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New Allotment, Blank Slate - Moneysaving Tips?

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Hi all, 

After years on the waiting list I've finally got myself an allotment and I've really fallen on my feet - its in great condition with 10 raised beds, all weeded even except one (which has the remains of raspberry canes which haven't been cut down). Also has a greenhouse - needs repairs but all the parts are there to do so. The shed also needs a bit of TLC - window needs re-putting in and some holes need blocking up, but all doable. The shed was also full of tools which are all very usable - all I've had to take up there is gloves, first aid kit, and a kneeler. Can't believe my luck. 

I was planning on months of prep and rotavating, etc - but actually there's very little to do right now except shed repairs and cutting those raspberry canes, and a general tidy. I'm hoarding carboard to cover the beds because I won't be able to plant them all in one go. So, I thought I'd ask the moneysavers for their tips in an effort to not just spend spend spend on seeds and saplings! I know the veg and cutting flowers I like but only really have a handful. So I was going to ask you - what are your best money-saving allotment tips? Which are your best moneysaving plants which produce loads and are expensive or hard to get in shops? I know true self sufficiency is very unlikely, but every little helps.

Thanks all, photo of the dream plot below, 

Laura 


Museum worker who'd rather be in the garden.

Comments

  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 33,086 Forumite
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    First thought is check the orientation of the site. Where is south? That's really going to affect your greenhouse.

    Looks like you have a fruit tree on the right, a gooseberry on the left and a blackberry cane near the shed. 

    And the bottom of the shed looks damp. I'd be digging out the weeds and grass round the shed, making sure the ground level is well below the shed floor and getting some wood treatment on as soon as it is dry. If the shed is on wooden runners direct onto soil, they probably be rotten. I'd try and corral a few people with jacks, lift it, install slabs and replace the runners. Just make sure it's level afterwards. Then install guttering at the front. Not cheap but less than a new shed.

    Do check skips etc for slabs and wood.

    Do you have any water butts?

    Where's the main water supply and are you allowed to use hoses, even if just to fill the water butt?
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • laurathree
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    Thanks for this - South to the bottom of the slope, and it's high on a hill - so from other allotmenters (the few keen beans who are about in January!) it gets a lot of sun, but is also exposed to extreme weather when it comes in. 

    No water butt - that's on my list. Water from self-filling troughs is included in rent, but I am keen to put in a butt to collect my own. Shed is damp - few holes and that window needs fixing - on the list for Saturday. Shed is old and has been neglected but with some basic repairs I think I can get a few more years out of it. 

    Apple tree by the shed I think, based on a few rotting in the growth around the base. Gooseberry - is that the one in the second bed from the top on the left? Been wondering what on earth that was. Its quite thorny. 
    Museum worker who'd rather be in the garden.
  • KajiKita
    KajiKita Posts: 4,363 Forumite
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    Congratulations - that plot looks amazing!  :)

    In terms of cost controls, perhaps try contacting the allotment committee to see if they do any bulk buying of compost, manure or even seeds? They might have a seed swap day - even if you can't bring seeds to swap I'm sure a tray of flapjacks or similar would be your passport in!  :) 

    I would go for fairly robust things in your first year - so things like broad beans which can be sown now, runner beans (wait until Mid April to May to sow these), garlic (just getting a little bit late for this now so you'll have to be quick for garlic), shallots, courgettes (you'll only need 1 or 2 plants though as they can produce to excess!). It depends a bit on what you like to eat / use in your cooking? It would be worth asking the plot holders either side if they know if there is clubroot, white rot or other soil borne diseases that they have issues with - that way you can avoid investing lots of effort on things like brassicas which won't do well in that case. 

    It would be  a good idea to mow / strim down those tufty sections of grass between the beds - excellent habitat for slugs!  ;)  

    KK


    As at 15.05.24:
    - When bought house £315,995 mortgage debt and end date at start = October 2039 <gulp>, now £251,152 end date brought closer by 2 months  
    - OPs to mortgage = £6,785 , Interest saved £2,522 to date
    - LTV 51% @ccord, 51% Yopa
    Fixed rate 2.17% ends October 2024

    Read 29 books of target 52 in 2024 (as @ 8th July)
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  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 33,086 Forumite
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    Thanks for this - South to the bottom of the slope, and it's high on a hill - so from other allotmenters (the few keen beans who are about in January!) it gets a lot of sun, but is also exposed to extreme weather when it comes in. 

    No water butt - that's on my list. Water from self-filling troughs is included in rent, but I am keen to put in a butt to collect my own. Shed is damp - few holes and that window needs fixing - on the list for Saturday. Shed is old and has been neglected but with some basic repairs I think I can get a few more years out of it. 

    Apple tree by the shed I think, based on a few rotting in the growth around the base. Gooseberry - is that the one in the second bed from the top on the left? Been wondering what on earth that was. Its quite thorny. 
    Good. If you know what the fruit tree is then, you can prune it some time in the next few weeks. I can't quite see the structure from the photo. One against the light would help. It may be a dual variety tree. It does seem to have some very tall growth, but it's really important not to over prune it or you'll end up with a fruitless hedgehog.

     Yep, gooseberries are thorny. Again easier to advise with a closer photo.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • Floss
    Floss Posts: 8,446 Forumite
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    Maybe consider spuds this year to fill some of your beds. Be mindful of good crop rotation to ensure the soil works in harmony with its plants & not against. You could put rhubarb in somewhere (if you don't already have any, if so it will soon be growing ;)), strawberries are good fillers as they multiply every year & taste incredible. Thinks like beetroot or salad crops like radish & spring onion. Leaves such as rocket, chard or cut & come again lettuce, but be mindful of succession sowing so you don't get a whole load ready at the same time. 1 or 2 butternut sqash plants will fill one of those beds, and remember your pollinators - most allotments will have flowers to attract bees.
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