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To allotment or not to allotment

Smurggle Posts: 75 Forumite
Hiya! I haven't been on here for ages and have returned for some advice and support!

I have been offered an allotment plot near my home and am going to see it tonight. I have been growing fruit and veg in my garden for years but have no space (small terraced garden full of chickens and my 5 year old) so want to try my hand at upscaling a bit!

I wondered if anyone had any tips or advice before I go and look at this plot tonight? I am worried about having enough time to tend to it, as I have a complicated living situation, full time job and small child to look after. How long do you generally spend on your allotments a week? Do you need to be there everyday to stop the place turning into a jungle? (I've only ever had tiny garden and containers to grow stuff in).

Thank you!

Also any help or advice on what I should be looking for when I look round tonight would be great!
Total debt (minus mortgage) [STRIKE]Jan 2008- £26972[/STRIKE]
[STRIKE] Total debt Jan 2009- £17673[/STRIKE], Feb 2012- £7620 :D


  • alixandrea
    alixandrea Posts: 120 Forumite
    Have you heard of 'square foot gardening'? That's supposed to be a good way to get an attractive, well-controlled veg garden out of any area of land, including allotments. The idea is to just plant what you need/will use rather than great long lines of closely-spaces veg that you have to thin out and weed between. It could potentially cut down the maintenance times. Have a look into it (I recommend the book by Mel Bartholomew) and see if it might help you.

  • Humbug_2
    Humbug_2 Posts: 36 Forumite
    Hi Smurggle. My advice would be to grab it with both hands. I have had a plot now for four years and it has been the best thing I have ever done. I too work full time and have a family to deal with, so can't commit anything like the amount of time I would like too (all day, every day;) ), but you just do what you can do. If you have been growing stuff in your garden, then you are not even a beginner, so you are well placed to start.

    Don't expect to be offered a piece of beautifully tilled prime real estate. Expect a 12 month derelict site full of weeds, but should be without too much in the way of established nasties like brambles. On the upside, it could contain any of fruit bushes, fruit trees, rhubarb, a shed, a greenhouse etc if you fall lucky.

    Whatever, you are likely to need an initial push to get the plot back in action, but you don't have to do it all in the first year. Call upon some free labour (brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, friends) if you can to help with the initial hard work. They'll probably love helping you. My two nephews have been known as 'The Chuckle Brothers' after their laughable attempts to build some raised beds for me.

    Most of the allotment effort takes place in spring to early summer, with planning, digging, sowing, planting, growing all taking up your time. Summer to Autumn tends to be about winning the weeding battle and of course reaping your rewards. Winter is pretty quiet with just some soil preparation for next year. So expect 3-4 visits a week at the busiest times, tailing off as the year goes on.

    So my advice is to just do it. What's the worst that can happen?

  • kymrob
    kymrob Posts: 409 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker Mortgage-free Glee!
    i have an allotment, great place to have peace and quiet and relax , plus great for your child. i would say give it a go whats there to lose! my husband and i spend most sat mornings up there and that seem to b enough but it do get additive offen go just to have a look! we have had it for 3 years and said when it becames a chore we will give it up!
    i would ask about water? soil type? im sure u will b told everything u need to know and most people on allotments are really friendly and keen to help with advice! good luck
  • poppysarah
    poppysarah Posts: 11,522 Forumite
    Do you have spare time? Would you reduce what you do at home?
    Can you keep your 5 yr old happy on a possibly dangerous allotment site?
  • Kantankrus_Mare
    Kantankrus_Mare Posts: 6,107 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    I would say go for it.

    I have had a plot for six years now putting more effort in some years than others but I wouldnt be without it.

    I only wish I had taken one on when my kids were much younger and keen to be involved. Its good for them to learn where and how food grows too.

    My son who is 18 has only been once and that was when he was learning to drive and I promised him a go of the car around the site.

    My daughter used to come a bit in her early teens and will still come occasionally but 16 year olds have other things going on :D
    Make £10 a Day Feb .....£75.... March... £65......April...£90.....May £20.....June £35.......July £60
  • Smurggle
    Smurggle Posts: 75 Forumite
    Thanks everyone, I will go and have a nose around tonight and barring knotweed and no water then I think I'll probably go for it! I am a single mum with a supportive ex, so I get a bit of time when I'm not looking after my son. And on the days he can join me on the allotment, then I'll make sure someone is with me so one of us can keep an eye on him!

    So prepare yourselves for lots of silly questions about veg growing! :D
    Total debt (minus mortgage) [STRIKE]Jan 2008- £26972[/STRIKE]
    [STRIKE] Total debt Jan 2009- £17673[/STRIKE], Feb 2012- £7620 :D
  • kymrob
    kymrob Posts: 409 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker Mortgage-free Glee!
    smurggle, how did u get on? :D
  • DaftyDuck
    DaftyDuck Posts: 4,609 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post First Anniversary
    Go for it... 100%. I don't have a kid, so I can't give you direct information from that side, but I can tell you my fondest memories of childhood come from around the age of seven, on the veg patch, picking raspberries, growing carrots & radishes, and becoming fascinated by insects. The latter part gave me a career (did too, strange as it may seem!), the former a lifelong hobby.

    Involve the young sproglet as much as you can, and get him growing his supper. By my reckoning, you've got two years to perfect your gardening ability, before you get him doing the hard work!
  • Baalmaiden
    Baalmaiden Posts: 91 Forumite
    Hi there, you can save a lot of time by restricting what you grow to low maintenance crops. If you are allowed to grow fruit then blueberries, raspberries, for instance are high value crops for not too much weeding and just a bit of pruning. mulch to keep down the weeds Rhubarb's good too! Swedes, parsnips curly kale and sprouting broccoli are easy too.
  • redsam
    redsam Posts: 233 Forumite
    got for it, even with a 5 yr old...a small amount of allotmentig regulary rather than whole weekends/days sporadicaly....easier to weed and potter and doesnt become a chore, if you can and like spending whole days thats also great too...I am an ex site rep and always recomend littke and often....

    plant close together..smaller veg (ie cabbage) but lots of them and less weeds
    stuff that stores/freezes well
    google 'lazy beds'
    growing from seed is so much cheaper than buying small plants
    gooseberries are good...my chickens love the red ones!
    damson dwarf fruit trees...an expensive fruit and so yummy...i would recomend no bothering with apple trees as so many trees about to collect/pick/scrump for free
    also plant bee friendly plants to encourgage bees for polination

    I could go on an on...

    good luck

    been away for a while..need to get on financial track!
    :eek: debts.....Post Grad Student Loan, Northern Rock Loan, Egg CC, Halifax CC, A&L CC, A&L overdraft
    Allotment plot holder since Feb 2008 :j
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