Starting an Allotment from Scratch
I’ve always wanted an allotment. When Debbie and I moved into our first house together, we had a dabble at some herbs and a couple of bucket potatoes. The following year we bought a tiny greenhouse for some tomatoes. I quickly realised my ‘growing’ ambitions, forgive the pun, would need more room.
Meeting our Allotment
So the plan was to start writing this allotment diary the first day we set foot on our plot. However, for the first couple of weeks we just walked around a lot talking to strangers and trying to figure out how the more experienced . . allotmentuers? were going about their plots. This first post got pushed back further and further until we are now staring spring in the face. So I really need to post something to live up to my end of the blog.
After taking some pics we have come up with a loose plan and so here we are.
Welcome to Plot number 61 🙂
Debbie also informs me the allotment will be providing her with supplies for the food side of things and take her blogging into a more seasonal, grow your own direction. Whilst that sounds great, in truth i think that will be a bonus with my complete lack of knowledge. I’m just looking forward to digging, getting muddy and spending days outdoors, probably with a couple of beers in the sun 🙂
So the original idea was that we would have access to our plot around September time. This didn’t happen and we eventually got on around November just as things were getting cold with shorter days, brilliant. This has limited how much we’ve been able to achieve but we have made a start on the simple stuff.
These allotments miraculously appeared about 6 months after putting our name down on the list and so are completely brand new. We literally have it all to do.
The grass was pretty wild and there were dead thistles everywhere, very spikey with roots that are impossible to pull up without breaking. Before we got to that we felt it was necessary to mark our territory! The first thing we did was measure out the plot 12.5m x 13.5m and then sink in our corner posts. After a couple of terrible attempts we got the spirit level out and we were away.
The following day we pulled up all of the thistles and managed to scrounge a petrol strimmer off a friend and attacked the long grass. After that things weren’t quite so daunting and we could get a real sense of . . . the horrendous slope that is our plot.
Building raised beds
After some reading I decided 4 decent sized raised beds were the way forward. This would allow for some form of crop rotation which I am still figuring out and hopefully plenty of room to grow lots of veggies.
Over Christmas me and my Dad put in some graft digging. I decided 1 foot deep beds was a decent depth for root space. Also, as we are on a slope it allowed us to turn over the soil and level things out by shuttering in the bottom of each planter. Time will tell if this is a good idea or not but I think it makes sense.
A YouTube video on ‘Double Digging’ showed me a great technique for not wasting too much soil when skimming off the sods (the grassy bit :D). You basically skim off the sods and stack them upside down. Then you dig out the full depth and fork the base of the trench then place the sods in, still upside down, and fill in. No new soil required as the aerated soil seems to double in size. Hopefully I’m not setting myself up for weed trouble down the line by using this method.
So with posts in and 3 out of the 4 raised beds dug that brings you up to date.
I get most of my allotment research from a YouTube channel called ‘allotment diaries’. A bloke called Dan from Yorkshire which I think gives me a good mentor, dealing with similar weather woes as us in the north. I know from previous years on his channel that shallots and garlic get going in late Feb. So I think I need to get moving with the digging and maybe even invest in a greenhouse for the plot.
Watch this space and follow the development of our allotment and please feel free to comment any tips and advice at the bottom, it would be much appreciated 😀