Grow Your Own

A new allotment – Advice when starting out

People getting a new allotment often struggle with knowing where to start when they first get offered their plot. They are often offered a neglected and overgrown patch that is covered in weeds and it can seem a little daunting. This was certainly my experience when I first got my allotment. I definitely didn’t know where to start.

What to do on a new allotment:

  • Take it slowly. You will not get it all ready to cultivate straightaway. Don’t kill yourself trying to either. It isn’t worth it and you run the risk of becoming deflated and giving up completely. Start in one corner of your plot and slowly work your way out. When I first got my allotment I spent an hour a day down there just digging and pulling out all the weeds. I thought it would take me forever to get it ready but taking this approach only took me about 10 days. I did bribe my daughter into helping and she now earns herself £2.50 an hour helping on the allotment.
  • Plan! A new allotment often offers a lot more space than you are used to in your back garden. It definitely helps to have a plan to get the most out of the space. It can be very tempting to grow everything just because you can. However, my advice would be to think about what your family likes to eat and focus on that. I have a lot of fruit bushes on my plot because I like to make wine. If you like vegetables that can be quite expensive to buy in the shops such as asparagus then this is the ideal place to grow them.
  • Talk to other plot holders. Generally, you will find that people at allotments are a friendly bunch of people who want to help others and see them make a success of their plot. Some of them have been there for years and they are a fountain of knowledge. They will be able to tell you where the closest water supply is, what grows well, what doesn’t, and even when it is best to plant certain crops. Make use of them!
  • Read up. When I first got my plot I read up a lot about what to do on an allotment. There were a few books that I found especially helpful, but one, in particular, was brilliant. The Allotment – Month by Month is still my go-to book when I need advice and I would definitely recommend it to anybody starting out on the allotment journey.
  • Have fun. Having an allotment is great fun. It gets you out of the house, provides you with plenty of fresh air and exercise, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. It allows you to meet new people as well. There is something very therapeutic and relaxing about gardening as well so it will help you to relieve stress and improve your mental health as well.