The allotments that I have are rented to us as ‘allotment gardens’ and that’s exactly how I treat mine, as a garden, just one that’s mostly vegetables. If you don’t have a garden or green space at home then this is an ideal way to get yourself one. Allotments are traditionally for growing food, this is after all what they were originally created for but if like me you are you are obsessive about your outdoor spaces then to turn your allotment plot is an ideal way to get your fix.
This may sound a little odd from the point of an allotment but if you’re going to be considering it from a aesthetic point of view or even just for ease of use you may need to landscape it a bit. My new plot is on a bit of a slope and so I needed to make a level area to put a polytunnel. This has actually made a couple of low terraces that are not only nice to look at but have made some really useful planting areas. I also brought a bunch of paving from a renovated garden that serve as hard paths, when it’s wet these are a godsend as they’re perfect for moving a barrow round. Where some of the paths are I’ve also lined with Buxus sepervirens (other hedging plants are available), I may regret doing this when it’s stripped by box caterpillars or ravaged with blight but for now it looks great. These were all propagated on an old plot for three years from cuttings and are now good established hedging plants, when it come to using these patience really is a virtue.
There would be no self respecting garden that wasn’t awash with flowers of some sort or other. That’s a slightly inflammatory statement as there will be many beautiful gardens that don’t but mixed with vegetables most people are going to be heading for a cottage garden look. To this end there are a huge number of edible flowers that can bridge the gap between the two disciplines. I actually have a swathe of Digitalis at one end, these are one that you most definitely don’t want to be eating though. I’ve also planted it up with Gladiolus and Delphiniums but this is cottage garden effect that I want this year. Other areas have paths lined with Calendula and sunflowers that will come into effect later in the year but simply a clump of chives looks gorgeous in May. It’s all looking quite small at the moment but I have a vision of the bounty that it’ll present in a few months.
Allotment plots are a prefect haven for wildlife. Often in secluded parts of more urban areas allotment plots are an ideal place to make a refuge for wildlife. Whether it’s by making a log pile for hibernating mammals or just letting a part of it go wild with flowers and even the weeds. This will all help the local wildlife population and stave off the impending urbanisation of all or our green spaces. This is more a case of just thinking that not every area of an allotment plot needs to be turned over to cultivation, let it run wild.
Every allotment plot should have a pond, even if it’s a small affair like a largish bucket sunk into the ground it will be enough. One important word of warning though, whatever you do decide to use make sure that there is some way of non aquatic animals to get out. Either a beach or a raised area with stones as you may find that you’ve done more damage than good if you find a drowned hedgehog in it. I was donated a small 5′ x 5′ piece of pond liner and simply dug a hole (with a beach area) and lined it with this. One other good point when doing this is to make sure that all the sides are the same height using a spirit level and piece of straight wood. Water will find a level and if one side is lower than the other then you’ll end up with a weird bare side where the liner sticks up.
Not all of the time spent on an allotment should be work, if you’ve created a relaxing and beautiful place then you should take time to sit and appreciate it. Certainly where I am there are not restrictions on having a barbecue, I know for a fact this is a fairly common occurrence on site. With that in mind it’s worth making sure that there’s somewhere nice to sit whether that’s a shed veranda, a few paving slabs laid or even a little lawn. I acquired a styled corner patio for free last year an intend for this to go on an area of couch grass that I just can’t face dealing with, problem solved. Just make sure that it’s far enough away from where you’ll be making your fertilisers or you may find that you’ll not be wanting to spend much time there.