Allotment Questions about the virus lock down

I’m getting lots of questions about allotmenting in this situation. Far too many to reply to everyone individually, sorry. Hopefully this will help answer most of them. NB these are my personal opinions and not official in any way. 



How Long Can I Spend on the Allotments?

Cabinet minister Michael Gove was clear that we can go to our allotments. There was no time limit given – spend all day working on there if you wish. BUT keep at least 2 metres apart from other plotholders, don’t share tools or a cuppa and wash your hands with soap and water after touching things like gate padlocks others have touched.

Can I take the Children?

Taking children to the plot is great usually but it all depends on how they behave. If they see their pals and run off to play with them they could infect your family. Younger children particularly don’t understand what is going on and the risks in the same way as adults do. The allotments are not a substitute play area.

Driving & Public Transport

Can I drive to the allotments? The authorities understandably don’t want a lot of traffic on the roads but a short trip to a plot and back is not a concern to them. Do not take public transport though. Bicycles are great – and hopefully safer than usual with the roads being quiet.

Safe for me and others

Is it safe for me to go to my plot when I’ve got an underlying issue and my doctor has said to stay at home? Simply no. There’s always some risk whatever you do but you need to be sensible and keep things in perspective. If in doubt, stay at home.

If you’re showing symptoms of the illness or a family member is, don’t go out to the plot. Honestly, it’s just not fair to others and you’ll be able to sort the plot later.

Police Instructions.

I had an email where I was asked my opinion of a policeman telling him he couldn’t go onto his plot and the writer felt the officer was exceeding his authority. Perhaps so, but please don’t argue and do as you’re instructed.

Remember that officer is probably tired, maybe working a double shift and under a lot of strain. They really don’t need stroppy gardeners arguing the toss right now.

Allotment Toilet


This is a bit grim but a pal with medical knowledge pointed out that public toilets could be very risky. The virus has been identified in human stools. Whether the virus is infective or has been killed in the stomach acids is unsure at the moment.

When a toilet is flushed droplets of contaminated water are driven into the air to contaminate surfaces and we know the virus can survive on surfaces for some time. Better to go at home if you can.


We know urine is usually sterile and high in nitrogen which is why it’s so good for getting compost heaps going. I believe it is still safe and we know the ultra-violet in sunlight sterilises as well. So, especially with the risks of using a toilet – a bottle or bucket in the shed is the way to go for a whiz.


Some allotments are busy and others are near empty. Make sure you keep your mobile phone on you in case you have an accident. Maybe best to leave the gates unlocked whilst you are on the site if you can just in case you need to call an ambulance.

There’s always one!

Why do you think it’s OK to go to my allotment when you are complaining about people travelling to places like Snowdonia or the Peak District?

Well it’s unlikely you’ll need Mountain Rescue or a helicopter if you get into trouble on your plot for starters. I could go on but then I’m likely to say something I shouldn’t.



Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
14 comments on “Allotment Questions about the virus lock down
  1. Rowland Wells says:

    this mite seem a silly question to ask but ask it i will i usually collect a load of horse manure every month from my horse lady its about 7 miles 14 round trip to the allotment its already loaded i just collect it and tip it down the allotments and return the empty trailer back to her

    but when the lady phoned the other day to say it was loaded i had to say i can’t collect the trailer at present with travel restrictions because as i thought it was not classed a necessary journey now although i don’t want to upset her but i need to stay on the side of the law?

    • John Harrison says:

      I can’t see the police being bothered but neither can I see your muck lady not understanding if you leave it.
      Just keep yourself safe, Rowland.

  2. g evans says:

    How far can you ride on you cycle, I know some friends of mine do 20 mls in a short morning.

    • John Harrison says:

      If I cycled 20 miles I’d be in intensive care anyway! Seriously,common sense 🙂 An allotment is usually a couple of miles away from home at most.

  3. Angela says:

    My local council sent me a post from the National Allotment Association that said, if you take children to the allotment then they must stay on your plot, not go into any public areas or use the paths as a playground. I know it seems a shame not to let them roam free but it is safer for them and others.
    I’m so glad we can drive to our allotment, it will be so good to still have our homegrown veg.

  4. Jumper says:

    Exeter City Council has closed all public toilets, including allotments. I never used it for a wee, always used a can, then emptied the can on my compost pile.

  5. steve evans says:

    There is a lot of mis-information about at the moment.

    One plot holder was adamant that on the person listed on the tenancy agreement was allowed to attend the plots. i.e. without partners.

    Another was insistent that you couldn’t pick up compost from your retail store because it is not essential ! I have never been a fan of selling food and compost together because of the risks of bacteria transfer but if you are careful then why not.

    In all things common sense applies and keep safe

    • John Harrison says:

      Our local garden centres are now offering a free local delivery. OK, perhaps a few bob more on some things but they’re trying hard to keep afloat and help us.

      • steve evans says:

        Where we are we have only 2 independent outlets, one has been hanging on for the last 10 years, the other has battles on despite their market being eroded by the national chains and supermarkets selling everything from compost to fruit trees.

        I do fear for their future. The only thing that may save them is a resurgence in the “dig for victory” movement as people realise the fragility of our supply chains.

  6. John Kaye says:

    Stafford BC interpretation of the advice is to not stay down the allotment all day – just a short period – but how short has not been defined. They add that, if you are self isolating (over 70,s – which is a lot of us – and vulnerable) you should not go at all!!

    • John Harrison says:

      Hi John
      But telling you that has made them feel very wise and important. Finally he can send orders from his desk in the basement that you must follow. 🙂

  7. Kerry says:

    Hi John, not a question just a comment following yours about keeping phones on you if you have an accident. I am the only person who maintains my allotment and its not unusual, if Im off during the week, to be the only person around. As a healthcare worker Im always conscious of what might happen if I had an accident especially as the allotment site is a bit of a maze. Ive downloaded what3words and saved the address for my allotment. Just in case.

  8. Anna Scamans says:

    I have to take the kids because I’m alone with them most of the time (husband is a key worker). I was concerned for all the reasons you state, but over winter I defined our plot boundary a bit more and created a willow arch for the entrance. Somehow this has helped them follow the “stay on the plot, or else” instruction.

    We’ve also done some maths allotment-schooling, measuring 2m distances, guessing how far away 2m is and using canes to measure it. My two are now amazingly able to keep their distance, even under provovation. 🙂 I’m proud of them.

  9. Angela says:

    Hi when I used to take my 11 year old grandson with special needs we used to have lots of fun with measuring. Who pulled or dug up the longest weed, leek, carrot etc. We made measuring sticks from cranes so he could help plant seeds and plants. He was meticulous about “doing it right” and our plants were like rows of soldiers. It’s all maths in the end!! He is now very good at maths and is predicted grade C in his GCSE which isn’t taking place now! So get the kids inventive and you could have a plot with soldier plants like I used to have!!!

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