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Thread: Observations of a noob

  1. #1
    toastiesmurf is offline Germinator
    Join Date
    Dec 2017

    Default Observations of a noob

    Here are some initial observations from my first 6 months of working on my allotment. More experienced gardeners on here might enjoy either confirming or refuting these examinations:
    • My soil is different around the plot. Some areas it is more clay-like, other areas it is finer. This is probably due to previous cultivation and addition of materials. Having a good dig around has revealed a lot - so I can now have a vague idea of where to plant things. (e.g. carrots in the less rocky and clay-like beds.)
    • Digging in the winter is pretty much futile. Having taken on my allotment in late October, I spent many hours on my knees in the cold trying to dig over beds. The soil was heavy, roots hard to remove cleanly, and the soil dug at that time looks less tilthy than the stuff that I dug over in the spring. Digging in the cold also hurts. If I ever find myself in that situation I'll probably just wait until spring, when 1 hour of digging is worth 2-3 in the winter.
    • Just plant something!!! It's really rewarding to see something actually growing. I planted organic garlic bulbs (from the supermarket) on winter solstice and they are looking great. Shallots from sets (and probably any onion) are easy peasy. Just go for it and stick stuff in the ground.
    • Experiment! It's completely overwhelming getting an allotment for the first time. There's tonnes of information, but sometimes it's too much, and sometimes different approaches contradict each other. Better to go for it and see what happens. Of course, take all advice you can get, but don't be afraid to think about it yourself. Plants actually have pretty simple needs. I'm sure you can improve yields with different techniques, but for now just have fun with it.
    • Rhubarb grows like crazy. I can't help but make this observation, because I have two well-established bushes on my plot that I inherited. They have gone crazy. I have harvested huge amounts, mostly to give away, and it still comes back. Have fun donating it liberally if you have one
    • Take your time and enjoy it, say hello to your plot neighbours, be creative

    Also, the main thing I have learned so far is that there's a lot going on, a lot to take in, and I don't know even a fraction of it. Every new plant is a learning curve, every season is different. This is a lifelong endeavour!

  2. #2
    nickdub is offline Early Fruiter
    Join Date
    Jul 2017


    You make some excellent points.

    A couple of observations which as usual with gardening may not be relevant to everyone :-

    1) a good starting point in any new set-up is a plan which shows fixed things like sheds, greenhouses, compost heap and water butts and most importantly the PATHS between them. If you get your paths sorted, a lot of the rest of the layout will follow.

    2) some things like fruit trees take a long time to produce much of a crop - if you fancy apples say, get a few trees in the ground as soon as is reasonable. You can always move them or graft different varieties later - but you can't catch up the missed years growth if you don't get trees in the ground.

    3) compost everything, you never have enough - unless you can get free stable manure nearby

    4) don't spend money on gimmicks, buy a few good tools, very often second-hand is better than new when it comes to metal ones.

  3. #3
    ESBkevin is offline Cropper
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Mid Suffolk


    Well said Nick, 3 & 4 particularly stand you in good stead. Soil itself can improve or deteriorate so feed it anything and everything organic. Each year it gets better and easier to work (as displayed by some areas of your plot). Look for free resources like heaps of leaves in parks/churchyards, brown cardboard, woodchips if someone in your street is having a tree shredded, stable manure. It's hard work but gather everything and reep the rewards in a year or three.
    Nicos, burnie and Runtpuppy like this.

  4. #4
    burnie is offline Veggie gardener
    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    Making a compost heap and somewhere to sit, preferably out of the rain are at the top of the list too.
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  5. #5
    DataMonkey is offline Seedling
    Join Date
    Aug 2016


    Quote Originally Posted by burnie View Post
    Making a compost heap and somewhere to sit, preferably out of the rain are at the top of the list too.
    The only piece of advice I'd offer a newbie is to make sure you enjoy it. If you don't, there's no point.

    The one trick I learnt was to make sure that I took 5 mins at the end of every visit to the allotment to sit down and relax before I rushed off home.

    It really helps you appreciate the progress you've made and there's nothing nicer that sitting in the evening sun listening to the birds and feeling satisfied, even if all you've done is a bit of watering or 20 mins weeding.

  6. #6
    bikermike is offline Cropper
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    North London frontier


    yes, there's nothing like knowing the soil on your plot. I dug my first plot over by hand, and now know it almost inch-by-inch

    second the compost point - it's never to soon to start composting, and the tool point (I tend to go for the wooden-handled stuff - metal are more durable for day-job work, but for something you can keep and hand on to your successors, a well-looked after wooden handle looks much nicer).

    have you started coveting people's sheds yet?

    oh, yes, and in year 2, you'll find out everything you learned in year one doesn't quite work in year two.

    ...and never turn your back on a wounded rhubarb... have you noticed the similarity between a rhubarb that has bolted and a triffid? they lock the allotments at night don't they...
    Nicos, nickdub and Runtpuppy like this.

  7. #7
    1Bee's Avatar
    1Bee is offline Early Fruiter
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    NW Cumbria


    Lovely post.

  8. #8
    Thelma Sanders is offline Gardening Guru
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Willesborough, Kent


    Also, the main thing I have learned
    ....... Is that pumpkins/squash planted through weed control fabric give a very decent yield and also hide a multitude of sins, giving me plenty of time to play with other crops
    burnie and Small pumpkin like this.

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