I'm over whelmed with my allotment!(32 Posts)
Help!! I've recently taken on an allotment, mainly to help with depression and introduce dc to veg/fruit growing. It's so overwhelming that I feel it's all too much but I'm determined not to give up after 4 weeks! Dc hate it btw as does oh
it is a lovely thing to do, but yes, faced with it, it can be very overwhelming. If you like , come and join us on the allotment thread - we are all lovely, and don't bite -promise! Lots of chat, handholding and advice
What state is the plot in? Is that's what's overwhelming or more that you don't know much about growing etc
I've had allotments for 7 years now, was a complete novice in 2010. I'm secretary of our allotment association and have seen many, many newcomers struggle. It's more work than people think. It usually takes a couple of seasons at least to make all your mistakes and properly get in the swing of it.
It's all worth it though and, yy, very good for mental health.
So was I! I found the half hour allotment book good:
I felt like my allotment was judged by other plot holders and then there was an open day and the wife of the plot holder next door told me they didn't know how I did it as well as work and have a small child, so don't compare yourself with retired empty nesters who can potter as long as they like each day.
We moved away in the end, but I left that plot a whole lot better than I found it.
Rome wasn't built in a day. You'll be grand.
The half hour allotment book mentioned above is very good as is www.allotment-garden.org/allotment-information/clearing-new-allotment/
How big is the allotment? If its huge and full size consider giving half of it back so it can be allocated to someone else - or covering up part of it so you can concentrate on one or two areas and clear them and get planting. Use opened out compost bags or heavy duty weed suppressant (not old carpet the weeds grow through it and it becomes impossible to move).
Potatoes (2nd earlies like Charlotte) would be really good to plant now as they grow easily and also generate a lot of foliage to keep weeds down.
Pop in some broad beans if you like them - as they'll grow quickly now.
Veg plants are relatively cheap to buy and give you a feeling of achievement - but choose carefully. B&Q will try and sell you modules of carrots, parsnips and radishes that are really easy to sow. But brocolli, caulis, cabbage are probably worth buying in plant form to get you going.
I grow a lot of fruit - black currants, strawberries and raspberries - because they have very little care needs and you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Little and often is the
It's a brand new plot and about 7 poles. Thanks for book advice, allotment thread and ready grown plants suggestion. Already feel more motivated for tomorrow
When you say brand new do you mean a newly created site? What was on it previously?
While you're getting started it might be worth investing in a pump sprayer and some roundup - easy way to keep a blank plot under control til you get round to sorting it out properly.
Have a look for plants at car boot sales - probably the cheapest way of stocking up.
Yes brand new, it was just field before. It's all fresh of top soil
My nugget of advice would be to cover as much of it as you can in the first year. Use cardboard if you can. Then dig over, remove all weed roots, rake and re-cover each square meter at a time. Then plant that bit up when you have a chance.
So when I have a large plot to tackle:
Cardboard and cover everything you can. Make this your priority. Use stones/bricks/anything heavy to weigh the cardboard down.
Dig small patches, rake flat and cover again. When you are ready to plant stuff, make a hole in the cardboard, plant the plant, back fill with soil, water and then put the cardboard back around the stem.
Space your stuff out well in the first year - you can afford to and it makes the allotment look more used.
Any spare spaces come June, pop a pumpkin or courgette or any squash in the middle. they grow so big, and cover so much area, it really does help make it look more controlled.
Don't panic - just cover what you can't do. And space it all out.
I've just ordered the book! I'm going to have to wing it this season, start with little plants rather then sow my own! That's not cheating right??
My first plot was like that too It's great because you don't have any major nasties like brambles to clear.
My suggestion would be to divide it up into beds, it's less overwhelming to think about clearing/planting one bed at a time. Decide what the pathways between the beds will be (grass? weed matting and chippings?) It seems to shrink once you divide it up.
How old are the dc? When mine were small they much preferred visiting once there were things to pick/eat. I used to grow peas just to give them something to nibble on as they went along. I also had a small grassed area for them to play/picnic on. Mud kitchen is an idea to keep them amused.
Bottom line is that dc were only happy there for short periods. However, I used to love my summer evenings, once dh got home from work I'd let it to the allotment for an hour or so of peace after a long day with small dc. It was bliss.
I gave up my plot when DD was born as it was too much with a baby, but now DD is 5 I have got another and starting all over again. If I'm going to be able to keep it going I know I need to make it fun for her, and be realistic about what I can achieve within the boredom threshold of a small child. I won't be able to spend hours digging or plant delicate little seedlings and expect them not to be trampled. DD need to be able to play while I get on with stuff.
