growing highs and lows of 2013

A Low Maintenance, Time Friendly Allotment Plan for 2014

time friendly allotment plan

This weekend I made a start at clearing my new ultra weedy allotment.

I’ve been formulating a plan over the past few weeks, which is aimed at removing the need to go hammer and tong at the plot over the winter.

With the little ‘un and my kitchen garden, time is of the essence so I’m looking to execute a plan which avoids manuring and digging in this winter but still allows me to grow next year.

I’m dividing the plot into quarters and will be growing fruit and veg which either don’t require rich soil or can have organic matter incorporated during planting.

The plot measures 16ft x 16ft, so by dividing into quarters I’ll have 4 beds at 8ft square. I’ve been playing around with growing positions on Grow Veg, and here’s what I’ve got in mind:

Quarter 1 – Fruit
The bottom left (pictured), or Quarter 1 is going to be my fruit bed and home to gooseberries, blackcurrant, blackberry, rhubarb, and raspberries.

Prior to planting, I’ll add manure by shovelling some down the hole I’ve dug for the bush or cane. This means I can get cracking on the bed at any point between the dormant season (between now and March).

Quarter 2 – Squashes
On my old allotment, I often grew squashes in soil that hasn’t been manured for a season. This was mainly due to my rubbish crop rotation plan, but using a planting method my mum taught me it was never a problem.

Like the fruit, I added the manure while planting out. Providing the manure was well-rotted, I always got good crops. As long as I clearly mark where the plant is with a stick, I will be able to concentrate watering around the root and the recess will keep the moisture there.

Quarters 3 and 4
This half of the plot will be long rows of low maintenance vegetables such as potatoes, onions, garlic, beetroot, chard, and kale. None of these vegetables are particularly demanding of the soil, so I reckon they’ll grow fine without manuring.

I’m also going to grow leeks here – they require more humus in the soil, but we’ll chuck a row in and see what happens. As my mum says, ‘they’ve got two choices’.

With the pressure to get everything cleared for a winter’s muck topping reduced, I can do little and often, when I get the time. If I do get sections clear quicker than I intended, I can manure then, but if not I’ll just fall back on my original plan.

Once 2014’s growing season is over, I can look to do proper manure on any bits that I missed out (or the whole lot!).
What I’ve cleared so far is encouraging. The soil underneath the weeds looks nice and crumbly, even after all this rain. Oddly there are hardly any stones compared to my previous allotment, just a couple of hundred yards away.

Now that bodes well for parsnips and carrots, which I’ve left out…

Ah. Best get back to that plan…

8 thoughts on “A Low Maintenance, Time Friendly Allotment Plan for 2014”

  1. Just starting my second year on my plot and am adjusting a few things (I’ve replanted my asparagus!) I’m thinking of replanting my fruit bushes to an area with the asparagus so that all the permanent stuff is together- is there stuff that shouldn’t be together, do you know? I’ve sent out a call to friends asking for parsnip propagator equipment (aka kitchen roll middles) – my plan is to fill the tubes with sieved compost to make straight parsnips. Have you tried this? Does it work? I followed your squash planting plan this year and it worked brilliantly. Will do that again.

    1. Hey SG – I’ve germinated parsnips in half loo rolls, and then planted out. Germination works well and then the cardboard rots before the parsnip gets big.

      I’ve never done them entirely in kitchen roll middles though. Someone said to me the other day that they use bits of plastic downpipe filled with compost. Reckon that would work. 🙂

  2. Low maintenance I like the sound of. Took over a plot too late to get manure dug in at the start of this year, and spent a large part of it battling weeds. Anything to simplify the process and gain back time while still producing crops is a good idea in my books. Definitely been considering the benefits of putting low maintenance stuff like fruit bushes in, think I may join you.
    Always been a fan of your laid back approach to it all!

  3. Hi Jono,
    I also follow the two choices philosophy. Will try your mum’s method for squashes.This year my Pati Pans were planted on a hill as suggested by some and all but one were broken off by a strong wind in less than 24 hours.
    Parsnips would seem a good bet if you’ve room for them as they won’t need manuring and they soon start to smother out competing weeds?
    What’s happening with the surrounding area,will you have to strim it?

  4. Unfortunately the surrounding area is the rest of my plot!

    I will pull the weeds out – most are fairly soft so hopefully won’t take me too long (famous last words).

    I was going to do parsnips in containers, but since I discovered that the soil wasn’t as stony on the new plot, I’ve been considering trying a row.

  5. Got my second plot this year. Dug a bit this spring and planted sweet corn, beans and squashes, just adding a bit of manure for the squashes. Dwarf beans at the base of the corn seemed to work too.(rough interpretation of the three sisters method). Had excellent crops with very little effort. Rest of plot covered with cardboard, courtesy of Tesco, who even loaded the car for me! Now adding horse and chicken manure on top, should be ready for planting through with no digging by spring. Mine is the only plot with no weeds. A good low maintenance method for me as I can no longer manage digging. Tried it on my first plot, even carrots and parsnips will grow this way!

  6. Hi Jono,

    I recently took on an allotment and have no idea what I’m doing. Am over the moon you’ve also taken on a new one. An easily maintained plot is essential to me as I work and I’ve already put in a range of permanent fruit. I’ll be watching closely to see your progress…

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