Plot Shape

It's important to consider how your plot will look for two reasons:

  1. You will be spending a lot of time on it
  2. You may wish to house a scarecrow
Traditional and Semi Traditional Layouts

Traditional

This involves lots of straight rows and few paths. Excellent use of space for growing but lacks imagination, although Duffus has dotted English and African marigolds between his rows which helps - although I think he does this to impress the Director rather than improve the look of his plot.

Semi Traditional

The plot is divided into a mixture of squares, rectangles, oblongs and occasionally some circles. Paths tend to be permanent and either wood chip or paving stones, although Mabel's paths are grass as she thinks it's prettier. Rotation system can be confusing to remember but Mabel manages by growing lots of flowers everywhere and keeping a plan - which she then loses.

Potager

This is an ancient design, dismissed by older allotmenteers like Mr Stanfordruff as 'fancy stuff'. You divide your plot into four squares - or in our case triangles - with a permanent bed in the middle and permanent paths dividing the squares or triangles. Everything is planted in diagonal lines - the biggest lines for your favourite crops (beetroot and Brussels sprouts) and the smallest for your least favourite (turnips). Raised Beds LayoutYou're also supposed to think about the height, colour and texture of what you're planting so it all looks balanced - ours sometimes looks a bit lopsided.

Raised Beds

Gary has these. Vegetables are grown in raised beds about four feet by ten feet with wide paths inbetween. They are neat, tidy, easy to manage - and very boring to look at. Not suitable for scarecrows.

Tip - Paths

Grass paths are best - good for drainage and worms.
Get the shape right first though - they need a lot of digging up if you change your mind.
You won't need to plant grass - it will just come, with dandelions.
You can get a battery operated strimmer for trimming
Or use shears and enjoy slow cutting
Or borrow a goat.

State of Your New Allotment Plot

If it's full of weeds pay someone to till the ground or throw a 'bring your fork' digging party and invite all your friends.

Waste Management Plan

Before you start, make sure you have a waste management plan. The Director didn't. She marked out a small, moon crescent curve for an open plan compost pile. Only she didn't realise how much waste vegetables create and the pile got bigger than me. So she got an incinerator, which puffed like Mr Stanford on his pipe, but kept going out - unlike Mr Stanford's pipe- which made her cross.

Mabel suggested that we could have an allotment pig;
'We could grow our own Sunday roast dear.'
The Director said no; she's a vegetarian and would rather eat beans.

Our plot now has two plastic compost bins and she has real bonfires; a pig would have been more fun.

Tip - Bonfires

You need firelighters, dry newspaper, matches stored in a tin and a non windy day. I have observed failure to attend to these factors is likely to lead to extreme grumpiness.

Always check your association's rules; Duffus forgot and had a bonfire at the wrong time which made Mr Stanford's face go flame red with crossness. Duffus had to take him to the Holly Bush for a pint.

NEVER have a bonfire near a scarecrow - our wooden poles are very sensitive on this issue and our stuffing even more so.

Time Management

The Director thought she could manage me and the plot in three hours a week. Mr Stanford said that was impossible - unless she wanted to grow grass, but in his view allotments were for growing not mowing. Mr Stanford was right.

See Time Management for more advice.