I have put a swing on the plot and DD also has a little raised bed of her own to dig or plant in. She has her own little tools and gloves and I'm also going to build a little den for her. My plot neighbours also have a little boy of around the same age we encourage them to go and play hide and seek. So far she has been loving it and often asks to go there, but if the novelty wears off I might start taking flasks of hot chocolate and doing little barbeques....
Try and divide your plot into different areas and concentrate on one or two to get going and just keep the rest tidy to work on later in the year. On my site at least 75% must be cultivated, so on my plot 1/4 is grass with the swing and space for DH to build compost heaps (he hates 'gardening' but loves building/destroying/chopping/burning), I have covered 1/4 with black plastic to be dealt with later
next year For a reliable crop this year I have dug another 1/4 and shoved in some spuds (charlottes). The ground is still very weedy and rough there but potatoes will still grow and they will also help suppress the weeds. On the remaining 1/4 I have planted currants, strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb, which are all pretty low maintenance and soft fruit is really expensive in the shops.
If you are going to buy plants then I would recommend strawberries, then cherry tomatoes once the weather is reliably warm. Get stuff that is a treat, you don't really want shitloads of cabbages (unless you really like cabbages). Otherwise get seeds they are much cheaper, carrots, spinach and salad are pretty easy.
Gosh thats a long post, sorry. I'm very excited to have another plot and cant wait to get going
So buy the book, cover what's not cultivated, cheap ready grown plants, easy seeds, grow what we actually like!! Thanks a million, I just couldn't really get my head round it with the limited time I have. My dc are 12&13, they've been once dug for 20 mins then went home!
Lol, so mud kitchens won't cut it My eldest is 13 now and couldn't be less interested in the allotment but at least she can happily be left at home now. Youngest is 10 and still enjoys raspberry/strawberry picking but that's about it.
Yes, definitely divide it up and cover the bits you are not cultivating - that worked for us. It's so hard to keep on top of a whole new plot but much easier to do a smaller bit and once you've got that going, add in the rest bit by bit.
Agree with the advice above, definitely cover as much as you're allowed (my site expects a certain amount to be cultivated), potatoes will take up a good amount of space and you could also grow some bee/butterfly-friendly flowers such as calendula, borage, nasturtiums although these do self-seed everywhere.
Good luck and definitely check out the Allotment thread on here, full of help & advice!
You've had great advice already! I'm just swinging by to reinforce the point that it IS overwhelming at the start. Pretty much everyone feels the same. It gets much easier, however, once you've done that big push and are on top of it. Don't think that the intensive effort required right now is going to be the same in a year - it will get easier.
I am sorry your DC and OH aren't enjoying it. That must make it feel all the harder.
The advice about making beds and planting through cardboard us excellent.
Google no dig gardening and lasagna planting.
If you have a sunny windowsill at home you could sow some courgettes and pumpkins in pots. Now up you are in the south, in a couple of weeks in the north. As PP said, the cover a lot of space.
Get a 4 old pallets and some plastic cable connectors and make a compost bin, two is better to turn the compost.
And buy a hoe, ten minutes hoeing what looks like bare earth every other day or so really keeps down weeds.
I used to get up at 6 and go for half an hour before work most days and loved it. I can go after work now.
Your DC are a bit old for swings and dens, but on the plus side you can leave them at home with your DP while you go and enjoy yourself. don't drag them along if they hate it, it will just spoil your fun
Grow cut flowers. Cheers you up no end and you can plant perennials that come back every year. We have one flower bed and it's lovely.
Grow veg on the rest.
The other thing, if you can, find a friend to share it with. It's lovely to have someone to talk to about it and plan with and it cuts down the daunting factor. Lots of people would jump at the chance.
I'm feeling overwhelmed too! I had a much bigger allotment before but couldn't manage that. I have a small one, maybe 1/3 of a full plot but the couch grass is getting waist high and is really dense to dig through. I have pruned most of the brambles which were a nightmare, I was scratched all over. I have put in 4 raspberry canes, onions, garlic and gave sown some peas in the one raised bed I've cleared. There is some rhubarb already and some fruit bushes.
I second find a friend to share with. I'd love to have an allotment but know I wouldn't have the time/motivation on my own. So if any if my friends asked I'd love it!
Well I turned up today with a smile on my face!! Glad to have had such amazing support, advice and encouragement! Made my paths, sectioned in small plots ready to dig over and plant every other day hopefully. Got a ton of cardboard coming next week. I did plant 30 sunflower seeds round the plot boundary when I received the keys, and they've sprouted. That was strangely an amazing feeling
I'm of the cardboard, where did you get it from? I'm wondering whether to try and beg some from local shops. dh and I saved all our Amazon boxes for an entire year and it still wasn't enough to cover the plot.
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