An easy guide to starting your own allotment
Starting an allotment can be the perfect way to combine your love of nature and the outdoors with eating delicious home-grown fruits and vegetables — it can also be a great way to stay active without putting too much strain on yourself. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of allotmenteering, however, is the social element. Any budding gardener knows that sharing tips, tools, and seeds with others will open a number of doors for them, as well as improve their patch, so it’s a great way of meeting new people.
While starting your own allotment may seem like a daunting prospect, you will be surprised at how simple it is to get yours off the ground. With the right tips and guidance, you could create your allotment in time for the next growing season. All you will need is the right space, techniques, and plenty of patience — crops don’t grow overnight, you know! Here are our top tips for starting your own allotment.
Find a space close to you
If you are aware of a local allotment that has room for you — fantastic! If not, you can contact your local council where you will be directed to an available space. Always try to choose an allotment as close to you as possible, as this will allow you to tend to it when you have a spare hour here and there, as opposed to having to dedicate a full day to it.
When you rent your allotment, partition your land so that you can grow certain crops in different areas of your space. It is always a good idea to retain pathways between your beds, so navigating your allotment and tending to your crops is easier. Also consider any potential entry points for uninvited wildlife and seal these off — fending off animals will be one of your greatest challenges when growing produce. Netting or chicken wire is recommended to keep off birds and cats — this wire netting from Screwfix is a strong, yet lightweight option that will keep wildlife away from your crops.
Choose your produce in advance
One of the most exciting elements of the process is choosing the type of fruits and vegetables you wish to grow. While you may be tempted to go for something that grows easily — such as beetroot, tomatoes, or spring onions — make the decision based upon which food you would enjoy eating the most. The anticipation of eating your favourite fresh produce will be what drives you through the toughest stages of the project, so be sure to choose something you’ll be excited to eat!
When buying seeds, steer away from buying them cheaply at pound shops or non-garden oriented stores. Purchase from a reputable seed supplier such as Suttons, where quality is the priority over affordability. Spending an extra two or three pounds now will pay off when you are overrun with plump, healthy produce, as opposed to withered, inedible crops (if they ever do grow, that is).
Treat your soil
Securing good-quality seeds is one thing, but with infertile soil they will be as useful as planting buttons in your allotment. Nourish your soil with rich compost to introduce nutrients to the earth before you attempt to grow anything. While you can purchase this from garden centres, it is much more resourceful, environmentally friendly, and satisfying to produce your own. The ComposTumbler from Mantis is a rotatable compost bin that allows you to turn your garden and household waste items into a valuable enrichening agent in less than a month. Here is a list of the household and garden waste items that can (and can’t) be turned into compost, courtesy of Recycle Now.
Have confidence in your work
Do some reading around planting seasonal crops, and don’t over or under feed the plants. If they aren’t growing immediately, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have made a mistake, ypu just need to wait it out. With gardening, and growing produce in particular, you must have patience and remind yourself of your long-term vision. Gardening as we know it has been a refined process over thousands of years — you can’t expect to master it in just a few weeks.
If you have followed all the right guidance and practiced good gardening techniques, you should be proud of your work and take pride in the waiting process. The likelihood is that your allotment will occupy a lot of your time anyway, so this waiting time will be taken up by tending to other crops. Work throughout the growing season and always take care to prepare your space for the rigours of the winter thaw.
Try reading up on some more of our gardening tips here, and be sure to send us some pictures of your yield of delicious produce at the end of the growing season!