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I got an allotment today

(38 Posts)
StainlessSteelCat Sat 10-Jan-15 20:10:18

It's a half plot, recently been cultivated and has some raised beds. There's some clearing to do, but nothing too daunting. Up until this point, I've had plans that involve fruit, herbs and patches for the kids to use. But suddenly it's reality and I'm getting scared!

Any advice for a slightly experienced gardener but newbie allotment holder?

PurpleWithRed Sat 10-Jan-15 20:16:06

Join allotment life group on facebook, only grow what you like eating.

AmantesSuntAmentes Sat 10-Jan-15 20:18:32

Exciting! My new one's dues soon, so I'll be watching with interest.

What size is your plot? I'd go for salad veg, fruit, root veg and leafy greens/ brassicas, on a rotation.

Whether you decide to grow the things you use most or alternatively, the things which are more specialised and difficult to buy is probably a good thing to have a think about?

TheSpottedZebra Sat 10-Jan-15 22:29:51

You lucky thing! How long were you on the list for?

StainlessSteelCat Sun 11-Jan-15 14:45:23

Less than a year Zebra - that's almost embarrassing isn't it! I joined the waiting list for three different sites near me. This wasn't the closest, but it had the shortest waiting list - one site reckoned a few years, the other didn't like to put a limit on it, from the little I know I reckon decades.

purple - thanks, I'll go have a look at that.

Amentes - I'd forgotten about crop rotation! I read up a load of things earlier in the year when I first signed up. I think I mainly remembered the bits about choosing a plot rather than wtf you do with it when you get it. So I'm very close to a water tap, there's no shade-casting trees and the central manure heap is possibly within smelling distance in even mild weather.

Have never grown potatoes so will definitely give those a go, ad one of my DC wants to grow them as well. Will go for a combination of stuff we eat loads of and stuff we don't eat often because of the price. Am thinking potatoes, broccoli, onions, garlic, apples for the first category, and soft fruit, herbs, baby salad for the second. And a pumpkin - we grew one at home this year for Halloween, it was the size of an average turnip!

Just writing this out is really helping me clarify my thoughts, thank you . There's part of my imagination getting carried away with fruit cages, espaliered trees and rows of military precision vegetables. The grown up part of my brain is wondering how to manage the required digging and watering of basic, hardier crops so I'll keep the plot long enough to attempt the grand designs. Now contemplating puns around losing the plot .... am a happy cat grin

AmantesSuntAmentes Sun 11-Jan-15 15:30:36

I have grand visions of mine too grin pollytunnel?!.

Are you going to be buying starter plants along with your sets, rather than starting from seed?

I'm going for starter plants for my first year or two. I used to grow a lot of my own from seed but it does take a certain amount of space an equipment.

I'm tempted to do potatoes in bins and reserve the ground for other things?

We'll see! My eldest two will be running it as part of their home ed, so I should really only be having a vote in what happens.

Your plot sounds ideal! Have you got the equipment you need to start out?

StainlessSteelCat Sun 11-Jan-15 19:30:18

We could have chosen a plot with a poly tunnel on but that seemed a bit ambitious! It also covered most of the plot. I'd rather start out a bit more traditionally, no doubt in a few years I'll wish I'd gone for it.

I think I'll be buying some seed potatoes, I've always wondered what chitting was and I think now is the time to try it! I'm assuming the raised beds are just in need of a damn good weeding, then spuds will go in there to keep the weeds down. Also, I don't think I have containers .... Other definites so far are strawberries and sprouts. I have plans for fruit trees, horseradish and rosemary. Need to revisit the plot and see what I actually have first!

Love the plan of getting the DC to chose the things grown and keep it going, great way of learning all sorts of stuff (science teacher head on there!)

We have enough equipment to make a start (garden at home, will take it back and forth for now) and to see what else we need. Freecycle/gumtree might be useful for those, might need to buy tools suitable for DC though - am guessing they'll be harder to find. We've grown a few things at home, so hopefully we'll muddle through - it's deciding where to start that's daunting.

AmantesSuntAmentes Sun 11-Jan-15 20:36:00

I love the idea of growing fruit. Your espaliered trees might be the way to go!

I already have an apple tree in my proposed site. The poor old thing will probably have to go though. It's been left to its own devices for so long, that the hard prune it needs will probably end it!

It is overwhelming to start with but within a growing season or two, it'll be second nature, no doubt smile

Will you be going organic? My main issues are slugs, snails, cats ...and adders confused ...not that they'll be a risk to my produce but potentially to my health.

NotAnotherNewNappy Sun 11-Jan-15 20:50:40

Congratulations! How much time have you got on your hands? I would try not to be too ambitious and beware of growing anything too labour intensive in the first year - otherwise the time and effort involved might burn you out. Anything in a container requires more maintenance than in the ground.

