Five top tips for the new tenant

Getting started on your plot if you take over in Autumn/Winter

By Melanie Matthews

New to allotments?  Autumn is the time when most new people get their plots - its a perfect time to get started - here are some tips:

  1. clear your plot first before you build a shed (you wouldnt believe how many people spend so long building a shed they lose their plot through non cultivation!)
  2. A day of planning before you get stuck in will pay dividends.  Strim or clear away everything from the plot, and then using sticks and  string, mark out your beds and paths.  Ideally beds will be about 4ft wide (so you can reach them from both sides without stepping on them) and run north to south (so they get maximum light to all plants).  Before you do it, wander your site and look at different plots.  Ask the tenants why they did it the way they did, and then work out whats right for you.
  3. Don't try and do it all at once - but at the same time don't put it off!  Come up every week in the winter and dig for an hour or two - rather than coming every month, digging all day and ending up with back pain!  Its good to make your plot a habit, rather than an "extra" to be squeezed in around other priorities. Decide on your plot day and stick to it because missing a week or two in spring or summer will mean when you do come you will feel so overwhelmed by things to do its very easy to get demotivated. 
  4. Don't presume you can wait til spring to start gardening - Spring is a manic time of planting and weeding - you won't have time to clear the plot then!  So clear it now and start with a lovely blank canvas for spring!
  5. Now's the time to buy your seeds.  Sounds silly but remember only buy seeds of veg you like!  And don't forget to buy winter veg seeds.  Successful plots don't stop when the days shorten - this time next year you could be picking leeks, kale, broccoli, brussels, spinach and more!
This page was added by Melanie Matthews on 18/12/2011.