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Growing Tips

We could dedicate this entire website to growing tips, and still not even scratch the surface, there are countless books, websites and even TV and Radio programmes dedicated to the subject which do a much better job than we can, so instead we've tried to come up with some hints and tips that have been passed on to us from our members which we feel is particularly useful to newer or first time allotment holders.

Keep an allotment Diary. This is a tool as important and useful as any spade or fork, get a cheap Diary with full day view, this will give you plenty of room to make a note of planting times and when your crops should be ready to harvest. Also when you added compost/fertiliser, a list of what seeds you have, so you don’t double up and any other relevant information, in-fact, just note everything you do on the plot every time you visit. A well kept diary in your first year, will make your second year all that easier, and in years to come, these diaries will become indispensable in planning what to do, and when to do it and which varieties work best on your own plot. The more information you add, the easier it will be in the future.

Keep a pair of old work shoes or wellingtons in you shed/greenhouse. That way, when you visit the plot for a quick drop off or to harvest an ingredient and find there’s a quick task to take care of your not getting your nice shoes dirty.

Before the start and at the end of the season give you shed and/or greenhouse a quick clean with disinfectant this will take care of any lingering pests or diseases. Your crops will be all the better for it.

Clean your tools regularly, lubricate and keep rust at bay and sharpen cutting edges, this will prolong their life and increase their usefulness.

When digging, work backwards this will not only help stop you walking on the freshly dug soil, but also keep your back to what’s left to do, looking up and seeing a large amount of digging left to do can quickly become disheartening.

Dig what you need to, when you need to, use plastic or other weed prevention fabrics (depending on your allotment rules) to keep the weeds at bay, then remove them when your ready to plant, this can save hours of digging and a lot of backache.

Planting Tips

For the most useful and relevant information regarding your particular plot, the best person to give advice would be one of your Allotment neighbours. As they have been gardening on the plot for a while, they will have a greater idea of which varieties work best and when to plant.

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Further Planting Information

As the season can start at different times depending on where in the country your Allotment is, your neighbours will always be the best source of planting information. So follow the instructions on the seed packets, and alter slightly with the help and advice given

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Tending your crops

Check your Allotment agreement as to what you're allowed to use on your crops, some Allotments have strict organic rules which must be adhered to. With that in mind, you will need to feed your crops, (water, compost and fertiliser), protect from bad weather and keep your crops as weed-free as possible.

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Further Tending Information

There are many varieties of each individual crop, many having been especially bred to increase a particular disease resistance. The seed packet should tell you most of what you need to know, which fertilizer or feed to use, how often to water etc. Otherwise a general vegetable growing guidebook can help. If the information is not available, plant it and see, you may end up with a smaller yield or even smaller vegetables, but you’ll learn a lot with a little trial and error

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Harvesting your crops

Harvest time can depending on the weather, it makes sense to make a note of the planting date, work out the harvest date, then harvest a small amount and see the results. If your crop still looks small, leave it a few more weeks. Also bear in mind the weather when doing the actual harvesting.

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Further Harvesting Information

The best day for harvesting is a warm, sunny day. This will not only make it more pleasant, but you can leave your crops sat on the soil to dry naturally, digging up your crops in the rain makes them a lot harder to clean, and also shortens their shelf life. Clean off excess dirt, and store in the manner the crop variety likes best, again your Neighbours, the seed packet, your vegetable guidebook and eventually your diary will help here. Storing your crops correctly can significantly increase their shelf life.

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