How To…Decide if an Allotment is For You

Written by on July 24, 2011 in How To - 2 Comments
Allotment, urban foraging

If allotments were part of the fashion world, they would be akin to skinny jeans. Popular in the 50s, again in early 80s, made a huge comeback circa 2008 and now look set to remain permanently in the upper echelons of UK style. Column inches devoted to urban allotment gardening increase week on week. Even the Daily Mail has its own allotment blog, which it launched back in February. But is this resurgence in popularity simply a media fashion craze or are there really more young urbanites hankering after a chance to cultivate?

It would appear to be the latter. Despite the thousands of allotment sites on London – Sutton borough alone has more than 2,300 plots – there’s an average waiting time of around three years (some would argue 40 if you live in Camden) to get your hands on one. This means that anyone considering an allotment should think about the pros and cons before shelling out for supplies.

To help, ask yourself the following:

Do you have…

Passion

You don’t have to be a master gardener or gourmet cook to want to grow your own produce, but you should at least be interested in food and where it comes from. Do you like seeing seasonal vegetables on a pub menu or frequent a local food market, for example? If the answer is yes, you’re off to a good start.

Initiative

Once you’re on a waiting list, there is nothing to stop you dropping by your local allotments and chatting to the gardeners. You may find that someone is struggling to maintain a whole plot and would be happy to share it. If a full size plot seems too intimidating, ask whether your council could lease mini plots as a way of encouraging beginners to the land.

Patience

After waiting several years for a vacant plot, it may be another year before your allotment reaches its full potential, especially if you’re new to growing. Preparing your plot may involve pulling up lots of weeds, and the success of your crops are can depend on all kinds of variables, including soil type, climate, and the types of seeds you use.

Camaraderie

Being part of an allotment community is a lot of fun. Gardeners often swap advice, seeds, produce and tools with one another, which makes for a social and supportive environment. If you think solitary gardening is more your style, then an allotment might not be for you.

Dedication

An allotment isn’t just about buying stylish wellies – not that there’s anything wrong with that – it really is a commitment. Considering the demand/supply ratio for vacant plots, to leave yours unused and neglected won’t go down well with your allotment community.

Know more

Find allotments in your local borough at www.london.gov.uk/allotments

To chat with likeminded allotmenteers go to www.vegetable-gardens.co.uk/forum

For more general info visit www.allotment.org.uk

Allotment

By Amanda Duncan

Coming soon: our How To on allotment etiquette – the hitherto secret dos and don’ts of allotmenteering.

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About the Author

Originally from Kent, I made the stroll up to London many years ago and, after an unwise spell of commuting to and from the big city, now live in East London with my partner and our dog, Boris. I love to make stuff.

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2 Comments on "How To…Decide if an Allotment is For You"

  1. Michael July 26, 2011 at 7:54 pm · Reply

    Nice idea but I’m afraid that “comradery” is not a word.
    It is “camaraderie”.

    • Rachel Bull
      Rachel Bull July 26, 2011 at 11:11 pm · Reply

      It’s good of you to point this out to us, Michael. It is in the dictionary, but as a very old version of the word, so I’m thinking it’s best to change it!

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