Here are my top tips for planning your allotment. Spring is in the air, the ground is drying out so now is the time to get started.
Firstly, decide what you want to grow. Only grow what you like. I know it sounds obvious but……..for several years I had a beautiful white currant bush on my allotment which cropped prodigiously. However, the fruit was very sharp and was left on the bush to rot as I couldn’t find enough recipes to use more than a handful! Even the birds didn’t seem interested! Also bear in mind how you’re going to store your harvest when you have a bumper crop, see my previous post – 5 questions to ask before taking on an allotment. My top tip is to sit down with a seed or plant catalogue and write a list of all the things you fancy growing. Then go through your list again, eliminating anything that is not suitable for your soil or climate.
Next you need to decide how to grow your plants. There are two main options – from seed or plants. Seeds are obviously cheaper, but are more labour intensive. Oh, the satisfaction when the seeds germinate and the little seedlings appear – you can’t beat it! If you buy plants, then it can end up becoming pretty costly but you do see your plot filling up quickly and not worrying about whether conditions are right for germination. Another possibility is to start your seeds in the greenhouse. Sadly, I don’t have a greenhouse but I do have a conservatory and, yes you’ve guessed it, it doubles up as a hot house for my seeds and seedlings. For beginners, my top tip is to include both seeds and plants then you get the best of both worlds.
Having decided what to grow, now decide where to grow. Look on the seed packets or plant labels to see how much space everything needs and then roughly map out the position of your rows. In the past I have always drawn this out freehand, however this year The Husband has gone all techie and produced plans on the computer. Impressed?! This is important to do for two reasons. Firstly, you will need the plan when you actually arrive at the allotment ready to start work. Secondly, you need to keep a record for next year so you can ensure you rotate your crops. Obviously fruit bushes etc will remain in position but brassica, roots and legumes should be rotated in a 3 year cycle.
It’s getting closer to the time when you actually need to get out there and do something. So finally you need to decide when to plant. Look at your seeds (or plants), find out when they need to be started off (either indoors or outdoors) and write yourself a list. Then get your calendar or diary out and schedule in some time over the next few weeks when you can get down to the allotment and get your hands dirty!
So there’s my top tips for planning your allotment – hope they help any of you just starting out on your allotment adventure!