Potatoes are great, useful and easy to grow. Try several different types and succession sow, so they're ready over time rather than all at once.

Pumpkin and also butternut squash are great growers.

Any kind of pea or bean is great to grow with kids.

We grow raspberries, as well as strawberries, they take a couple of years to get going but are unbelievably tasty. This year I might add thornless blackberries, but I'm worried they will take over.

If you are on a budget, try wilko, aldi and Lidl for supplies. Lidl do great plants as well as seeds, check the online leaflets to see what's coming up.

We don't actually have an allotment, just a massive garden which is enough work for me wink

TheSpottedZebra Sun 11-Jan-15 21:09:08

So many kindred spirits.
Oooh - shall we have fruit and veg patch thread? Where I can waffle on about tomato seeds and you can a LL give me loads of excellent advice. We could have it running throughout the season, all sizes of patch from window box to allotment and more?

StainlessSteelCat Mon 12-Jan-15 22:38:04

I've just been reading up on apples trees. The amount of information is bewildering! I thought I knew what I wanted, am less certain now than I was when I started confused Have reached a decision though: I won't be making a decision on apple trees any time soon! Probably worth giving the poor old thing a fright - my parents have an ancient apple tree in their garden that uprooted itself and tore itself apart one particularly heavy cropping year - it's come back equally hell bent on self destruction!

Notanother - yes, potatoes seem to be the way to go! Early, first, second, main, late .... am going to pick 2 or three varieties, my DS wants baked potatoes so he can do some digging. Will definitely grow pumpkins but unfortunately I'm the only one who likes the taste, so size will be important.

We have loganberries in our back garden. They are a bit prickly, but not anything like blackberries, and they taste gorgeous. They are on a SW facing fence, they get hours of sun and very little attention. I love them - they are the only thing that's been properly successful in our garden! I've got a cherry tree I bought in aldi last year that's not died yet, will keep my eyes open for more bargains there, but I do know I need to grow any tree on a dwarfing stock.

The allotment association has given me a list of how much of the plot I must get under cultivation within months/a year. i think I have 3 months to get a quarter of it going, then I need to gradually add more until I get all of it in hand by the end of the year. If I break that down further into beds, I'm pretty sure I only need to get on top of one raised bed every 2 months to be on track. That sounds possible. I'm off to bed now with the pamphlets from the allotment association and the haul of books I got from the library today ... I may not be able to match you on tomato seeds Zebra but I'll swap you that knowledge for a short treatise on digging technique!

Hodorsbitch Tue 13-Jan-15 14:26:01

Ooh yes please to a veg patch/allotment thread, I've been checking in for chat recently! I've just bought some seeds for sugarsnap peas, rainbow chard, yellow courgettes and some garlic/onion sets.

I've moved into a house with a much large veg bed in it and eventually cleared it. So far only has my strawb/rhubarb plants in it and one dormant late raspberry cane. I'm keen on squash/pumpkin and some sweet peas for the flowers. Ad possibly trying sweet corn. I'll do one or two potatoes in containers for the kids.

AmantesSuntAmentes Tue 13-Jan-15 16:30:59

Stainless, I'll spend days a whole evening researching something and become so overwhelmed, I end up putting it on the back burner along with piles of other fruitless research!.

As far as fruit goes, I'm starting my vines this year to hopefully produce next. My front garden is south facing and my back/ allotment is on a south facing slope, so sun loving specimens should thrive!

Chard! Big yes! So easy and purty too grin

agoodbook Tue 13-Jan-15 16:46:09

Congratulations! I have had mine for 4 years ( a half plot) while still working. I love it smile
I made a big decision to only grow stuff we like, and is also expensive to buy, so we have things like asparagus - which is just getting going ( exciting!) a lot of soft fruit and such.
But the joy of picking things and cooking within an hour or two is amazing, and also how much you can produce - I have a freezer full and have been making jams and chutneys
There is a great book, which I have found very useful
Make sure you take advice- its a marathon, not a sprint grin

StainlessSteelCat Tue 13-Jan-15 18:42:58

An allotment thread - amazed there isn't one already on here!

