Gardening fun — our allotments!

I LOVE gardening!

Last year we hit the gardening jackpot and became the proud keepers of an allotment (after a two-year wait). For those of you unfamiliar with them (which probably includes most everyone outside of the UK), allotments are areas of land owned by local town councils, which are divided into plots and rented for a nominal fee to town residents. It’s great for those who don’t have enough space to grow much at home.

This year, we were given a second allotment which, let’s just say, needed a bit of a makeover.

The new allotment hadn’t been worked in ages. It was an interesting mix of couch grass (an invasive grass which spreads rapidly by creeping rhizomes), bindweed (an invasive weed which regrows from the smallest segment of root), invasive wild blackberries (which at least have yummy edible berries), rubbish (tyres, old doors, broken glass, etc), huge piles of rocks, and some big trees (unusual on an allotment).

We’ve slowly been whipping this second allotment into shape, as well as continuing work on our first allotment. Hence the paucity of posts, dear readers.

And now, some photos!

Plot 17B - 23 March 2008

This is our first allotment (17B) in spring of ’08, before we did any work on it. Half of it was covered in couch grass, and at the back lay a thicket of blackberries and several large trees. (As well as the ubiquitous bindweed). The soil was rocky and clayey, the kind that bakes to a concrete finish in the sun.

Plot 17B - 31 March 2008

The work begins! We decided to lay out most of this allotment with raised beds. Mr Thrifty constructed them out of old pallets and offcuts of hardwood flooring boards (both obtained for free, of course).

Plot 17B - 27 April 2008

We seived the soil to remove the rocks and added horse manure, organic mushroom compost and various other good things. Didn’t Mr Thrifty do a fabulous job on the raised beds?

Plot 17B - Strawberry bed 27 April 2008

This is the strawberry bed. We decided to make it a tiered bed.

At the back, we dug out about half of the blackberries, and planted two rows of raspberries, and a tayberry. The compost bin was relocated back here as well. Mr Thrifty built a large box for gardening tools. (We put a lock on it because occasionally there are thefts at the allotments.) You can see the tool box in the background of the first three pictures above. The compost bin is in the foreground of the first picture, and the background of the next two pictures (we relocated it).

Plot 17B - 05 April 2009

The tayberry — which had been languishing in a pot at home — went crazy once it was planted in the open ground, and sent out runners about 4m (12 feet) long. So a couple of weeks ago, Mr Thrifty constructed a tayberry trellis from an old broken garden arch, to give the tayberry runners something to climb.

Plot 19A - 22 February 2009

This is the new allotment when we first took it on in February of this year. It’s situated 90 degrees to our first allotment, and the two plots form a large “L” shape. The wagon wheel is from my FIL, he was going to take it to the tip, so we took it off his hands. The side boundary of our plot is where the green compost bin is. The bit at the left edge covered in black weedcloth is the plot of our neighbour, Dr Potato. (He’s an MD, but last year all he grew were potatoes, hence the name. This year we will have to call him Dr Potato-Tomato-Leek-Courgette-Runner Bean. Or something like that.)

The big green mound that goes from the centre of the picture to the right edge is a thicket of blackberries. For now, we’re going to keep them. The plot extends behind the pallets/fencing, all the way to the trees (and including the trees).

Plot 19A - 14 March 2009

We are building a dry stone wall at the back, under the trees, in front of the fence. It’s a way of getting rid of some of the enormous quantity of rocks that are on the plot, and it looks a lot more attractive than just heaping them up in a big pile.

Plot 19A (L) & 17B (R) - 05 May 2009

Here is the plot at the beginning of May. Along the edge that borders our first allotment, we planted some fruit bushes — gooseberry, white currant, red currant, black currant. The strip that’s dug out was planted with potatoes.

Eventually we’ll probably do this new allotment with raised beds, but there really isn’t any time this year.

