After digging our first veggie patch during lockdown, we’ve become hooked on growing our own food. We gradually gave over more of the garden to growing veg – including no-dig beds in front of the house too.
During year two of our grow-your-own adventure, we put our names on the waiting list for a local allotment. And at the start of last year, we were offered a half-plot to get us started.
I think the allotment association likes to start off new allotment holders with a smaller plot, just to give you a chance to get used to it. The plot we started with had a small tumbledown shed (which I fixed up) and not much else. But that didn’t worry us – we started digging straight away and soon had a patch planted up with onions, leeks, potatoes and beetroot.
Later came the courgette and pumpkin patch, and a local homeowner kindly donated a greenhouse to us, so we started to grow tomatoes and peppers under glass. We DIY’d a mesh tunnel to protect our brassicas and soon the plot was looking lush and full of produce.
Then, we got some good news from the allotment association – a bigger plot would soon be available after the plot holder moved away from the area. A full-size allotment! Wow!
So, this year, we’re going to be working on a plot that’s considerably bigger than our first allotment. In fact, I think it’s probably more like 3 x the space, with a double-size veg bed, a potting shed and fruit cages already in situ.
Plus, the previous allotment holder had planted fruit trees many years before, so we have inherited a mini orchard of apple and plum trees, with rhubarb plants growing beneath them. Bonus!
We’re excited to have so much more space – we’ve even put together a spreadsheet of sowing and harvesting dates to make sure we can grow everything we want to. Plus, we’ve made a plot plan for crop rotation. Yes, we are taking this seriously!
I’m basing a lot of my planting plans on what we like to eat and the things we grew last year but could do with having more of. For example, we’ve already run out of our homemade pickled beetroot and are getting low on some of our frozen produce, such as sliced courgettes, peppers and peas.
Thankfully, we’ve still got plenty of sweetcorn, French beans and fruit, despite eating our way through it all winter, and we’re still enjoying multiple items from the allotment for our meals each day. Plus, the chutney and jam pantry is still looking nice and full.
I can’t wait to start work on the new plot. Well, actually the onions and garlic have already been planted and the fruit cages have been tidied up, ready for this year’s crop of currants, gooseberries and strawberries to start growing.
The freezing temperatures we’ve had so far in January and February mean this year feels like it’s already running away with us. Really we need to get cracking with planting our salad and veg seeds to get them started in the greenhouse – will we even have time to get the courgettes started this spring?
I’ll be sure to share regular updates on my allotment with you throughout the year and let you know how we get on with having a much larger plot. Exciting!