So, you’ve just taken over your plot. Now what?
Well it all depends on what is already there, and at what time of the year you take it over. We got our plot in November, which meant nothing was really going on with regards to growing things. If you take over in Spring, then you want to look at getting some plants planted as soon as possible, and the same goes for the summer. If you take it over around September/early October think about planting for some winter harvests.
Part of our site was still in control of the previous tenants as they had some winter harvests, but apart from that our site was clear. Lucky really when we saw the state of one of the other free plots! And you might not be so lucky. So just take a step back and assess the plot. Keep what you want, and take out what you don’t.
For us, the first thing to do was draw up a plan of what we wanted to do with it. Being a garden designer, this is probably the designer in me having its way! But it is worth while, as once it’s on paper you can’t forget it. Below is a scan of the plan I drew up.
When creating the plan, always keep in mind the rules of the plot you have taken over. For us, we are not allowed to erect any permanent structures like sheds, nor are we allowed to plant trees, and it was also stipulated that we must leave space between the fence and the edge of our plot, due to maintenance and pest control.
Our plot is just over twenty metres long so we have a good bit of space, but make sure you design your plot to its size. Don’t try to squeeze stuff in, but at the same time don’t waste the space you have been given. As we have a large plot we have decided to go with 6 beds. This allows us to do a 5 year rotation and have one bed for permanent crops.
A 5 year rotation I hear you ask! It’s all to do with not planting the same crop in the same place each year. This lessens the chances of disease, and certain crops take and leave nutrients in the soil, which will benefit other crops going into that soil the following year. I recommend reading up on both of these approaches, as there is a lot more to it, and it is easily adaptable to your plot. I will be writing a post about how to plan your allotment what ever its size, and rotation plans, so keep a look out.
In Summary, once you’ve got your plot, the first thing to do is assess what’s there. Is there anything you can keep? Anything you want to get rid of? What are your neighbours growing, etc. Then sit down and draw up a plan of how you want to set out your plot, and what you want to plant over the year. Then, depending on what time of the year you take over the plot, get planting or get maintaining and setting up your plot.