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Have I made a mistake...?


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  • Have I made a mistake...?

    The allotments in our village are somewhat under threat and in order to keep up numbers, I have asked for a plot from April (really to keep up the numbers as half a dozen people are planning to give up theirs from then). It's only a small village and the allotments have no water or facilities as such - I think it's ok to put up a shed, but fruit trees other than soft fruit are a no no. Still, it would be a real shame to lose the ground to arable or housing which is the plan.

    Thing is, I usually do the square foot gardening thingy in my garden at home, and am used to only working with a small area and fairly intensive cultivation. I also have limited time to devote to the project. A whole allotment (I'm told its 11yds by 44yds) just seems sooooo scary. I did ask what was the smallest area I could take, as I can only imagine using 1/4 of the space for veggies but the rep didn't seem to think it was possible to just take half an allotment, so it looks like we will have to keep the whole thing as tidy as possible, even though we might not be able to cultivate it all.

    Anyway, I wondered if anyone might have an idea what we could do with the bit of the plot we don't use to keep it looking respectable? Can you have just plain mowed grass on an allotment, or a wild flower area?? Or is it just daft to take on an allotment if I can't commit enough time to crop the whole of it?
    Last edited by muckdiva; 06-03-2007, 10:28 AM.
    All at once I hear your voice
    And time just slips away
    Bonnie Raitt

  • #2
    Wildflowers would be nice...

    Could you plant some strawberries and let them "run wild" a bit? My mum did this with part of her garden, and ended up with a massive strawberry bed.


    • #3
      Grass isn't a bad idea, but you must keep on top of mowing it. How will you do that? Petrol Mower? Otherwise you could cover it with old carpets or plastic sheeting.

      Wild flowers is a good idea too.

      By no means is it a daft idea. I manage to get about 1 day every 2 weeks to my allotment on average. Last year I got a good crop and this year i'm hoping for better.


      • #4
        Are you allowed to leave it to go semi-wild?? ( might be seen as abandoning it unless you have the ok!)
        If you can show you are growing wild herbs aswell as flowers, with wildlife nesting boxes, the local authority ( if it's owned by them) and your neighbours will be unllikely to complain.
        I have about 1/4 of my plot turned to grass with dwarf rootstock fruit trees (could you put fruit bushes there instead??). Again you'll need to check if that's ok as some sites don't allow either. It's cut every 2 wks for about 6 months of the year. Dead easy!
        We bought a reconditioned petrol mower for about £70 and as it's small, is easy to use.
        Raised beds with mulched paths will also cut down on work for you.
        No - you've not made a mistake....lets hope you can persuade others to join you!!
        Well done ...and enjoy!
        Last edited by Nicos; 06-03-2007, 11:12 AM.
        "Nicos, Queen of Gooooogle" and... GYO's own Miss Marple


        • #5
          What about covering an area with black plastic and growing potatoes under? Not much work involved, will clear weeds and you get some lovley home grown potatoes.

          Courgettes take up room and don't need much attention although lots of picking and eating!

          All of the ideas in previous posts and this would take up some room with little effort to start.

          Go for it and enjoy, Mandy


          • #6
            You could turn some of it to small(ish) raised beds and possibly use it for things that need less attention once planted or are in the ground a long time e.g. spuds, brassicas. An "organised" wildlife area shouldn't be objected to. We have quite a large one on one of the plots on our site and someone else is planning one.

            Like WiZer we don't manage to get down every week especially this time of year. It is easier to get down for an hour or so more frequently in the summer.

            Cover over part of the plot with cardboard/carpet or whatever to keep some of the weeds in abeyance and tackle it in small chunks.

            Fruit bushes can be planted through membrane and often require a fair bit of space so use up the space that way.

            It's a shame so many people are giving up their plots when in some parts of the country there are lengthy waiting lists.

            Usually if they can see you are cultivating something and making "progress" people are happy.
            Bright Blessings

            If at first you don't succeed, open a bottle of wine.


            • #7
              Soft fruit it is then with loads of grass paths. And you can always grow flowers on there for cutting. Dahlia's & Chrysanths are my favourites and to do them properley you need to give the chrysanths 2ft spacings and the dahlia's 2ft-3ft depending on the variety. Then you can grow Helichrysums and Statice (for fresh or dried work) Gladioli, sweetpeas the list is endless.

              So long as the Grass has a mown path around it so it obvious that it is'nt just uncultivated land I can't see that you would have problems with a mini-meadow either. How about grapevines - start your own vineyard

              And in answer to your other question, you are no more mad than the rest of us with allotments ..... trust me.
              Never be afraid to try something new.
              Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark.
              A large group of professionals built the Titanic



              • #8
                If you take it on wild then no-one can expect you to cultivate it or even tidy it all in one go. I took on a wild one in may and managed a decent crop from 3 raised beds, I've got a decent sized patch cleared this year which is for potatoes but we have also made a small patio/deck with a little garden which has a bird table. Its actually taken up quite a bit of growing space but it looks more tidy than it did before. What about putting in a pond and leaving the area around it quite wild, then you can put some frogspawn in it and say they are slug deterrents. It won't really need maintaining and you can throw a load of wild flower seed around it to attract the bees etc. Then if you have a few raised beds and maybe some bean/pea wigwams it will look as though you are using the whole plot.


