How to Start an Allotment

Have you ever thought about growing your own fruit and vegetables but lack the space in your own garden? Find out all you need to know about how to start an allotment from scratch along with our beginner planting suggestions.

How to start an allotment:

  1. Plan your plot

If there is no space for crops in your garden, contact your local council on allotment opportunities in your area. Once get your allotment, go for a plot size suited to your needs – half a plot is adequate for most people and ideal for beginners. Here are some initial plot planning steps:

  • Decide what style of vegetable beds you’d like
  • Decide what size of beds you’d like.
  • Make sure you include space for sheds / greenhouses / compost bins / water butts etc.
  • Make sure you consider where you’ll place trees, fruiting bushes, and other perennial (stay in the in the ground year on year) plants.

2. Weed maintenance

The biggest burden of an allotment owner…the weeds, and most allotments need continual hoeing and weeding. When prepping a plot, once you’ve cleared the weeds, dig the soil and remove weed roots. It’s worth investing in a push hoe and a draw hoe to be fully prepared for any weed problems.

  • Potatoes smother weeds, so plant them in the weediest areas.
  • Perennial crops such as fruit need no cultivation, but must be planted in areas that are clear of all perennial weeds.

3. Soil conditions

Once you get out all the roots of the weeds. Compost their foliage, and drown the roots in a bucket of water for 2 months (then you can add them to a compost heap). Turn a layer of compost into the first 5 –10cms of the soil and you are ready to plant!

Beginner plants for allotments:

Here’s our selection of plants for allotment beginners:

Allotment seasonal guide:

Winter ❄

In late winter, rains should have restored the soil to full moisture levels, if they have not left it soggy, battered and emptied of nutrients. You can get some crops off to a good start, although on difficult clay soils transplants raised indoors might be necessary.

Spring 🌸

Getting plants going well before late spring is essential. Crops grow best during the long, warm days and sunshine of late spring to late summer.

Summer ☀

Wet, but not too wet, summers are far better for allotments than hot, dry ones; crops need water to grow.

Autumn 🍂

By autumn, growth is tailing off in lower light levels, so little rain is needed; warm, dry weather is better for ripening produce now. Beware of wet weather that can lead to rots and unripe produce that won’t store well.

Check out some of our other blogs:

Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Garden

Starting a garden is one of the most rewarding things one can do and anyone do it. From creating a cut flower garden, growing your own sustainable veg patch or planting an amazing border display, getting your hands dirty in the garden has so many benefits, but it can be difficult to know where to start.

Here are our 7 easy steps to guide you through the process of starting your own garden!

1. Make a Plan

First things first, what do you want to grow? A vegetable garden? An herb garden? A flower garden? All of the above? All are great choices but have different maintenance requirements. I’d recommend for all beginners to start small until you know what you’re getting into.

2. Pick the Perfect Spot

Your garden location, soil type, amount of sun exposure and access to water will play a big part in what plants you’ll be able to grow. Most plants, vegetables and fruit thrive in sunny spots but if you garden is shaded for most of the day, there are still plenty of plants (Hostas, Heucheras, Grasses) that can thrive in the shade. Go outside and study your outdoor space, learn about your soil type, and then research which plants would be the best fit.

3. Start the Ground Work

Get rid of the top layer covering the area you plan to plant. If you want quick results (e.g., it’s already spring and you want veggies this summer), cut it out. With a spade, cut the ground into sections to make it easier to remove, then put it on your compost pile to decompose. Now, you have your planting area ready to go!

4. Choose Your Plants

Choose your shopping style. Some gardeners like studying plant catalogues to create their shopping list, others head to the garden centre to select their plants, or you can simply shop online. The key planting seasons are Spring and Autumn, so choose your plants according to their planting times. Summer-flowering bulbs/plants should be planted in the Spring (Dahlias, Begonias, Roses) and Spring-flowering bulbs/plants should be planted in the Autumn (Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus).

5. Hydration is Key

Close care and attention is essential for young plants. Once plants establish a strong root system in the ground (usually a few weeks after planting), they tend to be less needy. After that, how often you need to water depends on your soil, humidity, and rainfall; although once a week is a good place to start.

6. Mulch for Protection

Mulching is life-saving for gardeners. Mulching your plants helps them retain moisture and keep weeds at bay. Cover the soil with a couple of inches of mulch after planting and you won’t have to water as often. Also, by preventing sunlight from hitting the soil, you’ll prevent weeds from forming in your soil.

  • For annuals: Choose a mulch that decomposes in a few months.
  • For perennials: Use a longer-lasting mulch such as bark chips.

7. Care, Grow and Enjoy!

Now that all the planting is done, now is the time to care for your garden and watch it grow.

Don’t forget to keep up with common garden jobs such as:

  • Watering plants regularly. 
  • Pull out any weeds.
  • Prune dead blooms, or leggy growth on plants/shrubs.
  • Remove garden pests (e.g. Aphids) by picking them off the plant, hosing them off with water, or spraying on an insecticidal soap.
  • Support tall plants (e.g., tomatoes) with a trellis, stake or pergola.

Grow Your Own: Potatoes

Solanum tuberosum 'Maris Piper' in wooden trug
Solanum tuberosum ‘Maris Piper’

Whether in an allotment or your own garden there is an undeniable joy in growing your own produce – and where better to start than with a classic staple – the potato! One of the most versatile vegetables, potatoes feature in the most traditional and creative dishes and can be a great addition to a healthy diet plan.

The potato is healthy – FACT!

  • Potato skins are a great source of fibre and potassium.
  • Salt free
  • Low in sugar
  • Potatoes are naturally saturated fat free (You can even find machines these days that will fry them into chips using as little oil as possible! Not that that makes them healthy!)

Potatoes are gluten free – great news for coeliacs!

Woman harvesting salad potatoes 'Bambino' grown in patio planter bag
Harvesting salad potatoes ‘Bambino’ grown in patio planter bag

Coeliac disease can be difficult to cater for, gluten free products are getting more varied (and tasting better) than a few years ago but they are often very expensive. The humble potato is cheap and gluten free.

You can grow potatoes in the smallest of spaces! If you have a smaller garden or simply want to keep your potato gardening organised try using grow bags. Our 40 litre Patio Potato Sacks will grow 5-7 seeds per sack. Find out how to grow potatoes in sacks here!

(See here how you can use the Patio Sacks to grow Asparagus or Rhubarb!)

SO …. now we’ve established potatoes are the best (!) we need to help you choose the right potato for you – because there are a lot of options!

Potato Varieties

  1. Salad Potatoes (harvest June –September)

Potato Charlotte

Charlotte are a favourite of all chefs, very useful for more than salads. A long oval shape, with a beautiful floury taste. Pink Fir Apple are a more traditional variety, suitable for boiling, baking or steaming. They are long knobbly in shape, with pink skin and a creamy coloured flesh.

Salad potatoes ‘Maris Peer’ in trug

2. Second Early Harvest (June-July)

They take a little longer to harvest than the first Early varieties – from late June. Bonnie is a very popular all-rounder. Maris Peer has a firm white variety with a high yield. The award winning Kestrel is very smooth in texture with purple eyes. Great old fashioned variety.

Solanum tuberosum ‘King Edward’ – Potatoes

3. Main Crop Varieties (harvest August-October)

These take the longest to harvest and take up slightly more space in the growing patch. King Edward and Maris Piper are well known all round favourites, while Cara is a heavy cropping variety with the added bonus of being very drought/disease resistant. Desiree is the best of all the red main crop varieties, ideal to boil, mash, chip or sauté.

Click HERE to view our full range of Potatoes!