Some useful information on having an allotment and how to care for it
Having an allotment can be a very rewarding but also time consuming, it’s also physically demanding. The best way to maintain an allotment is to visit it as much as possible; you will be amazed at what just 20 minutes of hoeing can achieve, if you can do this 2 or 3 times a week your plot will stay in good condition.
So you have got a new plot - now what? Well it really depends on the condition of the plot; it may have been neglected for some time but don’t be in a rush to clear it in one go, little and often is the key. One of the first jobs is to think about setting it out on paper, decide where structures are going such as the greenhouse or shed, where the compost bins and water butts are best placed, and the layout of the beds (4 beds or more is best for helping with crop rotation). Other things to consider it the aspect of your plot, how much light will it get (useful to know when thinking the position of structures) where is the nearest water supply etc
The next step is digging and lots of it, this is best done in late Autumn when the soil is moist but not soaked, dig over and remove any weeds you may find like Dandelion, Couch Grass or Bind weed. Using a Rotovator is NOT recommended the first time you turn over the soil on your plot, the tines will just chop up any perennial weeds below the surface and each little piece of root will become a new plant. When the digging is over you can rake it over or just leave the clods of earth and let the frosts break them down. The soil condition is very important; it may be low in nutrients or very heavy clay
Next is to add organic matter to the soil, well rotted horse manure (Not fresh) or chicken manure are both good, Cow manure is probably the best if you can get it, spread a liberal amount over the top of the freshly dug soil and leave it to the worms to take down. Avoid applying manure to any beds that your planning to plant root vegetables such as Carrots & Parsnips; they will "Fork" when growing in manure rich soil. Another method is to scatter green manure such as mustard seed, it holds nutrients in the plants preventing them being washed away and just before they start seeding you can chop them down with a spade and just fork the foliage into the soil. Mulching or covering your soil is a good thing to do during the winter or at any time a bed is not in use, thick plastic sheeting is favoured by many as it prevents weeds growing. Sheets of cardboard are also a good option as it will rot down and feed the soil. Old carpet should be avoided as when it rots it can be difficult to get rid of, really old carpet may contain toxins in the backing.
Get to know your neighbours; most will have had allotments for many seasons and can be a wealth of information and advice....they may even have a few spare plants to get you going.
If you are having difficulty with you plot or are unable to attend for a period of time let the committee know.