Growing your own greens at home is very rewarding, but it can also be demanding. For one, you need enough space to cultivate crops. That could be in a shed, a greenhouse, or, if you’ve not got the space at home – in an allotment.
If you’re keen on honing your gardening skills but don’t have the plot to do so, you’re not alone. Our allotment ideas and tips have got you covered!
When designing your allotment, take the time to plan its layout strategically. This helps ensure optimal functionality throughout the year. Consider the practical aspects, such as accessibility and usability, during different seasons.
By carefully planning the layout, you can make the most of your plot. Most importantly, create a productive and enjoyable space for all your gardening endeavours. Here are some planning tips to keep in mind:
1. Start with your plot layout
Think of what type of soil you have, which plants will grow well, and how the sun hits your plot. Are there any useful existing structures and access to water? Additionally, invest in good-quality gardening tools to make your gardening tasks more efficient.
2. Go for raised beds
If you’re a beginner, opting for raised beds or planters is a wise choice. They are cost-effective and provide better control over soil quality and drainage. Raised beds also allow you to create well-defined pathways. They enhance the aesthetics of your allotment while making maintenance and harvesting easier.
3. Install a watering system
Consider installing a water tank for a reliable and permanent irrigation solution. This ensures a steady supply of water for your plants, particularly during dry spells.
Or opt for a DIY approach using recycled plastic drums to collect rainwater. Harvesting rainwater not only conserves resources but also provides a sustainable water source.
4. Aim for a low-maintenance plot
To cut the time and effort required for upkeep, choose plants that require minimal care. Consider selecting hardy and disease-resistant varieties that thrive with minimal intervention. This is important if you have limited time to tend to your plot regularly.
5. Think vertically and horizontally
Regardless of your plot size, maximise your growing space vertically and horizontally. For these growing techniques, incorporate trellises and climbing frames to support vining plants. This will allow them to grow upward and save valuable ground space. You may also use stepped-raised planters to create multiple tiers for planting.
6. Prepare the mulch
Prepare a layer of mulch on your allotment to reap several benefits. Mulching helps retain moisture in the soil, reducing the frequency of watering. It also enhances soil fertility by gradually breaking down and releasing nutrients.
Choose between organic mulch options like grass clippings or bark. Alternatively, opt for inorganic alternatives that effectively suppress weed growth.
7. Weed the plot
Prioritise weeding to maintain its cleanliness and ensure healthier plant growth. Use a hand fork, your hands, or a weed killer, depending on the scale of weed infestation. This initial effort will save you significant time and energy in the long run. For one, it ensures a weed-free garden throughout the year.
8. Clear the space
Get rid of old equipment and plants, and get your plot ready for a fresh start. The same goes for plants or vegetation that’s been lying around and unmaintained. Skip this part if your plot is, of course, newly made.
9. Include an area for the herbs
The benefits of planting herbs throughout your plot extend beyond protection. Repelling insects with their strongly scented leaves is just one of their benefits.
But they also help enhance the flavours of other plants. Take growing basil alongside tomatoes and lettuce, for example.
10. Add a dedicated spot for a greenhouse
This means you can evade almost all seasonal changes and weather conditions year-round. No matter what the British weather throws at you, it won’t allow your gardening efforts to go to waste.
A greenhouse can give you that much-needed flexibility for any form of cultivation.
Making improvements to your plot can enhance your experience. These allotment ideas will help you make that happen!
11. Set up a tool storage solution
Keep your garden tools organised and secure with a dedicated storage structure. Opt for a small store shed with a sturdy padlock. Or choose a stackable 3-in-1 steel toolbox set for portability and convenience.
12. Consider companion planting
Boost the productivity and health of your plants by practising companion planting. Grow compatible plants together, such as lettuces and radishes, alongside melons or squash. This can help you maximise the space and create mutually beneficial growing conditions.
13. Rooftop allotments
This method works well for those who live in cities or apartments with no backyards to tend to. If you’re one of them, take advantage of your rooftop (if you have access) and install raised bed planters.
The plants will need the right light exposure and adequate soil and water to thrive well.
