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Honestly, how much time do you need for an allotment?

28 replies

OrangeSunset · 02/10/2015 18:51

I've got a call to say I can go and look round, having been on a waiting list.
Looking at the neglected state of my garden, I'm having second thoughts about being the best person to take one on!

We have a small veg patch at home, so my thoughts were to leave salads, peas, tomatoes etc at home, and then fill the allotment with soft fruit, cutting flowers, squashes and perhaps some asparagus.

Honestly, how much time does one need to keep on top of a set-up like that? I'd have possibly one school day per week, plus evenings in summer and some time at weekends to work on it.

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bookbook · 02/10/2015 20:40

Honestly? depends how big the allotment is , how much work to bring it into a working state , and what you plan to grow. Its a bit 'how long is a piece of string' Grin
I have a traditional size (pretty big) plot. At the moment, I spend about 8 hours a week on average, more in spring as there is lots to do, but really just as much when harvesting ( which takes much more time than you ever think ) and I could easily spend twice as much time, I've been doing it for 5 years, and am almost getting it into shape :)

OrangeSunset · 02/10/2015 21:17

Sorry, forgot to say it's a half plot.
There a couple on offer, going to check them out. 8 hours ish I can probably manage

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shovetheholly · 03/10/2015 11:06

book speaketh wise words.

I think plots sometimes take a lot of investment at the start. They're often quite overgrown or requiring maintenance or landscaping work that is quite tough in physical terms (lots of digging, building beds, improving soil). Once you start getting into the rhythm of planting and being on top of it, it does get easier!

My plot is a half size, and DH and I probably spend 6 person-hours a week up there. I have to be honest - some of it is me just enjoying the plot and not really getting on with things. Grin It was quite a bit more at the beginning- a full day a week from both of us over the first few months. But there was absolutely nothing there but lots of weeds!

It's a wee bit seasonal too. Spring (April/early May in my part of the world) is a busier time and you may well find yourself with a bit of a rush on to stay on top of sowing and sprouting and weeding! Summer, however, has been a bit less busy than I had thought.

niminypiminy · 03/10/2015 11:17

I had a full size plot for about five years. Boy, was it hard work. Both afternoons at the weekends, and in spring and summer the evenings as well - and sometimes I'd get up early and go before everyone was up.

Half a plot is much more manageable and unless you are going to eat potatoes for breakfast, dinner and tea most of the year you don't need a full plot to grow nice things for your family.

DoreenLethal · 03/10/2015 11:26

I have a full size plot.

We do two-three hours at a weekend to maintain.

When planting out or harvesting, we do more eg in May I can be there for an hour a night for a month plus a full day at the weekend.

My best suggestion is never leave the soil uncovered. Either plant it up or mulch with either cardboard, newspaper, straw or sow a green manure. It's the weeds that take over that is the hard work.

TheSpottedZebra · 03/10/2015 12:12

How exciting! I took on a half plot in Feb, and I'd not done much growing before. I was a bit worried about time needed also, but figured I would take it on and see how I got on, whilst keeping £ investment quite low as it might all be a 1 season wonder. Suffice to say, I am now hooked. But still not spending that much.

I think I poss spend 6-8 hours on it per week, and that is all on my own, but does include lots of chatting and general bimbling. I'm really easily distracted Blush. There have been a few times when I suddenly felt short on time and the plot took over, and that was:

  • when we had lots of sun and heat, and my plants were newly planted out, and I felt I had to stay on top of watering. However, I am too soft on my plants I think, and I had a forest of tomatoes on containers at home that also needed watering too.
  • the other week when blight struck my beloved toms, and I wanted to cut them down, wash and save what I could, dispose of the plant material, and process/cook the ridiculous amount of tomatoes that I'd harvested.
  • similarly when I'd been given piles of fruit, eg a binbag of blackcurrants and wanted to process the fruit asap.

I'm definitely growing fewer tomatoes next year and fewer things in pots. And more soft fruit which will be hopefully less labour - intensive. And I think I'll plan better, as part of my issue is that I've grown too much of 1 thing at once. But I really have loved it, and it has been a great way for me to spend more time outside and have thinking space. My DS (6) is really into it too, but he is more of a hindrance at the plot Tbh, so that is another area where I'm not very time efficient. We mostly spend time when he is there looking at frogs and talking about trees.

We have a long-running allotment/veg patch thread here in the gardening topic where amonsgt other things, I ask all my stupid questions and lovely experienced people, quite a few of whom are also on this thread help me and all are very welcome, even if your only veg experience has been that you once walked past some pots of growing herbs in Tesco.
OrangeSunset · 03/10/2015 12:32

Brilliant, thanks for the wise words.
Am going to have a look tomorrow morning, apparently there a couple of spare plots so hopefully one will be in a decent state.

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Palomb · 03/10/2015 12:36

I and to give mine back after a year as I just couldn't find the time as I work full time. They are bloody hard

Palomb · 03/10/2015 12:37

Bloody hard work. I've got a lovely garden at home but managing them both was just too much. We're looking to move to a bigger garden so I can have vegetable space at home instead.

TheSpottedZebra · 03/10/2015 12:39

That's a shame, Palomb.

