When we took on our first allotment plot, we were so eager to get going; in hindsight, there are a few things that I would have done differently. Here are some of the things I wish I could have told myself from the onset.
There’s no rush to get started with seed sowing at the beginning of the year; I’ve always had more successful veg when I’m patient enough to wait for the recommended sowing time on the packet.
I’ve been through so many different types of vegetable netting and netted tunnels over the years; almost all of it has ripped easily and proved to be a waste of money. Next time I buy some, I shall be looking at scaffolding netting and investing in a large roll.
Weed Proof Membrane
Cardboard makes a great weed suppressant and, when weighted down with either fresh compost/manure (no-dig method) or even just bricks, does a brilliant job of weakening weeds. There was no need to buy the vast amounts of weed proof membrane that we did when we started.
We really haven’t perfected this, but resisting the temptation to sow a whole pack of seeds on many vegetables such as lettuce, radish & beetroot is very helpful. Instead, sowing a few every couple of weeks to reduce the gluts and have a constant supply is much more beneficial.
I have found that when weeding in-between veg, it can be tough to remove weeds entirely; taking a hoe to them to remove the tops makes for easy weed management. This wasn’t obvious to us at first! When even a hoe is too big, I sit and use a sharp knife (I use old kitchen knives) to weed around my veg, cutting them out just below the surface of the soil.
When starting out we again, used membrane to create pathways. I later come to realise that I was not too fond of the look of this. I now use slabs, cardboard and bark, or if neither is available, I sow a grass pathway for a more natural garden look.
One of my most used tools at the allotment is our 30V Black and Decker strimmer. Even the most neglected plots can become back under control with a couple of sessions of cutting weeds down to ground level (and then perhaps covering). A strimmer can also make light work of places that the mower can’t reach. I wish I had bought one earlier!
I was sceptical at first, but if fruit bushes are left uncovered, the birds really will strip them of every single fruit. I wish we had planned a space for a fruit cage from the start. This is something that we need to look at.
I wish I had got into the habit of drying and collecting seeds from the start; this can really reduce seed costs!
Do you have any top tips that came with experience?