We have recently been given a lovely little allotment plot at our local site (I’ll write more about this soon!) but while being stuck on the waiting list, we had previously created our own allotment-style garden at home.
Here we’ve grown a wide variety of exciting vegetables from our small Victorian terrace garden, without hiring contractors to build raised beds. In this feature, I’ll give my top four tips to inspire you on a similar journey.
Plan out your space
An important first step is to plan out your available space and where you intend to create your allotment style vegetable garden. We had this rather dull and boring space at the end of our garden which worked perfectly to add raised beds. Unfortunately for us, our dog is into absolutely everything so we had to make really high raised beds which required more filling up with compost and other materials. You could certainly create a similar effect with lower raised beds!
Make use of free or cheap materials
We managed to find some really cheap pallet collars on Facebook marketplace and my husband stacked them up and added some fencing around the outside for aesthetic purposes.
He then used some off-cuts of wood to create this sweet little gate and it really makes the whole thing look beautifully finished. It also prevents the dog from wandering around and stealing vegetables!
The first vegetables to grow
Now that you have your basic structure you can fill it with topsoil (usually available for free on Facebook marketplace) and some high-quality compost. You’ll then be ready to start thinking about what to grow. The cheapest and most self-sufficient way to grow your own produce is to grow from seed. We don’t have a greenhouse so we used our annex and a small plastic growhouse to start things off and it has worked perfectly!
Garlic was one of the first things that we grew in our garden allotment. It is easy to plant and you can buy some amazing bulbs online. We used Kingsland Wight from Dobies and it has done fantastically! I would also suggest interplanting some spinach alongside it to make good use of the free space as it grows.
Tomatoes are a firm favourite, and there are lots of varieties to choose from! This year I’m super excited about this gorgeous-looking ‘Black Moon’ variety from Burpee Europe which has a firm and juicy texture but a dripless interior. ‘Black Moon’ sets a new standard in black fruited tomatoes and I can’t wait to see what these seeds produce! Available via various stockists but I would recommend: www.premierseedsdirect.com
Sweetcorn can be slightly trickier to grow as they are wind pollinated and need to be grown in blocks. However, this year I’m growing a variety called Ambrosia, also from Burpee Europe and they have germinated really quickly so I’m hopeful that we may see a bountiful harvest for 2023! Stockist: Moles Seeds and Just Seed.
You can also opt for fast-growing favourites such as cucumbers, radishes, courgettes, and salad leaves. There are so many choices, the decision is entirely up to you.
Don’t tackle too much at once
Remember that you don’t have to do everything at once. Gardening is great for your mental health and should be done at your own pace. In your first year, try to grow things that you will definitely eat. This will avoid wastage and take the pressure off of you a little.
You can pick up reasonably priced vegetable plug plants from your local garden center. You can also use trusted websites such as Dobbies, to purchase vegetable plug plants. This is an excellent way of filling up spaces! Find an excellent selection here: www.dobies.co.uk/vegetable-fruit-plants
We plan to keep growing the smaller, easy-to-manage vegetables in our little allotment-style garden and will grow bigger vegetables that require large amounts of space and netting, at our actual allotment. Stay tuned for more updates on both throughout the spring and summer months ahead! Follow me on Instagram @lifestylelinked where I have an allotment stories tab.