But that reminds me - distance. My plot is v nearby so it's easy to pop over as and when I want. If it were further, I might find it more awkward to get there, or I'd have to plan better.

dreamingofsun · 03/10/2015 13:52

i've got a half plot and work/am employed 4 days a week. i don't find it overwhelming at all. i guess i go every other day and spend an hour - so maybe 4 hours a week during the summer.

this is partly because of how i've set it up. no grass paths, just weedsuppressant, strawberries have this underneath and i use a thinner cheaper one under things like cabbage. i don't plant anything that needs vast amounts of TLC as i know it won't get it.

I've got a lot of perennials like fruit, asparagus which doesn't need lots of tlc

i don't dig - i just walk on the paths so earth isn't compressed. in winter i put down green manure, then cut this down and cover with compost and thick black plastic.

to some extent you can spend as much, or as little there as you wish

ragged · 03/10/2015 13:57

Officemate has one (he's nice enough to share some produce). From what he says, I was going to say 8 hrs/week in growing season & 1-2 hrs/week (avg) rest of the year.

OrangeSunset · 03/10/2015 19:31

dreaming that's how I'm thinking of approaching it - no dig, plenty of fruit and so on.

It's a mile or so from home so would need a bike or car journey to get there.

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JeffsanArsehole · 03/10/2015 19:44

I've a full size plot which is fully planted with flowers/fruit/lots of raised beds. I only do 3 hours a week unless I'm picking fruit/flowers when I need to do an hour a day.

OrangeSunset · 03/10/2015 19:56

That's amazing...which veg do you grow, or is it mainly fruit?

I'm thinking of going for soft fruit and maybe a couple of plum trees on dwarf stock. Asparagus, rhubarb, and squashes. All things that we like to eat, are expensive to buy and hopefully straightforward to cultivate.

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JeffsanArsehole · 03/10/2015 20:02

No veg this year (I grow them at home as they need more watering) - I've got 30 feet of strawberries in raised beds/4 trees in builders bags (to contain them), tons of spring and autumn raspberries, a greenhouse and a small shed, plus about 45 lavender bushes (for the bees and it's why my fruit do so well) and 30 different rose bushes so that I have roses for 4 months of the year (I had 80 roses in my best week in the house this year)

I like flowers Grin

OrangeSunset · 03/10/2015 20:06

The trees don't need loads of watering like that then?
Good tip re. lavender

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AsTimeGoesBy · 03/10/2015 20:17

You need to check the rules about trees, not all sites allow them. Another factor that make it easier/harder is whether you can get a car up to your plot or not, makes a huge difference if you can deposit manure, compost, raised bed materials etc there directly instead of wheelbarrowing it all in. I just about manage my half plot on 3 or 4 hours a week from about March to November, less in winter. But I do little and often as it's very close to home (5 mins walk).

JeffsanArsehole · 03/10/2015 20:44

I water the trees once a week. They're in those giant one metre square builders bags

TheSpottedZebra · 03/10/2015 20:48

Why in bags, out of interest?
I like fruit trees. But I have no builders bags. What would they do for me? Grin

(if this sounds snarky, it is honestly not meant to)

JeffsanArsehole · 04/10/2015 06:39

It restricts the growth so even allotments that 'don't let you have trees' will do in bags (or pots, but they're too expensive). I can also control the weeds by underplanting round the tree - last year I had onions round them, this year I've put in more lavender.

You don't sound snarky Grin

PurpleWithRed · 04/10/2015 07:22

I was surprised at how little time the allotment needs now I'm on top of it, but it does need some time and if you can't (or don't want to) look after your own garden then I suspect you may struggle with the allotment too.

Key issues are what state it's in already, how sunny it is, water supply, how close you can park (I cycle to mine most often but do need to take the car there regularly when transporting bigger stuff) and whether there's access for deliveries of stuff like manure and timber for beds.

Emochild · 04/10/2015 07:34

Depending on how your allotment is run also impacts how much time you spend

Some allotments have working parties a few times a year to maintain the communal areas, have summer shows to raise funds for site maintenance and run allotment shops for bulk seed orders, manure/compost orders etc so members can get supplies at a lower cost

If that's the sort of site that does these things it's not fair that only 1 or 2 people do them

My poor dad felt very put upon as people suddenly disappeared when help was asked for and eventually it led to him giving it up at which point people suddenly panicked but it was too little too late

Cedar03 · 04/10/2015 21:50

I took on a half plot last year. I reckon that it averages at about 4 to 6 hours a week. This time last year I was spending at least 4 hours a week digging over the neglected weedy plot on my own and the had help from H at the weekends where we might do another couple of hours each. In the summer we were watering at least a couple of evenings as well as at weekends - maybe only for an hour or so but it adds up. Summer weekend afternoons I might easily do 4 hours up there.

Distance from home is a big factor for me. My plot is about 5 minutes walk from home so I can just pop over there for a bit for weeding and watering.

It's possible to find the time but it can feel like a bit of an obligation. So think about how you spend your spare time at the moment.

OrangeSunset · 05/10/2015 20:03

So I've taken on a plot...went to look and there were a few that would take a lot of work to get under control, but luckily one (half) is pretty much an empty square of soil.

Am going to keep it simple with fruit and perennials. Just need to think about how to make some paths so the DC can easily see where to walk - and where not to walk! Thanks of the advice.

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