Allotments - Some Tips to Get You Started

This article is courtesy of Stephen Watts aka Maxsalad. He grows in Sheffield, England and is into organic growing, sustainable living and even writes poetry.

Allotment

If you can’t grow in your back garden (most of us) find the allotment site that is as close to you as possible (ideally walking/cycling distance) and put your name down.

If the council says that there’s a ten year waiting list you have to make a choice:

You can wait

Put your name down on another site list but remember that if it means traveling a long distance you might end up neglecting it

Move house! (Bit extreme)

So my advice is to walk up and down the site close to you and find someone who works on the allotments and ask them if there are any abandoned plots that the owner has neglected and try and get to share a plot.

Get into wild food – this has its limits and to most it is totally inapproachable but if you're like me then you could get a lot out of this method

Ask a friend if you can use his garden or a part of it. Gardensharing is becoming very popular.

Start small – if you’re a beginner 10ft by 10ft is recommended.

Grow the easy stuff first – the best people to speak to this about are the old timers from your area.

Give the soil priority – getting the soil fertile is more than half the work done and will give satisfying results.

Having good tools and a shed to keep them in makes things easy.

Become aware of the weather and garden instinctively – if you listen and watch carefully it will tell you what needs doing next.

Remember you have other commitments as well as food growing; don’t neglect important things for the sake of say, “a few weeds”

Squash, broad beans, leeks, garlic, shallots, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, spinach beet, Swiss chard, corn salad, are some of the easy ones I recommend to start with because they will all grow in shady sites provided the right soil preparation is made and many allotments are shady.

The real value of allotments is in salad greens (rocket, kale, mustard, cress, claytonia, etc..) since they are ridiculously expensive in the shops yet a relatively easy crop to grow, and they simply don’t keep more than a day or two so you have to get them fresh, preferably everyday, and that means having them growing as close to your mouth as possible!

I hope that whoever reading this may find something useful in this information and are now inspired to grow some of your own. I strongly recommend buying some local seeds. SOFI (Sheffield organic food initiative) is an excellent source-you get so many more than you will get commercially.

One thing I love about food growing is all the wonderful metaphors for life that it contains in the process. Not “growing” the plant but creating the right conditions for the plant to grow its self; sowing seeds in the dark earth to emerge into the light; reaping what you sow

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