It’s National Allotments Week here in the UK. Every August, green-fingered gods and goddesses up and down the country come together for a week of parties, celebrations and lobbying to safeguard allotments for the next generation of growers. Acknowledging the importance of gardening with nature in mind (which, of course, is what we’re all about at Imperium Organics), this year’s theme is ‘Bugs, Bees and Broccoli’!
Allotments aren’t just a nice little activity to keep your grandparents busy. They are an institution, an essential source of food, a bonafide movement! Complex webs of plants, microorganisms, fungi, animals and carrots, aillotments have been a thing for hundreds of years, with many now sitting on historic sites. For those with a passion for them, it’s lovely to think of all the hands that have tended a plot of land before we were here.
There are 330,000 allotment plots in the UK - that’s 58 Hyde Parks! They bring communities together, provide a way for city-slickers to stay in touch with the land, have many benefits for local wildlife and, of course, give us a place to grow crisp and delicious fruit and veg.
Whether you’ve been dreaming of having your own allotment all your life, are edging towards the top of that waiting list, or have only just decided to take the plunge, here we give you our top tips for creating a vibrant, productive allotment with fruit and veg in all the colours of the rainbow.
Allotments can be a lot of work. If it is possible, why not ask if you can start out with a half plot, with the potential to take on more space in the future?
When you finally have your allotment, it can be tempting to rush in, all trowels blazing. But first things first. Each allotment space will have different rules, and it’s important that you are au fait with them before you start. This will help you make sure you can grow strong relationships with your fellow gardeners, not just pretty cauliflowers! Pay particular attention to any rules about what you are allowed to erect (e.g. greenhouses, polytunnels), whether you are allowed to keep bees, what trees/plants are off the menu, and whether or not you can have a fire.
Many allotments are left untended for months or even years before they become available, so it’s important to manage your expectations when it comes to what you are walking into - it could be a big clean-up job. Start by clearing rubbish, your site manager will usually be able to tell you if the council collects waste from the site - or you could shred and/or compost any waste, or even leave it aside as a home for bees and hedgehogs. It’s ok to pull up weeds, but be aware that existing trees and shrubs may absorb carbon dioxide and support biodiversity.
Likewise, long grass often serves as a habitat for wildlife, so make sure you check for hedgehogs, worms and caterpillars before undertaking any lawn care. As always, we recommend leaving a patch of long grass for declining species and those that like their privacy, such as slugs and snails.
Invest in a good set of basic tools, including a fork, spade, hand fork and trowel. String, gardening gloves, a hoe and a rake are also useful.
Having an allotment is all about making the most of the natural environment while also being sure to do no harm. Using products with any chemicals not only compromises the quality of your fruit and veg, but also endangers any local species who may call your allotment home. Full yourself into the spirit of allotments, with all-natural and organic products designed to protect the environment.
Next you'll have some decisions to make as to whether you go for raised beds or grow your crops directly in the ground. Adding some organic matter such as homemade compost or manure, or another natural product such as our All-Purpose Liquid Concentrate is the best way to give your fruit and veg a healthy start in life.
Don't make things complicated for yourself at least not at first choosing easy veg like a humble potato means you'll be able to see results sooner and they also help break up the ground. Beans garlic and courgettes are also relatively low-maintenance.
Succession planting is one of the best things you can do to reap the rewards of your allotment all year round. Plant winter vegetables after spring and summer harvests and you’ll have fresh food 365 days of the year.
For many, allotments are a relaxing social activity. Many of the people on your site will have been growing there for years - making them experts on what to grow, when and how. They might even swap seeds, plants and produce with you!
Want to join the natural gardening revolution? Our All-Purpose Liquid Concentrate gives you bigger, healthier and more naturally abundant fruit and veg - and it’s all 100% organic, so you can help wildlife thrive in your little 24sq m patch of paradise.