We got an allotment! In this post, I walk you through what an allotment is, how we got one, and our plans for preparing the plot.
Don’t worry, I’m still growing the vegetable and flower gardens at home! You can see what I planted last year here:
What is an Allotment?
Allotments are a community garden where you rent a plot of land (an allotment) to grow food. This produce is mainly vegetables, but can also be fruit, herbs, and flowers. The difference between allotments and community gardens that exist in North America is that you cultivate your parcel of land individually, rather than working on one garden collectively. Allotments came about in England after the “Inclosure” Acts in the late 1700s through to the First World War. These Inclosure and Commons Acts required the local government to provide land that could be rented at low cost by community members. Allotments were heavily used in the Second World War for food provision during rationing.
I’m not entirely sure how many plots exist at our allotments, perhaps 30-40. Many people also seem to be looking after more than one plot. Our allotment is actually a half plot. I think it is a huge space, whereas Lucy thinks it’s about the right size for a half plot.
Why and How did we get and Allotment?
Lucy and I both love gardening, and we’ve grown up with our families looking after allotments and home gardens. The flat we lived in previously overlooked allotments, and it was our dream to have our own garden space one day. Lucy put us on a wait list about a year and a half ago, before we had even moved to our village. In early March, she got a surprise email saying that a plot was available!
Plot 19 had been previously tended by an older man, and he hadn’t been able to look after it for a couple of years. It needs tilling, and general maintenance, but we both felt that, despite being busy, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Everyone at the allotments whom we have met are lovely. We have even been gifted raspberry canes, which Lucy has planted at the back of the plot.
Wilbur (our 8 month old miniature wirehaired dachshund) takes up a lot of our time, and we were/are concerned about how he will deal with being on the allotment. So far it’s been a mixed reaction, with one visit spent mostly crying in the car, but hopefully he’ll grow to love it.
Preparing the Allotment
Throughout March, we have been working hard every Sunday clearing the rubbish and preparing the soil. The ground is very clay heavy and needed tilling (my poor back!). We hope to be able to adopt the no-dig approach in future years by adding a layer of mulch/compost to the beds each spring.
The first weekend we piled up the rubbish, and Lucy has been trying to repair the shed. I started digging over a corner of the plot that will be the potato and leek bed. The second weekend was spent further preparing the potato bed. Lucy planted the raspberries, and prepared the soil for planting comfrey, which is a herb that makes fantastic fertilizer.
We are aiming to get the whole plot dug and bark paths put in by Easter weekend, so that we can be ready to start planting in early April. Wish us luck!
Tips from fellow allotmenteers welcome!