit of heaven.

If you’ve got a blank canvas than that can be as frightening as a really badly overgrown plot – where do you start?

Whatever your plot is like you should not rush to pick up a spade. The first temptation is to rush in and not plan anything out.

You should start an allotment notebook. Measure the site and write it down in your book. Mark on which way is north, and where the paths are. On a hugely overgrown plot it can be hard to tell if you’ve got anything in there but have a good look at every section and try to work out what’s growing there.

An important note to make here – when you start digging over your plot and you find strange roots then put them to one side and explore a bit more. If you find more roots the same then you’ve uncovered a bed of something. Ask someone with plenty of experience what the roots look like. You might be digging up a perfectly good bed of something tasty!

Depending on the time of year there might be evidence of plants coming up. If you suspect there are plants that you want to keep then ask neighbouring plot holders if they can remember what was planted on your plot. They might not remember but it is worth enquiring.

If you have a shed or greenhouse on your plot then you are very lucky! Measure how big they are and make a note of what’s in there. Is the greenhouse complete with staging, does it need glass replacing? If you measure the size of glass you need and keep the measurements with you then next time you see a glass cutting shop you can pop in and find out how much new glass costs and even get it cut then rather than having to come back with the measurements.

Once you’ve make a note of everything you can possibly make a note of then start taking some photos. With a digital camera it’s easy to take lots of photos. Take some crouched down to give you a different view of the plot. Take from the corners diagonally too and stand at either side and take photos along the boundaries.

It’s probably then time for a cup of tea and a sit down to have a think about where to start!