My new plot

Last July, John moved from the allotments' Gardening Club to his own half plot. Here he charts his journey...

Published on Sat, 18/11/2023 - 20:06

A fruitful start

When I got my new plot near the main gates, I was eager to get going. I love the fruit trees and how it feels quite sheltered, but it had become quite overgrown. 

The first thing I did was to clear it of weeds and grass to see what was actually here.  I mostly pulled it up by hand, as right now I only have a fork, a trowel and a wheelbarrow! 

I think it’s good to have small targets, so you can see you’ve made some progress, before building on that. So with clearing, I did one section at a time rather than try and do it all at once. It stops it from becoming overwhelming. 

I discovered some wooden pallets which I made into a compost bin and placed at the front of my plot near the path.  Anything I’ve cleared has gone in there for now, though I know I’ll have to take it off site later as it’s full of weeds. 

I also uncovered some wooden beds, which ran from north to south. I decided to move them and position them east to west to make the most of the space away from the apple tree.  And I then weeded and levelled the ground between the beds. 

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My first two raised beds

I’m reusing things I find on the plot. I found some old compost bags and banners and laid them between the beds to act as a weed membrane.  There were also some nice paving slabs which I've turned into a path.

I’ve mostly been working on the plot on Saturdays, thought I recently had a weekday off work and I was here from 1.30pm until 7pm. It amazes me how quickly the time goes. You think it’s been two hours and then realise it’s been more like a whole day. 

I’m trying to be realistic, and while I have a bit of a plan it’s not too rigid. For instance I put a few bags of compost directly on to the soil of my first two beds. However, I’ve since got a load of cardboard from the recycling bins at our block of flats. So for my next beds, I’ll put down a thick layer of cardboard first, before adding soil on top, to keep weeds down. I am winging it to a certain degree. 

What else have I done? I’ve repositioned some raspberry plants I found so they're nearer the apple tree. I think they don’t mind a bit of shade but we will see!  And I dug up lettuces from my Gardening Club plot and moved them here. I made sure I got a lot of the root ball so they’d resettle better. 

Of course, there’s lots of future jobs. All the wood I’ve found I’ve piled over one side, and I’ll need to sort through that. And I’ll prune the trees over winter. I have two eating apple trees, an apricot and a Morello cherry. I’ve been getting some good advice from fellow plot holders on when and how to do that, which is a great part of being on an allotment. 

My immediate neighbour Natalie, graduated from Gardening Club around the same time as me. It’s great as we’re both learning and can help each other.  The people here are just lovely, the only problem is it’s too easy to stop gardening and have a good natter!