Getting and planning an allotment

I’ve been provisionally allocated (or ‘allotted’ if you will, hohoho) an allotment about 15 minutes walk from where I live, in an area that’s quite far from houses. The allotment itself is ‘brand new’, in that the area’s not been used for growing in several years. I paid a visit to the allotments last February, while they were clearing them, and things looked a bit like this:

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Things have moved on slightly since then, but really only slightly. The area I’ve picked out (being able to pick was a nice and unexpected luxury!) is basically weeds up to my waist. So about knee-height on a normal-sized person.

allotments

Here’s kind of an illustration of how everything’s been set up. I could have chosen a slightly more prepared allotment – one of those big strips nearer the top, but I like a challenge (or maybe I just like the underdog) and developed an attachment to this overgrown area at the end. It’s already got fences on three sides and  its own gate. The council are going to remove some of the weeds over the next two weeks, after which, I’ll hopefully have the papers signed and can finally start growing. It will be a lot of work before anything can actually grow, but for me, that’s part of the fun. I love the actual process of gardening about as much as I love eating the proceeds. I’m not expecting to have things up and running within a day. Plus, I have to factor in things like having a full time job and occasionally leaving my town to do other things, as is my custom, occasionally. If things are underway within a month, I’ll be pleased.

I’ve been thinking a bit about planning the allotment today, once all the digging’s out of the way.  Here’s what’s more or less the first draft.

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So starting from the top – I thought a little strawberry patch, as strawberries are my second favourite thing to grow after potatoes. The allotment regulations seem to be quite generous and I’m allowed to plant trees, so if space allows, I thought a couple of fruit trees (I’m eyeing up strawberry trees because I’ve only just found out they existed, and they sound awesome). The storage could be a shed, but as this is actually only half a plot, and space (and indeed, cash) is an issue, it’s likely to be just a box for the immediate future. Then there’s a compost heap, and then raised beds A, B, C and D.

Raised beds seem better in this case because I think the soil is going to be tough to dig, as the allotment’s been out of use for so long. Happily for me, the last person to use this allotment also used raised beds, so it’s possible I could use them if they’re roughly where I want them. These four beds will then merrily rotate crops on a four year basis (fruit/leaf/legume/root). IF there’s space, I’m hoping to add two further, maybe smaller beds at the end for perennial vegetables, herbs and suchlike. Finally, there’ll be a water butt at the end, and I’ll hopefully put up some kind of fairly low trellis and plant raspberry canes/blueberry/blackberry bushes. Some of which I already have on my balcony. I have yet to sort out exactly what I’m going to migrate over to the allotment, and what will stay. It depends mainly on when the allotment’s ready for growing, I suppose. This may be the subject of a new post.

That’s the basic plan anyway, based loosely on various things I found online. The plan will probably change, especially once I see the allotment de-weeded and accept it officially, because there might be things under all the growth that will prove ‘an extra challenge’. I spotted some wild strawberries growing there among all the weeds, it’s a shame that they’ll have to go. I’m impatient to start. I’m heading off on holiday on Sunday, to stay with some kind and wise friends in Sweden who ALSO have an allotment, because it’s clearly what all the cool young people are doing these days. Once I’m back after two weeks, it’ll be time to start digging.

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