Housing Threat to Allotments
Here in the UK, our food prices may have fallen in the last thirty years but our housing costs have risen incredibly. The government has said it intends to build millions of houses, which should cool the market and bring housing costs back into line a bit. But where are they going to get the land from?
There are a limited number of ‘brown field sites’ and I expect every encroachment onto the green belt will be fought. Even some of the brown field sites are fought as they now have rare flowers or newts living there.
Yes, our allotments are going to come under more threat. Our own site would make ideal building land. Instead of providing a hobby for 40 people it could provide housing for 60 families, not to mention a tidy profit for the land owners and developers.
Now an allotment site that is under occupied and where plots are just a weedy mess (I’m talking in general now) are going to be far easier targets than fully utilised and productive sites.
So, one of the best things we can do to protect our allotments is to ensure they are fully occupied and productive.
You may have noticed, as I have, a pattern in recent years. Vegetable growing and allotments have become popular again and even trendy. People take on a plot with great enthusiasm but after six months or a year they’re giving up. Defeated by the weeds, crops that just don’t compare with the perfect specimens they see on the supermarket shelf they give up the fad.
Organic Growing Misunderstood
Well I’m convinced a lot of this is down to them not having a clue about how to grow. I also think the organic movement has become counter productive in some ways. People hear the word ‘organic’ and think it means you grow crops with no chemicals, no input at all. They take on a plot covered in perennial weeds and cover it with plastic or carpets and expect the soil to have miraculously become wonderful and productive when they take them away.
Organic growing is perfectly viable and can be just as productive, if not more so, than chemical growing but it requires more work and more knowledge. It also requires the acceptance that a little pest damage is preferable to eating pesticide residues.
I’d much rather see a plot sprayed initially with glyphosate and then brought into production a month later than covered with plastic for a year. Digging out a mass of bindweed is just too time consuming for many people.
I’d also rather see a good dose of Growmore go onto the soil than watch people wonder why nothing is growing on their plot. Although fish, blood and bone would be better if marginally dearer and a decent load of manure better still.
Helping New Vegetable Growers
Anyway, my forthcoming book is aimed at the novice and gives both organic and non-organic options. I really hope it will help new growers get results that will encourage them to carry on.
The plan for the winter months is to increase the amount of basic knowledge on this web site. I’ve put some very personal articles up in the past but always assumed that most of my visitors would be growing already so I’ve not put any particularly formal guides online.
The forums have shown me that we have a lot of new growers visiting and some searching around on the web has shown me that decent information is not as easily found as I assumed.
Help New Growers
Now useful as this may turn out to be, a little plea to the good growers out there on allotments. Talk to the new plot holders. If you see them doing something wrong, offer advice. Now people hate being told, I do, so a useful phrase is “You might find it easier” or “You might get better results if you”.
That person floundering on the plot might just need some guidance to end up with a hobby for a lifetime rather than just a season. And your advice might just save your plot from the housing developers.