Garden And Gardener

Everything for the Gardener and their Garden

Got a new plot?

by Diane - January 22nd, 2013.
Filed under: allotment.

First allotment advice

You should first assess what you have got. If it’s a foot deep in snow it can be very hard to work out where your allotment starts and finishes so you might need to wait until the snow has melted.
Measure the plot (or ask for measurements) and draw a plan.
Walk round the plot and try to identify what has been done previously. Obviously on a brand new untouched plot then you don’t have to worry about digging up an asparagus bed, or disturbing other perennials.

Work out what beds system has been put in place. Try to identify what is there, or has been grown recently. Look for areas with brassica crops in – these are likely to be standing still – and are easily identifiable. Look for evidence of crops left behind to rot. Mark everything down, take photos and ask questions of other plot holders who might remember.

Anything sticking up above ground should be investigated.
Anything underground that you discover needs identifying before you dig the whole area up.

If you clear areas that you have identified previous annual crops then you can start on your allotment. Remember crop rotation rules. If you can’t identify what something is then take a photo and ask someone with more knowledge.

Start things in pots so when you’ve prepared a bed you have something to plant.

If you have large areas that need hard work on then cover them up and work on them bit by bit. Aiming to dig an entire plot in a weekend isn’t feasible – a rotavator could do it if the soil was in reasonable condition but it is still hard work!

Use cardboard or weed suppressant sheet material to cover soil. Fix it down so that it doesn’t blow away when it gets windy.

Spend time deciding what you want to grow on your plot. This will be influenced by what is already there – if you have a fruit tree then you should probably keep it. If you don’t want it then offer it to someone on the allotment. They might even dig it up for you. Fruit bushes are worth keeping: raspberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries are good traditional plants on an allotment.

Ask on your site about free materials like mulch, or whether you can get manure delivered. There will be someone who will know where to source materials as cheaply as possible.

Break up your week with as many visits as you can rather than one big chunk of time. This is useful in poor weather when you can do a little and then go home and warm up, as well as preventing back strain or muscle ache which seems to be a common affliction for new plot holders.