Did you know that this week is National Allotment Week? This might not mean too much to you if you don’t have an allotment, but there’s nothing stopping you achieving the allotment dream one day. We’ve put together a few tips on how to increase your chances of securing a plot as well as getting the most out of it once you get one, or if you have one already. And if you think you’re going to be in for a long wait then worry not – we have gardening tips to suit even if you’re just got a window box or small backyard.
How to Get an Allotment
They may seem a bit like the gardening holy grail, but if you want to achieve that allotment dream, you’ve got to start somewhere. The National Allotment Society has put together a set if useful tips on where to look for that patch of land to call your own.
Firstly, start with your local council. Most will either have a waiting list for sites, or contact details of organisations where you can add your name to a waiting list, and if you live in Scotland, you can get in touch with the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society. The length of your wait will very much depend on where you live as getting your own allotment patch can be a bit of a postcode lottery. But if you’re determined there are other options - The National Trust has allotment patches on a number of their properties so it’s well worth contacting your nearest property to find out the details and if there are any vacancies. There also a number of private landlords who advertise allotments, one of the largest ones being The Church of England. Another option is to write to your local authority along with five other like-minded allotment hunters (who are also registered council-tax payers). If you follow procedure, a council has a mandatory obligation to provide allotment space under The 1908 Small Holdings and Allotments Act, although there is no time limit on this so if might be quicker just to go on a waiting list.
But there’s no need to wait for a local authority patch to become vacant – see if there’s a patch of local vacant land in your area and ask the owner about the possibility of starting an allotment on it. It’s worth a shot!
Having an allotment isn’t just a hobby you can pick up as and when you feel like it. Working your allotment requires a year-round commitment and if you’re lucky enough to secure your patch, you shouldn’t let it go to waste.
The Royal Horticultural Society has some excellent tips on how to get started. Firstly, you should check the facilities and rules of your particular site, such as planting restrictions and whether there is running water available. If your plot is very overgrown, clearing and preparing it all in time for spring might be slightly unrealistic. Concentrate on half or a small section of it first so at least you get something planted for the spring and then start to think long term for the rest of your plot.
Clearing your allotment not only involves digging up a lot of weeds but also testing the pH levels of your soil and decking out your allotment with a compost bin and other useful accessories to help. You can use B&Q voucher codes to stock up on the basics, or try Harrod Horticultural discount vouchers for more specialist allotment products. Do your research as to what fruit and vegetables thrive best and where before you do any planting and this will set you on the path to getting great results.
Of course, this advice could be applied to your own garden if you want to turn over all or part of it to cultivating fruit and vegetables. And of you don’t have a garden and are in for a long wait for that sought-after allotment plot, you can start small-scale and practice your horticultural skills before you get your hands on that larger patch of land. Even if you have a small backyard, you can use pots and small raised beds to get start on herbs and smaller vegetables such as tomatoes and courgettes. Greenfingers promo codes can save you money on items such as plant stands and easy to assemble small greenhouse frames with covers to protect your young plants in the colder months.
Securing your own allotment plot isn’t going to be easy, but there are many different avenues you can follow to get started. And what better time to do this than National Allotment Week?
By Anna Scott, 9th August 2016