Real Men Sow

7 Tips for Planning Your Allotment Plot

gardencrops

I enjoy plot planning. I get right into it, measuring up space and estimating how many plants I can fit in each bed.

In the past, I’ve geeked out with Excel Spreadsheets and specific crop planning software, as well as good old fashion pencil and paper.

Plot planning does take some thought though, especially if you want to make the most of your space. Here are 7 things to consider before you start growing.

Commit Your Plan to Paper
This is the first thing I do when plot planning. It helps me properly visualise my space, and how I might want to arrange crops. I’ll go through various versions, but getting the plan down on paper gives me focus and a good reference point later on in the year.

Have I measured the plot properly?
For an effective plan, accuracy is obviously important to help you plan exactly how many rows of veg are going in.

When I measured my first plot out, I was lucky enough to borrow a surveyor’s wheel so I could get accurate measurements of my plot. I got a few odd stares as I wheeled it around my beds, but I can now plan pretty precisely how many plants I can squeeze in.

Keep families together & think about crop rotation.
Put the legumes, brassicas and root veg in their own beds, as they will have similar growing requirements and make soil preparation easier. These three groups also form the basis of a simple crop rotation sequence.

If you keep your winter crops together, you can also clear whole beds at a time, which makes Winter manuring and digging much easier.

Don’t Plant Too Close Together
In the past, my eagerness to sow every vegetable plant seed under the sun (plus a few more) has got the better of me. Planting too close together can restrict growth and spread disease between crops.

Last year I vowed to be neater and tidier with my sowing, and give everything some space to breathe. Two well-spaced plants will often give just as much yield as four crammed close together.

Is there enough room between paths to not trample on plants?
It’s not just about room between plants though. Space for the small but significant matter of where I stand to harvest and water is also rather important. It’s very easy to wipe out a whole plant in one awkward stumble…

Where is your fruit going to go?
I absolutely love fresh fruit on the allotment, and have come to appreciate it just as much as any vegetable I go. Fruit plants, bushes and canes need a permanent base though, as they can take a few years to properly establish.

If you’re planning on netting from the birds, keeping your fruit together makes life a lot easier.

Can You fit everything in?
Of course, with all these seeds and fruit bushes, can you actually fit everything in? And if not, what’s going to go?

In recent years, I’ve based what I grow on whether the veg has some of my 6 cash saving principles.

Take time to think about the size of your space and how much time you can commit to it. Keep this in mind whilst you are drawing up your plans.

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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