                • #9
                  I agree with everyone here, Maybe a feature with a bird table in and wild flowers around it. You could also shingle this area and it (with the black stuff under it) will keep the weeds away, it would look fantastic and a nice place to sit when you just want a rest from weeding or picking.

                  Do you also have a local village paper? I would maybe have a word with the allotment manager and see if they would be interested doing a feature for the local paper (there are loads of reviews about growing your own at the moment from the health aspect to the sustainable impact) and maybe contact the paper this way it will raise awareness of your allotment and also other villagers (or people from just outside) who may be just playing with the idea of growing their own may jump to action knowing there are free plots about.

                  I got my plot last September and was a bit worried when I called up to find out about one due to the fact that I thought there would be such a long waiting list and that put me off even trying . Actually there was no waiting list and I got mine within the week. Unless people have information shoved in their faces sometimes they do not go out of their way to find it out.


                  • #10
                    Muckdiva, do you not have a friend or neighbour who would like to share the plot with you? If not all the ideas mentioned sound great, it might be nice to just create an area where you could sit & enjoy looking at the rest of your plot!
                    Into every life a little rain must fall.


                    • #11
                      How about a green manure I am using this its a fertility builder mix which you can leave for two years.


                      • #12
                        Sow flowers (wild if you like) and tell those who ask that it's a Green Manure Crop and therefore not frivolous at all
                        All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.


                        • #13
                          Use cunning, low guile and imagination.

                          Mown grass should be fine.

                          Speaking as a site agent I would class that as being maintained, whereas long grass with dandelions and thistles would not be.

                          You do not even need a lawnmower, a strimmer would do, you're not planning on playing bowls on it, so a couple of inches high would do.

                          If you put in raised beds, using wooden edging, site them stratgically, not random, but looking as though extra ones will fit naturally in the gaps. No one will expect you to buy a forest, so a "start" .

                          So a mown 3' boundary, a couple of short 3' wide beds, a 3' gap, repeat.... a picnic area, then soft fruit.

                          Now of course no one expects you to do the lot in one year, so pace yourself, time, effort and finances.

                          Plant BIG stuff, runner or climbing french beans. Potatoes at maincrop spacing. Sweetcorn can be a great space eater, use maximum spacing from the packet advice. Squash or pumpkin, the latter if not fond of eating them, I do a ten yards by ten yards squash plot each year. They can keep for a year and love weed smothering mulch like carpet, card or plastic.

                          Blackcurrants need about 6' width, raspberries, about 3' per row. Other currants same as black. So at one side of your 11yds you start your fruit collection with 2bc, 2 rc, 2 row rasps', that's 6yds length gone and you are "going to extend the row length by cuttings taken from the prunings in the autumn" all the currants, extend the rows with additional new stock and any out of place suckers" raspberries.

                          Then of course you want a relaxation area, about 3m x 3m should seat a few bods round a blanket.

                          So using the 11 yards width.
                          Raised beds, 4yds (But wood is expensive so you do a 3yd long at the start of each row, another on each next year)
                          4 rows of spuds 4yds (Might as well do this properly, use the lazy bed method)
                          1 row beans with picking path each side 3yds (Translation a bed hacked out with beans in, 3x3yds 1 runner & two sorts of cfb)
                          Sweetcorn and picnic area 3yds
                          Squash, trailing 10yds (Easy peasy with some black plastic, plant through with 6' between plants, you should use circ 30 plants and get circa 50 keeping squash butternut or crown prince are my fav's)
                          Soft Fruit 6yds (Start from the other end.)

                          That's 30yards used and the remaining 14 yards in the middle will be tackled next year, just keep it strimmed.

                          See easy, and that does not include a row of water butts, a row f compost bins, a bonfire spot, a shed, a greenhouse.......

                          Need I go on?

                          (I'm told its 11yds by 44yds)
                          Always thank people who have helped you immediately, as they may not be around to thank later.
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                          • #14
                            Similar to Nick's idea...turn area into a rough lawn and cut 12" diameter sods out in an orderly fashion with 6'0" between them. Plant standard soft fruit bushes in these areas. Very little maintenance apart from cutting the grass and a bit of pruning in Autumn.

                            As a bonus you'll get a nice crop of soft fruit!
                            My Majesty made for him a garden anew in order
                            to present to him vegetables and all beautiful flowers.- Offerings of Thutmose III to Amon-Ra (1500 BCE)

                            Diversify & prosper


                            • #15
                              Just call it a wildlife garden and be damned! Let the nettles grow for butterflys, see if you can get some rhubarb, brambles, teazels, thistles, all useful for insects. Plant some big growing bushes like buddleia, gradually you'll find that things will take over and you may end up with a whole 1/4 plot of raspberries. Don't panic and let your imagination go. You ARE here to enjoy yourself!


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