An allotment isn’t just a space for you to grow fruit and vegetables. It’s also a place where you can relax, be part of a community and get some exercise. With luck, patience and hard work, you’ll be rewarded with delicious, home-grown crops, not to mention the satisfaction of having raised them yourself.
Browse our collection of inspirational ideas and practical advice on maintaining your allotment, below:
Starting an allotment
If you’ve never had an allotment before, starting an allotment can seem a bit daunting. Vacant allotment plots are rarely weed-free and ready to plant up. You may need to spend weeks digging out stubborn bramble, horsetail and couch grass. You might need to buy essential allotment tools, or build or repair an existing shed or greenhouse, or import masses of manure to improve tired soil. But where to begin? Don’t worry, help is at hand. Check out our tips on allotment etiquette, and follow our guide on getting started, below.
Your allotment year
The key to a successful allotment is to not take on more than you have the time for. It can take years to hone the skills and discipline needed to juggle the sowing of different crops, weeding, planting out, controlling pests and managing harvests.
Start with a few choice crops and see how you get on, then gradually increase your workload as you become more experienced. Stay organised, with the help of our monthly lists of allotment jobs:
- Allotment jobs for February
- Allotment jobs for March
- Allotment jobs for April
- Allotment jobs for May
- Allotment jobs for June
- Allotment jobs for July
- Allotment jobs for August
- Allotment jobs for September
- Allotment jobs for October
- Allotment jobs for November
- Allotment jobs for December
Keeping on top of weeding is one of the most important jobs on the allotment. Weeds often grow faster than vegetable crops and can out-compete them for water, nutrients and light. Regularly removing weeds will ensure your crops have everything they need to grow. What’s more, removing weeds when they’re young will save hours of back-breaking labour later on. We’ve put together some helpful guides explaining how to identify weed seedlings, as well as dealing with annual and perennial weeds, and weeding without chemicals.
It’s important to keep on top of weeds on the allotment and the best way to make light work of this tedious task is using either a Dutch hoe or hand weeder. If you haven’t used a hoe before, find out the four ways to use a hoe, and choose the right tool for the job with our expert guide to 10 of the best garden hoes. We also asked a group of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine readers to put a range of hand weeders to the test, so you can buy in confidence. And, if you’re worried about stiff joints from bending down to use a hand weeder, our bumper guide to the best garden kneelers will help you pick one to make the job more comfortable.
Feeding edible crops
Fruit and vegetable crops are hungry and will need a good balance of nutrients to thrive. Find out how to feed the soil, make your own organic liquid comfrey feed and nettle feed, as well as use plant feeds to improve your soil. You can also transform kitchen and garden waste to make compost, too – we’ve tested a range of the best compost bins so you can get started as soon as possible.
Allotment pests include slugs and snails, aphids, caterpillars of the large and small white butterflies, and birds. Find out how to stop slugs eating young plants, and the best way of dealing with aphids, as well as how to deter carrot root fly and the secrets behind controlling cabbage white butterflies. You can deter birds by making a scarecrow.