Love your allotmentPosted By: rocket veg Category: Seasonal Tips
13 to 19 August 2018 is National Allotments Week, a chance to showcase the opportunities and fun of having an allotment. If you’ve ever thought of taking on an allotment, now is the perfect time to make enquiries and you might even find that an allotment site near your home is holding an open day, the chance to meet allotment gardeners and see at first-hand what is actually involved.
Why have an allotment
If you have space in your garden, you should be able to find enough room to grow some vegetable crops, especially smaller varieties such as ‘salads’, peas and beans, but to grow space-hungry crops (potatoes, onions, pumpkins and squash spring to mind) a bigger piece of land is pretty much essential, so the obvious solution is to rent an allotment.
Bristol has a rich tradition of allotment gardening and was one of the first cities to provide land which could be rented by its residents, many of whom existed on a meagre diet and had little or no space for growing food where they lived. The German blockade of the British Isles towards the end of the First World War meant that every scrap of land was put to good use – repeated by the famous ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign during the Second World War. Enthusiasm for allotmenting waned during the latter decades of the twentieth century and a number of overgrown and largely abandoned allotment sites across the country were given over for development. However, the past twenty years or so have seen a surge of interest in ‘growing your own’ and the demand for allotments in Bristol is an all-time high with long waiting lists for a plot on the more popular sites.
Allotmenting is fun!
As well as the satisfaction of growing food, allotment gardening is a sociable pastime – the chance to share advice and tips about growing fruit and veg, chat about the weather (!) and meet people with a similar enthusiasm for gardening. You don’t need to be an expert and there are always people to ask for help. If you’re a handy person who enjoys building ‘constructions’, an allotment offers the opportunity for endless fun: making a fruit cage; a cover for tender seedlings; supports for climbing plants; a cold frame or small greenhouse (permission may be needed for the latter, so check first) and so on.
‘Allotmenting’ is a family activity. Many children enjoy doing a spot of gardening – especially when the end result is something edible – but they want instant results and not all children like getting their hands dirty. Keep children occupied and interested with a series of short activities; and when choosing seeds for them to plant, go for varieties which are easy for little fingers to handle and which germinate readily.
What is involved in having an allotment
To keep an allotment in good shape and productive, you really need to spend a minimum of ten hours a week on your plot during the growing season, ideally in short bursts, rather than letting things go for a few weeks and thinking it will be a simple job to get things back into shape – only to find that weeds have taken over. Always bear in mind that it is never as easy as the gardeners on television make it seem!
For more information about National Allotments Week 2018