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  1. #1
    RuthC is offline Germinator
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    Default Grow Your Own needs your advice for new allotment holders!

    We'd like to know what tips you would give people who are taking on their first allotment. What are the first things you would do? How would you tackle an overgrown one? How would you go about planning your veg beds? Where would you suggest seeking advice and finding out about rules and regulations on the site? Should new allotmenteers avoid doing anything in particular?

    And please enlighten us about any of the many other topics not covered here!
    Last edited by RuthC; 23-11-2009 at 05:02 PM.

  2. #2
    Pumpkin Becki's Avatar
    Pumpkin Becki is offline Early Fruiter
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    A lovely village just outside Ashford, Kent


    The first things I would do when taking on a new plot, be it an allotment or a home veg plot, are:

    1)Assess the plot, are there any overhanging trees which could shade out some types of crop, is there a supply of water or can you add one yourself, is there any rubbish to get rid of, what is the current condition and acidity of the soil.

    2)Decide if you're going to use a traditional 'open plot' or raised beds.

    3)Draw up a list of the sorts of things you like to eat (no point growing something you don't like), and then draw up a plan of your site (to scale if you can). Mark on it the best locations for compost heaps, water butts, sheds/toolstore and paths. Make sure you don't skimp on the width of paths, you need to be able to move a wheel barrow around easily or you'll get really frustrated.

    4)Read a good veg growing book - I like Alan Titchmarsh's 'Kitchen Gardener', and get an understanding of the basic principles like crop rotation, composting and feeding.

    5)Get loads of seed catalogues and enjoy reading them. They give lots of information like when to sew, when to harvest etc, which can help prevent gluts of crops or worse still, hungry gaps where you have nothing harvestable.

    6)Start to prepare your beds. Don't go mad at this stage and think you have to do everything right now, you'll get disheartened. Take it in small manageable stages, and simply cover the areas you can't tackle yet with plastic or cardboard secured to the ground. This will help weaken weeds and stop nutrients being leeched out of the soil.

    7)Start some seeds off in modules or seedtrays at home, this will give you some nice healthy plants to put into the plot as and when its ready and will give you a real sense of achievement.

    8)Most important - Enjoy it!!

    (Phew, do you want me to write an article on the subject?)
    Last edited by Pumpkin Becki; 24-11-2009 at 09:17 AM. Reason: spelling mistakes!!

  3. #3
    zazen999 is offline Funky Cold Ribena
    Join Date
    Jun 2007


    The first thing to do is to make a cuppa. And then watch which way the sun moves across the plot.

    Then launch into PB's list.

  4. #4
    rustylady's Avatar
    rustylady is offline Gardening Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Lowestoft, Suffolk
    Blog Entries


    Take it steady - DO NOT TRY TO DO EVERYTHING AT ONCE!! If you do, you will ache, you will have to take time off to recover from the aching, and while you are off the weeds will grow. Clear, cover, and plant with something useful asap so you can see results to keep you going.

  5. #5
    snuffer is offline Tuber
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Edingley, A small village in Nottinghamshire near Southwell


    When visiting the plot for the first time take with you: pen, paper and tape measure. Make a rough drawing of the plot making particular note of the position of any existing features you might want to keep (fruit bushes, shed, paths etc.).

    Measure the width and length of your plot and the distances between those features (listed above) and mark them on your drawing.

    You will then be able to make a more accurate plan that will enable you to mark out the positions of your beds and paths this plan will then form the basis of your crop rotation plan.
    It is the doom of man, that they forget.

  6. #6
    Glutton4...'s Avatar
    Glutton4... is offline Gardening Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Diagonally parked in a Parallel Universe!


    Take it steady, and plan plan plan! Do a little at a time, and remember to cover/mulch bare areas to save on the time spend on weeding.

    That said, it doesn't matter what you do, you'll change it the next year when you've found out a better way!
    All the best - Glutton 4 Punishment
    Freelance shrub butcher and weed removal operative.

  7. #7
    FionaH's Avatar
    FionaH is offline Hungry Hobbit
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Haslemere, Surrey


    First thing I would do is search "new plot" on here
    WPC F Hobbit, Shire police

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Worcester Park Surrey


    Just 4 things to add to PB's comprehensive list of what to do from experience with my new plot this year:

    1. Think about starting by first cutting all the overgrowth down [unless you are lucky enough to have anything worthwhile growing already]. This allows you to get the measure of the land to assess it - all the better to follow the rest of the advice on offer here. Weeds and all will spring back up again very quickly it will then need regular trimming back - but at least it immediately looks tidy and loved so giving a sense of achievement which is so important to new plot holders.

    2. Talk to those plot holders around you and find out what they did, why, and most importantly what they wished they had done or not done. There is a font of local experience on tap which saves a lot of wasted effort; but talk to several because they can disagree with each other! Special advice given out to all by one of our plot holders is look after your back and do not dig for more than 30-45 minutes at a time.

    3. Consider carefully how much time you can honestly devote to your plot, and decide what to do according to this. A one year plan may turn into a much more sensible 2 year plan as a result.

    4. Don't grow too much of anything unless you have a big family to feed. Plenty of food comes from even a modest sized plot and variety rather than quantity may be more appealing when you start harvesting.

    Enjoy it - its amazing fun and the resulting produce just has to be tasted to be believed.

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