Top Tips on Getting the Most Out of Your Allotment This Year
The attraction of growing your own produce, as well as saving money on your food bills, mean that the demand for allotments is on the increase. The National Allotment Society believes there are around 330,000 plots in the UK, and at least 90,000 more people are on a waiting list.
Madingley Mulch specialises in allotment supplies to customers in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk and Hertfordshire. Here we look at five key ways in which you can get the most out of your plot this year.
Planning and Preparation
If you have just been allocated one, it is essential to know what will grow well in your allotment’s soil, and which areas get the most sun. You can check the soil with a simple pH calculator. In East Anglia, most gardens have a heavy clay soil, which can be difficult to grow plants in because it does not drain very easily.
Talk to your fellow allotment-holders to find out what they have had the most success in growing – or ask our advice at Madingley Mulch.
Don’t be Too Ambitious at First
It may be best not to try to grow lots of different fruits and vegetables which need a lot of TLC, particularly if you haven’t got the time to devote to it. Perennials such as tomatoes, blueberries and strawberries are recommended for beginners as they live for more than two years, returning each spring from their rootstock.
Spending half an hour in your allotment two or three times a week is far better than doing one full eight-hour stint – then not being able to face it again for another couple of weeks because you’ve put your back out!
It’s also worth stocking up on a new set of garden tools – clearing and weeding your plot is hard work, which is even harder if your spades, forks and hoes are old, rusty or blunt. At Madingley Mulch we supply a range of high-quality Spear & Jackson garden tools which are made from heat-treated carbon steel and weatherproofed ash for additional strength.
And don’t be afraid to give nature a helping hand if you are concerned about the quality of the soil. At Madingley Mulch we exclusively supply Denise’s Delight, a mix of Black Fen soil, horse manure, humus and other plant nutrients, which offers gardeners in Essex, Cambridgeshire and throughout East Anglia the advantages of both soil conditioners and compost. Adding this to your plot should help give you lots of tasty produce.
There is little point in growing exotic fruit and veg if you’re not going to eat it. It’s helpful to make a list of your family’s favourite recipes and work out what is going to be the most useful.
You can also work out which vegetables grow well together, and which don’t. For instance, onions, chives, leeks and garlic compete for the same soil nutrients, so disperse them throughout your allotment. On the other hand, lettuces, radishes and other quick-growing plants, which are sown between melons and squashes, can be harvested long before the vines need any extra space.
If you have a new packet of seeds, try to avoid emptying it out in one go – if you do, everything will ripen at the same time, and you could be left with large amounts of unused fruit or veg. Instead, where possible, try what is known as ‘succession sowing’ where you plant a few seeds every few weeks. This will ensure a steady supply of tasty fare throughout the growing season.
Herbs Make Perfect Scents
Although they might not seem an obvious choice, herbs are a valuable addition to any allotment. Their strongly-scented leaves can deter some types of pests. For instance, French marigolds grown alongside tomatoes will help keep aphids at bay, while sage repels cabbage moths.
Growing them close to vegetables can also help improve the latter’s flavour – for example, lettuce or tomatoes can be improved If you cultivate basil next to them.
Lay Down Mulch
One of the biggest bugbears of allotment-holders is weeding. Regularly clearing your plot to get rid of these unwanted invaders us a necessary evil – otherwise they will sap valuable nutrients out of the soil and inhibit the growth of your own produce. Unfortunately using a tiller is not always a good idea, as this can chop up weed roots and spread them around your plot.
One way of minimising the amount of weeding you have to do is to lay down a mulch. This also helps the soil retain moisture – and replenishes it after the growing season is over.
Another way of getting rid of unwanted plants is to use a weed-suppressing membrane, which is also available from our shop on the outskirts of Cambridge. Out Groundtex membranes are made from closely-woven, tear-resistant fabric, which means it should deter the most stubborn of weeds.
Allotment Supplies from Madingley Mulch
Whatever your gardening needs, Madingley Mulch are the people to contact. Our range of high-quality, competitively-priced allotment supplies are available for plots across Bedfordshire, Suffolk, Essex and Hertfordshire, as well as our home county of Cambridgeshire. Follow the link above to get in touch and find out where we are.
We offer free delivery on orders within 15 miles of our site on the outskirts of Cambridge. There is a weekly service to many local towns and villages, including Haverhill, Saffron Walden, Ely and Huntingdon. There is a standard £20 charge for deliveries within 24.5 miles, and we can also deliver products further afield.
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