Allotment year one - pacing yourself

I'm reading a book called The Half Hour Allotment by Lia Leendertz, which is published by the RHS, and while it's full of good ideas, there's one that I feel faintly nervous about them promulgating so widely. It's the suggestion that in the first year, or first few years, you should leave 2/3rds of your new plot fallow while you get on with cultivating the final third.


Nice idea but ... as Ms Leendertz goes on to point out, this can cause consternation in your neighbours who don't want weed seeds and creeping perennials spreading from your unworked section to their hard-cultivated plot, and can actually break the terms of your rent, because there are quite a few allotment sites that require you to keep more that 33% in cultivation at any one time!

Having said that, it is important with a new plot, whether allotment or vegetable patch in the garden, to pace yourself. You WILL get gluts, even if that seems unimaginable now, and you WON'T have allowed for how much time it takes to harvest, process and store glut vegetables. You WILL find some weed, pest or problem that takes up much more time than you planned - for us it's the perennial weeds, for a neighbour it's a constant battle with a fox that digs up her seedlings (on purpose, she says).

So fallow doesn't have to be fallow. Potatoes, for example, can be planted until June, they break up the soil (so you've got lovely soil to plant in next year) and keep weeds down (because their leaf cover and deep roots don't give perennials a chance to get a good grip), and even if you get only a small harvest from late plantings, it looks like you're keeping the plot in cultivation.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Thursday, May 1, 2008


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