Down the allotment with Diane Bulley

Diane Bulley
Diane Bulley

In writing this column, I have to think like a beginner.

With limited time, confronted with a neglected five-pole plot of land. Often not knowing how to start.

Experienced allotment gardeners will understand this. We all remember how we started.

If you are waiting to hear if your application for a plot is successful, begin to plan.

Tools are, of course, essential. Field committees do not do the work for you.

Valuable tools or equipment should not be left in huts.

You will be very lucky if you are given the tenancy of a ready-dug plot.

The steward may know of a retired tenant who will work for you, for payment.

You will be given a copy of the site rules.

Taking an allotment and paying the rent for when you retire in five years is not acceptable.

The field committees require all plots to be worked; unless they are notified of illness or some other problem.

This means worked during the main growing season, which is March to July. The path to be kept mowed, with edges trimmed and tidy. Winter dug ready for spring.

If everyone does this, it enhances the appearance of the whole field to our visitors.

Dogs must be kept on leads on your plot.

Depending on your height, the right type of fork is essential. For the shorter person, particularly women, a border fork is easier to use. I have had mine over 50 years.

A new sharp steel spade of the same size is a good investment. Bramble roots 2.5ft deep must be dug out to get rid of them. You may already have a hoe and rake in your tool collection.

If you don’t have these items, now is the time to find them.

Second-hand ones can save a lot of money. The local recycling centre may have some, or a car boot sale at any time of year.

An unwanted compost bin, bundle of fruit netting, even a greenhouse for those who can dismantle, take away, and re-erect on a plot.

Several kinds of polytunnel are now available. All are worth looking for within budget.

We have been very grateful for the work of police community support Officers.

They went to all the schools last year, telling the children to keep off allotment fields.

The support of relatives is valuable. If they offer to help, they can visit your plot with you.

It’s best to use one car for this, leaving their car on the road outside, to walk in. There are parking areas. Other tenants need them. Cars are not allowed on roadways, except to unload.

A cheap address book with alphabet indented pages is best for notes. Information from TV programmes, newspapers and magazines can be carefully entered under the initial for the plant.

Canadian gardeners have suffered from their prolonged drought this year. Best to combat this by preparing now.

All weed growth from our wash-out summer should be forked out now, dried off in heaps, then put on the cold compost heap. Only tomato, potato and brassica stems are burned.