Setting Up Your Allotment ~
If you’re one of the lucky ones and have been given an allotment, then you’re in for some hard but satifying work. It isn’t as easy as planting a few seeds in the spring and waiting for the crops to appear in the summer, but our allotment guides should help you along the way.
There are plenty of handy tools and gadgets for getting your allotment in tip top shape, but if there’s one tool you need to get most things done, you can’t go wrong with a fork. This multi use tool is great for digging over your beds without cutting up all the weed roots, knocking the clumps of earth into a fine soil, harvesting potatoes without cutting too many in half, and at the end of the day, it’s perfect for scooping up all the weeks and cuttings for the compost heap.
If you have taken over an existing alloment, chances are that it’s already arranged for you, but if you’ve got a virgin plot you need to divide up your plot into beds. Measure your plot and do some sketches on paper. Each bed should be wide enough for you to reach half way across from each side without having to rest on the bed. You’ll need to get access to the beds from paths, and they need to be wide enough for you to work from without falling over. Work on a rough estimate of 120cm width beds and 60cm paths between them.Work out what will work best for the size of your allotment. Don’t forget to allow some space for a small shed and a couple of compost bins.
If you’re one of the Jamie Oliver of Hugh Fernley Wittingstall types, you’ll be wanting raised beds to keep things looking neat and tidy, but they aren’t essential and can take quite a lot of time and money to get right. They do keep the beds in shape, and as you add more compost/ manure etc to your beds, they will rise above ground level so a neat line of scafold boards, broken up pallets, or logs will keep the soil from spilling over onto the path. Now you need to consider your paths.
Add a mixture heavy rain with a well trodden path, and you’ll soon have muddy bog on your hands. Not nice to work in and you’ll soon get covered in mud. There are a couple of solutions to the problem, but it depends on the rules at your local allotment. If you’ve got raised beds, a quick and simple solution is to put down bark chippings, but they cost money and before you realise it, you’ve spent the savings you would have made by growing your own. You could leave the paths with grass on, but not many people want to drag the lawn mower to their allotment. My preferred option is to lay some carpet! Not as daft as it sounds….you’ll need to get hold of some hessian backed offcuts, and your local carpet fitter will be more than happy to let you have them. They won’t have to pay for getting rid of it, and there’s less in the landfill. Lay the carpet upside down and you’ll have some hard wearing, natural hessian coloured allotment paths before you know it. The rain soaks through and you don’t get too muddy. You’ll get some mud from the allotment beds, but this will eash away soon enough. If you can get hold of some thick wire, make a U shape hook and push through the carpet to hold it down, but that isn’t essential.
So here you are, the proud owner of an allotment with wide stips of soil, with or without the optional Jamie Oliver style raised beds, and carpeted paths. Chances are that if you’re new to allotmenting, your plot will be covered in weeds from the previous owner or just a season of neglect, so the next guide will focus on getting the soil ready for planting your seed potatoes, beans, courgettes and much more! ab