The amazing thing about growing your own fruit and veg is that anyone can have a go. If you have had success in your own garden or fancy making the most of growing your own but are short of space, the right soil or enough sunshine, an allotment could be the answer.
Allotments have been around for hundreds of years, helping to feed families through good times and bad. There are few things more satisfying then sitting down to a meal that you have not only prepared for yourself but actually grown from scratch. The demand for allotments is generally high due to the increasing trend to embrace a wholesome lifestyle, paired with being more conscientious about how we spend our hard earned money.
National Allotment Week started on 12th August, but don’t worry if you don’t have an allotment space; you can create your own mini allotment in your garden. So grab your fork and seeds, (and if the kids need entertaining then grab them too!) and head off to your ‘allotment’!
Benefits of allotment gardening
Saving money – growing your own fruit and veg can have a dramatic impact on your weekly shopping bill.
The feel-good factor – spending as little as fifteen extra minutes a day in the fresh air can build up your levels of vitamin D, raising serotonin levels, increasing not only health but happiness too.
Burning calories – 30 minutes of allotment gardening can burn around 150 calories.
Being around like-minded people – socialising is good for our health and spending time with like-minded people can reward you with a multitude of happy moments.
Encouraging wildlife – otherwise built-up urban areas benefit from the green corridors that allotments create. Just one square meters of land can support hundreds of different species of wildlife.
Getting the kids involved – kids will love to help plant seeds with you and it’s a great way to get them out in the fresh air.
Although having the right tools for the job is important, starting out on your allotment adventure or mini allotment needn’t break the bank. Your essential starter kit should include:
Allotments for beginners
Planning your space is a great starting point. If you are unsure what to grow, how about taking your inspiration from a meal you are looking forward to digging into? If you’re just starting out, you’ve missed the summer crop, but all is not lost. Once you have created healthy soil base for planting, there are still vegetables that can be planted in August. To create good planting soil, you’ll need to dig and fork through the soil to loosen any compaction, remove weeds and debris and add the organic matter (compost). Alternatively you can You can begin to plant out overwintering crops, such as:
Cauliflowers – August is the time to transplant winter and spring cauliflowers. They should give you a harvest in the new year.
Cabbages, Broccoli and Kale – if sown in August these will be ready for harvesting next spring. Cover them with nets to keep birds off.
Lettuce and other salad crops – still possible to sow lettuce though they may not germinate if the weather is too hot. Try to sow rocket and cress.
Mini garden allotments
Haven’t the time to maintain your own allotment? Then set a mini allotment up in your garden. If you haven’t the room to dig up a patch of land, you can grow the above vegetables in grow bags. Brassicas need a lot of room, so make sure you don’t plant too many in each bag. If you don’t fancy veg then opt for flowers or herbs instead and grow them with ease in our Clever pot range. And don’t forget to pretty up your mini garden allotment too with a fresh lick of paint colour and solar lights.
Allotments in August
If you’ve been planting throughout spring and summer, your crop will be coming to fruition now with everything from peas, beetroot, beans, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and onions through to grapes, raspberries and blackberries.
Make sure you’re harvesting regularly, especially in wetter weeks as weed growth can spiral out of control! And when it’s hot remember to continue regular watering to promote healthy growth and prevent plants bolting prematurely.
Don’t forget to harvest regularly, especially runner beans and courgettes, which grow at speed and will become too large and stringy if left too long.
If you’re growing tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, don’t forget to tie them up. As the fruits develop they become heavy and the plants require extra support to the main stems to avoid breakages.
Earth up potatoes and around brassicas (cauliflowers, broccoli, kale) to support unsteady stems. And trench your celery to keep the stems out of the light.
You’re probably too busy sowing to remember about your allotment wood, but that will need some TLC too. Don’t forget to keep sheds and fences protected with masonry paint.
A veggie growing mission
At wilko, we know that there is nothing like getting stuck into a project and we have everything you need to see you through your allotment adventure. Go on, give it a go, no one starts out a green fingered genius but with the right tools, hard work and persistence you will make your allotment a success, they are a wonderful thing that will thrive with lots of love and attention.
Interested in having an allotment of your own? Contact your local council to apply for an allotment near you. They will either allocate you a plot or in many cases, add your name to the waiting list.
Find everything for your allotment project from our huge gardening section.
Sown seeds bought from wilko? We would love to hear from you. Tag @lovewilko in your Instagram pictures to be featured on our site! Also be sure to check out even more family gardening adventures with @grow_with_joe.