Allocation beginners – what should you do if your new plan seems in shambles?

You may be jumping for joy when you are finally allocated an allocation after being on a waiting list forever.

As the new year begins, growing your own vegetables for the first time is an exciting prospect – unless your allotted share is an overgrown pile of weeds.

YouTuber Charles Dowding (charlesdoding.co.uk), gardening expert, author and author of How to Build a New Vegetable Garden, offers this guide for first-time vegetable growers.

Size matters

He advises that novice gardeners should consider the condition and size of any allotments they inherit and the time they will have to take care of it.

“A full-size allotment for a new gardener is too much,” he thinks. “It used to be a family experience in the old days. Find friends to help and be a part of it. In a weed situation, spread black polyethylene over the organic matter/compost in the early spring to help suppress weeds. Scale it. I have a bed measuring 1.5 x 5 m that yields 100 kg of food every year.”

manage your expectations

“I don’t mean to scare people, but you may be taking over soil that has been eroded by repeated cultivation and not given enough goodness,” she warns. It may take some time to restore the soil.

cut back the weeds

“The first job is to cut the weeds down to ground level, using scissors, a scythe, or whatever it takes to cut through the vegetation, so you can see what the surface is like,” Dowding says.

level the ground“I’ve noticed that people who harvest potatoes often leave the ground like the lunar surface. If you have a very uneven surface, you’ll have to take a shovel and cut the ridges and put them in the hollows.”

fertilize the area

After the allotted area is weed-free, you can put cardboard sheets to keep weeds at bay and add at least a 2-inch layer of compost on top of it. He says the best time to drop the cartons is February or March. You will be able to plant seeds in the compost above it.

Design your plan

“Mark beds and paths. In an allotment, covering paths and beds with wooden edging is quite expensive and not strictly necessary. You can mulch paths and beds with cardboard, and there may be some sawdust on the paths. on your way and in your bed. The absence of a wooden border also gives you more trimming space.

No crop rotation needed

Dowding says, “I’ve tried enough not to rotate, and I’m confident I can say you don’t need to. You don’t need to do four years of rotation – it’s from 18th century farming. Grow what you want, where you want, in whatever quantity, and when that’s done, you’ll have more plants ready to emerge. .

“‘No digging’ keeps the soil healthy and highly productive so you have less of an issue that people often mention as a reason for rotation.”

Grow easy crops

“If you like salad, it should be lettuce that you can grow all year. “Peas are fast, if one can keep the bugs away, but I would recommend potatoes over anything else because seed potatoes germinate quickly,” Dowding says.

And if you only have room to grow vegetables in a small area in your garden…

You can still grow a good chunk of vegetables in something as small as a 1m x 1m raised bed, says Emma O’Neill, head gardener of the horticultural charity Garden Organic (gardenorganic.org.uk).

Novice vegetable growers like to see things growing fast, or they can be easily discouraged, she says. So stick to crops that will show up quickly first.

“Grow up the easy salads. They sprout quickly, radishes, like herbs, are very fast. Garlic and scallions are also easy vegetables. Make life easier by “chipping” potatoes and buying onion sets instead of growing everything from seed, she says.

“Grow potatoes in a container, as they will take up a lot of space in a small vegetable field.”

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