Fruit & Veg: What to Grow in your Allotment this Year

AllotmentAs more and more people are actively taking an interest in looking after their health and the food that they eat, the UK is rapidly seeing an increase in the use of allotments in urban areas. These little pieces of oasis in built up, often highly populated areas offer a superb way of getting back in touch with nature, growing your own fruit and vegetables and creating an area which allows you relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.Allotments are often allocated to people by their local councils, and one of their key benefits is that they bring people together, allow people to enjoy a shared space and also to share ideas/tips. I love the thought, at the end of the week watching people locally escape to their allotment, getting stuck in and trying to create (and maintain) something wonderful. The maintenance can at times be time consuming and hard work (especially trying to keep on top of those dreaded weeds), but the rewards really can be worth the effort.


What to grow in the allotment this year?

Now summer is almost here, there is still the opportunity to get the allotment into shape and start to transform the area. Don’t worry if the area is small, you

Allotment 2

can still grow many varieties of fruit and vegetables in even the smallest of sections.Walking past the allotments near my house recently I stopped and began to chat to a local lady who had made such a lovely, open planned display of her own space. She had Strawberry plants growing in almost perfectly controlled rows, raised beds with Potatoes growing from seed, Blueberry and Blackberry plants growing in containers by a bench, Vegetables on show in garden shed (almost ready to come outside) and she also had a penned in area for her own chickens (seven of them no less).This got me thinking about what would be worth a try this year if you have the space available and here are some top suggestions and tips:

1. Grow some Strawberry Pineberry in multiple rows. Supplied as 7cm pot plants for easy planting, try growing in rows for a successful large crop. Each plant should be space around 40cm apart in a straight line, with around 60-70cm between each row. Strawberry Pineberry is a real novelty, with the look and feel of a white Strawberry but with a smell and taste more closely associated with a pineapple.

2. So if your garden needs a fresh look and feel then why not also make these changes productive by planting your very own Apple Trees. Their striking spring blossoms are a valuable bonus to the allotment, but ultimately it is the crop from this mini fruit orchard that is appealing. Plant your Apple trees in an area with has as much sun as possible, as the more sun they get the healthier the tree will grow. My personal favourite is Apple James Grieve, because of the juicy taste. Grow the varieties you like, that’s the best advice anyone can offer when growing fruit and vegetables.
Asparagus3. Asparagus are becoming all the rage in Britain and a beautiful vegetable to accompany most dishes.  Plant in a trench approx 5-6inches deep with the crowns covered by 2inches of fine soil. As the plants grow, the trench should be filtered gradually and should be level by the autumn. You can choose from three varieties to cover the full season, the early yielding Gijnlim, mid season yielding ‘Herkolim’ and the late season yielding ‘Backlim’.

4. Create your own Herb Garden in containers and pots.

By growing your own herbs you can easily improve your culinary skills and become more creative. Growing herbs is easy and low maintenance and because you can grow them in containers they can easily be moved around the allotment. Basil ‘Wild Magic’ really caught our eye last summer as a standout new variety to try. Not only is it extremely tasty and heavily scented, but it makes a fantastic ornamental plant with extremely dark green leaves tinged with purple and purple flowers throughout summer.5. Miniature Plum ‘Black Amber’ can be grown in containers or in the ground. Smaller than your average Plum trees, they are ideal for an allotment where space can be at a premium. Growing in pairs will add effective spring blossom in spring and dark-purple thick skinned fruit will pop up in late summer and early autumn. Miniature Plum Trees are a must for lovers of plum trees.

6. Blueberry ‘Pink Lemonade’ are another unusual twist to a popular soft fruit. Blush white flowers are followed by sweetly flavoured and good textured Pink Blueberries in August. A real garden novelty, equally effective as an ornamentalshrub with all year round interest.

Fig Ficus carica Panachée nr 3

7. Striped Tiger Fig is a reliable cropping dwarf fruit tree that produce unusually striped figs on miniature stems. They love fertile, humus rich soil or if planting up into containers you can use a loam based potting compost.

 

 

 

8. Goji Berry (The Miracle Berry), or Lycium Barbarum, to give it its full name can be introduce because of the incredibly high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants found within each berry produced. A very easy plant to succeed with, they will fruit from their second season onwards with a significantly higher yield year after year. A very popular, pleasant tasting fruit that can be eaten straight of the vine, with an almost herbal scent. Originating in the Himalaya, it can easily be added to breakfast cereal, yoghurts, fruit salads.

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Gardening Jobs for May

Summer bedding plants

Mid-to-late May is the best time to plant out summer bedding plants. Prepare the soil and use some organic compost to fertilize the soil ready for the new bedding. You do need to keep an eye on the long term weather forecast when doing this, as a late strong frost can put pay to your hard work. You can keep plants in the greenhouse until the weather improves and move them out towards the end of the month. Just make sure they’re well watered and the greenhouse is well aired, vented and shaded during the day so that these plants don’t over heat in warm weather. The same rules apply for hanging baskets. You can plant these from April onwards, but until the last sign of frost has passed you may want to protect them in the greenhouse. If you don’t have one, hold off planting until the end of May. Line your basket well and add a fertilizer rich compost soil. There are plenty of varieties to choose from but trailing plants work well for covering the sides of your basket. Water well, add fertilizer weekly and keep any eye out for pests!

Tidy up

You may find you need to clip any hedging and topiary now to keep its shape neat and tidy. The warmer weather will also mean regular mowing of the lawn will be a necessity now and through the summer months. Once a week should be sufficient, keep on top this and your garden will look tidy all summer!

Deal with weeds

As the temperatures rise your prized plants will spring to life, but unfortunately so will any unwanted weeds! Pull up any seedlings and dig out perennial weeds with a fork to try and get rid of any roots. Time and effort spent on these perennial weeds will benefit not only your borders but also your lawn, as May is the ideal time to identify those nasty dandelions and deal with them.

Pond

If you have a pond, pond weed is equally important to deal with and should be removed regularly before it becomes too difficult to manage and harmful to pond life. Make sure you leave any weeds by the side of the pond for a good while before removing just in case any pond life is hiding there!May is a great time to begin stocking ponds with fish, just make sure any aquatic plants have established first.

Keep an eye on growth

Many growing plants may need your attention this month, add plenty of feed to keep them happy. Tall perennials may need trellis and support as they start to grow to keep them straight and upright.It is also important to tie up your clematis to control their climbing in the direction you would like them to grow. For rambling roses, try and tie as horizontal as possible as this will restrict the flow of sap and increase side shoots, thus causing more flowers. Spring flowered Montana type clematis need pruning after flowering to keep them tidy.

Click here to view the full May Gardening Job List!