Assign designated areas for composting — and if your local council allows — a place to make a bonfire on which to incinerate weeds and toast marshmallows. Allotment gardens are hard work, especially when starting from scratch. Dig out a small area and focus on a couple of crops for starters, covering over the rest of the plot with a weed proof membrane.
Ease yourself in to allotment life, just as you would a hot bath. Not only does a shed stake your claim on your new allotment garden plot, it announces to your fellow allotment chums that you mean business. When your shed is up and running, install a water butt and guttering. Wandering around the plots of a mature allotment can often be dispiriting, especially for the greenhorn gardener. Just remember that the most pristine Gardens of Eden on which your eyes reside are most likely owned by retired folk who can devote most of their days to keeping them in tip-top condition.
Take inspiration and take note. Are fruit bushes netted up? This indicates that the local pigeon population is abundant.
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Is there low netting and chicken wire surrounding brassicas? This probably means that rabbits are rife, so protect your own crops accordingly. This sounds like deer. Best of luck with that one…. Obviously, the best advice will come from a good old fashioned, face-to-face chat with your fellow allotmenteers.
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Are you a complete allotment newbie? Have you tried any of the tips in our allotment guide for beginners? Share your stories in the comment below.
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Literally meaning 'through the years', perennial fruits and herbs — such as tomatoes, strawberries, garlic, basil and blueberries — typically live more than two years, returning each spring from their rootstock. Companion planting is key to making the most out of your space and the quality of your produce. Certain complementary plants forge mutually beneficial relationships helping to repel pests , improve pollination and provide nutrients.
For example: Lettuces, radishes and other quick-growing plants sown between hills of melons or squash will mature and be harvested long before the vines need more room. Additionally, leafy greens such as spinach grow well in the shadow of corn. Tip: Remember, growing members of the same family close together increases competition for soil nutrients. Disperse onions, chives, leeks and garlic across your plot, instead of keeping them close together.
Tip: Think about adding an electric or gas heater. Along with overhead lighting, it can extend the growing period for warm season plants for even longer. Planting herbs throughout your plot can help to repel insects with their strongly scented leaves. For example, sage repels cabbage moths and French Marigolds are great to grow with tomatoes because their strong scents repel aphids. The benefits extend beyond protection, as the addition of herbs can enhance the flavours of other plants too. For example, growing basil alongside tomatoes and lettuce enhances the flavour of both. T ip: If you grow the herb wormwood you can make a tea that, when poured on plants, repels slugs.
Why: Works well with tomatoes or fish, or use to make a traditional pesto sauce. Which: For Italian-style cooking, look out for sweet Genovese or Napoletano. For variety, try Greek, lettuce leaf or aniseedy Thai. Why: Excellent in sauces, soups, stuffings, dressings and salads, and as a garnish. Which: Both curly and flat-leaf varieties are resilient and will keep going well into autumn, and even winter if protected with a cloche.
Why: The aromatic foliage is versatile for cooking and attractive to wildlife. Which: Lemon and golden varieties look lovely in pots. Plant creeping thymes between gaps in paving for subtle scent. Why: Its subtle aniseed flavour is greatfor soups, sauces, egg dishes and more. Which: Curled chervil is a popular variety with pretty foliage and grows quickly from seed. Sow regularly for a constant supply. Why: A staple in French cooking and a classic way to add oomph to potato salad. Which : Look out for French tarragon. The leaves are best used fresh but they can be stored or dried in an air-tight container.
Why: Delicious added to rice, couscousand curries.
A Beginners Guide to Starting a New Allotment
Add the flowers to salads. Which: Coriander is quick to go to seed called bolting so try a bolt-resistant variety such as Santos and pick leaves young. Why: Strong and pungent, this is a classic herb for Italian, Greek and Mexican cooking and is often used dried rather than fresh. Why: A classic accompaniment to lamb, pork and chicken dishes. Which: Most varieties are suitable for culinary use.
Once established outside, rosemary will keep growing for years.