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Finally got to the top of the allotment list. Eeek! What should my first steps be?

(26 Posts)
YvesJutteau Thu 27-Nov-14 15:20:49

I've only had patio containers before, and I've been on the waiting list for YEARS. Haven't actually seen the plot or sent the forms back yet, so obviously those need to be the first steps, but then what? Given that it's nearly December, what should I be thinking about doing? Any brilliant resources out there?

LaurieFairyCake Thu 27-Nov-14 15:26:27

If you're lucky (!) they'll have cut it down to waist height. The most important thing you can do now is cover it with plastic so that all the weeds will die over the winter.

The cheapest way to do this is to go to B and Q and buy damp proof membrane - the plastic weed control fabric you buy is useless.

Then you pop it over the top and weight it down as much as possible.

Then come March when you fold it back up you should be able to scrape all the weeds free and will have a much easier time digging.

I love my allotment, been doing it 6 years and I just love being there smile

PurpleWithRed Thu 27-Nov-14 18:49:37

If you are on Facebook join the 'allotment life' group for fantastic information. is a great resource too - excellent planning app as well as information.

I can't believe you've been on the list for years without having loads and loads of ideas and plans!

At this time of year it's mostly going to be about covering the soil - if it's already cultivated cover it to protect it and stop weed growth; if it's a jungle then hack it down and cover it to help kill off the weeds underneath.

YvesJutteau Thu 27-Nov-14 18:59:24

I have plenty of ideas and plans for what I want to do eventually. But I also have a habit of getting carried away with overambitious ideas so I need sensible BTDT people to talk sense into me about what's reasonable to aim for to begin with. I'd expected to be on the list for another two years before getting a plot so right now I'm bigger on pie-in-the-sky wish-fulfillment than on first practical steps (I'd have bought the weed control fabric, for example).

LaurieFairyCake Thu 27-Nov-14 19:37:25

This is the damp proof membrane I have - total bargain at £17 for 4 by 3 metres. There are more expensive ie. Thicker ones but you don't need it

nicecupofteaplease Sat 29-Nov-14 19:14:32

You're not in Bristol are you? I've just got on too - a little overgrown but some nice structures and a lovely view. I am SO excited. Even talk of monthly inspections hasn't put me off smile

YvesJutteau Sat 29-Nov-14 21:58:20

No, I'm London. Need to call the chap on Monday to sort out having a look at it.

Iwantacampervan Sun 30-Nov-14 13:58:09

I'm taking over a plot on Jan 1st. I went to have a look last week - it had weeds but they aren't too bad (compared to other plots completely covered). I'm going to put down something to cover it to give me 'breathing space'. Lots of ideas and I'm getting excited!

We shall have to post regularly to see how we are getting on - I may even get organised with photos.

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 30-Nov-14 14:00:50

When you go see it, take photos from each corner/end and note which is north. Take a tape measure and get the width and length. If you have a trowel, dig a little bit and see what sort of soil it is. Sand/loam/clay. And then post that info on here.

It might be lovely, it might be overgrown. It might have stuff already.

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 30-Nov-14 14:02:53

My top tip though - save your money for plants and seeds, and use cardboard and newspaper to cover the plot - not weed fabric. Put it several layers deep and by spring, most of the weeds will have died back.

Then, prepare, dig out perennial weeds and get the soil ready - a square meter at a time. And in March you can start putting your spuds in.

By the time it gets to May, the whole patch should be deweeded, and then it will be time to put out your tender stuff.

dreamingofsun Sun 30-Nov-14 14:51:47

once you have visited it do a plan of how you want it laid out. i'm doing no dig method and have paths across the plot with beds of 3ft - which i never walk on. paths are heavy duty weed membrane. work out where you want your compost bins, if there aren't any already.

then start making a list of things you want to eat. you may find seeds reduced in garden centres at the moment, just check the dates they have to be used by.

start saving your kitchen waste for the heap (obviously no meat etc)

Whereisegg Sun 30-Nov-14 17:39:58

Buy some pretty wellies? grin

silversixpence Mon 01-Dec-14 23:05:12

Have a look at some blogs - I like Lavender and Leeks (I think that's the name) and there are others where you can see what they did at this time of year.

I am waiting to hear if we will get an allotment too - I will be thrilled if we get one, even though I'm 3 months pregnant so not great timing!

YvesJutteau Tue 02-Dec-14 00:30:16

<<takes notes>>

Thanks, all!

wendycraigsmini Wed 03-Dec-14 19:23:59

My top tip for this time of year would be get it covered. If very weedy, try and cut back first. Or if brambles etc, cut back as much as possible.
I wouldn't get the damp proof membrane mentioned. I think it Get really thick cardboard - the kind bikes or washing machines come in.
I wouldn't use carpet, it gets impossible to move when wet.
Then tackle a section at a time, start with easy crops like potatoes, broad beans. Don't buy too many seeds. Keep going regularly and often and do a bit at a time. Don't turn your back on the weeds they will sprout again at every opportunity!

LaurieFairyCake Wed 03-Dec-14 19:57:41

Don't use carpet unless you can get untreated wool (you won't) as it has tons of chemicals in and it's horrible for the soil

silversixpence Thu 04-Dec-14 14:27:27

We are getting an allotment too grin I rang up yesterday and they said they can 'offer us something' but will get back to me in a couple of days. I am really excited as our garden is tiny and I can reclaim more of it for flowers if we aren't growing veg.

