4 tips any allotment newcomer needs to know

4 tips any allotment newcomer needs to know


Posted 14th Aug 2018

Few things compare to growing your own organic fruit and veg - and did you know it can be easier to do than you think?

However, how many of us have ever actually considered applying for an allotment?

National Allotments Week 2018 runs from 13th August, and looks to raise the awareness to the country's allotments, along with the many reasons for growing your own...

1. It's all in the planning

The excitement that comes from a new plot can see you jump straight in. However, it's vital to draw up a plan on paper before you start - this will include considering the type of soil you have, how the sun will hit your plot, the direction of the wind and any access pathways.

You can also equip yourself with some good quality gardening tools (this includes the fork, spade, wheelbarrow, gloves and storage). However, the most important thing is to make sure you don't feel overwhelmed by the task you have ahead of you. A wild allotment plot is a sign of fertile ground - however, make sure you wait for a rain shower to dampen the soil before you start digging.

Tip: speak to more experienced allotmenteers - they will instantly know what does and doesn't work.

2. Perennial power

If you're new to the allotment, perennials are sure to become a firm favourite. Meaning 'through the years', perennial fruits and herbs (including tomatoes, strawberries, garlic, basil and blueberries) will live for over two years, returning each spring from their rootstock.

Tip: The healthy growth of the perennial can end up depleting the nutrients in your soil - use compost or well-rotted manure before you plant to get around this. You may be tempted to remove any dead foliage during the winter, but leaving it will attract small insects, giving back nutrients to the soil without you having to lift a finger.

3. Friend or foe

'Companion planting' is one of the key aspects if you're looking to make the most of your space and improve the quality of your produce. There are certain complementary plants that will forge mutually beneficial relationships, helping to repel pests, improve pollination and offer vital nutrients.

For instance:

- Try sowing quick-growing plants such as lettuce and radish in between the hills of melons or squash. These will mature and be harvested long before the vines need more room.

- Leafy greens, including spinach, will grow well in the shadow of corn.

Tip: avoid growing members of the same 'family' close together if you can - it increases the competition for soil nutrients. Disperse onions, chives, leeks and garlic across your plot, instead of having them close together.

4. The Great British weather

The unpredictable British weather can sometimes let us down, and the projects we will have spent hours on will end up unsuccessful.

However, there is a way around this – step forward the greenhouse! It allows you to ignore and evade the seasonal changes and weather conditions throughout the year - be it extreme temperatures, excessive rain or droughts. You'll then get some much-needed flexibility when it comes to any form of complementary gardening.

Tip: Add an electric or gas heater with overhead lighting - it can help to extend the growing period for warm season plants.

5. Herb heroes

The strongly scented leaves of herbs can help to repel insects from your plot - for instance, sage will ward off cabbage moths and French Marigolds work well with tomatoes, as their strong scents will repel aphids - they're also incredibly pretty.

Their benefits extend beyond protection too - herbs can enhance the flavours of other plants too. For instance, basil growing alongside tomatoes and lettuce will only enhance the flavour of both.

Tip - if your garden seems to be a haven for slugs, grow the herb wormwood - you can use it to make a tea that, when poured over plants, repels slugs.






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