On Monday, I put forward 8 Things to Ponder Before Taking on an Allotment, some of which could have been translated into reasons not to have one.
The post was well received and well-intentioned, but I’m all for impartiality and readdressing of balance, so I thought I should even things up.
After suggesting that allotments might not be for you if you’re busy or have a bit of space in your garden, I’ve put together 8 Reasons to Take on an Allotment.
These aren’t the obvious reasons, like tasty food or reduced food miles, but the advantages of an allotment over a garden. If you’re umming and arring about applying for an allotment, I hope the two posts help you in some way to decide.
As my allotment neighbour Merv says, ‘Happy gardening’.
If you want to grow lots and lots of fruit and veg, then an allotment will give most of us much more space than our gardens will. This is particularly useful if you’re growing for a family, but also if you want to grow extra for freezing or storing.
It also allows you room to be indulgent, like growing loads of strawberry plants or fruit bushes.
Growing in your garden can be lonely, especially if you’re a social type. There are always plenty of people at the allotments to chat with, as well as summer shows and events. If you’re lucky you’ll find yourself on a really sociable plot, where afternoon cups of tea and cake are the norm.
Allotments are a bargain. At an average of £30 per year, they’re probably cheaper to run than your garden.
My rent was £18 a year, and I can’t think of a better way to have spent that money.
Tips from Others
Allotment holders are friendly folk, and from my experience, they’re always willing to pass on tips and advice to newcomers. Each allotment site will have many long-standing members, who have worked their plots for a number of years. You could fit what they don’t know about growing in your soil on the back of a seed packet.
The Allotment Shop
As well as being a great hub for meeting fellow plotholders, the allotment shop will often be much cheaper than local garden centres. Many allotment societies take up the discounted seed club offers from seed merchants, meaning that seeds are sometimes as much as 50% cheaper.
Differentiating from the Garden
Having an allotment can be great for separating your spaces up. Some people like to keep their gardens as a family space, for example, where the kids can run around and there’s no danger of prized veg plants being flattened by a stray football.
(If only I understood when I was a kid what I understand now, I’d have behaved myself in my mum’s garden a lot more…)
An Escape from the House
At times, it’s just nice to have somewhere to escape to. An allotment is a haven, somewhere away from the normal day to day stuff, where you can potter and ignore everything else going on elsewhere.
Seed and Plant Swaps
At my allotment site, there are often surplus plants left outside the front gate, free for anyone to make use of. I’ve also swapped lots of seeds and plants with fellow plotholders. My favourites were my globe artichokes, celeriac, and the oodles of spare seed potatoes that people are always trying to find homes for.
The Buzz of Being Part of Something
Arriving at the allotment on a busy Spring Saturday is an exhilarating feeling. I never thought I’d be excited about the sound of lawnmowers, but together with the bustle of people getting ready for summer, it really lifts the spirits.
Some of my favourite days on the plot were like that, and often I’d just down tools and take a walk around. It was those days that reminded me how a flourishing allotment site is a really special place to be.