Plot 19A (F) & 17B (B) - 07 June 2009

Here are the bean teepees we just constructed on 19A. They’re made from 8ft bamboo canes. There is a winter squash planted in the middle of each teepee;, the idea is that they will be trained out of the teepees to trail onto the ground in front of them. The rope encircling each teepee has been sprayed with salt water as a snail/slug deterrent. (Note: this deters snails but doesn’t harm them. Our allotments are no-kill zones!)

That’s the potatoes growing behind the row of teepees, and the fruit bushes behind them (which are kinda hard to make out). The strip of grass divides our two plots, so plot 17B is in the background.

And coming back to 17B…

Plot 17B - Grape support 07 June 2009

Here is the support Mr Thrifty constructed for the grape vine. We don’t expect the grape to grow very big this year, so we planted cucumber and peas along with it.

Plot 17B - 07 June 2009

Another shot of 17B. Onions & garlic are growing in the front bed, potatoes in the bed behind it. To the right of the potato bed we’ve planted oca, and behind the oca is yet another potato bed (we planted LOTS of potatoes this year).

And how are all your gardens growing?


  1. Wow! Your gardens are absolutely marvelous! No wonder you’ve not been online much… you must be exhausted. I especially love the raised beds and the teepees. Our garden is slowly coming along. It is still quite chilly here (OK, downright cold), but we are getting asparagus and spinach. We do have high hopes, though, as always! That allotment idea is wonderful. Can’t wait to see it all in a month!

  2. Those plots are looking good – you are well-organised. Liked the look of the strawberry bed – envy….. You’ve given me an idea or two – hmmm….thinks..your plan to get those tayberry runners going up a trellis – I didnt even think of that. I have some strawberry plants sending out runners everywhere – and I am now wondering what would happen if I were to train strawberry runners up trellis. that could be a thought in future – right this year I have my plants in a trough and have just tried putting a trough each side and training the runners into those to get them full up of strawberries as well.

    Its all an experiment here chez ceridwen – I’m growing quite a bit of green salad so far – all in containers in my tiny paved little garden.

  3. Amazing! I feel so inspired by your garden. We have community garden plots here in Boston too..they are becoming very popular which is great to see! We happen to have a little bit of land on the property at our apartment building and my upstairs neighbor and I started a small container garden last month..nothing as gorgeous as yours but it’s so much fun to be able to watch things grow and snip off fresh herbs daily. I hope you’ll keep us updated on your progress!!

  4. You are gonna grow strawberries?
    Permission to have a tiny crush on you?:D

    Okaaaaay I know nothing about gardening but you totally rock for doing it!

    Have fun!


  5. your garden rocks! I love the bamboo teepees, they add height to a garden in a more exiting way than the typical pole bean pole.

    We have community gardens in seattle. they are called P-patches. There are a lot of them. They had them in Burlington, VT too, but I don’t recall any specific name.

    I have to laugh at the current state of my future fantasy garden. Right now the backyard is being cleared of the 1 – 3 year alder growth because we didn’t mow. We’ve been fighting it on and off for a while now. very annoying. and of course blackberry hell which is a huge problem out here. good thing I like back breaking work in the yard :).

  6. Hi. I hit number 16 on the allotment list yesterday and have been supressing my excitement since 22 but I’m starting to do more research now. I really love your layout and ‘bing’ brought me to your site after I searched for ‘raised beds’. I feel drawn that way though I don’t know why yet. Keep up the good work on your allotment story it’s very pleasing to read, thanks the morsels of information.

  7. great work
    and you certainly are doing alot of it ….I googled tiering tayberries and got a look at your plots.
    Olympia wasington does some work with what is callled community gardens here. I have 2 acres which i have started to plot for the purpose, if you one of gardeners in my community plots i woudl let you have the spots you wanted…. Really i just wantedd to compliment you sucesses and future endeavors.

    if you have time for a response let me know what you nwo about tiering tayberries.

    I started with one in 2012 and now have 14. the layering technique really worked for me.they are my favorite with a close second with huckleberries/.

    great job guys

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