Last week we gave you inspiration for the best garden design, and this week we’re passing on our hints and tips to help you create the best allotment and be crowned Wilko Amateur Gardener of the Year!
Allotments are fantastic things, but they require a fair amount of care and attention to get the best out of them. So given they’re a labour of love, here’s some inspiration to help you maintain your allotment and produce tasty, fresh vegetables:
Preparation is key to producing a successful allotment. It all starts with the foundations, and if you get that right, you’re halfway there.
When it comes to clearing the ground, brambles can often be your biggest task. Use brushcutters to tame them, allow them to dry and then burn them on your plot, obviously being mindful of your surroundings.
Once you have a clear ground to work with, break the plot into manageable sections and clear a section at a time, digging the ground so you can start planting. As you dig, remove as much of the weeds and roots as possible. Of course, if your plot of land is too unmanageable you could always organise for it to be rotavated.
What to plant?
Early spring is perfect to start with a potato bed. But before planting, it’s a good idea to chit the seed potatoes. This will enable them to start sprouting shoots much easier. Stand them rose end up in egg boxes in a light, frost-free place. The potatoes are ready to plant when the shoots are roughly 3cm long.
On your cleared allotment section, dig out a furrow about 10cm deep and as long as you desire. For early potatoes, space individual seed potatoes about 30cm and for other potato types roughly 40cm apart. Planting more than one row? Then make sure your furrows are around 60cm apart. When you place the seed potatoes in the furrow, have the sprouts pointing upwards then gently cover them with compost, trying not to damage the sprouts.
Onions are one of the easiest crops to grow. And like potatoes, early spring is a great time for onion planting. Gently push the onion seeds into the soil until their tips are just showing. Make sure to keep onion plants well watered and choose a long-lasting feed such as fish, blood and bone for best results. Your onions should be ready for picking mid to late July – don’t forget to dry them out before storing them.
Variety is the spice of life, and if you’re feeling adventurous, then opt for unusual crops that require a little more care and attention. How about trying yard long beans? It can be a challenge growing yard long beans in a country lacking in sun, but if you can master it they’re definitely worth it. You’ll need a polytunnel or greenhouse for these as they’re heat-loving little vegetables. Plant in late spring in rich soil and use tepid water as the cold water will shock them. You’ll need to provide plenty of support for these, as they’re quick climbers! Pick the beans when they’re young, for maximum flavour.
For even more inspiration on different fruit, veg and herbs you can try your hand at growing, check out our huge range of seeds and growing kits.
When walking around your allotment, it’s easy to get a sense of the people who tend to their plots. Each plot will have subtle differences; some will go against the grain and plant unconventional crops and others will create a place to relax as well as work. That’s the beauty of an allotment; there’s no right or wrong way to produce your crops, so embrace your own style.
Don’t forget, if Best Allotment category isn’t for you, there are plenty of other categories for you to choose from:
- Best Garden Design
- Best Junior Gardener
- Best Hanging Basket/Container
- Best Wildlife Garden
- Best Upcycled Garden
You have until June 30th to get your entries in.
Full Ts & Cs can be found here.