Allotment gardening is certainly growing in the UK, pardon the pun. Around 12.5 million Brits are now growing their own food, and the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed in the UK which were grown in allotments or gardens went up from 2.9% to 5% between 2008 and 2011.
The surge in popularity in allotment gardening can be attributed to the grow your own movement, as people become more environmentally aware and also wish to reduce their food costs. According to The National Allotment Society, “An allotment is traditionally measured in rods (perches or poles), an old measurement dating back to Anglo-Saxon times. 10 poles are the accepted size of an allotment, the equivalent of 250 square metres or about the size of a doubles tennis court.”
How to Get Started
There are a number of ways to go about getting an allotment. You can contact your local council to apply for an allotment, where you will be added to a waiting list. There are also private landlords who rent out plots of land – your best bet is to contact your local allotment society or visit the plots in your area and find out who owns the land and if there is space available.
You might also find that there are people who are willing to share their plot with you. There is, however, a shortage of allotment space since the demand is so high. An alternative option is the Landshare scheme, which connects people with spare land to those looking for space to garden.
Planning and Prepping
Once you have your very own plot of plan, the fun begins. There are plenty of resources out there for budding allotmenteers.
If your plot is covered with plants and weeds, you will need to clear the area before you can do anything. This may seem like a daunting task, but many hands make light work, so rope in your friends and family to help out. It’s important that you test the soil quality and structure before you go ahead and plant anything.
This will inform how you treat the soil – what nutrients will be required, what plants are suitable, and whether draining structures will need to be added. Finally, it’s a good idea to create a plan of your allotment, and plot what you want to grow where. Keep in mind that you will need to rotate your crops each year, so ensure you plan for sufficient growing beds.
You should also consider the placement of structures such as a shed, trellises and paths that are wide enough for a wheelbarrow. What with gardening being a messy business (but you all love getting your hands dirty really), try and keep clean and dry with our waterproof trousers. This are perfect to prevent your legs getting wet when watering all your lovely plants.