New Allotmenteer!

Good evening,

I am 24 years old and have just kindly had an allotment handed over to me from a guy in my village. I have grown some veggies such as tomatoes, carrots and spring onions in the back garden before although, I am completely new to Allotments!!

Any tips, tricks or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks, Leanne!! x

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Welcome Leanne!

Lucky you!!! I think this is a great time to take stock of your new plot and figure out what is already there and what you want to grow - a blank slate can be daunting but also lots of fun.

Although I don’t have an allotment (my house came with large overgrown garden), I think starting off with smaller goals is the same for both; it is easy to get overwhelmed trying to sort the whole thing at once. Also, talk to your fellow allotment holders - they have a wealth of information and experience about what grows best on your plot/area and any policies/restrictions you need to be aware of.

Come on allotment people - any suggestions for Leanne?

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Don’t let it make you feel guilty. I really hope you enjoy every minute of having the allotment, very good luck to you. I was too lazy to get mine going but I do admire people who do. Julie

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Hello Leanne - how exciting for you… I got an allotment 4 years ago, and I’d never grown any veg before other than tomatoes in a grow bag in my back garden.

Here are some tips:

Start on just one part of it, rather than trying to grow things all over.
Talk to other plot holders - they’ll be happy to give you advice / seedlings / details of seed swaps etc.
Think about ‘no dig’ - check out Charles Dowding’s videos - even if you don’t do no dig he has loads of brilliant advice from sowing seeds to making compost and everything in between
Having good soil is the key - so this autumn put loads of manure on your plot - or part of it! That way things will grow really well next year
Buy a book on growing veg on allotments - loads around incl. second hand… they’re good for getting an idea of what to plant when, different varieties of veg, pests, etc. etc.
Do you like growing things from seed? Some people do (I love it) others don’t, and so buy seedlings… research where you can get seedlings if you don’t want to grow from seed - sometimes easier to start off
Don’t worry too much about rotating crops
Plant what you like to eat (might sound obvious, but you might be tempted to grow, say, beetroot, because everyone else is, even though you don’t like the stuff
After a bit you’ll work out both what you can grow, and what you like to grow e.g. I can’t grow carrots for some reason, and don’t bother with onions, but grow loads of chard, potatoes, rocket, kale, beans, leeks - amongst many other things
Things you can plant in the late summer / autumn include garlic, broad beans, lettuce, kale, chard… so it’s not to late to get stuff in the ground.

Good luck!
Ruth

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Welcome to the gang Leanne, my top tip is to start in one area to perfect that and then keep adding a little more at a time rather than trying to do the whole plot at once. And be prepared for weeds to constantly grow back, it can be disheartening at first but soon becomes part of the routine :slight_smile:

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Hi Leanne! :wave:t5: Some pretty darned good advice here. I think tackling one section at a time is essential, rather than try to do everything at once. Use a temporary green manure on the parts you aren’t ready to tackle yet.

Also, do think about using perennials. This can be perennial fruit bushes, perennial veg and possibly even trees (though this depends very much\on the rules of the allotment, do check!)

There’s an amazing range of soft fruit that you can grow: Blackcurrant, Redcurrant, Gooseberry, Loganberry, Chilean Guava, Gaultheria Shallon etc. And there’s small shrubs that you can grow for edible fruit too, eg Japanese Quince.

If you are allowed and planning to plant trees, then do consider the rootstock that you’re using, as this determines the size of the tree.

And finally, perennial vegetables! There are lots out there, some good alternatives to annual vegetables eg Turkish Rocket for broccoli, Potato Onions for onions, Sea Kale or perenial kale for cabbage, Good King Henry for spinach etc. Two really good suppliers of perennial vegetables are Alison at Backyard Larder and Mandy at Incredible Vegetables.

Hope that’s not too overwhelming! Good luck :slight_smile:

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Just read the section about perennial veg - Good King Henry Spinach has been recommended to me and I like the sound of perennial broccoli (Turkish rocket)…love all these tips…thank you!

I saw Monty Don talking about blackcurrants on GW and they sounded a bit fiddly. I love blackcurrants and they are so good for you. If anyone has any good experience with blackcurrants I would welcome feedback.

Rgds Sarah

Hi SJSBON,

My OH wanted to grow one thing: asparagus. So my only raised bed is for that. It takes a couple of years to really get going but we have more than we can eat fresh (I blanch and freeze some for use in quiches and soups). It gets cut back after it dies back Dec/Jan and a sack of rotted manure is spread and then we wait for the shoots to appear in spring. “Aparagus Watch” for the first spears is a thing here…

I have personally not found blackcurrents especially difficulty. I planted it in a bed that had been mulched, kept it watered (esp during warm dry spell, so I get mice big fruits), and I get tons of fruit. When I pick them in the summer, I also take off some of the big woody branches and harvest some of the fruit that way. In mid/late winter, I give it a another light pruning/tidy. Just a top dressing of good compost/mulch and it is good to go again. I get loads of fruit and lt pretty much takes care of itself. I’ve not had birds bother this like the redcurrants (caged), but you may have to see what your wildlife are like! And you can make homecade cassis, jams, and, my OH fav, homemade ribena (I freeze some so he can enjoy over the winter).

Gooseberries are great so long as you let them really ripen (many people pick them too early - hard and very green - and I think they are vile like that). I have an Invicta I got for £1 that give me plenty to use and share. Makes a nice crumble cake, too! Beware of spines though!

I would also really recc autumn rasperries. I tried summer ones but autumn raspberies (aug onward) are the best - no netting, lots of fruit but not all at once, and pruning is a doddle - when it dies down in Dec/Jan just cut it back to the ground. Joan J has been a star - great fruit and no prickles. Lovely to pick some to add warm from the garden to a pot of cold homemade yogurt. They are my absolute favourite fruit.

Blueberries are not hard to grow so long as the soils is acidic but I had no success with them in pots: I used some old pavers to line an ericaceous bed in-ground and they love it. Top with pine needle mulch (nice re-use of christmas trees) and give them rainwater, if possible, and that is it. In my garden they do need cage/netting from birds and a waspinator to discourage wasps (they sucked all the fruit dry one year, lol), but again, not a lot of care besides this. I laugh at the prices in the supermarket and they are so beautiful in the autumn.

I am currently growing seakale- started from seed and my plants are just a year old and I may give them one more year before I try to harvest. Very pretty leaves with lovely honey-scented flowers.

All the best of luck and let us know what you decide to grow and how you get on!

Oh thank you for a journey with your fruit and veg!! I used to have asparagus at home but then it was used as the builder’s area when we had some work done on the house and sadly no more!

I think I shall have some raised beds eventually on the plot (I have a few at home to dabble with)…

I shall definitely refer to your notes and be brave with fruit - thank you so much! I am looking forward to my journey in filling out the plot (and bringing home the produce of course).

I am strangely enjoying the digging…quite meditative with a podcast on and a plan of action! Good exercise too. 3 x5 metres done 17 x 5 metres to go.!!! I might take Jack’s advice and just do a proportion of it now which I can use now and then tackle more in the Spring when I need it…

What I love about working in the garden/ on the plot is the endless choices and opportunities. My son this morning said that “there is nothing more beautiful than nature”…couldn’t agree more…

Broad beans and red onions in…feels good.

Chat more soon I hope!

Rgds Sarah