Planning my planting for 2017

AllotmentsBoroughbridgeMarch2016 013

I love allotments.  I love those productive shanty towns that you often see at the side of housing estates, edging railway lines, or just beyond the local sewage works.  I relish the make-do-and-mend of gardeners’ huts fashioned from lengths-of-wood-and-bits-and-bobs, set alongside neat little cabins bought from B&Q.  I enjoy contrasting planting styles.  Here – neat meticulous rows of cabbages, beets, carrots and potatoes: there – less organised plots with discarded tyres serving as planters for courgettes and beans set among a hotchpotch of gooseberry and redcurrant bushes.  I love the camaraderie of the allotment community – the willingness to share hard-earned knowledge, tips, seeds, cuttings, and even muscle-power.  So much more fun that a solitary afternoon battling with weeds.

In Harrogate, I had an allotment.  I was the disorganised type, always running from behind, because work and family life got in the way.  In France, our vegetable garden was too far away to get the attention it deserved.  Here in North Stainley, there are no allotments …..

….. until now.

A few years ago, some villagers decided to initiate an allotment project.  They worked hard, but progress was slow.  Surrounded by countryside, even identifying a suitable site proved difficult.

I heard about the plans and asked to become involved just as the group reached a turning point.  The local landowner has offered to rent out a plot large enough for ten full-sized allotments.  An allotment is ten poles (or rods or perches) large.  That’s the size of a doubles tennis court.  We reckon most people will be happy with a half plot.  Twenty allotments then.

Our allotments-to-be.
Our allotments-to-be.

So last Saturday we went to look at the land.  It’s a large chunk at the end of a productive field, and it’s currently rather wet, like just about every other field in England.  Promising though.

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Then we went along to neighbouring Boroughbridge, where they’ve had an Allotments Society for the last 6 years or so.  They were friendly and generous with their time.  So much to think about though.  Paying for water to be piped to the site.  Thinking about car-parking and access to individual plots.  Keeping pesky rabbits at bay.  What to do with allotment tenants who grow only weeds.  Establishing a fair rent and knowing what that rent has to pay for.  We’ll be lucky to be up and running for next winter.  There’ll certainly be no planting before 2017…

Six years ago, this was a field as unpromising as ours. There's hope, then.
Six years ago, this was a field as unpromising as ours. There’s hope, then.

 

 

17 thoughts on “Planning my planting for 2017”

  1. Looks like a proper, worthwhile challenge. I think you’re right about most people only wanting half sizes. Starting a new plot is often more time demanding than you’ve bargained for.

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  2. Wow! That’s an ambitious undertaking! It’s probably best you didn’t know all the ins and outs until you had made a commitment–so much work! But the pay off will be so satisfying . . .

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  3. I never knew how many things there were to think about with allotments until my dad got one a few years ago in Exeter. They have all sorts of rules, especially about when they are and when they aren’t allowed to have garden fires. It must be a huge undertaking to start allotments from scratch. They are so worth it though – I also love seeing them from the train. Allotments don’t seem to be very common in the U.S., but where I’ve found them they’re called ‘community gardens’ which I rather liked.

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  4. How exciting! I was lucky to get an allotment in October and I love it. As a ‘beginner’ I was only allowed a teeny plot to begin with but I am already badgering them to let me upgrade. My taters are chitting and I have baby leeks and tomato plants sprouting. Such peace and quiet. I look forward to hearing more of your plans.

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  5. Good luck, so many people are going to benefit from your hard work down the line. We had a small allotment for a short while when the children were small. All my son wanted to grow was sweetcorn! Sadly, just as we got it all dug over and planted we move house!

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  6. Call that wet? Our middle son has just taken on an allotment in N Kent. The site is so wet his neighbour has dug a moat round his and it’s full! Just back from a changeable, wet and windy 2 weeks in A-V. We had one lovely day where we reached 17 degrees and the next day it was raining again and 3 degrees. We, Jeremy, has always grown fruit and veg on an allotment or in the garden or both and you can’t beat wandering outside, picking what’s ready and cooking it. May I recommend early potatoes. It might sound mundane but I have never had potatoes which taste as good as those which are freshly dug.

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    1. No, I quite agree. I shan’t grow main crop spuds, but your own new ones, freshly dug, knock Jersey Royals into a cocked hat! The Ariege seems to have taken over from the UK, weather wise, as I gather winter was mild and lovely. But I hope you enjoyed yourselves anyway.

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  7. An exciting project to be involved with initiating. I love the idea of community gardens and we have them here – on land supplied and serviced by municipalities. They are getting more popular as awareness about fresh food grows…so to speak!

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  8. Honestly I don’t know where you find the energy – whatever you have for breakfast – share!

    My Grandfather had an allotment for 50 years, starting off with a 10 poles size and going to half size in his sixties. He became the ‘go to’ man for advice and his onions were regular winners at the allotment show as well as winning ‘best allotment’ several times.

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    1. Huh, you can talk, make-over queen! Nope, I’m never going to win prizes for a superb allotment. But I shall be looking for people to give courgettes to, just like everyone else 😉

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