A Lot of Love for the Allotment
Are you a fruit and veg enthusiast? Do you have the desire for growing your own but you lack the space to do it? Why not stretch your green fingers at an allotment instead?
HSL’s lovely coffee shop colleague, Colleen, has been a keen allotment enthusiast for 10 years and shares some of her top tips for taking care of them.
When you first get the ‘keys’ to your plot, make sure you have a good clear out. Take away any unwanted materials or debris to create a blank slate. Next, plan it out. What do you want? Where do you want it? Spend an afternoon deciding what it will all look like. Don’t forget about crop rotation – fruit and veg have specific seasons for planting.
What will you plant?
How often will you be able to visit your allotment? If you’re super busy and only able to tend to the crop once or twice a week, you might want to consider Perennial plants – these are the kind that don’t need to be grown from seed every year. For example, asparagus, raspberries, rhubarb and herbs like rosemary will need tending to, but not repotting every year.
If you can give the allotment a lot more of your time, then the fruit and veg world is your oyster! I’d always recommend getting F1 seeds if you can. F1 seeds are produced by crossing two good lines, producing especially healthy seeds that, even though they’re a little more expensive, are strong and usually lead to great yield.
Top 10 tips
Here are my top 10 bite-sized ideas to keep your allotment in tip-top shape:
- Water in the morning where possible – the later you water, the more that slugs are encouraged at night!
- Keep an eye on instructions about plants that are best kept in shady spots (like lettuce) and which are the sun-loving ones (like potatoes).
- Runner beans are a great veg to choose as your starter. They are very hardy and return year after year if taken care of.
- Bring some colour to your plot by growing flowers like marigolds around the border. They’ll attract pollinating insects and help deter pests.
- To increase germination, soak pea, bean, pumpkin, winter squash, sunflower and cucumber seeds prior to planting. Do it in a well-lit and warm place for about 24 hours.
- Grinding eggshells into powder gives your soil a nice calcium boost.
- Using a disposable nappy helps retain water in potted plants.
- When you start seeding your plants, use a half lemon or orange cut in half – these will naturally compost into the ground too.
- You can make mini greenhouses from ¾ plastic bottles turned into little domes.
- Keep learning – each time you harvest your crops, write down what went well and what didn’t quite go to plan so that you can do even better next time.