Tips for your allotment

Tips for your allotment

Check out our allotment tips for national allotment week.

•Crop rotation – this is a great practice to follow which helps with soil fertility, weed control and pest and disease control. Split your plot into sections depending on how much of one group you want to grow then each year rotate by one plot. This is normally done over 3 or 4 years
3 Year
• Year one
Section one: Potatoes
Section two: Legumes, onions and roots
Section three: Brassicas
• Year two
Section one: Legumes, onions and roots
Section two: Brassicas
Section three: Potatoes
• Year three
Section one: Brassicas
Section two: Potatoes
Section three: Legumes, onions and roots
4 Year
• Year one
Section one: Legumes
Section two: Brassicas
Section three: Potatoes
Section four: Onions and roots
• Year two
Section one: Brassicas
Section two: Potatoes
Section three: Onions and roots
Section four: Legumes
• Year three
Section one: Potatoes
Section two: Onions and roots
Section three: Legumes
Section four: Brassicas
• Year four
Section one: Onions and roots
Section two: Legumes
Section three: Brassicas
Section four: Potatoes

• Clear weeds from the site 1st. Do not use a rotavator as this can spread the roots of weeds such as Nettles and Bindweed which will then re grow. Instead cut down to a manageable height and use a fork or spade to dig out. This may seem labour intensive but worth it for great soil.

• Consider what you want to grow as some crops can be in the ground years or take up large amounts of room. Soft fruit bushes will require cages with netting to protect from birds.

• Weeding between rows with a hoe in dry weather will help keep weeds under control.

• Watering – plants need to be encouraged to search for water deeply, so water well once a week instead of a light sprinkling every day. If you have a shed on your plot, invest in a water butt. This helps create a convenient supply of water.

• Sun - Ideally a plot should be in sun which is ideal for most crops. If you have a more shaded location, then hose crops wisely. Currents and berries along with chards, kale and lettuces will grow well if planted out with an established root system.

• Soil – some crops won’t grow in particular soil so get dirty and test your soil. It is also worth doing a pH test as you may need to add soil improvers. Ideally you are looking for a pH level between 6.1 and 7 as most plants will grow in this as it is high in nutrient. It is always worth adding good rich organic matter each year.

• Pest and Diseases – the most common issue is with slugs and snails. They can devastate a crop over night so try and use organic control such as Wool pellets or go on a hunt overnight and pick them off. Watch out for diseases such as Allium Leaf Minor, Potato and Tomato Blight and Club Root.

• Make you own compost – from 1 simple compost bin to 3 large crates, there is a way to make your own compost for every size plot. Starting in the spring mix green, nitrogen-rich material with brown, carbon-rich material. Keep adding to the pile, breaking up larger items and if it becomes dry spray with water. Turn regularly with a fork as it starts to cool down. This method should see compost ready in 4 months.

• Mulching – one of the best for nutrients and cost effective is leaf mulch. Simply take a black bin liner and put a few holes in the side and bottom. Collect your leaves and put them in the bag along with a spray of water. Tie the back and place it in a shaded area until the following autumn when you can apply to the plot. Try to exclude conifer and evergreen as these take several years to decompose. If you have a larger area and a lot of leaves to collect, make a leaf bin out of stakes and chicken netting.

• Wildlife friendly plots – help to encourage bees, butterflies, hedgehogs and frogs especially in more urban areas. Avoid using harsh chemicals buy using companion planting or manually removing pests. Think about creating a wild flower section which may also include a small pond. Set up bee-boxes, hedgehogs-homes and log piles.

Posted 14th Aug 3:47pm

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