I think it will be in reasonable condition as its from someone who's just given up the allotment..or is that wishful thinking?

My plan is to check it over, cover as much as possible and then get DH to make me some raised beds with paths in between so I can start planting in the spring. My plan is for potatoes, courgettes, squash, pumpkins and beans, swiss chard and herbs. Also a huge patch of cutting flowers. And eventually a painted shed in which I'll stash all our tools and camping equipment so I can make tea etc. I will also need something to entertain 2 yo DD hmm. I need to think about composting as I've never done it before as our garden is too small and I was worried about attracting vermin.

The allotment is a few minutes' walk away so I'm hoping I will be able to get over there for an hour or so on most days.

samesizetoes Sat 06-Dec-14 11:52:59

We've just taken on an allotment at the begining of november and I'm already getting stuck in with some digging.

We've been lucky with our plot as the previous tenant was using it but his health was deteriorating and wanted to pass it on before it became overgrown with weeds. The plot was well developed already and we have some exsisting plum trees, gooseberry bushes, raspberry canes, blackcurrent bushes and rhubarb growing well, just need a bit of pruning and weeding.

We've only ever grown herbs in pots in the tiny garden at home so I've been doing a bit of research with dozens of books from the library. this series on youtube was helpful and loads of tips and Fork to Fork is a Monty Don series about growing fruit and veg. Both worth a watch for beginners like me.

Everyone seems to have their own way of doing things and after reading some allotment forums it can all be a bit confusing but I'm going with the theory, try it and see if it works. Good luck!

YvesJutteau Sat 06-Dec-14 22:28:04

Went to see it -- didnt do detailed measurements or pictures or take soil samples (head plotholder said the soil varies so it'll be worth testing several areas when planning planting, though) because I'm feeling like death warmed over at the moment and had to drag myself off my sickbed to get there in the first place.

Plot is around 5m x 15m. It's overgrown (previous tenant started digging it over then gave up) -- weeds aren't too high but apparently there's horsetail and couch grass in there so it's going to take a bit of work. Also bricks scattered around the plot that he'd used to try to build paths, and a spoil heap at one end that he'd started levelling but never finished. I do get a free compost bin and two water butts thrown in, and the head plotholder has a basic set of tools that tenants can borrow while they get themselves set up. He recommended the RHS book on vegetables and (if I can find a copy) Geoff Hamilton on organic gardening, which has a good discussion of crop rotation patterns even if I don't want to go organic.

dreamingofsun Sun 07-Dec-14 09:34:19

so its slightly smaller than a half sized plot.

A good size - Mine's half size. I do run out of room, but its a manageable area - so its fun rather than a chore.

if i were you i would get some heavy duty black plastic from ebay and put that down with the heavy bricks all over the plot. this will start killing the weeds whilst you start taming, section by section. then in further years you can re-use it over winter to keep weeds away and warm soil ready for spring

silversixpence Sun 07-Dec-14 17:36:59

We are really enjoying Fork to Fork, thanks for the link. I actually have the book out from the library at the moment and it's a good read too. I don't envy the huge amount of work they have to do though!

Have you seen the Sutton's Garden Planner? You can browse other people's allotment designs to get ideas or create your own one, and it automatically produces a planting plan which shows you when to sow, plant out etc and how many plants you need for the size of the bed you've chosen. It's free for 30 days.

agoodbook Tue 09-Dec-14 22:31:42

I've had an allotment for about 5 years now - I really like this book - really good and simple instructions

I am up in Yorkshire, and even here , there is time to start doing a bit of basic digging. Mine was a mess at first - thistles/ overgrown brambles and raspberries,bindweed (urgh) and couch . I just started by marking out the least bad place and digging it over for an hour , so I had a square that I could plant things., and dug a bit, planted a bit and carried on that way. I made a plan on graph paper for where I wanted permanent structures eventually ( fruit cage , asparagus bed, compost bins) ) and did a bit at a time . I'm just about there on having done everywhere properly.
Best advise - its a marathon, not a sprint - don't go beserk and wear yourself out!
And enjoy grin

agoodbook Tue 09-Dec-14 22:33:01

grin not boys dungarees! but this!

silversixpence Sat 13-Dec-14 11:19:42

Just seen the allotment site, they have four plots, 2 of which are 40-50 square metres and look very small. There is also a 70ish sq metre plot and a large 140 sq metre one with an old shed on it. I'm inclined to take the bigger plot even though it is more overgrown as it is much sunnier than the 70sqm one (shaded by trees) and closer to home. They also have a communical compost heap and wood chip pile which will come in useful. I'm going to dig a bed for onions and garlic and one for raspberry bushes and slowly work on the rest.

YvesJutteau Sat 13-Dec-14 12:26:47

I think I'm going to go for the no-dig approach. A couple of years of diligent mulching ought to see off the couch grass, by the sounds of things, and the horsetail is probably ineradicable without strong chemicals (and quite possibly ineradicable even with them) but people online seem to think that if you keep it covered and carefully cut off anything that shows its head above ground it shouldn't particularly affect crops. I can give it a year of that, anyway, and if it's a disaster then I can always rethink next November.

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