Hodors - Rhubarb. Yum. Childhood memories of eating it raw, dipping the end into a bowl of brown sugar. And rhubarb crumble. More yum. Garlic is a good idea, and chard seems to be mentioned a lot, as does perpetual spinach, not something I'd heard of before ... and so onto

Amentes - another researchaholic! It's sometimes the best bit! And best of all, it's never wasted, just that some bits aren't as well used as others. Vines, wow .... <day dreaming>

agoodbook - yes, I'll be moving towards the expensive produce, but I think I need to start with the easier ones, as you said it's a marathon, I need to know my pace. I'm

I've always wanted to try the 3 sisters growing method, possibly with some of the multi coloured sweetcorn varieties. I was also going to do crop rotation (3 bed system I think, until I decide to try growing onions) so I went and measured the beds that exist to see how many seeds/sets/potatoes I'll need to buy. The sleet saw me off, back into the warmth and safety of the internet and "research" grin

agoodbook Tue 13-Jan-15 20:02:54

I did a lot of research as well - I still do grin -
Remember to look and see how the sun comes round- makes a big difference to ripening things if they are in the shadow of climbing beans etc.
The asparagus was the year 1 big decision as we needed to place 'the deep bed. I was lucky to inherit autumn raspberries, but in the wrong place, so that was my other big thing -so working out the best place to put them , and the fruit cage that was the year 2 big thing - once those 3 things were in place, I just carved up the space into 4 areas, and I rotate crops around them. I have still a long way to go - there is lots of grass to dig up to open up more growing space, but am trying to do that sensibly.
Perpetual Spinach is great, as is proper spinach, but we didn't get on with chard- tried it for 3 years and it is being ditched this year - nobody likes it much, so gets chucked into pasta as an 'extra'
Thinking of giving up potatoes - 1st year late frost ( am in Yorkshire) 2nd year blight, last year and this year slugs and eel worm so full of holes - heart breaking really sad
And we have rabbits <sob> and pigeons - so netting is everywhere!
Best results have been squashes - butternut and such - they are amazing, everyone has fallen in love with 'crown prince' so have to grow those!

MERLYPUSSEDOFF Tue 13-Jan-15 21:37:30

I had a lotty for a while.
Grow stuff you cant get in the shops would be my advice. I had loads of raspberries which are quite pricey to buy. I grew yellow french beans and yellow courgettes. Beetroot was a revelation. Fennel worked well. Only grow stuff that wont bolt quickly - especially if you are a weekend 'llotmenteer.
I never thought the humble spud would be any different. It darn well is when cooked within 30 mins from soil to pot.
it will change your eating habbits. (wonky carrots are great)

AmantesSuntAmentes Tue 13-Jan-15 22:28:39

I agree about it having the potential to change eating habits - and shopping habits! I can see myself spending maybe £20 on shopping per week, for five of us, if I can get enough out and growing (2 year aim!).

agoodbook Tue 13-Jan-15 22:53:01

Thats a nice thought amantes,-there is quite an outlay on rent,seeds, compost and manure - and in my case has to be factored in grin I am a devil for begging free palletts and wood!

AmantesSuntAmentes Tue 13-Jan-15 23:40:40

I am ridiculously optimistic grin. My allotment's going to be my back garden (just as soon as I can access it!). So no rent, fortunately, for about 96m2 growing space. Manure tends to be free here. Netting will probably be a necessity though! I agree that the initial yearly outlay might affect my (rather optimistic!) savings but I think there will be some smile

NiceCupOfTeaAndALittleSitDown Wed 14-Jan-15 00:02:56

We got our allotment this time last year, and have learnt a lot by our mistakes this year. We got lots of spuds, courgettes and cucumber, some sweetcorn and squash. We lost (44!) tomato plants to blight and our sibling peas, beans and carrots got eaten by something. It's hard work but so worth it when you harvest!

AmantesSuntAmentes Wed 14-Jan-15 00:12:07

sad that's tough going, nice! 44 shock

What are you putting in this year?

agoodbook Wed 14-Jan-15 09:21:04

nice its agony, seeing the lovely stuff just getting nibbled!
amantes - think you asked nice, but smile
we are expanding our selection this year, but some of the definites from last couple of years
leeks- we prefer them to onions, and they stay in the ground smile
sprouting broccoli- its amazing at this time of year through to April, and a fortune in the shops
fresh peas- had a wonderful crop this year I did lots of short rows sown every 2 weeks, so I didn't get swamped
purple podded french beans - absolutely gorgeous
yellow beetroot - tasted lovely, and looked pretty!
Climbing borlotti beans, as you can dry them to keep -
crown prince squash - great flavour and keep really well- I still have 2 left
broad beans - so different from shop bought

AmantesSuntAmentes Wed 14-Jan-15 09:53:07

That's very similar to our list, agoodbook! We love purple sprouting but I hadn't thought of borlotti - fab idea! Leeks too. We were having the onion debate just half an hour ago grin. We're going to also try asparagus, I think. Peppers, chillies, grapes and various berries will go down well, if I can keep the bird population at bay!

agoodbook Wed 14-Jan-15 10:01:41

We love sprouting broccoli, and a big success this year was a cross called Brokali ( Atlantis was the variety) and that sprouted from June onwards to November here , and that was lovely

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