This page is for new plotters and experienced plot holders alike. Should you have any help or advice to add to these pages please tell us by clicking here to use our Contact Us page.
How can I get a toilet key? - Bring a £5 deposit and get a key at the shop counter during opening hours.
Are there any special rules for the toilet? - Yes, it's a composting loo, so only use the paper provided, don't throw anything else in there, no water or cleaning products. Remember to lock up afterwards.
Am I allowed to drive down the main path? - please only do this if you need to load/unload or if you have mobility difficulties.
Where do plotters get woodchips from? - We get regular loads of chippings which are piled just down the path from the toilet, on the right. All are welcome to help themselves for pathways etc. on plots. Best not use direct as a mulch as they will rob nitrogen from the soil as they degrade.
I've seen various items 'left' by the hut - are they up for grabs? - People often leave items they think may be useful to others, ie. plant pots, pallets, slabs etc. Unless they are marked 'please leave' or similar then usually they are free to help yourself to / share around. People sometimes make a donation in the shop if they take a lot of something. A rabbit breeder regularly leaves bags of waste hutch bedding which is great added to the compost heap as an activator.
Should I shut the gate if I've seen others go through and leave it open, or it's already open when I arrive? - The ONLY times the gate should be left open are during shop hours We are constantly asking people to be consistent about shutting (and locking) the gate at all other times. We have to insist on this as the colony has been targeted by thieves/vandals in the past and this is our first line of defence. We really appreciate everyone's cooperation in this matter.
I'm quite new to this growing lark. I'm worried I'll be laughed at or scorned by the 'old timers' - You'll find that people are more than willing to offer tips and advice, spare plants and produce! Even the seasoned hands have failures sometimes and there is no 'right way' to do things. The important thing is to try stuff out, try and keep on top of the plot, little and often. Don't try and achieve too much all in one go. Better to cover a patch over and cultivate bit by bit than get overwhelmed by the weeds in the first season and feel defeated!
Are we allowed bonfires? Yes, but within reason and not just because you enjoy staring at flames! Sometimes bonfires are the only realistic way to dispose of certain stuff, ie. piles of cut brambles, diseased vegetation, huge piles of (dried out) weeds. So take heed of the wind situation and neighbours' washing please!. Please click here for dates
Is it OK to use strimmers/rotavators? - Yes, but as above, please be considerate as the noise from these machines carries.
Help! I've just taken on a new plot and now I don't know where to start! - More than likely the
weeds are taller than you. First step, get a strimmer, scythe or shears and cut down to ground level. Now you have a choice: cover over with black ground cover, thick cardboard (like type used to pack white goods, bikes etc, not grocery cartons), carpet (but be careful, not foam backed (you'll end up with bits of foam all over the plot), and remember when wet it's a b***er to heave about). Or spray with a glyphosate based weedkiller, then cover. You can then peel back your ground cover and start digging section by section. Remove perennial weed roots as you go and take home to council green bin (don't compost them, they'll resprout). Leave plot/area covered unless planning to plant straight away, so as to give those weeds a fighting chance of dying.
Everyone seems to be talking about 'raised beds' - should I have those? -They are an option but by no means a necessity. To have a plot full of raised beds you need to make an outlay in the surrounding material (timber usually). You also need to fill the beds with more compost to make them 'raised'. Advantages quoted are that soil warms up quicker in spring and you can adopt the 'no-dig' system. No dig though, means adding copious amounts of mulch/organic matter every season to the bed. If you do go for a plot divided up into several raised beds, you need to think about management of the pathways. Could you keep the grass down easily between the beds? Also, how much growing space are you actually losing by dividing up the plot like this? People sometimes confuse raised beds with 'edged' beds. Edging a bed, with say, scaffolding planks can make the plot seem easier to manage and neater. However they may end up more of a hassle in the long run and do you really need to be so neat and uniform on an allotment plot?Lastly, if you don't keep one step ahead of the weeds, they WILL take over, raised beds or no raised beds!
I'm so excited at growing loads of stuff I'm going to order loads of seeds! - Go steady! You'll probably end up with far too many unopened packets a couple of years down the line. Sod's law sayeth that enough ground will never be ready in time, the window of opportunity for said seeds will be missed, there won't be enough windowsill space to bring them on after first half packet and if sown direct, snails and slugs will munch on the first sproutings. Take it slowly! Good crops to grow when starting out and getting the hang are potatoes (you'll get some sort of crop even with neglect) and large plants that shade out weed competition like courgettes. It may make more sense to buy small plants or plugs than to grow from seed initially.