Your Guide to Starting an Allotment

Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a rewarding and enjoyable pastime. Being able to cultivate food allows you to have fresh ingredients year-round for you to incorporate into some of your favourite dishes, and growing a variety of different produce means that you can broaden your cooking expertise and attempt new recipes. Although this can be made possible by reserving some space in your garden to transform into a vegetable patch, one of the best ways to do this is by having an allotment.

If you’re fortunate enough to have an allotment, there are a number of different things to consider in order for the space to work best for your individual needs. With a little nurturing and dedication, you can soon be proud of your plot and the produce that has come from it, but it takes a little prior planning and organisation before you can get to this point. Tackling an allotment can be a time-consuming activity. However, it is a simpler task than some may have first thought.  

Your plot can be used to grow a plethora of different things; fruit and vegetables are found most commonly, with most plants working well in an allotment. With this in mind, you may have some restrictions when it comes to larger plants, such as fruit trees. It is therefore crucial that, before you begin growing plants and trees, you are sure on what the limitations are.  

A full allotment plot is 10 rods, which is the equivalent to 250 sq metres, although typically there are smaller options available for those who will struggle to manage the larger space. Regardless of the size of plot that you’re looking for, you should expect to be on a waiting list for a little while beforehand. Allotments are growing in popularity, so it is essential that you look at how long the projected wait time is before you dive straight in. 

So, you’ve got your allotment plot. In some instances, this will come overgrown and will require some man-hours beforehand in order to get the area ready for use. A plot that has been overrun with weeds and rubbish can seem undesirable at first, but it is important to think that after tending to the area beforehand, removing any weeds and clearing the unwanted debris, you’ll be left with a space perfect for growing your favourite vegetables.  

When clearing your plot, you need to make sure that weeds are removed in their entirety, which will involve cutting every inch of the root out from the soil. One of the best ways to do this is weeding by hand, as it allows you to be meticulous in the process. If there are more challenging areas of your plot, such as thick, wooden stumps, light usage of a stump killer will aid you in the removal process. What you use to clear your plot is up to you, but it is vital that this first step is completed to the best of your ability.  

The soil of your plot is the next essential step for you to think about. Depending on your allotment, you will have different facilities for you to use, such as water – although most should come equipped with this and you will pay for this out of the monthly rental cost. Where your plot is located will cause massive variations in how your plants will grow; the direction of the sunlight, how windy the area is and the soil are all things that you need to make a note of early on. 

Establishing what soil you have comes next in your preparation, and a soil pH test will allow you to discover whether the ground is lacking in any nutrients. With this test, you’re hopefully looking for a pH of seven, which is considered to be neutral, although there are plants which thrive better with alkaline acid soils also. However, a quicker option is merely rolling some of the dirt between your fingers. Ideally, you’ll discover that you have loam soil, which will form a ball which can crumble easily, despite being slightly gritty and sticky. This type of soil is great as it will allow the water to drain well, providing the perfect condition for growing fruit and veg.

These are the first steps that you need to think about before growing plants in your allotment. If you’ve had to start from an overgrown and unloved plot, do not be disheartened that this process can take several seasons to complete due to the changing temperatures.

For those of you who are looking for an alternative to an allotment, why not take a look at our personalised herb crates? Whether you’re looking for a creative way to separate the produce growing in your garden or are limited with space, they provide the perfect environment for cultivating your favourite herbs, whether that be rosemary, mint or thyme. Additionally, they make the perfect gift for the avid gardener in your life, with adding their name giving that personal touch!