14. Planting station for the kids
Encourage kids to get involved in gardening by setting up a designated play plot for them. Provide a sandpit or mud kitchen equipped with kid-friendly garden tools and buckets. This allows them to have their own gardening space while adults tend to their tasks.
15. Welcome more wildlife
There’s no better pest control than the natural solution provided by wildlife. Encouraging birds, for one, will help keep down unwelcome pests and help to give you a better, bigger crop.
Setting up a butterfly feeder is also another way to add beauty, life, and colour to your allotment plot.
16. Paths between beds
Paths between beds can provide access to all areas of your plot and link functional areas. Bark chips, inexpensive gravel or pavers are great to lead the way.
If you use a wheelbarrow, make sure the path is wide enough.
17. Go for water butts
Tap water isn’t always readily or easily available in some gardens or allotments. If this is your case, a water butt might be the perfect solution for you! It’s a simple method for collecting and storing rainwater.
18. Make your own compost
Allotment gardening can generate a lot of weeds and waste, and this is where composting comes in. Depending on the pile size, you may need one or two garden compost bins. The best way to get rid of allotment waste!
19. Bug hotel addition
Some insects contribute to crop pollination. They’re beneficial and deserve to have a safe place in your allotment garden.
A bug hotel makes the ideal home for them, and this guide can help you build one from scratch.
20. Normalise the use of plant markers
Plant markers are a great way to show what you are growing. You’ll know which plants are where and what varieties were planted. They’re also beneficial when you’re cultivating food and having other people harvest it.
21. Grow in a polytunnel
Polytunnels are a great economical alternative to greenhouses. They’re large walk-in tunnels with galvanised steel frames covered in plastic sheeting.
One can provide shelter for plants from seasonal changes, dramatic weather, and pests.
22. Insulate plants with cold frames
Extend your growing season and protect delicate plants by using cold frames. These structures offer insulation, capturing solar energy and shielding plants from cold temperatures. They provide an intermediate stage between a greenhouse and outdoor planting.
23. Plant crops in rotation
The idea is to grow specific groups of vegetables on a different part of the plot each year. This helps to reduce pest infestations and plant diseases. It’s also a good way to organise the crops according to their cultivation needs.
24. Use trellises
Save valuable ground space by growing vertically with trellises. Use trellises to support various fruits and vegetables, such as cucumbers and tomatoes. The trellis will help them to climb and maximise their yield.
25. Build potato planters
Growing root vegetables like potatoes is rewarding (minus the backache of digging!). But a DIY potato planter made from raised beds can save you all that labour. (You might find this guide helpful).
26. Grow from seeds
Save money and have more control over your produce by starting plants from seeds. Germinate them in trays with peat-free compost in a greenhouse. Then, transplant them into the soil outdoors for a cost-effective gardening experience.
27. Make use of cloches
Protect tender greens and gain an early start in the sowing season with garden cloches. You can easily build your own cloches using wire, providing a shield against birds. Cloches also create a favourable microclimate for your plants.
28. Grow arable blooms
Enhance biodiversity by adding wild arable flowers to your vegetables. These blooms provide a vibrant splash of colour to your allotment. Plus, attract pollinating insects with their nectar. Consider planting poppies, corncockles, fumitories, and campions. Such combinations can create a harmonious and beneficial ecosystem within your plot.
29. Intercropping practice
Intercropping is the method of growing two or more crops at the same time. It encourages harvest increases between widely spaced, slow-growing crops.
Take Brussels sprouts, for example. Grown in wide spaces, they also enable you to sow lettuce in early spring and crop before the sprouts.
30. Add seating
Finally, install some seating with some help from our garden bench ideas to create social spaces. Preferably put one or two under a tree or under a small pergola for shade.
This also gives you the best hangout spot for a quick chat with your allotment neighbours.
Growing your own food isn’t the only benefit of allotment gardening. It also plays a key role in helping you gain skills and joy in gardening itself equalling a healthier lifestyle.
When done in communities, you can even develop friendships. And our curated list of allotment ideas will also ensure you have a healthy, good-looking plot. Win-win!
To ensure your allotment remains organised and efficient, consider investing in a shed. Regardless of your plot’s dimension, we offer a range of garden sheds to accommodate your needs. To find the right shed size you need, explore the helpful content on our blog!