Saturday, 30 July 2016

Allotment decision, and a chance acquisition

Some while ago I wrote about considering whether to apply for an allotment. Today I'm telling you my decision. My decision is that I will NOT be applying for an allotment at the location I described. These are my reasons:-

Jane and I went along one day to see the allotment site, but to be honest it didn't look that impressive. A lot of the plants being grown looked thin and pale; many of them were infested with pests. Even many of the well-tended plots had veg in them that I would consider sub-standard. I concluded that the soil there was probably very poor - certainly in comparison with what I have in my own garden. Seeing the lie of the land also helped me to understand some of the chat I had seen on the Allotment society's website about flooding at the bottom of a slope.

Many of the plots were quite a way from a water-point, and hosepipes are not allowed. Fetching water could be a very time-consuming and laborious task.

Perhaps the biggest factor affecting my decision was the distance from home. It is not much less than two miles by road, though there may be a shorter walking route through the big housing estate that is being built. The allotment site is intended primarily for the residents of the new estate of course. Unless I took the car, I could end up spending a lot of time in transit, and taking the car would negate some of the health benefits.

There is a fairly long Waiting List already, and I would imagine that it would get longer as the new houses are completed. The list is actually two lists - with priority being given to residents in the parish where the allotment site is located, and a second list is maintained for people like me who live in neighbouring parishes. Even if I put my name on the list now, it might be a long time before my turn arrived.

A final factor is the matter of rules. The allotment site obviously has rules, which is understandable and sensible, but my garden doesn't. I run my garden the way I want to, and no-one can tell me to do otherwise. Now I am a relatively easy-going person and not unduly cantankerous, but I just thought there are bound to be some occasions on which I would rather not have someone else telling me what I can or can't do on my plot, so on balance it's best if I stick to gardening on my own property.

Anyway, the decision is made! No allotment for me.

Now, the other subject of my post today- just a quick mention of something nice I picked up a few days ago. We made a trip to our local Recycling Centre (aka "Tip") to dispose of some rubbish. While we were there I noticed in their sales area a rather nice wicker log-basket. I paid £3 to take possession of it. It's roughly the size of my 35-litre plastic pots, but an awful lot nicer to look at:

I have lined it will a couple of old compost sacks trimmed-down, filled it with soil and sown some seeds in it already. As you can see, I'm using the damp hessian technique again, because it seems to work very well. The Beetroot seeds I sowed the other day using this method germinated in just over 3 days. In this new container I have sown loads of Parsley seeds, in the hope that I will be able to have enough of that herb to keep us going over Winter. (We use a lot of Parsley!)

The ugly blue thing in my photo is the container in which the shingle was delivered. It is still about a third full. I will be using the rest of the shingle next Spring, when I construct my next batch of deep raised beds. Until that time I have to put up with having an unsightly blue monstrosity in the garden!


  1. Yes, an allotment which is not right next to your house is a big problem for some of us. When I had an allotment it was 1.5 miles away. Just the distance alone stopped me from doing those little 5 minute jobs first thing in the morning and spoilt the experience for me. It takes a certain type of person to run an allotment at a distance - wasn't for me.

    Poor soil fertility, and to some extent diseases can be rectified quite easily, find someone with a small plough (there is always one or someone knows of someone nearby who can do it) plough it and then get 2 or 3 or more trailer loads of manure and then plough it in. Wait until the next year. Plough again and then use....but it wouldn't be for me :)

    I think growing in your own garden is the ultimate providing it is big enough. It's why we moved, not for the house but for the additional 1/2 acre lump of land next to it.

    Any new plot has a lot of issues. Gardens have often been cultivated and loved for years, possibly 100's and the soil has been made good. A field such as ours or an allotment that has just has diseases built up and fertility reduced just poses different problems but there is always a lot of hard work compared to an established garden.

    To me the only problem with an allotment is the distance and rules. Both of which go against my grain.

    You've obviously thought about it and therefore will have come to the right decision - enjoy your garden :)

  2. We don't have allotments here but I can definitely understand your not wanting this one. Of course, when I think of hauling water to a garden here in GA, it would just be impossible since things need to be watered every day. You do have a lovely garden already and I see the excitement in having more room but not if it isn't going to be the way you want it.

  3. Your decision sounds quite reasonable to me. I would be put off by a 2 mile drive and other people's rules also. If it was my only option for having a garden then I might do it, but as an adjunct to a home garden it might tend to be neglected. And that hauling water thing, no way!

  4. Hi Mark...interesting about the allotment. How true about the well nurtured soil or lack of. We have dumped tons of manure into our gardens over the years and it makes such a big difference. And the water issue. Even with water handy, watering can sometimes be a pain, cannot imagine hauling it. (I picture a wagon filled with recycled milk jugs.) Love your basket. We use a lot of parsley too. We are drinking smoothies with parsley and kale.

  5. Quite a sensible decision in light of your observations. I'm not much one for rules either, especially in the garden where one of the joys is experimenting in all sorts of ways. And the thought of lugging water around would not sit well either. Lovely basket, btw.

  6. Obviously the allotment decision is right for you. Just to offer a different point of view though. Our allotment is a car ride away but although there are disadvantages it works for us. We don't need two sets of garden tools. There is no way we could carry everything we need for one session even if we lived close by. Also we would not be able to carry all our harvest home even with two of us. We can't just pop out and do five minutes gardening but when we do go 'plotting' we get stuck in for the afternoon which is good exercise despite having to drive to the site.

  7. Your post has made me realise how lucky I am plot sharing where I do. It's at the top of a hill with plenty of water taps for all (my tap is literally on the corner of the plot) and hosepipes are allowed. Although it's undoubtedly quicker by car, if I choose I can get there with 30 minutes pleasant walking by the Heath. I think one of the reasons the plots on my site are so good is that plot holders have generally been gardening for decades and enriching the soil for the same time. There are politics, of course, but I'm firmly steering clear of that; for me, it's a chance to have some extra space for larger veg like kales and broccoli and a large cut flower patch. It sounds like you've made a wise decision for yourself, Mark, although perhaps missing an opportunity to make some local gardening friends through allotment gardening.

  8. I think you feel similarly to the pros/cons of allotments to me, Mark. You certainly grow an enormous range of things in your garden and it seems to keep you pretty busy! The damp hessian trick looks like a winner – I'll have to give it a try.


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