What is an allotment?
If you've long been dreaming of growing your own food, and you have the time to dedicate to it, then getting an allotment might be the right choice for you
Surely there's nothing more satisfying than growing your own food? And when it's in a community-run space among friendly neighbours in the fresh air, growing food on allotment is all the more pleasurable. If you're lacking space for growing food in your garden or simply like the idea of tending a plot of land, getting lots of free exercise and saving money on your grocery bills, then renting an allotment might be the next best step for you.
Need more on allotments? Here's expert organic food grower Huw Richards' tips on how to maintain your allotment.
What is an allotment?
An allotment is a plot of land made available for cultivating purposes, whether that be for growing vegetables or flowers, keeping chickens or even bees. The land is divided up into sections and rented out to individuals who want to grow their produce.
Allotments are usually run by local councils, parish councils, community groups and charities, or are privately run.
Rental prices vary for an allotment plot, but on average you can expect to pay around £30 a year for a plot.
How to get an allotment
Firstly, have a search online, remembering to look on Facebook and Twitter.
Some allotments don't have a website or social media presence, so also look on public noticeboards and enquire at your local parish council office or library. If there are no allotments in your area, enquire at neighbouring parish councils too.
Once you've found a local allotment, you can then apply to get on their waiting list for a plot.
Alternatively, if you have the finances to buy your own piece of land, you can apply for permission to turn it into an allotment and become an allotment landlord yourself!
Tenants will usually be provided with a tenancy agreement detailing the rules to follow. Usually these rules will include keeping your plot free of weeds, and keeping your plot tidy during the winter months. Many rules also stipulate that tenants aren't allowed to sell their allotment produce.
Planning your allotment
Decide on the layout of your allotment, whether you want to have raised beds or plant straight into the ground. You might want to include a compost heap or compost bin in your layout, and where to build a shed if there isn't one already.
When planning your paths, make sure they're wide enough to wheel a wheelbarrow down, with easy access to your compost heap. You might also want to lay wood chip on the paths so they don't get too muddy.
What to grow on an allotment
From carrots and courgettes to peas and potatoes, the sky is the limit when it comes to growing your own food on an allotment. But this means it can be a bit overwhelming when deciding what to plant.
The best thing to do is keep it simple and only grow what you eat and enjoy. If you barely cook with kale, why bother growing it?
Also, be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to growing certain plants. If you think you can only visit your allotment a couple of times a week, then grow robust plants that require little care, such as broccoli, cabbage and rhubarb (see our favourite rhubarb forcers).
Try to incorporate growing flowers on your plot too for attracting pollinators.
For more on allotments, read Huw Richards' tips on how best to look after and enjoy your allotment.
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